Kitchen Surface Design

Julie B Booth
Surface Design News

A Newsletter dedicated to exploring the kitchen as a resource for surface design on fabric techniques.

Plan Ahead!

The 2013/2014 Art League School Catalog is now available. I will be teaching some new classes and workshops in surface design this coming year. Minimum enrollment is 3 students, so if you're interested in a class or workshop, consider getting a group of interested friends together to ensure that your class is a go!

Multiple Session Classes
Exploring Surface Design

Fabric Painting, Printing and Stitching to Tell a Story in Cloth

2-Day Workshops
Fabric Resists Using Common Household Materials

Patching, Stitching, Weaving: Creating Healing Cloth

Jumpstart in Surface Design

Looking for a program or workshop for your fiber guild?

I offer a variety of surface design workshops or can tailor one to fit the needs of your group. Contact me at:


I recommend this book!

A little jewel of a book focusing on printing natural objects, especially plant life. Beautifully illustrated. Lots of helpful hints and step-by-step directions. Interesting projects including printing on wearables. I bring this book to my classes for inspiration.

Issue #15

Capturing Summer Memories

A Personal Note from Julie

July 28, 2013

Summer time, a time to break with the ordinary routine. Summer for me means getting away for at least a few days (and if I'm lucky, a week) to spend some time with my extended family. It also means that it's time for the annual summer art project (see Issue #3 for last year's project).

This summer's family reunion was a bit different. It centered on celebrating my parent's 60th Anniversary. It therefore seemed fitting that this summer's project focus on creating a commemorative art piece to celebrate this auspicious event. My nieces and nephew, sister-in-law and I spent parts of two days creating special print blocks and then printing 12" fabric squares that will soon become a wall hanging for my parents. The print blocks were created with adhesive craft foam and moldable foam stamps. We also did a bit of nature printing using leaves, ferns and flowers we found around my parents' yard.  Even though the blocks were created on the kitchen table, I've stepped outside my usual parameters of using kitchen materials for this project. You might say that I also took a break from the ordinary routine! 

Printed fabric squares that will soon be turned into a wall hanging for my parents.

If you decide to do one big art piece such as our anniversary wall hanging, I would suggest having something additional available to print as a take away project. I feel that this is especially important if you are working with younger children. This year, I ordered some cotton drawstring backpacks for the kids to print, but t-shirts, scarves or little cloth purses (all available through Dharma Trading Company) make great take away items that can remind family members of good summer times together.

Poppy's backpack.

Summer Memories Project

In this project, you will learn how to make summer memory print blocks from adhesive craft foam and moldable foam stamps. I will also touch on the basics of nature printing. You can use these separately or in combination to create a memento of your summer with family and/or friends.

When preparing for a group project, it's always good to plan ahead. I ordered the PFD cotton fabric, drawstring backpacks, Pebeo Setacolor Opaque fabric paints and moldable foam stamps from Dharma Trading Company and had them sent directly to my parents' home. I bought the rest of the supplies at a local Michaels craft store. If you don't have a Michaels try your local craft or art supply store. Since children were involved, I broke the project down into manageable parts over the course of a couple of days. Depending on the age and attention span of the participants, you may want to allot no more than two hours for each task (e.g. making print blocks, printing).

You can turn collecting textures and natural items into a treasure hunt (something my nieces and nephew really enjoyed). If it's a rainy day, you can look for interesting items inside the home to use with the moldable foam stamps (see Issue #6 for some ideas). If you do decide to use fabric for a wall hanging, measure the fabric to the sizes you desire, nip the fabric with a pair of scissors and let the kids tear it into the pieces needed for the project. You will see glee on their faces when you tell them that you want them to tear the fabric (and it makes that great ripping sound!). Make sure you have some extra materials but do set some limitations. You want everyone to have an enjoyable time, but you don't want to waste materials. It can also be a great lesson for kids to try to turn what they consider a mistake into a completely different and often more interesting design.

