Amber’s Art School: Basecoats, Method 2– Fabric

Welcome!  As you may or may not know, I have begun a new series wherein I detail many different methods that you can use and layer to create your own beautiful and unique wall art:
www.lovenestdesign.com/welcome-to-ambers-art-school/

Tiny Canvas Covered With a Vintage Fabric Remnant

Tiny Canvas Covered With a Vintage Fabric Remnant

Well, you’re in luck, because we are still at the beginning of this little series, and we’re working on the very lower layer of the canvas, covering methods to basecoat your artwork.  In the last installment we covered the canvas using a fairly easy paint method, and this time I will be showing you something even easier involving pretty, printed cotton.

Finished Canvas Three (Large-Print Fabric and Mod Podge)

Finished Canvas Three (Large-Print Fabric and Mod Podge)

I say cotton, though I’m sure other fabrics will work– that said, all I have ever used for this same project is a cotton or a light poly/ cotton blend, so proceed with caution if you are trying this with something else, especially crepe, rayon, or silk.  I can’t vouch for those, yahear?  I got both of the fabrics shown in this demo at JoAnn’s, at different times but still fairly recently, so I’m sure you can probably still find them if you are wanting to duplicate this layer exactly.

You’ll note that the two fabrics I’ve selected are very different:  one is a very large-scale, very colorful print with many different things going on (birds, flowers, branches, leaves); and the other is very small in scale, very repeated in design, very monochromatic.  I have deliberately chosen two different types of designs, because later I will be showing you some different applications to put on them for the second layer– either type can work, it just depends on where you’re going in the end.  (Stay tuned?)  Point is, if you have a fabric you love and want to use again in the room you’re decorating, this is a good way to get to enjoy it in another way.  The only thing I would be sure to do is choose a pattern of some kind, a solid base isn’t going to give you the exciting options that a print is.

Finished Canvas Four (Small-Scale Fabric and Mod Podge)

Finished Canvas Four (Small-Scale Fabric and Mod Podge)

Both of these fabrics are being featured in my living room, a space that will be wildly kitschy and exotic whenever it finally gets done.  I have big, crazy plans for that room.  Anyway, the point is to figure out where your painting will be going– both in what room, and in what area on what wall.  This will help you choose your fabric and the size canvas you’ll need for your space.  Don’t want to do all of this work on some enormous canvas and discover that you have no place to hang it, right?  (Haha, that never happens around here– how full would your walls have to BE?!)

Pre-stretched and pre-primed canvases are available at craft and art stores everywhere in a myriad of shapes and sizes.  These should be easy to acquire.  As for fabrics, beyond the fabric store there are still so many ideas and options.  Husband has a Hawaiian shirt he loves so much it’s developed an embarrassing hole?  Cut the big back piece out, and put it on canvas for his tiki bar.  Your daughter spilled nail polish on one of her new Frozen pillowcases?  Use the undamaged side to make a “painting” of Anna and Elsa!  Really there are so many ways you can think out of the box and make something one-of-a-kind with fabrics you may even already have, you can’t miss the opportunity to have some custom wall art for your space.

Before you get started on the decoupaging part of the whole thing, you’ll need to prep your fabric by washing and pressing it.  This removes a lot of the factory sizing (the chemical layer they put on keep the fabric stiff and smooth) and creates a more reliable finished product, plus it will just be so much easier to handle.  I know you’re considering skipping the ironing part, but don’t.  Wrinkles are weird, ya’ll, don’t risk it.  They can straight-up ruin a decoupage project, as there is no way to go back and ‘fix’ your fabric once it’s saturated with mod podge.

So once you’ve chosen your fabric and your canvas, and prepped everything, you’re halfway there!  Really, this is so, so easy.

(Remember, you can click on any pics to see them larger.)

