Monday, 18 February 2013

Post Apocalyptic Teaser

Work is well under way on the science fiction project/challenge and while I am keeping it under wraps, I thought I might tease you a little and show you the fabric I created to build the scenerio on.  I started out with a two tone grey and off-white mottled cotton which I cut roughly to 19 inches square.

I have Wonder Under fusible web on hand by the metre, so measured and cut a piece out to be around 17 1/2 inches square. I can't impress upon you enough when doing any kind of work of this nature, to leave a big enough border to compensate for any shrinkage, little mishaps, stitching etc. You can always cut extra fabric off when you are sizing up your final piece but it is far more difficult if you find yourself in a tight spot to add any on !

Leaving the backing paper on,  I laid out the Wonder Under ( Bondaweb to my Brit counterparts )  with the vilene ( glue) side up on a  large plastic sheet, and then proceeded to wet it down with water and a brush.  This makes a nice base for your paints to flow onto.  I then painted the surface with fabric paints and acrylics in very dark hues. When doing this type of procedure, please note that water based paints work best.  I emphasize this as there is a lot of work and time involved and using other based paints can prove disastrous at the best of times and we are not experimenting at this point. Once painted,  the Wonder Under was left out on the table to dry overnight.  You want to ensure that the Wonder Under is totally dry before proceeding to the next step.

While the drying process was going on, I selected several different batik fabrics in shades of greys, browns, rusts, blacks, dark purples, dark teals, and a few mixed greens. I cut five to 6 inch squares from each fabric I chose .  I use batiks specifically because the colors & designs are true on both the front and back.  Many commercial fabrics are just printed on the front and the back is often very white or faded.  The next step is absolutely MURDEROUS on your cutting boards and rotary cutter blades so stand warned.  I keep an older board solely for the purpose of doing this type of work and make sure you have a couple of extra new rotary blades on hand too.  With a new sharp blade in your rotary cutter,  take your squares, one at a time, lay them on the board and with a firm hand, slash them continually about  1/8" -  1/6th " apart and then slash them the opposite way so they are in little snippets.  Using a quick back and forth motion on the rotary cutter ( quite opposite to how you would use it normally ) and with a firm and steady hand,  you literally demolish the fabric squares. Depending on what fabrics you use, you can almost turn them to dust and often you have to scrape them off your board.  Unfortunately I was so engrossed in the process, I forgot to take a photo of the little piles all sitting on the board but I did take the photo below afterwards of the leftovers, so you can see the approximate size of the snippets and also you can see in the upper middle and upper right, the damage done to the board.


    I leave all my little piles on the cutting board and put it on one side in a safe place, where it does not get knocked over or easily blown by movement etc.   The next step involved putting a teflon coated ironing sheet on my worktable and laying the grey and white cotton fabric face side up onto it.  Then I took the painted Wonder Under and placed it painted side down on the grey cloth. I then took a sheet of parchment paper ( which protects your iron & fabrics from any drizzling, gluey fusibles )  the size of the grey cloth and laid it over the two layers.  Taking a medium heat iron, I ironed over the parchment paper slowly and deliberately, applying a bit of pressure so that the  Wonder Under would adhere to the grey cotton.  I periodically lifted the corners of the parchment paper to ensure that the heat was sticking the WU to the cotton.  When it had cooled sufficiently ( not too long) that I could handle it, I then peeled the paper backing off the Wonder Under leaving the painted vilene adhered to the grey and white cotton fabric.   It is a bit touchy and you need to make sure you do not tear the vilene or lift it as you remove the paper backing, especially when using a larger sized piece. WHEW - so far, so good (-:

     Now the fun part comes in.  I scattered the various colored snippets over the painted vilene surface.  I tried to make a little dimension but not too deep or you will have floating and loose snippets later on. Because the snippets are so very tiny, they do not always fall where you want them to, so I used a little pair of tweezers or forceps to distribute them in a more pleasing manner. It's a bit fiddily but worth the effort. You will notice they are very static to your hands, so using the tools really does help. Because I chose to add a little more depth to this piece, I decided to go one step further than usual and I cut a piece of black Mistyfuse - a very light web-like fusible - the size of the overall piece and VERY carefully laid it over the entire piece.  Be patient as with each added layer, it's a bit tricky ensuring that nothing underneath moves!  You have to be cautious, as any kind of air current can move the tiny pieces and layers in a heartbeat, especially with your hand movements. Fortunately, I was in a good place with this and the fabric gods were being kind.   For the very last fabric layer, I used an old black chiffon scarf. which I delicately laid over the entire piece, smoothing and fussing as I went to make sure all the layers were as level and wrinkle free as possible.  Then, for the final layer - another large piece of parchment paper and I applied a medium - to iron so that all layers would fuse together.  The heat is something you have to judge for yourself - you can always turn it up slightly if you feel your layers are not fusing as you would like but you do have to be very careful and vigilant, or you can get patchy spots.   Once it cooled, I pinned it up to the work board and photographed it.   My base fabric is now ready to build on. Much has been added in the way of stitching & embellishments since then and I am finally beginning to enjoy this challenging project.

This is an overall shot of the entire base fabric with rough edges and overhang cropped out. The Centre area was left plain for a reason and yes, there is some green in the outer areas even though we are talking about a post Apocalyptic era. Of course, there is a reason for this, as time will reveal.

Left and below are a couple of close up pics so you can see some of the details.  Using the chiffon scarf and the Mistyfuse has given the fabric a bit of a hazy cast which is what I was
aiming for.  A more subtle background is the perfect foil for me to build up bolder textures and features on the surface by way of stitching and embellishments.

    A gentle reminder that this is my interpretation of what I have read into the book in question and when you see the finished product, you may not recognize it from what you have seen here - but then again you might????

            Stay tuned for the next episode.......



  1. Leonie, what an impressive beginning. Thank you for such a clear tutorial. I've reviewed it twice and will read it again. I know your piece will "capture" us. Enjoy your Sci-Fi journey!

    1. Thanks Vic. I always appreciate your keen eye and honest critiques. x

  2. i like the "slice and dice" approach to making the background--some wonderful colour blending happening.

  3. Thanks arlee - I learned the initial painting on the fusible from Jean Littlejohn a couple of years ago and then added some other ideas I picked up along the way with a few of my own.