Dabbing paint on fabric

Every project begins with a thousand steps.


Monday afternoon. The wind is blowing from the northeast, waves pounding our shoreline. Wet snow is beginning to stick to the unraked leaves.

I’m backing my way into a project. Thing #1: an old woolen throw that I felted last year. Off-white. Plain. Thing #2: a box of fabric scraps, hand-dyed in various shades of indigo blue and turquoise. Idea: applique the fabric scraps onto the wool and then hand-quilt. A warm and contemplative project.

So how can I make it more complicated and more stressful?

How about painting on some designs? How about working on layering textures, a deficit I’m aiming to overcome? How about using a medium I’ve never used before? How about all of the above?

On Sunday, I pulled out the shiva sticks (video demo) and the rubber stamps I carved months ago. Two generators of fabulous frustration. Shiva sticks are fat oil-paint crayons–perfect for fabric but fussy to use (at least for this beginner). The stamps could be used as rubbing plates below the fabric, to create texture.

After experimenting with one color on Sunday, I graduated to three colors yesterday. In a rare move to “keep it simple,” I decided to work with just one stamp: my representation of our land meeting sea and sky.

Shiva oil-paint sticks on hand-dyed fabric

I’m in the mood for a slow, meditative process, sipping adult beverages and listening to audio books as I work. But (a) I’m out of practice at sitting still and (b) the learning curve got my neck and shoulders all stressed out. So I didn’t get very far before it was time to escape into dinner prep.

But I’m ready for my next session.

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