Friday, February 5, 2016

Original Art-Making Custom Stamps

Original Art-Making Custom Stamps


On your mark...get set...go! Yes, let's make marks and have some fun with them.

I use acrylic paint as well as ink to make marks. Ink will make a fine quality mark while paint will produce various effects depending on the consistency. Use medium or heavy body acrylic paint as the high flow is too thin. Place a dab of paint in a pan and thin with a few drops of water until it is about like that of lotion. Use either a foam roller or paint brush to apply the paint onto the stamp.

Another excellent found item:

A shoestring is glued to a piece of Styrofoam.

Paint is applied to the shoestring stamp with a brayer.

Practice: Practice on scraps first! Test the stamps and the paint consistency first.
Test the stamps on paper or fabric first.
The stamp may not make a clear complete impression.
Even if the paint is a bit too thick it will make "globs". This is ok...for me. I like effects to be various.
Painted silk organza with marks from a toilet paper roll.
The cardboard left some blotchy paint marks and some fine marks.
I like the mixture. 
 As you can see..I used the toilet roll with white paint on this piece. The circle did not imprint clearly the first time so I did several overlapped. I liked this much better. The roll is not an exact circle either, which I also like.

Painted silk organza with marks made with cardboard, circles from toilet paper roll
and linked circles stamp.
Painted interfacing with a layer of painted silk organza over the top.
Both have been stamped.
The content I am sharing with you here is excerpts from my online course MIXING UP MEDIA. See the link for this below.

Next weeks topic: STENCILS

I will present more about making original art by making your own stencils.

See more of my work on my website:
REMEMBER: subscribe to my website to keep up to date.

SIGN UP for my online course; MIXING UP MEDIA on Academy of Quilting
Course begins: April 1, 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Originality-Making Custom Stamps Continued

Making Custom Stamps Continued-Deborah Babin

Styrofoam is probably my favorite found material to recycle and make stamps with.

A leaf was drawn onto a flat piece of styrofoam with a ball point ink pen.
A stencil cutting tool was used to melt away the excess to reveal the design.

This type of stamp does not produce as much definition; non the less it is another way to make an original stamp. When using it, place a piece of soft material underneath the fabric or paper you are stamping. This will produce a better result.

A toilet paper roll makes a excellent marking tool.

Stamps are actually MARKING TOOLS

I like to look for tools that will make marks that become motifs for stitching. Circles are a favorite motif of mine. When I am making marks I think about how they will enhance the overall design by uniting it. Thus, I always repeat motifs. 

Here the motifs are defined with machine quilting.
Motifs can be stitched by machine or by hand. I will show more images about this in up coming posts.

The linked circles stamp combined with the toilet paper roll are an excellent combination.

Stamps with circles and lines
The top stamp is made with sticky back foam sheets. The shapes are cut free hand with scissors and stuck onto a piece of Styrofoam. 

Cardboard makes fabulous textured lines.
Cardboard-Peel off the paper one side of the cardboard to reveal the corrugated board. Use a paint brush or foam roller to apply paint and press onto the surface of your fabric or paper. 

I do combine manufacturer stamps with my original stamps occasionally.
Manufactured rubber stamps can be worked into an original design. I look use certain types that will connect with my work. Here I have a combination applied to painted interfacing. Top: cardboard, (bottom left to right) a leaf like stamp that I made with sticky back foam, three unmounted rubber stamps with words, ane a rubber stamp branch with leaves. 
Date Stamp
I like to date my work with a stamp. 
The contrast of the proper date stamp against my hand work makes this stamp interesting. 
More to come about stamps and mark making in my next post.

You may see more of my work on my website:

REMEMBER: Sign up to subscribe to my website.

Sign up for my online course: Mixing Up Media on Academy of Quilting
Start date: April 1st, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

Originality-Making Custom Stamps

Originality-Make original art-by Deborah Babin

In this day and age access to the internet offers unlimited resources for our inspiration; however, this can unfortunately increase our temptation to copy. Pinterest is an excellent resource and some people think what they see there is fair game. Copying is a violation that goes unnoticed by many. I too like to search for inspiration on Pinterest and I stress the word INSPIRATION (only) for I only aim to make original art.

This month my posts will focus on: Simple ways to elevate and/or sustain the art you make to original status with simple and economical methods.

Topics: Making your own stamps, stencils, painted sheer layers and embellishing.

Always ask yourself: How Can I Strive to Make Original Art?

