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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Recycling mistakes, scraps and offcuts

Mags Ramsay here with my last post on using acrylic paints on fabric. I  ran out of time to tell you about my monoprinting experiments but I thought I'd finish up by showing you some projects using  offcuts from acrylic painted fabric and quilts. I love working from scraps-somehow they're more inspiring and liberating than cutting into pristine fabric and I keep a separate basket for all the offcuts when I trim quilts down to size. 

In this case I'd been experimenting with using masking tape shibori stencils on photos of doors to give the effect of woodgrain. I ended up with quite a few offcuts cutting this down from a square to rectangle. Neatening them up and sewing them to other strips using a wide zig zag, the resulting small journal quilt(below) is I think more interesting than the original! 

 I used this technique with strips sometimes only a cm wide to make bookwraps. The advantage of the acrylic paint on the surface of the fabric is that it make the object slightly water resistant - excellent for bags and phone covers too. The sketching bag below that I made from an early disaster  when I applied too much paint .

My second quilt for Cwilt Cymru 'Connection' exhibition 'red remnants' was  by necessity made from offcuts of  the 3 other quilts I'd repurposed from an old red and white quilt - my original idea hadn't worked and with a tight deadline it was pulled together very quickly.

 And there was just enough crumbs left  from the scraps to make a few small pieces as samples and mounted on canvas for sale.

This series of 4 quilts repurposed from an old red and white quilt through painting with acrylics and stitch sum up my progress so far using these techniques. Thanks for joining me , I'm looking forward to the  next challenge. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Painting shibori ripples with stencils

Mags Ramsay here. In this post I'll be sharing the techniques I developed leading on from the use of torn masking tape stencils used to imitate woodgrain which I talked about here. I'd been doing a lot of indigo arashi shibori dyeing  and wanted to see whether I could get the same ripple effects using paint.
For Contemporary Quilt  Challenge' Horizons' ( 50 x 150cm) my aim was to create the background on the old red quilt I used for 'red flotsam'  to use some of the results of my screenprinting experiments from a few years ago.
 I became quite an expert on ripping 2 inch masking tape into raggy strips! The advantage with masking tape is they can be moved around and adjusted before painting 

Liquitex heavy body acrylics and paddle brushes on stay wet palette. These brushes are excellent for working the paint into the fabric - there's no gesso on this as I wanted the underlying fabric to show through.

 Sample after first lot of  masking tape and painting with blue and red acrylic paints.
2nd lot of making tape applied then 'unbleached titanium' acrylic paint.

Tape removed

Finished quilt Nautical Dawn -  masses of hand stitching!

Not only did it get selected for the exhibition, it featured on the front cover of the catalogue and then got a Judges choice at the Festival of Quilts this year!

For Cwilt Cymru exhibition on the theme of 'Connection' I deceided to make another version of this, using the same old red and white quilt but introducing more colours and stitching by machine using twin needle. 
 Sample: taped and painted before (above) and with tape removed (below) 

'Red Ripples' ( detail below) 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pearlescent and Iridescent Paints.

Mags Ramsay here. A bit of a hiatus in posting with last minute packing and dealing with work issues before going on holiday to Weymouth. But I'm here now , relaxed after a leisurely Sunday lunch, with the sun setting over Isle of Portland  behind me , in a better frame of mind to consider creative matters.

In 2009 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Quilters Guild of the British Isles, there was an exhibition challenge on the theme of 'Pearls, Pearls, Pearls' and  at the Festival of Quilts a category 'Pearlescence'. It seemed an appropriate time to try some of the specialist media available to add to acrylic paints.
I played around with painting pearls onto gessoed piece of Durham quilts as in my previous post  but for a variety of reasons decided not to go down that route.

 I did however get inspired by the 'Honesty' seed heads from my garden  and the evocative 'Temple' paintings of Ian McKeever resulting in 2 major quilts and a large series of samples and journal quilts.

Paintings were built up gradually with thin translucent layers - when using specialist media and paints, it's very important to keep washing your brushes, not to contaminate other paints. I found out the hard way when flecks of liquitex iridescent medium kept appearing  where I didn't want it. I ended up  keeping a separate brush or 2 just for using with these paints.