You’ll need:

Most Of My Supplies

Most Of My Supplies

* canvas in the size and shape you desire (I’m using two 11 x 14″ ones for this example)
* printed fabric yardage at least four inches longer on each measurement than the number of your canvas, cotton recommended (in this case, I need each of my fabric pieces to be at least 15 x 19″)
* sticky lint roller (you can sort of simulate one of these by wrapping masking or packing tape around your hand, sticky-side out, and using your hand, if you don’t have a lint roller)
* mod podge (I just used the regular glossy variety)
* 1″ paintbrush (the foam ones can disintegrate on the texture of fabric, I would go with an actual-bristles brush)
* jar of clean water
* dish of some kind for your mod podge
* heavy-duty staple gun and staples (or in a pinch, duct tape)
* fabric scissors
* paper towels for blotting
* unopened trash bag or newspaper to cover your area
* music, because I like creating to music.  (I listened to the Dandy Warhols’ Welcome To the Monkey House while doing these)

So let’s get ready to rumble!

*** Protect your crafty surface, and be sure you’re wearing something that won’t be ruined by the arting.

Cutting Fabric To Size

Cutting Fabric To Size

*** While everything is still dry, you’ll want to lay out your fabric, and center your canvas on the area you’d like to use as your ‘art.’  Some things to consider here:  which direction will you be hanging the canvas, horizontally or vertically?  (This isn’t an issue if you’ve chosen a square canvas.)  In the case of the green branchy fabric, it’s design is so small and so scattered, I could literally hang it any direction and it’d look okay.  The bigger-print fabric is an extremely different story.  It has one directionality, and the repeat on the design is actually a little larger than my 11 x 14″ canvas, so there are entire parts of the design that won’t be seen on my wall hanging.  I have to look at it carefully and figure out which parts of the image I want on my canvas, and what location those parts will be found in, and plan accordingly.  I am also making sure that none of my little birdies’ heads get hidden or that my flowers are just stems, things like that.  Once you’ve figured out what you want to be seen, lay your canvas down on that area and trim your fabric so that you have about two inches of extra fabric on each side.  (This doesn’t have to be a perfect cut, but you will want to err on the side of a little more rather than a little less.)

This Is the Lint Roller After ONE SIDE Of My Fabric!

This Is the Lint Roller After ONE SIDE Of My Fabric!

*** If your fabric hasn’t been pressed, do this now.  If you have a ‘hairy house’ (as in, we have three sheddy pets), you should also go over the front and back of your fabric with the lint roller.  Yes, I said back.  I know you think I’m crazy!  It has been my experience that when this project is done with lighter fabrics, a rouge hair sandwiched between the fabric and canvas is much more visible (and completely unremovable) than any of us would like.  This is one of those steps that seems completely tedious and unnecessary, but I assure you that left-in fuzzles can completely bring down this art project in a very real and irritating way.  Don’t spend your time and money on a project you won’t want to display in the end, it’s just not worth it!  De-fuzz!  De-fuzz!  Once you have done this, move your fabric to a flat, clean, nearby area, so that it’s ready to go when you’re needin’ it.  (If you have a kitty or somesuch that may be prone to laying on this nice, new piece of fabric in the interim, maybe lay a flat, unopened trash bag on top of it, as a mini-tarp.)

*** Back over on my plastic-prepped table and canvas, I start by applying a few tablespoons (just eyeballing) of mod podge straight to the center.  Gloop it on there!  Distribute it all around the top of this surface, trying to get a relatively even layer– its not going to ruin your project if you don’t, its just easier in the end.  Excess on the canvas is fine at this point, your fabric is going to soak up more of the mod podge than you’d imagine.

My Canvas Coated In Mod Podge

My Canvas Coated In Mod Podge

*** Once you have the canvas coated with mod podge but before it has had a chance to dry, flip your prepped fabric onto the surface of your canvas, pretty side facing out, and quickly position it so that it is centered.  Gently smooth from the center with your hands most of your air bubbles to the edge, just like you’re making a bed.  A potentially sticky, seepy, bed, but essentially that same brushing-with-the-side-of-your-hand movement.  It’s likely you’ll get a little bit on your hands, and if you do, just go wash ’em.  No biggie.  Just be quick.  You want most of the bubbles to disappear at this point of the process, but you’ll have one more chance to get them out.

