Since I seem to be spending my time during this heat wave finishing up a knitting project (because I can sit in front of the air conditioner and knit, rather than be in my hot sewing room), I thought I'd post a retrospective about some work I did a few years ago.
Back in 2006, I religiously watched Simply Quilts when it was aired on the HGTV network. One episode featured Lura Schwarz Smith and her quilt Seams Like Degas. She demonstrated the technique she used to make the faces in that quilt, using Tsukenieko inks. I was very excited about these techniques; I was thinking about using them for my mother's portrait quilt, so I went out and purchased a whole bunch of the inks and supplemental tools (pens, stand, "ready to dye" fabric, etc.).
In order to learn how to use the inks, I gave myself a small project: to create a series of wall hangings representing the 5 "esoteric" elements of air, earth, water, fire and spirit. For the first four elements (air, earth, water, fire) I wanted to use animal representations. I was also thinking that I would do a few series of these, so for my first batch, I chose animals from the class Mammalia: a bat for air, a stag for earth, a lion for fire, and a sea otter for water.
I started with a rough pencil sketch on newsprint, and placed the newsprint and a piece of dyer's cloth on a clear plastic clipboard, which acted like a light box. I traced the sketch using black ink and a fine-tip pen onto the fabric, took it from the clipboard, and heat set the outline.
Then, using a spray bottle, I soaked the fabric. Then I applied the background colors, being careful not to get too much ink in the area where the animal was going to be. To get the hand-dyed fabric effect, the ink is applied in random spots and then you crumple the wet fabric into a ball. When you open it up, the ink has spread all over the fabric. If you need to remove some ink from an area, you can rinse it or soak it out. Once you have your background the way you want it, heat-set the ink again.
NOTE: if you don't put paper or a pillowcase or other fabric under the piece you are working on when you iron, you will stain your ironing surface. (I discovered that the hard way).
Then I colored in the foreground figure. For the stag wall hanging, I decided that a crescent moon would add a lot to the image. I decided this after I had made the background. Luckily, the white ink is opaque, and a few layers of it covered the green pretty well. The final image is then heat set.
For these pieces, I simply added 2 fabric frames around the inked fabric, and quilted and bound them like I would have any other quilt (as you can see, my binding techniques weren't quite up to "show standards"). One additional thing I did on the Lion quilt is that I used thread painting to do the mane.
All of these mini quilts were made using my trusty old Singer. I didn't have a darning foot, so all the quilting was done "bare needle" - which I know you're not supposed to do as it's pretty dangerous. I didn't stab myself on these, but I did on another quilt, which prompted me to finally get my Viking.