In my quilt 'Lunaria', the pewter pots were painted with the Golden fluid acrylics micaceous oxide . More details about the construction of this quilt are here.
As I had more ideas than  would fit in one quilt ( and a  layer of 16 organza sheets with honesty images that I didn't use) I made a second honesty quilt 
I started off with doing a trial painting  on a canvas board with the paints and colours I was going to use
As you can see above, once I'd sewn my organza layers to a gessoed piece of old quilt, I did a lot of samples before I plucked up the courage to paint on the quilt itself. The one below went through multiple repaints but to my mind the layers glimpsed add hidden depth. The process involved first painting the background around the main shapes, filling in the organza seed heads then finally painting over with very large ovals.

'Rich as Honesty' (detail below) 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fluid Acrylic Paints on Gessoed Quilts

First of all I should apologize  that I haven't been introducing myself for each blog post , I forget that  not everyone will have seen my first post this month where I summarized what I  would be covering .  So I'm Mags Ramsay and I'm guest  presenter  - all the posts  and artworks this month are mine as  nobody came forward with other acrylic techniques.
So far most of the techniques I've shared have  used Liquitex heavy body  acrylic   paints which are great for impasto effects. I'm now going to turn to using Golden fluid acrylic paints which I use  more like watercolours (they're extremely pigment rich) on surfaces primed with gesso. 
 In  2010 the Contemporary Quilt specialist group of the Quilters Guild of  the British Isles had a  exhibition challenge on the theme of ' Breakthrough' - an  opportunity to experiment and try something new. My quilt 'Bexhill Breakwaters' (below) was the result.
 After my initial trials of painting on fabrics, I  decided to experiment on using old tatty antique quilts as my 'canvas' . We'd recently moved house and the rather grey  old Durham quilt we used as a door curtain was no longer needed  and so uninspiring in itself that I didn't feel too bad cutting it up.
You can read more here ,here, here and here about the inspiration behind this quilt  but in summary I used old Japanese Kasuri inserted as the 'breakwaters' and painted the section of quilt with gesso ( you can see below how grey the background  colour was in comparison! )
 Once the breakwaters were in  place , I added additional machine stitching including stitching from the back with a thicker thread in the bobbin. I have to say that my machine didn't like all the gesso and I  had to  change my needle and clean it out regularly.

 For painting I  stretched pieces on boards with masking tape, had 3 samples in the end to try out techniques and a 'story board' with photos and sketches as inspiration ( I did a lot of the designing in Photoshop)
 I used the paints with a fluid medium rather than water to dilute the intense colours, and did a lot of colour mixing to try and capture the subtle colours of the sea.
 One of the other advantages of using  Golden fluid acylics is that they have some  paints which give unusual results  which I used to good effect. Interference paints give an iridescent   subtle shimmer  and the micaceous iron oxide was useful for the effect of wet sand and shingle. You need to be very thorough in washing your brushes after using these as they easily contaminate other paints - I left these until last.

 Finished piece ( 60 x 60 cm) sample 1 ( 20 x 20 cm) sample 2( 30 x 30 cm)
I did use some  white heavy body paint for the sea spray - the opacity of this contrasts nicely with the translucency  of the fluid acrylic paints
More in my next post on using interference and pearlescent paints in my series on 'honesty' seed heads 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Practice, Practice, Practice

 I don't think I would have summoned up the nerve to paint with acrylics on fabric if I hadn't already been trying out  techniques on paper and canvas. I think it's made it a bit easier with working out how my particular paints work - the texture, colour mixing , how they dry and if it goes wrong you can just paint over it and start again   Unlike fabrics , you can go back in  and correct things and build up layers so there has been a degree of unlearning to do!
I've particularly benefitted from  painting holidays with Susan Gray in Slapton.   She's given me a lot of advice  and  intrigued by my wish to work on fabric, has  really pushed me to experiment. Also to look critically at my work - sometimes you have to get rid of or alter the bits you really like for the sake of the whole composition.
So  here's some of my non- fabric acrylic  painting of the sea  done on those courses - I really miss not having done it this year.

 Painting in situ ( above) and first stages back in the studio ( below)

 Painting a board with colour beforehand is I suppose a bit like using coloured fabrics! Before and after. above and below
  Rocks in different styles in different years - I prefer the more abstract one above, it's very easy to get too involved in making it look realistic

In my next post I'll be looking at using old quilts as a canvas.