I think I've been in love with fabric art ever since I was a teenager. That was back in the '70s, when fiber art was having its hippie heyday, with macramé belts and hanging plant holders, batik skirts, and tie-dye all the rage.
|Some fabric art samples from my soy wax batik class.|
I was particularly drawn to batik but never learned how to do it. Why? I honestly have to say I was too lazy. I had watched a classmate create a batik wall hanging in art class and it had taken her hours and hours to apply the wax, dye the fabric, remove the wax, and repeat the process until she achieved her design.
I was into hand stitching, employing my skills to embroider a pillowcase here, a chambray work shirt there. It was fast and not messy. My kind of artwork.
But this year I finally got up the courage to dye and found it addictive. I wanted to learn more about resist techniques, so when the opportunity came up to take a soy wax batik class with Jeannie Palmer Moore at CREATE this summer, I jumped at it. I had read about soy wax batik in Quilting Arts Magazine several times, and had been encouraged to try it.
The basic principle of soy wax batik is the same as traditional batik. You paint or stamp wax onto the fabric which acts as a resist when you apply fabric paint or dye. However, soy wax is water soluble, so you can wash out the excess wax in the sink or washing machine rather than repeatedly boiling it in water or using chemicals. Soy wax is also non-toxic, it melts at a lower temperature than beeswax, and doesn't give off strong fumes. All you need are fabric paints (or dyes), found objects for printing, and soy wax flakes.
Still, I had some trepidation as I entered the classroom. What if I did it "wrong"? What if I messed up the colors? What if it was too difficult?
Jeannie explained the basics to the class and then we pretty much had at it, learning from each other, sharing paint and ideas. Resist techniques take a bit of faith, because you're never sure of what the result is going to be. But that was part of the fun.
I ended up with about a dozen pieces of handmade fabric art. I am still in the admiration stage; I haven't decided what I'm going to do with them yet. But in any case, I'm sure glad I decided to take the plunge and try something new.
What about you? Are you up for trying something new? In each issue, Quilting Arts Magazine offers many techniques and ideas for combining mixed media and fabric art. It's not just all about quilting. With a subscription to Quilting Arts, you can learn to use many of the supplies and materials you already have in new and different ways.
Take a chance, you'll have fun!