Monday, December 1, 2014

Owl - From Handmade Stamp to Thread Painting

I'm developing a 3D work that may (or may not) be selected for an exhibit in 2015, so I will not be able to show all the steps or the finished work until a decision is made whether it will be chosen to exhibit or not.  However, here is a little teaser with a few explanations of how I arrived at the elements so far.

The field of orange in the background was created by applying Rit dye with a dollop of hot water directly to 100% cotton fabric, scrunching it up a bit, putting it in a lightly covered microwave safe container, and then heating it for approximately 50 seconds.

The small leafy images that are printed onto the orange background were made from a stamp I created with polymer clay mounted on a wooden block.
 The larger leaf shapes are merely laid upon the fabric in the photo to audition them.  These were made by first coloring sheer curtain fabric with permanent markers and acrylic inks.  When the inks were dry, the fabric was inserted into an embroidery hoop with water soluble stabilizer and free motion embroidered on the sewing machine.
Inks Applied to Fabric and Then Inserted into Hoop
After an embroidered leaf shape was accomplished, the unit was removed from the hoop and run under warm water to dissolve the stabilizer and then laid aside to dry.  Once the unit was dry, a heated stencil cutter was used around the edge of the leaf shape to release it from the surrounding fabric.
Stencil Cutter
A Completed Leaf
My vision is to have an owl emerge from the suggestion of stylized arboreal foliage.  Once again I turned to my handmade, polymer clay stamps, and printed an owl shape onto 100% cotton fabric.
Owl Print from My Handmade Polymer Clay Stamp
I am using a combination of satin stitching and zigzag stitching on an angle to start thread painting the owl.
Beginning to Thread Pain the Owl
I must hold off with further steps until this work is either chosen or not chosen to be part of an exhibit in 2015, but I'll be having a lot of fun coaxing this owl out of the trees.  I'll be sure to post the finished product sometime in 2015.

Note:  All my sewing is done on a regular sewing machine.  A computerized embroidery machine might make all the stitches totally even, but there is something in me that really likes the element of serendipity when manipulating the stitches myself.

If you have never tried your hand at free motion machine embroidery, you might want to give it a go.  Grab some stabilizer (it doesn't have to be water soluble), lay a piece of fabric on it, insert it into a hoop and put the pedal to the metal.  You might be happily surprised at what you can produce.

Always remember, never fear to experiment.  
Sometimes wonderful things happen.
© Linda Friedman 2014.  All rights reserved.


  1. Fantastic blog post! I enjoyed reading the step by step instructions. I love the colors and textures in second photo of the background.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog post, Mia. Thanks for dropping in to take a look.

  2. I love this piece. Thanks for the description. It makes me wish I had an old microwave around to use for dyeing.

    1. I know what you mean, Eileen. I love the quick and easy, no complicated prep, and instantaneous gratification from heat setting Rit dyed fabric in the microwave. Glad you like the way the piece is starting to develop.

  3. Love your vivid colors and organic composition. Looking forward to see where this piece will go.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mary Beth. Glad you like the concept and colors. Hope it works out as I envision it. I'm bringing what I've done so far to the Beyond The Edge get together on Saturday. See you then :-)