Sunday, September 3, 2017

What Is Your Favorite Technique For Surface Design?

     Do you have a technique for surface design that you find you use the most or do you use all sorts? I've been experimenting with techniques for years, but I've found that I find creating and using thermofax screens and stencils to be most fun. For both of them, I use my own photos as a starting point. I try to find the element I want to photograph and isolate it by putting white paper behind it.

Then I use the software Art Studio on my iPad to alter it and turn it into a black and white image with high contrast. For thermofax screens, I've gotten lucky and found a local shop, Fabrications, that makes them so that I don't have to pay for shipping. I just take them a copy of the image and they make the screens for me for a very reasonable charge.
     For stencils, I trace the image onto stiff cardstock and cut it out with an X-Acto knife. If it is a stencil I plan to use a few times, I coat it with semi-gloss medium first so that it is a little water proof.
This last time, the image I wanted to use was the root you see above. I needed an image that was too large for a thermofax screen and knew that making a stencil of it would be daunting. But it was the only way I could think of transfering that image in the color and value I wanted. So I decided to get on with it and do it. I had a transparency made of the black and white image, projected it onto freezer paper, traced it, cut it, and ironed it onto the fabric.
Cutting the stencil
I figured it took me about 5 hours of cutting time. I couldn't do it all at once because it would strain my wrist so I did it in portions over three days while I involved myself in other tasks in between.
freezer paper ironed on
There were inserts of freezer paper I ironed on into some of the larger open spaces, too.

my design wall now with the root stencil done
So now I'm designing a square version of the green one and hoping I can reuse that freezer paper stencil for that. I may have to cut another one in a different size. I'll have a thermofax made of it for the small collages and other uses. Even though it took time and effort, it was a very satisfying experience and I plan to do more of it. Regarding surface design, I think I've found a place where I can happily stay awhile. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Hi Regina, your root on the green piece is very effective. I've just started working with surface design techniques and haven't worked with thermofax yet.

    1. I'm hooked on them. Especially since I'm working in a series and can reuse them. The orb images you see on the photos above and the vines were made with thermofaxes as was the big red-orange leaf.

  2. Yes, the major drawback to thermofax is size! I love the screens, but I also love to work with large images. It truly was worth your time to make the stencil, though. Lovely!

    1. thanks. It encourages me to take the time for the details.


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