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.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cris on Fabric Collage

Cris Winters here, with my first post of my guest month on the Fire Blog. I thought I’d tell you the story of a recent experience with fabric collage that changed my art practice, changed what I displayed and sold, and obsessed me for months! I’ll tell you more about myself as we travel through the month of June together looking at lots of fabric collage techniques and materials.

And another thing. I have a lot to learn, so if you want to add tips of your own to what I present, please pitch in and send your comments!

I’ve been doing fabric collage for a while. It was a natural progression from the paper and mixed media collage I did as my regular art practice for few years. Last spring, though, it became a Whole New Thing! I was asked to make a couple of dozen pieces of tiny art about 2 ¼” by 3 1/4 “ for our community’s Art Vending Machine – a refurbished cigarette machine that now dispenses art that fits inside little boxes just the size of a cigarette pack. Great fun!
But I was leaving on a very long car trip in a couple of days and the art was due a couple of days after I returned. Yikes!!! After my initial alarm, (instead of sensibly saying “NO!”) I went into hyper-creative mode doing what I love best: making art with serious constraints placed on it. This time the constraints were 1) small specific uniform size, 2) must be made in multiples of 12, 3) some way to do at least some of the work as I traveled, and 4) relatively short time frame.
I remembered reading several articles about using fabric scraps to make beautiful collage pieces, so I dug out a couple of those to refresh my memory on the basics. I had some medium weight canvas lying around, so I ironed some paper-backed fusible on it and got out my scrap box. (WARNING! Using fabric scraps in this way DOES NOT reduce the amount one already has. Instead, the scraps somehow breed in the closed container such that one has to continually find larger containers. I think the alchemy comes about when one feeds them all kinds of other bits and scraps that never seemed to have a purpose before.)

I proceeded by ironing the scraps I planned to use and arranging them on the fusible-covered canvas. My pieces of canvas were about 12” by 20” – that size was convenient to work with, especially as I did my machine stitching in a later step.
I assembled the collage on a Teflon sheet and transferred it to the ironing board by sliding a quilting ruler underneath and moving it carefully. Then I covered the whole collage with a second Teflon ironing sheet and pressed it all together. 

There were some inevitable gaps that revealed the backing, so I added fabric (and some paper) scraps that were already fusible-backed from other projects. I also added some scraps that added to the color, design, or general interest.

See what happened next in Wednesday's post!


  1. What an interesting read. Looking forward to more. Can you tell us about that refurbished cigarette machine that dispenses art,

  2. Chris, I'm already intrigued, and looking forward to more posts! Like most fabric junkies, I have bins and bins of fabric in various sizes and shapes, and am always on the lookout for new and wonderful ways to use them up. Great topic!

  3. How fun to be able to put your work in a vending machine! I hope yours are a great success. Lovely idea.

  4. Oh boy, my imaginations is on FIRE!!! I KNEW I was going to love this month. Now where is my scrap bale!!

  5. A vending machine! I feel an addiction coming on! :)

  6. I think the vending machine is pure genius. I want to know more. Where is it? How much are you charging? Who owns it?

    I love your topic. I feel like you have baited me with just enough information that I am waiting with bated breath for your next post.

  7. Yay, Cris! I love your intrepid spirit!

  8. I've wanted to try these vending machines for years but there are none that I know of around me. Fun post!

  9. How wonderful to hear from all of you! It appears that the art vending machine has enraptured many of you,so I got in touch with my friend who owns our local machine. He's going to write something about his experiences with it and I'll post it here later this month. By the way, I Googled "art vending machine". Try it - that will keep you very busy until we hear from Matt!!!

  10. Such a fantastic idea - Vending artwork! I'm excited too see where else you take us with this June blog post. Thank you, Cris!

  11. great post...and looking forward to all your posts this month


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