It is fine to use an inspirational references fairly literally to begin with. This is acceptable for learning and experimenting. During this phase (hopefully) you will begin to see that it is actually impossible to truly copy another persons work. Which is a good thing! I encourage you to see as this (as it is gradually) revealed to you AND to embrace what you see. Notice, what is happening that you can embrace rather than reject and move into a new direction. This is where we have two choices...1. become discouraged because the realization makes us feel inadequate or 2. become motivated to pursue and discover our underlying abilities.

Can you relate to this experience?

I love discoveries. I love a challenge. That is where I learn the most and find the most satisfaction.


This week the topic is STAMPS-How to make and use them for originality

Yes, there isn't much excitement about stamps in general. There are zillions of stamps manufactured...and, they are expensive! Let's refer to them as: artful impressions instead. I like to make my own stamps, save money and us them to develop original qualities for my art.

I like to draw all sorts of things. Often times I draw freely without intention.

I enjoy drawing continuous line drawings because I relate to these readily as they can translate into quilting motifs. And, drawing continuously allows my thoughts to flow.

Do you like to draw or doodle? 

Here is an example of my doodling. The vertical lines with linked circles were my favorite so I decided to make a stamp as well as a stencil from it.

Linked Circles Stamp above, inked with black ink on paper below.
Speed Ball Carving Tool

This stamp was carved from a product called: Easy Carve available from Speed Ball. It is like an eraser that comes in various sizes and carves like hot knife in butter; use the Speed Ball carving set to carve this product. 

Economical Alternatives:
I get great satisfaction from resourcing found objects. 

Stamps with line and edge designs made from pieces of Styrofoam meat trays.
The two top stamps produce fine lines from the edges. These have been cut off the sides of the Styrofoam tray where the edge curves at bit with two to three layers glued together. The bottom stamp is one layer with dots that were made by melting the Styrofoam with a stencil cutter.

Top: Positive Bottom: Negative

Sticky back foam sheets-These are found in the craft stores in the kid stuff. They are thin foam sheets with a sticky back that is covered with paper. Simply draw a design with a ball point pen, cut it out, peel off the backing paper and stick it onto a support; in this case I used Styrofoam. I cut it out with an X-acto knife. You will end up with two stamps: Positive and Negative

Styrofoam meat tray has multiple uses.
Acrylic paint is applied with a foam roller.

Keyhole stamps: Left to right:
Carved impression, carved stamp
Foam Stamp impression, Foam Stamp

Holder: Place a piece of making tape doubled over.

More about making and using stamps will follow this week.

The content of my posts here are excerpts from my online course offered on the Academy of Quilting. My course: Mixing Up Media This course is scheduled for: April 1, 2016

Please visit my website:
Check out my art and courses for study AND be sure to sign up to receive my posts via email.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Extreme Embroidery Project--Beth Schnellenberger

In the previous post, I gave the supply list for a pin using "extreme embroidery." In this post I will list the instructions along with pictures. Since I was a teacher in a previous life, I work better with a step-by-step list of instructions.


  • Gather your supplies.
  • Using Misty Fuse, fuse the white/cream fabric to a piece of the felt. If you don't use Misty Fuse, hand/spray baste or pin the fabrics together. (Misty Fuse will make it MUCH easier to do.)
  • Using your permanent gel roller, draw a simple design for your pin. Don't go too crazy on detail. As you can see from my examples, you don't even have to be REALLY careful. (For this example, I cut longer rectangular strips first. I then drew several designs and cut them apart before beginning to stitch. Cutting them apart makes it easier to handle the piece when you are stitching. Be sure to leave enough background fabric to have some to "hang on to" while you are stitching. I find 3-4 inches works best for me. Because the designs are small and relatively stable, I don't use a hoop when I embroider. If you would feel more comfortable using a hoop, you will need to cut your fabric larger to start with.)
  • Using your colored markers, color your design (just like you would a coloring book page). Keep in mind that you will be matching your embroidery floss to the colors you use. I color the piece so that if a little bit of the fabric shows through, the color will match and make it less detectable. I also don't have to worry about making any color decisions after this point.
*****After having made my first pin (the sample for this post), I decided that a black ink "border" should be added to the outside of the drawn and colored piece BEFORE stitching begins. I don't have pictures of the ORIGINAL sample with this done (since I didn't do it on my first pin), but I wanted to show you what this looks like.
  • Using your black gel pen, color as close as you can to the outside of the piece. Color around the entire piece adding approximately 1/8" to 1/4" of color BEFORE you start to stitch. This will cover the light colored background with a black edge (to hide any remaining light background after cutting the background away once the stitching is done). In the following picture, you can see what this looks like. THIS BORDER WILL NOT BE STITCHED.
  • You are now ready to begin stitching. I usually start in the center (away from the edge) of my design. Use any type of a filler embroidery stitch. For my pieces, I usually use French knots, stab/seed stitches, tight lazy daisy stitches or chain stitches, split stitches, and stem stitches. I do try to find unusual stitches if I'm doing a big piece. (That is a good excuse to have lots of embroidery books in my library.) If you are unfamiliar with how to do some of these stitches, here is a video tutorial for the stitches I use most often--basic embroidery stitches.

