Technique Class: Metal, Paper, Cloth

Yesterday, Rosaland Hannibal taught a technique class to a group of quilters. Except two of us don’t quilt. And one was really a mixed media artist. There was a psychotherapist in the group. And I don’t sew at all. Now, before you start to feel sorry for poor Rosaland having to manage this motley crew, Rosaland was ready for us. She was teaching a technique class–we worked with dying cloth and paper, stitching metal to cloth, using tiny screws and nuts to attach cloth pieces, and using fusible webbing for surface decoration. Rosaland is a fearless creator who loves exploring, and welcomed us to do some creative stretching with her.

We started early and by 3 p.m. the whole class had created a pile of samples. Rosaland passed out binders and folders. By writing on the samples, taking notes on what we had done, each of us got to leave with a binder full of ideas, samples of what works and what didn’t, and notes to improve and grow.

Here are some of the pieces I learned from:

Wet-dyed cloth ironed on interfacing. You can see the edge on bottom, right.

I wet and wrinkled some cotton, sprayed it with dye, let the colors merge without control, allowed the cloth to dry, ironed it to heat set the color, then ironed the cloth onto stiff fusible interfacing. This put gave the piece a firm background.

Brass mixes well with cloth and paper. A close up of the project's fasteners.

Next, I used a piece of 30-gauge brass, punched holes in it, and fasted a piece of paper to it using brads and mica washers. I also added one brad just for decoration, and a large piece of mica which also held the paper. Decorations served both as decoration and fasteners. It worked really well.

Black, painted Misty Fuse on top. Below: a paper towel dyed with a orizomegami, a fold-and- dye technique technique.

Using black Misty Fuse, a fusible webbing that sticks on both side, I painted it, then added feathers, silver foil flakes, mica flakes and thread before fusing it onto a piece of black paper.

Cloth, dry-dyed, then embellished with leaf, foil flakes and painted Misty Fuse.

Using more black Misty Fuse, I attached a Bodhi leave onto a piece of dyed cloth, then put another layer over the leaf. I was surprised at how this very wispy fabric provides good coverage.

Here is a close-up of the leaf, to show the covering ability of Misty Fuse:

Close up of the same piece as above, showing details of leaf and Misty Fuse.

The class made me realize how much more useful technique classes are than project classes. True, in a technique class, you don’t go home with a completed project. In fact, you may not go home with anything to show at all. Here’s why I think technique classes rock:

1. You get to see a lot of different approaches to the same instructions. And a psychotherapist  interprets differently than a quilter.

2. Everyone learns. With so many different interpretations, you pick up more than one technique.

3. There is no competition. Everyone is processing information for her own art, not making sidelong glances at the next table to compare perfection.

4. Brainstorming is a natural by product of classes without competition. Everyone talks about ideas, sharing how they plan to use a technique.

5. You can ask questions about technique and get a variety of answers, giving your own ideas a twist or a kick start.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and raw art journaler.