by Jean Ray Laury
As surface design grows in popularity and enhances nearly every aspect of quiltmaking, you may want to include more of these processes in your shop's class offerings. This second edition of Imagery on Fabric is chock-full of ideas for classes. To simplify the teaching, each process includes a list of the materials needed, a source list with addresses of where to find materials, and step-by-step directions.
I'd like to suggest a few classes which are great for a shop devoted to fabrics. Most processes are much less messy than is generally supposed, and the techniques are rewarding.
Locate the copy shops in your area that have color laser copiers or inkjet printers and available scanners. The easiest transfer for beginners to learn is from inkjet. Photographs can be placed on the scanner, fed into the computer, and printed onto a special transfer paper. The transfer sheets can then be brought back to your shop, where you can demonstrate the very simple at-home method of heat transferring the print to cloth for a permanent image.
While it is true that students could do this on their own, most feel more comfortable with direction and demonstration. Also show them ways of altering their photographs (cut out the auto in the background and insert a landscape, for example). Once the images have been transferred, you can then teach how to incorporate them into a pillow, garment, or quilt.
One session might be on baby quilts, in which students bring a collection of old photos, discuss how they can be used and plan the project. Then go make the prints. Or do graduation quilts, wedding quilts, special garments, sweat shirts, dish towels or handkerchiefs. Your shop could stock the transfer paper, but the major thrust of the class would be in planning of a project utilizing transfers.
Rubber stamps can be adapted for use at almost any level. Start by using ready-made stamps (you might carry quilt-related designs) or make special arrangements with a local stamp shop.
Students with some experience may want to make their own stamps. See examples in the book of quilts which use art gum erasers (in squares, triangles, etc.). Or carve larger stamps. Stamps can be made from cardboard cutouts; or try gluing rice, spaghetti, and other flat objects to boards. Use Dr. Scholl's shoe pads or thin foam rubber glued to scrap wood. There are also many "quick" stamp materials available.
Use alphabet stamps to write messages for garments or for quilt borders. Or make decorative stamped panels for the backs of quilts.
This is a class that everyone enjoys! It requires little in the way of equipment or tools (a piece of plexiglas, though cardboard will do; a brayer, though a brush will do; and textile paint). Paint is spread onto the glass, evened out with the brayer, and then brayered onto a leaf. The leaf then becomes the printing plate. Leaves can be printed to suggest traditional block designs or used in allover patterns, bands, circles, etc. When heat set, the prints are permanent on cloth.
Leaves provide a great way to make a memory quilt (a leaf from the tree at your grandmother's place, from your first house, from a local park, or from a favorite picnic spot). Or collect leaves on a trip.
Then try printing with other things from nature to personalize quilts . . . fish, shells, kitchen tools, even finger prints and hand prints.
To start with, order pre-sensitized fabric in squares or in yardage (the book gives addresses). Students bring photo negatives of any size to expose to sunlight. Or do photograms, using leaves, flowers, scissors, paper cut-outs, etc.
It helps to do a demonstration initially, so students can see what they will be working with. Then hold a planning session to determine an initial project. (A pillow or a panel for a shirt is a good beginning one.) After they have experienced the process, plan blocks for a quilt or parts of a garment. The fabric will be totally unique in a beautiful deep blue.