Experiments in Surface Design

20092-1209-1-3ww-lHow will I use these? I’ve spent the last two days thinking about that. This is uncharted territory, at least for me. I’m sure someone, somewhere, has used these oil pastels in surface design of fabric. I just can’t find them.

There are several examples of using Caran D’Ache water-soluble Neocolor II artist’s crayons on fabric. I didn’t like the finished effect which was washed out and muted. These can be blended with water and a brush, but it takes the pigment down. I want bright. I love bright, saturated, over the wall, in your face. I don’t want anything that is washed over with water to pale it out.

I do know what I won’t be doing. I won’t be taking a solid piece of PFD white cloth and coloring the entire piece with pastels. I will be using pastels over already dyed fabrics. The pastels will enhance the dyed fabric, not replace the dye.

There won’t be still life or landscapes or portraits on the fabric I finish. There will be elements. If I feel like sticking in a flower or a tree or some rocks …… they will go in. Maybe a cat or a bear ….. lots of geometric shapes ………. the possibilities are endless.

The actual application of the pastels would have to be done with something underneath to absorb any oil through bleed. I’m thinking here that flannel or even polar fleece would be excellent. Paper towels would also work. One could also use a sheet of plastic or foam core. The fabric itself would need to be smooth – think of canvas here which doesn’t move when it is used because it is stretched. Instead of putting the fabric in a frame, a quick iron with freezer paper would keep the fabric stable.

Then there is the question of setting the pastels. It would be imperative that the pigment not move. Of course, my work is not work that would be washed. The pieces go on a wall, not a bed. They wouldn’t need to be dry-cleaned (the mere thought makes me scream inside) so loss of pigment in that respect would not happen. But there will still need to be some setting of the pigments.

The best method I can think of would be to allow the pastels to dry (they do contain oil) and then heat set between two sheets of newsprint or parchment paper with an iron. This should keep the pigments 1) bright and 2) in place.

If I were using the pastels on pastel board or canvas I would probably apply a fixative but this would surely not be a good idea with fabric. I also want the fabric to not lose its hand ….. by that I mean keep as much of its innate texture as possible so that it can be needled. I am a confirmed hand-quilter and although I have machine-quilted and have a straight quilting machine in my wish list …… I would want the option of hand-quilting or embroidering left available to me.

I think this is going to be an amazing adventure. Stay tuned.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    And there will need to be lots of trial and error!


  2. Denise says:

    How technical! Definitely sounds like a project for an adventurous person.


  3. Jennifer says:

    I was going to get the Neocolor II and Ben said “Look at Sennelier” and whoops – I did.


  4. I’m sooooo impressed! Can’t wait to see what you do. Have fun experimenting. 🙂


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