I started with the purple on the bottom. Can you see it?

  • Fill in every single inch of the fabric with stitches. Vary the color and texture of the stitches. As you saw in the bluebird (in the previous post) you can even cut really small pieces of fabric and stitch over those to add a different look to your piece. I have labeled all the stitches I used for my pin so you can see what they look like. When you have finished all the fill-in stitches, use a backstitch (I use black.) to outline each section of the design. (Compare how this next picture looks to the finished pin front--the picture with the black background. I think the black outline stitching makes the piece pop.)
  • Cut a piece of your heavy-duty fusible large enough to cover the back of your stitched piece. Cut it a bit smaller than the Eco-Felt. Use a Teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper and press the heavy-duty fusible to the back of your piece covering just the stitched area (not the entire piece).
  • If you haven't already, cut a piece of Eco-Felt approximately the same size as your finished piece including the background. Using your Teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper, press the Eco-felt to the back of the piece.
  • Now, CAREFULLY cut away the background from around the stitched piece. Cut close to the stitches, but leave a little of the black ink border you colored. Having that black ink border will give you a little "wiggle room" when cutting away the background and may give you the room you need to prevent you from cutting your stitches. (This is the second pin I made. You can see a bit of the black ink border remaining on the cut-out piece.)
  • If, after you have trimmed the background away, you have any light colored fabric still showing around the very edge of the piece, use your black gel pen to color it.
  • You are now ready to add your pin back. I chose to stitch mine to the finished piece, but your could glue it if you wish.

Here are some pins I have finished.
I love making these little pins. I hope you will too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gather Your Supplies--Beth Schnellenberger

If you are interested in trying your hand at "extreme embroidery," here is a way to do it. I will give you an overview of what we'll be doing and a list of supplies you will need (many of which you will already have on hand).


I recently decided I'd like to make some pins using this technique. The pin idea started when I made a donation piece for a child advocacy center. I made this little bluebird as part of the piece. I really thought he was cute and decided I might like to make him into a pin. (I haven't done it yet.) As you can see here, I used some fabric, a big bead for the eye, and lots of embroidery to make this piece.

Then, I thought making a pin might be a good way to teach someone about "extreme embroidery." This is the front of the pin I'm making to use for your sample.

You will be preparing your fabric for stitching, doing some embroidery, and finishing your pin. As I made my pin, I took pictures and will share those with you along with the instructions in the next post. (Keep in mind I'm showing what works for me. Of course, you should do things the way that is the most comfortable for you.)


  1. Cotton fabric--4" square
  2. Felt--two 4" squares
  3. Misty Fuse fusible web--small amount 4" square
  4. Heavy-duty/no-sew Heat and Bond, Steam-a-Seam or other heavy no-sew fusible
  5. Permanent pen
  6. Colored markers
  7. Embroidery needles
  8. Scissors
  9. Embroidery floss
  10. Pin back

Let me talk a little about each of these supplies.

