A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Frottage on textile

One of the most basic mark-making technique ist the frottage. Any child can do it and most people enjoy doing it. Frottage itself has been known and used in all times but it was the German surrealist artist Max Ernst who introduced this technique in the modern arts.  Here is a short, interesting video about it.
For a while I was wondering how to use frottage in textile surface design. The question was how to fix my rubbings on the surface permanently 
I found my answer in Kerr Grabowski’s DVD: Adventures in Surface Design. Part of this DVD you can watch here.

This is an excellent tutorial. Kerr’s suggestion to screen a  transparent base extender paste to cover up my rubbings and fix them so was the perfect solutions I have been looking for. It was just so easy!

Here are just two examples of the fabrics I made with this technique.
The original screen printed fabric had a "flaw" which always reminded me of water drops. So to enhance this effect I rubbed some water soluble wax crayons on the surface and fixed it with an acrylic permanent base extender.
This "landscape" above was made with a few piece of foamed rubber.

So, how to do it?
All you need is a few "interesting surface" you can rub, like stamps, a piece of lace or any other structural piece.
Use any water soluble colored pencils, wax crayons, charcoal or pastels. Draw or rub the surface: make your marks until you like the outcome.
When ready, fix the color pigment to the textile by screening a textile printing transparent base extender. (e.g: from Golden oder from Lascaux). When dry, heat set it.

I found the best mark-making tools are the self-made ones, like these cuttings from from a simple foam rubber.

Rubbing along the edges gives the impression of a landscape. I can intensify the impression by drawing along these edges.
When ready with the image, I take an empty screen and screen the transparent base extender for textiles over it. When this is dry, I can heat set it and my textile is washable.

A good base extender will not only connect and fix the color pigments to the fabric but enhance your colors as well.

This is a simple and easy technique but it has its merits which make this worth to try out and experiment with it. Have fun!


  1. Great blog post and it will be food for me while I work on a small book of surface design this weekend.

  2. I've been doing some of this, using textured surfaces that I
    found around the house. I used textile paint and applied it
    to the fabric (stretched over the textured surface) with a brayer.
    That was moderately successful although the hand of the fabric
    was not so great. To get a softer fabric, I tried some
    thickened dye using the brayer--remarkably unsuccessful! I like
    the idea of the transparent base extender…Now it's just
    figuring out what that is and where to get it.

  3. Transparent base extender is a medium you use while screen printing. Adding color pigments or acrylic paint to it the medium carries and fixes the pigments to the surface. In this case, to the textile. What brand you use is depending where you live. I live in Switzerland and I use a CHT product. If you live in the US, there is a transparent base extender from Speedball or an another one from ProChem. (http://www.prochemicalanddye.com/product.php?productid=16424&cat=377&page=1)
    These are acrylic products and they make the fabric stiffer but a good quality base extender can be screened on the surface to create a much finer coating than with a brayer. Is this information enough for you?

  4. Yes, that information is very helpful. Thank you so much.

  5. Great results. I had forgotten about this technique so, thank you for the reminder.


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