Adhesive Craft Foam Blocks
You will need the following materials:
  • 9" x 12" x 1/4" foam sheets. Creatology has these in white or black. Darice Foamies also has 9" x 12" x 6mm thick sheets.
  • Optional: Corrugated cardboard. If you can't find the 9" x 12" foam sheets you can use this instead.
  • Scissors for cutting foam. I suggest a pair of large scissors for cutting thicker foam sheets and smaller scissors for the thin adhesive-backed sheets.
  • Flat pan or bowl. Pour the container of stickers into this. It will be easier to see and pick out shapes.
  • Ruler.
  • Ballpoint pen or pencil. Use this to incise designs in the adhesive foam. Use also for measuring and marking thicker foam for cutting into blocks.
*All Creatology products are available at Michaels craft stores. Michaels has limited online shopping.

1. Cut the 9" x 12" sheets of thicker craft foam into different sizes and shapes. If you can't find this foam, use corrugated cardboard instead. These will be the foundation for your print blocks.

2. Pour the foam stickers out of their container and into the flat pan. Spread them out so you can see the different shapes.

3. Draw simple designs on the paper backing side of the 6" x 9" adhesive foam sheets. Cut out the designs with scissors. If you are designing letters or words, you can draw them out facing the correct way on the paper backing side. When you cut them out, they will be reversed on the foam side. Once they are printed, they will be back to reading the correct way.

4. Pull the paper backing off the adhesive craft foam. Arrange the shapes, letters or cut designs on the thicker foam. Press to secure them.

5. To add details to the designs, you can:
  • Add some smaller shapes of adhesive foam onto the adhesive foam already on the block.
  • Draw designs in the adhesive foam shapes with a ballpoint pen or pencil. The pen/pencil will compress the foam and the designs will appear when you print your block.

Summer Textures on Moldable Foam Stamps
You will need:
  • 2.75" x 3.75" x 1" moldable foam stamps. Dharma Trading carries these in packs of ten. I suggest having at least 2 per person. The stamps (foam blocks) can be embossed on both sides.
  • Heat gun or embossing tool. I prefer using the Heat-It Craft Tool as is has a wider mouth than the regular embossing tools. Both Dharma Trading and Michaels carry embossing tools.
  • Textured items from your collecting treasure hunt. Shells, seedpods, pine cones, bark, twigs, small stones. If you are having an in-door hunt: baskets, dried beans, rice, paperclips, pins are some possibilities.
  • Soft upholstery foam. I use the same 1/2" thick foam pieces I use to make daubers. You will want to have at least four 4" x 6" pieces.
  • Optional: Flat textured material. Examples: plastic needlepoint canvas, burlap, textured shelf liner (grip or non-slip variety).
1. If you are planning to emboss with textured items that are a uniform height (e.g. rice or beans), pour them onto a hard flat surface.

2. If your textured items are of different heights, such as shells or if you are planning to mix different types of textured items together, you will want to use the upholstery foam. Layer the pieces of foam one on top of the other until the height of the foam is at least equal to the height of the tallest item.

3. If you would like a textured background behind your items, place a piece of the optional textured material (e.g. shelf liner) under the items on the foam.

Some possible textures that can be used for backgrounds include netting, burlap, textured shelf liner, and plastic needlepoint canvas.

4. Use the heat gun or embossing tool to heat up one side of the moldable foam stamp. Hold the heat gun about an inch above the surface of the stamp and move it slowly back and forth for 30 seconds or until the foam begins to soften.

5. Turn the moldable foam stamp over onto the textured items and press down (push hard!). Remove the stamp and check out the impression.

6. If you are unhappy with the depth or detail of the impression, reheat the stamp until the impression disappears and try again.

