Remembering Mrs. "B"
A Personal Note from Julie
August 24, 2014
Sitting down to glue pasta onto cardboard blocks got me thinking about Mrs. Blanchard. Mrs. "B" came to take care of my two younger brothers and me during our parents annual golfing getaway. I remember Mrs. B. as short, with reddish-brown hair, big glasses and a wiry personality. She always had a cup of coffee handy, and made yummy meals and delicious desserts (especially her chocolate cake!). She was punctual and expected everyone else to be as well! And, with the exception of her unexpectedly having to play midwife when our Old English Sheepdog, Pandora, had her puppies early, my greatest memory of her was the craft projects she'd bring along to keep us occupied.
Her craft projects were always ingenious twists using materials that we could find at home. We made mosaics with different colored beans and fish mobiles using string dipped in glue. So, sitting down to create print blocks with pasta...I just couldn't help thinking of Mrs. B.
A selection of our "summer impression" books.
It occurs to me that a little bit of Mrs. B has rubbed off on me. Every summer, I design a craft project for my nieces Ivy and Poppy and my nephew, Kai. I try to think of something fun with a little twist to it. This summer we made "summer impression" books. We printed teabag pages (See Issue #19: Deconstructing Tea
) with shells and leaves and bound them in painted brown wrapping paper covers. Come to think of it, each newsletter issue and even my upcoming book, Fabric Printing at Home
, is a little ode to Mrs. B. So... thanks Mrs. B for inspiring me with your beans and pasta and string!
Arrange and glue pasta to corrugated cardboard blocks. Create blocks resembling inlay or mosaic designs. Print repeat patterns for interesting background textures on fabric.
Designing Pasta Print Blocks
You will need the following materials to create pasta print blocks:
- Assorted types of pasta. Include spaghetti and/or linguine if you want to try some of the inlay designs.
- Corrugated cardboard cut into 4" or 6" squares
- Craft knife with extra blades
- Clear plastic gridded ruler (e.g.Omnigrid)
- Self-Healing Rotary Cutting Mat to use with the craft knife.
- Mod Podge, white glue or gel medium
- 1" foam brush to apply Mod Podge, white glue or gel medium
- Small plastic container to hold Mod Podge, white glue or gel medium
- Pencil or pen
- Plastic or other table covering
1. Cut measure and cut corrugated cardboard into squares. I suggest either 4" or 6" squares.
2. If you would like to try an "inlay" design, use a pencil and clear plastic gridded ruler to draw some simple geometric designs.
Draw simple geometric designs for inlay patterns.
3. If you are using shaped pasta, spend some time arranging designs before gluing them down.
TIP: When arranging pasta on the cardboard, try not to place shapes of different heights right next to each other in an alternating pattern. In that case, the pasta that is "taller" will print while the pasta that is "shorter" will not. If you want to create a design with different types of pasta (or different orientations of the same type of pasta), glue multiples of one type to create a grouping of equal height before gluing a different type also in a grouping.
Only the "taller" pasta glued to the block on the left will print. By gluing down groupings of pasta, such as on the block on the right, both designs will print.
4. Cover your work area with plastic to protect it from glue drips. Glue the pasta to the cardboard squares. Work on one section of the design at a time, brushing the white glue or gel medium only on that part of the cardboard.
Work on one section of the design at a time.
Inlay Designs Using Spaghetti and/or Linguine
5. Try some "inlay" designs using spaghetti or linguine or both. Glue parallel segments of spaghetti to the cardboard to build-up the patterns.
TIP: Cutting segments of linguine to fit your designs may require marking with a pencil and cutting them on the cutting mat instead of directly on the cardboard.
6. Seal your blocks by brushing them with at least one layer of white glue or gel medium.
A selection of pasta print blocks.
Printing with Your Pasta Blocks
You will need the following materials:
- Print blocks you just created.