  • Cotton fabric--I use a white Kona cotton for my pieces. All you really need is a small piece of any cotton fabric that is a solid cream or white. A 4-inch square is large enough.
  • Eco-felt--This is the felt I like to use. (I get mine on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics. It is made of recycled plastic. I don't think it would matter what kind of felt you use for this project. If you have some on hand, use that. I like to use a black felt (since it might show a little in the end). For this project, use what you have on hand. You need two pieces that are the same size as your fabric.
  • Misty Fuse--I fuse the cotton fabric and the Eco-felt together with Misty Fuse. I wouldn't use any other type of fusible, because I haven't found any that is as easy to sew through as Misty Fuse. (If you don't have Misty Fuse, (since this project is so small) you could hand baste or spray baste the two pieces of fabric together. You might even be able to just pin them. If you do use the Misty Fuse, you will need a piece the same size as your fabric and felt.
  • Heat & Bond or Steam-a-Seam--Be sure to read the package and get the heavy-duty fusible that doesn't require sewing to make it permanent. (There are several different kinds of fusibles from featherlite, lite, heavy, to no-sew.) I use this to attach the finished pin to the the Eco-felt backing.
  • Permanent pen--I use a Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric. I use this pen to draw the design onto the fabric. I LOVE this pen and use it often. I used it to cover the entire background fabric with writing for my "Then We Pray" piece shown in a previous post. It is perfect to use for making labels for your quilts and other art pieces. It writes very smoothly on fabric. Lots of stores carry them and you can get them online. (Amazon carries them--here. I like them SO much that I order them by the box--a much better buy if you think you will use them for anything else.)
  • Colored markers--I use Ultra Fine Bic Mark It Permanent Markers. I like to use these markers to color my designs. They are easy to use on the fabric and come in a large selection of colors. My work isn't washed and most of this color will be covered with stitches, so permanency is not an issue for me.
  • Embroidery needles--These needles have sharp tips that pierce the fabric as you stitch, and larger eyes for accommodating floss and embroidery thread. Here is the best site I have found for explaining needles for embroidery-What Needle Do I Use? For this project, be sure to have a needle who's eye will accommodate your thread and that opens up a large enough hole in the fabric to allow the thread to easily pass through. Needles are sized by number and the bigger the number, the smaller or finer the needle. I found the following guide on the DMC website. When using 1-2 strands of embroidery floss use a size 26, with 3-4 strands of embroidery floss use a size 24 and with 5-6 strands of embroidery floss use a size 22. For #5 Pearl Cotton use a size 20, for #8 use size 22 and for #12 use size 10.
  • Scissors--This is pretty self-explanatory. You will be cutting threads, cotton fabrics, and felt.
  • Embroidery floss--I use whatever kind of floss suits my needs for color and coverage. I generally use DMC floss and Perle cotton. Lately, I am REALLY liking the Perle Cotton in Size 8 (picture on the right below). If you use that thread, you don't have to separate the strands of floss. I think, particularly for satin stitches, the Size 8 makes a neater stitch. If you have some embroidery thread on hand, pick out a variety of colors you like. Whatever you have on hand will be fine for this project.

  • Pin back-You can buy these lots of places. Be sure to get a size that is appropriate for the size of your pin.
In the next post, you'll see how I made my pin. You can make one too!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Current Work--Beth Schnellenberger

I just finished a piece that I REALLY hope gets juried into Dialogues: Contemporary Responses to Marie Webster Quilts (a regional SAQA exhibit) that will be shown at the Indianapolis Museum of Art from June 24-September 4, 2016. Here is a closeup of the piece. I didn't post an entire picture, because I'm a little superstitious about showing it all before the jurying is done.

The entire piece measures 38" high X 30.25" wide. It is entirely hand quilted and contains a lot of hand embroidery. The shapes are machine appliquéd to the background. Most of the individual shapes are made up of MANY small pieces appliquéd to make the whole.
I also have a "forever" English paper piecing project that I am perpetually working on. To give you a perspective on how small the pieces are, here is a photo of one of the pieces next to a dime. Each piece is hand basted to a template and hand pieced into the quilt top. (That is A LOT of hand piecing!)
I have worked on this project off and on for two years. The design is based on a piece of old Italian tile work on the floor of a hotel in southern Indiana. Here is what I have done so far.
At this stage, it measures 86" at its widest point and 47" tall. It is made entirely of scrap fabrics--all different red, gold, brown, white, blue, orange, and gray fabrics. I think the variety in those fabrics gives it a bit more "sparkle." I have a love/hate relationship with this piece. I love how it looks, and I love to do the handwork. I hate how hard it is to follow the pattern I drew up, I hate how long it takes to do it all, and I hate having to handle the whole huge piece to add rows to it. It may end up being one of those unfinished "What Was She Thinking" pieces when they find it buried among my things when I'm long gone.
This next piece is a companion piece to Metamorphosis I. It measures approximately 20" tall X 10 1/2" wide.
It isn't close to being finished yet even though it may look like it is. I add color to the background before any stitching is done so I can concentrate on the stitching once I get to that point; I don't have to make any color decisions then. There is quite a lot of the piece that has yet to be stitched. If you zoom in on the picture, you can see the areas where the stitching still needs to be done. I use the technique I call "extreme embroidery" for the work on this piece. The entire surface of the cloth is covered with stitches and in some cases I add small pieces of fabric. (The mouth on this piece is red wool with stitching over the top of it.) When it is finished, the cream background you see here will be cut away. I haven't decided yet whether it will be appliquéd to another piece or whether it will be framed like Metamorphosis I.
In my next couple of posts, I'll be showing you an extreme embroidery project you can do (and it won't take you months and months to do it).