Sunday, July 24, 2011

stencilling impro

Andy asked if I might be able to help with a piece of (set? prop?) for a theatre show he directed. He wanted some black images on a white quilt cover.
I'd love to help, I said... quite a few weeks ago.
Tomorrow, Andy goes to Sydney for the show.
It wasn't a make-or-break item for the show but I didn't want to let him down. Besides, it was an exciting challenge.
I've often read about freezer paper stencilling, which would be great if Australia sold anything like the US type of freezer paper. Nuh uh. (Although I've seen some in an online shop, but that wasn't going to work on my timeline.)
About 25 years ago I had a silk screen, whereabouts now unknown. Digging about at my parents' place for the silk screen, I found these, which must be practically museum-worthy these days:

Hmm, potential.
Off to Spotlight, which is thankfully open on Sundays.
(Bumped into my sister there, who was buying plastic sheeting to make caterpillar race tracks for the school garden where she works. How cool is that?)
Grabbed a few supplies including this:
Fingers crossed, I'd have adhesive stencils.
Andy printed out the images, created for the show by a rather clever local artist called Luku. I laid the clear sheets over the images and cut out using a small craft knife.
Then I sprayed the back of my stencil with quilt basting spray and pressed it down well onto the fabric. It seemed to make quite a good seal.
I used ordinary acrylic paint mixed with fabric fixative and applied with a flat-ended stipple brush. After a couple of trials I thinned the mix down a bit with water. It's a delicate balance: thin enough to soak into the fabric, but not so watery that it leaks under the stencil.
A clean sheet of paper under the fabric at each image soaked up any paint that came through. The fabric was taped to the bench in places to help hold it all still and smooth. 
Before I removed the stencil each time, I blotted the top with a tissue. Before repositioning the stencil, I would recoat the back with basting spray. 
The paint started to bleed under the edges a bit after a number of repeats so I wiped the back of the stencil well with a damp cloth and the lines were much cleaner next time.
A good hot iron over each image and then through the wash to get rid of my wonky pink pencil lines and check for colourfastness.
Then I sewed it all up into a single-sized quilt/doona cover, with three metal snaps to close up the bottom.
looks a bit crooked at the top but that's just the hasty 'can you hold it up?' photo
And here it is. Just in time. I'm a bit like that with deadlines.
A little thrilling to know just a wee bit of my work will be on stage at the Sydney Opera House... eeeee!

- Jane x


  1. Wow, I'm just SO curious about this production! Looks super cool! Good job on the stencils, that technique could be used to make all kinds of cool things, I can think of so many possibilities ...


Hey, I would really love to know what you think. Go on!

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