Preparing to Print
You will need the following materials:

  • Flat area for printing. The area needs to be large enough to accommodate the participants. We worked on the floor of the garage at my parents' house. If you have a large dining room table, that would work as well.
  • Large blanket or towels for padding. Lay this on top of your printing area.
  • Plastic drop cloth, tarp or table cloth. Lay this on top of the blanket/towels.
  • Adhesive craftfoam blocks and moldable foam stamps you've created.
  • Pebeo Setacolor Opaque Fabric Paints. If you are planning to have these sent to your vacation destination, buy the 1.5 oz (45ml) size. I suggest: Black Lake, Titanium White, Cherry (Primary Red), Lemon Yellow, Cobalt Blue. I also purchased Vermillion, Light Green, Parma Violet, Sienna Brown and Rose Bengale.
  • Plastic spoons for mixing paint and spooning it out.
  • Small plastic containers, preferably with lids. We used 1 oz plastic cups. This is a great size for parceling out the paint and avoiding waste. I asked my nieces and nephew to choose three paint colors to start. If you are working with younger children, have an adult in charge of pouring paint into the cups.
  • 1" foam brushes. You can purchase these at your local craft or art supply store. Give each participant 3 to start, one for each paint color.
  • Prepared for Dyeing Kona Cotton. You may also use pre-washed (no softeners) white or solid colored fabric. We used 12" squares of the PFD cotton for our wall hanging. Each participant got to work on 3-4 of the fabric squares.
  • Optional but recommended: A take away item to print (see above, Creating Summer Memories). If you decide to print a backpack, t-shirt or purse, place plastic (e.g. a small trash bag) inside to prevent the printing from bleeding through.
  • Optional: Fabric markers to draw details or write words. Crayola makes an inexpensive but durable marker.
  • Paper towels.
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. If you are working with children, have them choose a few colors and have an adult in charge of portioning out the paint. Remember...a little goes a long way!

2. Lay a piece of fabric out on the plastic in front of each participant. Have a stack of other pieces available.

3. Dip a brush into a container of paint. Wipe off the excess paint on the rim of the container. Too much paint on your blocks will result in messy prints.

4. Lightly brush the paint on either an adhesive foam block or a moldable foam stamp. You can choose to paint the block/stamp all one color or multiple colors.

Poppy brushing paint onto her adhesive foam block.

5. Turn the block over onto the fabric and use your hand to press down on all parts of the block to release the paint onto the fabric.

6. Have participants use their first piece of fabric as a sampler to try out all their blocks/stamps. They may want to work out a design using multiple blocks or printing one block multiple times.

Kai's printed sampler of moldable foam stamps.

Judy printed one adhesive foam block multiple times on this piece of fabric.

7. Continue printing on additional pieces of fabric.

8. Consider adding details or words with Crayola Fabric Markers.

Poppy's print with the addition of a drawing using fabric markers.

Nature Printing
You will need the following materials: 1. Lay the leaf on the foil/wax paper with the more textured side facing up.

2. Dip a foam dauber into the container of paint or pour a small amount of paint onto the foil/wax paper and dip the dauber into the paint. Make sure you don't have too much paint on the dauber.

3. Apply paint to the leaf.

4. Turn the painted leaf over onto the fabric. Cover with a sheet of paper towel.

5. Press on the paper towel to release the paint from the leaf onto the fabric.

Judy's nature print.

Setting the Paint
Once the fabric paints are completely dry, set them in one of the following ways:
1. Put the fabrics in a clothes dryer for 50 minutes using the high heat setting.

2. Set each piece with an iron. Place a pressing cloth on top of the printed fabric and iron for 5 minutes using the cotton setting.

3. Let the fabrics passively set by leaving them alone for a week.

Once the fabrics are set, they can be machine washed in cold or warm water using the delicate cycle.

If you create some summer memories with these techniques, I would love to see photos! Send them to

Coming Up In the Next Issue:
In the next issue of Julie B Booth Surface Design News
, we're Brown Bagging It, using paper bags to create printed and stenciled designs on fabric.

Julie B Booth Surface Design News Issue #16 will come out on Sunday, August 25.


Copyright © 2013 Julie B Booth Surface Design, All rights reserved.
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