Thursday, February 22, 2007

Making "Fabric Paper" by Arlee Barr

Now I know there are lots of articles in Quilting Arts and ClothPaperScissors and recipes galore for this item, but i can't find any online. If you've been looking, here are some basic instructions then! This is messy but so satisfying, like playing in the mud with your sister's favourite doll.

What you need:

a large sheet of plastic----this is your "work area"

thin fabric like cheesecloth, scrim, thin cotton or polycotton----this is the "base" fabric; start with at least a couple chunks, two feet square is manageable and gives you a good size to work with during and after when you want to create something with it--- i used a crappy polycotton sleeze that was perfect for this and nothing else!

white glue----yes Elmer's type; you will water it down to about the consistency of cream--if it's more watery, don't worry; as long as there is a reasonable proportion of glue to water, things will stick! Mine was quite runny.

You'll need a cheap brush or two to "baste" with and some for your paints too.

Bits and pieces, scraps, shreds of paper--tissue, newspaper, artpaper, whatever----threads, snips of fabric, feather bits---cut the main "spine" out----glitter, mica flakes, anything goes, but NOT anything that will be
lumpy---start a box with all this; there is nothing more frustrating than getting the gluey sheet ready and realizing the stuffs ya want on it are in the back of the closet behind the dryer under the stairs in the basement. Ask me.

Paints of some sort--liquid acrylic like the cheap dollar store bottle type or your shudder good fabric paints--i use a combination of both---these pieces are NOT going to be washed! Alternately you can use dyes.

Pieces of organza, sheers, cheesecloth or thin see through fabric for top layer.

Are you wearing your messyinthemudplayingwithfireanddirt clothes? Go put them on.

Water your glue down. Spread your plastic. Paint the plastic with an even layer of the glue. Lay your base fabric on the gluey plastic and squish it flat so the glue penetrates all of it. You can baste with more glue if needed. Don't worry about wrinkles, just gives more texture! Now start sprinkling or placing bits of thread and snips of fabric, torn and crumpled but flattened pieces of paper, feather shreds, what have you. You want some texture, but not big bumps or lumps. You also don't have to do this step if you don't want, just add larger bits of fabric and paper and go to the next step. You could have worn gloves you know if things sticking to you bothers you......

You want colour other than the ones ya got? Start dripping, smearing, spraying, brushing your paints on----areas can touch, overlap, blend or not. Don't get really really thick; you want some pliabilty when it's done! Sprinkle the glitter now if you want.

Take your top layer and lay over the whole. Squash it down; it's going to bleed through, things will slide a bit so don' t get neurotic about "control"--it's a spontaneous "blending" of the elements. Make it as flat as you can so it will adhere, but don't make it steamroller flat !Leave the whole mess on the plastic and move it somewhere safe to dry. You don't want cat hair, cheerios, the tv remote or your DH's backside on it while it dries.

Now comes the hard part. Wait. Wait some more. Wait some more more. Let it dry at least 24 hours on the plastic sheet. Unless you have an area that's really warm and it dries faster. It mUST be BONEDRY before you work with it next!

Ta Da!!!!!! It's dry! Take it in your studio now--cut it, make it into leaves or boxes or journal pages, stitch it, quilt it, bead it, bend it, burn it, add more layers of fabric, embroidery stitches, more paper-----make something from it!

Update on Wed, November 8, 2006 at 08:33AM by arleebarr
Thanks to all who commented! Someone asked if they could put this through a printer--i wouldn't--thickness is too much and if it heats up, it might gum the sheet AND the printer. Print your desired thingies beforehand and incorporate them. Vicky has a tutorial also, using dyes instead of paints, at

Update on Thu, November 9, 2006 at 10:08AM by arleebarr
Oops, i also wanted to mention that you don"t HAVE to have a top layer of fabric----if you like the possible muting it gives, fine; otherwise you can just leave the layer of paper as the focus. Experiment. Try it with mesh/netting/tulle as well, gives a more transparent effect, but "cages" it if you want that look. I'd like to hear from some of you who are trying this--what did you come up with? Any tips? New applications? Share and play nice :}

Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved — Written By Arlee Barr of Albedo Design - Arlee is a textile artist, fashion designer, seamstress, published poet, book critic, illustrator, artist and floral designer. According to Arlee: "Texture and shadow and illusion draw me: the more lush and luxurious, the more alluring and seductive. My passion manifests itself in one of a kind and limited edition garments. These pieces are wearable art fashioned using a variety of hand and machine techniques. My designs appeal to the adventurous, the non-conformist and the unique. Design shapes are simple, allowing the fabric and detailing to tell the story. Whether your taste is gothic, flamboyant, outrĂ©, avant-garde or just ready for something different, you can explore your closet dreams."

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