Saturday, July 11, 2015

Answers to Questions


After posting progress photos of my work-in-progress, I got questions. The questions were, "what kind of fabric is that?" and "where did you get it?" and "are those pencil marks?" So I thought I'd share an explanation of this fabric.

First, I have to tell you that in my mind this piece was about color and an impression, simplified, of a place. For the color, I turned to my stash of cotton solids to provide the base colors. Though the solids alone were pretty good, I decided I wanted some texture and a greater depth of color, so I got out my collection of watercolor crayons, which I often use on fabrics and started playing around. I made myself a little rubbing plate by gluing raw spaghetti—yes, as in pasta—on a little pressed wood plaque I found at a craft store. I know someone will ask, so the glue was regular old Elmer's. (I have made rubbing plates by gluing things to mat board in the past and they tend to warp. The plaque was an improvement.)


After the glue was dry I sealed the whole thing with a coat of acrylic medium. Then I could simply lay my piece of fabric over the plate and lightly rub with a watercolor crayon on the fabric surface to pick up the pattern. By turning the plate as I worked, I could pretty quickly cover the surface with a random pattern of marks. I laid a paper towel over the marks and set it with a hot iron. For good measure I spritzed it with a thinly diluted mixture of water and acrylic medium, which gives the fabric a little more body, but does not substantially change the hand.

I have started quilting and I like how the stitching seems to soften the rubbing designs.



And last answer to a question that wasn't actually asked. I was surprised that several people assumed quite confidently that this piece represents Nebraska. Actually, it was inspired by my photo of the Camas Prairie in north central Idaho. Glorious country.




  1. what an ingenious idea. I love how the rubbing adds so much to the fabric. I have a lot of solids doing nothing, as I prefer prints or blenders, some sort of texture. Thank you so much. wondering how to use lasagne . . .

  2. I've been intrigued with that photo since the first time you posted it. I keep looking at that yellow strip on the horizon. At first I thought it was some sort of reflection on the lens. So intense. But I see it is part of your composition, so it must have really been there in the first place.

  3. Anonymous6:36 AM

    This piece is very interesting. Thanks for sharing your techniques. Also, it was fun to look through your work- it is very unusual and very beautiful!

  4. Thanks for the hint about diluted acrylic medium Terry. I'll have to try that. I generally use Jacquard colorless exender #100 as a sealer for colored pencil and other water mediums on fabric and have always been happy with how it works, but this might be faster. Love the tonal and textured look it gave the solid fabric.

  5. I really, really like this. Thanks for sharing techniques.