Starting the Mod Podge On Top

Starting the Mod Podge On Top

The reeeally great thing about using fabric instead of paper for decoupaging is that up until it’d dried, you can always lift the fabric and reposition it a little bit, but paper will eventually fall apart on you.  Fabric is SO much more forgiving.  There is also the factor that stretched canvases are made from just that– canvas, so using fabric only emulates the same folds and softness– details that you typically would get with painted wall art.  (It’s probably a little easier project than next week’s basecoat tutorial, also decoupage but using tissue.)

*** Now you are going to do what you did before, when coating the canvas in mod podge, just more slowly and deliberately.  Blob out some of the decoupage medium onto the *center* of the fabric-coated canvas, and spread it out in all directions, saturating the fabric and working the glue into the weave, moving outward, across the entire face of the canvas.  You’re going edge-to-edge, corner-to-corner, covering it completely.  It may help to occasionally dip your brush into the clean water, as this loosens up the mod podge a little and helps you saturate your fabric much more quickly and efficiently.

Bubbles Forming As I Push Outwards

Bubbles Forming As I Push Outwards

You may find that as you push your mod podge out to the edges, tiny bubbles accumulate into real fabric ridges, and this is where the fact that it’s fabric you’re decoupaging with actually pays off.  You can very easily lift your fabric to that wrinkle and smooth them away, continuing to work your glue to the edge of the canvas.  (Of course if you see any blasted pet hairs stuck into any areas of mod podge, try and lift them off of your canvas– I wipe them on my paper towel– and then re-smooth the area where the hair was stuck down.)

Same Spot, Sans Bubbles

Same Spot, Sans Bubbles

*** When you’ve completely coated your fabric and adhered it to the canvas edge-to-edge, you need to fold the excess fabric to the underside (as much as possible), and set it in a safe, furball-free area for a couple of hours.  You’re going to need to let the face of it dry completely before you worry about the last step of fastening it down on the back (tape or staples).  And goodness, go wash your hands!  (Or don’t– you *can* use this as an opportunity to re-live some elementary school proclivity, allow it to dry on your hands, and then sloooowly pull it all off like you are a skin-shedding, freak-zombie.  Fun!)

Ready To Fold Over

Ready To Fold Over

*** Once that step has dried, you need to go back in and do the edges. This is pretty much the same process as above, just along the ridge of the sides, and a little overlap on the back.  You’ll coat one side of the canvas in the inside and little bit of back canvas, carefully fold your fabric down, and again decoupage over it with the mod podge, one edge at a time, until you’ve worked all the way around.  You will have corners to deal with, but at this stage I actually try and keep them as dry and un-coated as possible, sort of training them upwards while their nearby sides dry.  (Also, double-check to make sure you don’t have any of the decoupage glue seeping around the front of your canvas.  If you do, just quickly brush it away, so there is no gloppy excess.)  Set aside to dry again.

Corner Up, Waiting To Dry

Corner Up, Waiting To Dry

*** After everything has dried a good while, you’ll need to finish off the corners on the back a little bit.  It really just entails careful folding to get it as smooth as possible, and tacking it down to the inside of the canvas’ frame.  You can either do this with a heavy-duty stapler, as I did (and it is sooo easy this way), or if you don’t have one of those, don’t despair, strips of duct tape will do the job as well.  Either way, be sure to take your time and pull it snug!

Fold Kinda Like This-- But Pull Tight

Fold Kinda Like This– But Pull Tight

*** You’re done!  Er, for this basecoat stage of making your art, anyway.  In a few weeks I’ll be moving on to second layer options, and you will have all kinds of processes to choose from for creating even more interesting and appealing artwork, from different paint techniques to more decoupage.

 

Of course, I invite you to please see last week’s edition– the other basecoat tutorial, this one involving paint– here:
www.lovenestdesign.com/ambers-art-school-basecoats-method-1-paint/

And next week I will be presenting my third (and likely last for this series) of the bases, and then in the following weeks we will proceed with secondary layers to enhance your canvases.

Please check back, and certainly– dive in and make some fun art!

Finished Basecoats

Finished Basecoats

 


Apr 25, 2014 | Category: Amber's Art School, Tutorial | Comments: none | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 


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