Friday, July 22, 2011

Design on a Nickel

All it took was a project to get me back in the studio again. The young people at our church meet in a room that needs a face lift. One of the easiest and quickest ways is to do this is with pillows. So we’re having a fabric painting workshop. We’re a little short on cash, so we’re not designing on a dime, we’re designing on a nickel.

Here’s the challenge

Teach teens and 20 somethings how to cut, sew, stuff canvas pillows. They will have varying degrees of interest and skills. The desired outcome is to have them make three pillows, two for their meeting space at the church, and one to take home. Some of them may only want to make one pillow, others may want to make as many as time allows.

Fabric—I have unbleached cotton canvas which I have washed to remove the finish that inhibits paint. I’ll pre-cut the pillow tops and backs. They will need to mark seam allowances with rulers and pencils.

Paint—Between my personal stash and the supplies at church we have lots.  I’d like to limit the color palette so the room has a cohesive look.

Design and Application—I want to keep it simple, so we’ll use masking tape freezer paper and foam stamps. I’ll need to have some shapes printed on freezer paper ready to cut out.

Stuffing—Since this is design on a nickel, we will not be using purchased pillow forms or even fiberfill. We will cut up old towels and t-shirts and use that for stuffing. The end product might be a bit lumpy, but we’re using canvas, so I don’t think it will be too noticeable.

Sewing—I have two sewing machines I can bring in for the workshop and after the paint dries, we’ll stitch front and back together, stuff and close. For those who are interested, I’ll show them how they can sew the pillow completely by hand.

here are some samples

masking tape

Masking tape grid

Joy splatter

Stamped letters with splatter paint background


Simple rubber stamp shapes


Star shape embellished with gold paint applied with pencil eraser

stencil J

6” stencils lettering, notice blobs on right side of blue J. Need to figure out some ways to embellish those inevitable mistakes


Freezer paper waves. I think I’ll try adding some text on the white spaces between the stripes, or maybe only on the stripes.


I have some more experimenting to do. I don’t know if it would be too stiff for a pillow, but I’m going to prep some canvas with gesso, and add text with chunky black markers.

This is going to be fun figuring out.

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