- 15" x 20" Padded Portable Work Surfaces (See Issue #2 under Get Ready, Get Set...). You will want one for each piece of fabric you plan to print.
- 15" x 20" piece of 1/2" thick upholstery foam (soft spongy foam)
- 15" x 20" (or slightly larger) piece of muslin or cotton fabric. This will be placed on top of the upholstery foam to protect it.
- Prepared for Dyeing Kona Cotton. Cut fabric into 12" x 15" pieces. You may also use pre-washed 100% cotton fabric in white or solid colors. I like to create my own painted background fabrics using diluted Pebeo Setacolor Transparent Fabric Paints (1 part paint/ 2 parts water). Apply the diluted paint to the fabric with a 2" wide foam brushes (one brush for each color used).
- Pebeo Setacolor Opaque Fabric Paints. Your choice of colors.
- 1" wide foam brushes. You will want one for each paint color you choose.
- Rollrite Foam Brayers or another brand of dense foam brayer. Use these for brayer rubbings. You will want one for each paint color you choose.
- Foam daubers (optional). See Issue #4: How to Make a Foam Dauber. You can use these to apply paint to more dimensional blocks.
- Glass or Plexi-glass palettes. I purchase glass from the framing department at my local craft store. Buy the least expensive glass available and tape the edges with duct tape. I like to have several available to use with different paint colors. You will spoon the paint onto the glass.
- Small plastic containers with lids to hold paint. I like to use Ziploc xs/bowl 8 fl. oz. containers, but you could use recycled yogurt, margarine or other small containers.
- Plastic spoons for mixing paint and spooning it out.
- Masking tape
- Paper towels
- Plant mister for cleaning the foam blocks after printing (I suggest Tip N' Spray).
1. Mix up colors of Pebeo Setacolor Opaque Fabric Paint or use colors directly from the bottles. If you are mixing a custom color, be sure you start with the lightest color and gradually add darker colors. Always remember that a little goes a long way!
2. Place the piece of 1/2" foam on the padded portable work surface and lay the piece of muslin or cotton fabric on top of it. Tape the fabric you plan to print to this covered, padded surface.
3. Dip a 1" foam brush into the container of paint. Brush it across the edge of the container to release excess paint. Paint the entire block one color or paint sections different colors.
4. Optional: Use a foam dauber to apply paint to more dimensional blocks. Spoon a small amount of paint onto the glass palette. Pick up some paint with the dauber and press it on the glass to release excess paint before daubing the block.
5. Turn the block over onto the fabric and gently press to release the paint. Layer prints to create rich fabric designs.
In addition to printing directly with your blocks, some of the flatter blocks can be placed under the fabric for brayer rubbings.
1. Tape the corners of the fabric you plan to print onto a padded portable work surface.
2. Slip a flat print block under the fabric.
3.Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of paint onto the glass palette. Use the dense foam brayer to spread the paint on the glass palette until there is an even coating of paint on the brayer.
4. Carefully roll the paint over the fabric to pick up the textures/designs from the pasta block underneath.
5. Shift the block to a different spot under the fabric and continue.
Setting the Paint
After the fabrics are completely dry, the fabric paint needs to be set before the fabric can be washed. The paint can be set in one of the following ways:
1. Let the fabrics passively set by letting them sit for a week.
2. Iron to set. Place a piece of muslin or a pressing cloth over the printed fabric and iron for 5 minutes using the cotton setting.
3. Place the printed fabrics in a clothes dryer and dry them for 50 minutes on a high heat setting.
Once the fabric paint is set, the fabrics can be machine washed in a cold or warm delicate setting with a small amount of detergent.
Cleaning the Print Blocks
It's best if you can clean the blocks before the paint dries. If you have completely sealed the components on the block with glue, you can mist the block and carefully wipe the paint off with a paper towel. Or mist a couple of paper towels, fold over and print with the block. Continue to print on the damp paper towels until most of the paint has come off the block.
Pasta Play Prints