The Fabric Stamping Handbook Class Plan

by Jean Ray Laury

Class Description: 3 sessions of 2-1/2 hours each
This hands-on workshop focuses on making your own stamps along with making creative use of commercial stamps. All stamping is on fabric, which can be used for wall hangings, quilts, dolls, clothing, cards, etc.

Supply List

  • Textbook: The Fabric Stamping Handbook by Jean Ray Laury
  • Scissors (for fabric and paper)
  • Small foam roller
  • Small (1" wide) foam brushes, 1 or more
  • 1 newspaper (to protect work surface)
  • Cotton fabric, up to 1 yard in white or light color, smoothly woven (could also try flannel, satin, muslin, pale prints, or hand-dyed fabrics)
  • Several sheets of paper (newsprint, typing, copy)
  • Instructor should also plan to collect a materials fee from each student

Teacher Supplies

  • Materials to make stamps (insulation tape, blocks for mounting, sponges, art gum erasers, pencil erasers, sheets of Foamie - preferably one sheet per student, PenScore, depending on the teacher's choice of projects)
  • Plastic foam trays to use as palettes such as meat trays or fast food containers
  • Demo materials
  • Paints and dyes (Versatex or any heat-set water-based paint)
  • "Say ah" sticks, or craft sticks, to dip paint
  • Iron and pad
  • Samples and examples

SESSION ONE: Introduce the class by showing a project you've completed or a selection of samples. That will give them some idea of what is possible. Also introduce them to the book and ask them to read the first two chapters for the next session. Have students make their first stamps (demonstrate each step):

  1. Bring to class a collection of leaves (either fresh or pressed, though pressed will be easier to work with). Supply each student with adhesive-backed Darice Foamies (at least 1/4 sheet per person).
  2. Have each student select a leaf, trace around it onto the Foamie, and cut it out.
  3. Stick it onto a piece of thin (1/8" or 1/4") plywood or something similar. Let one or two edges of the cut-out touch the edge of the wood block.
  4. Have each student place a dollop of paint onto a foam tray. Use the roller to spread the paint evenly.
  5. Have them roll the paint onto the leaf stamp and do a print on fabric.
  6. Demonstrate the blending of colors.
  7. Make sure each student gets at least one satisfactory stamp.
  8. Have each student do a print for you on a piece of fabric which you have pre-cut. You can sew these together and have the finished "top" available for the next session.
  9. Discuss the possibilities of using this method for other designs and ideas. Show samples.
  10. If time permits, give each student a new pencil with a round eraser at the end.
  11. Use the pencil as a stamp. Demonstrate that placing the eraser directly onto the paint or applying paint with a brush will work.
  12. If additional time is available, have students do a second stamp, or trade stamps so that each student has a variety of examples.
  13. Have each student show her work, describe to the others what worked well and what did not work for her.

SESSION TWO:This session will introduce a new method of making stamps. Start out by showing the top you made up using their leaf prints from their first leaf stamps. This session uses PenScore but if you can't get hold of it, use a foam material. A double layer of a foam tray (two glued together) will work, or packing foam ... anything that is smooth and can be scored.

  1. Supply each student with a block of PenScore. (Or a sheet of it, or a shape from a child's bath or puzzle set. They are all the same material and variations are listed in the book.)
  2. Use same methods for spreading paint as in first session.
  3. Roll paint over a block or rectangle of PenScore.
  4. Draw into the paint, using a craft stick, an empty ballpoint pen, a wipe-out tool, a finger, a comb, or anything that will remove some of the paint in a pattern (see pages 34 and 49).
  5. Stamp onto fabric.
  6. Repeat the process, stamping in an allover or checkerboard pattern.
  7. Have each student do one block print onto a piece of fabric you have supplied.
  8. Students can experiment, since the same stamp can be used over and over.
  9. Variation: Have students apply strips of masking tape over a piece of fabric. Vary the widths of the strips, or have them criss-cross. Then stamp solid blocks or blocks on which they have done drawings over the tape. This will offer a totally different effect.
  10. Have each student show her work, discuss what worked well and what was less successful.
  11. Optional: This same material can be molded. That is, if you heat the PenScore block with a heat gun, it will take an impression. You'll need to practice this first so that you can estimate the amount of heat needed before you demonstrate. Then press a wood block, a toy doll's face, sticks, a peach seed, or practically anything else into the heated foam. It will make an impression so that you can do a reverse stamp of it (see page 14).

SESSION THREE: Show the class the "top" made from their PenScore stamps (which you have sewn together since the second session). This time, have students work with another material for making stamps of a totally different character. Bring to class a variety of insulation tapes (same as weather stripping) (see pp 8, 13, 15). You will also need to provide pieces of plywood for backing (a piece of foam tray can be substituted, as can a Pyrex dish or a flat-bottomed drinking glass).

  1. Demonstrate this process, including the inking of the finished stamp.
  2. Have each student develop a simple design (straight lines, spirals, curves, etc. are the easiest to do since each is in a continuous line).
  3. Glue the shapes to a base. If they have not been pressed down tightly, they can be rearranged.
  4. Use paints as before, adding color to the stamp with either the roller or the brush.
  5. Have students combine their blocks with those made by other students to achieve some variety.
  6. Use your pre-cut blocks, having each student stamp one for another "top."
  7. If you wish to work large-scale, have students bring Pyrex plates or dishes from home (or from the Salvation Army) or find flat-bottomed glasses. These have the advantage of allowing the stamper to see through to the fabric.
  8. Have students show their work, discussing what worked well and what did not.

More Class Ideas
If you prefer a longer series of classes, a session could be spent on any of the following:

  • Inner tube stamps
  • Inter-sole stamps (from Dr. Scholl's)
  • Art gum eraser stamps
  • Sponge stamps
  • Freezer paper block-outs with stamps
  • Vegetable stamps
  • Fish stamps
  • Carving blocks
  • Techniques with commercial stamps
  • Combining commercial stamps with handmade stamps
  • Or you could assign each student to come up with another idea for a stamp and bring the materials (or the results) to class.
  • Or set a date for a class exhibit at the shop where you teach. The "tops" they stamp in class could be hung as examples of group work.
  • Or organize a class around letters or repeat patterns and allover patterns.
  • Or organize a class around the projects in the book.
  • A 10-week class would be wonderful, but a 4-week class can accomplish a lot! I suggest you start with 3 or 4 sessions, then expand as you become more familiar with the speed of student work and the projects they prefer.

Have fun!

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