Why I’m Excited About It
It’s been a focus in many books, magazines, blogs and even a DVD. You can make it with many “ingredients” or few. It can be simple or amazingly beautiful and rich with colors, textures and cultural references. It can be addicting. It can be meditative. It can be useful or purely decorative. It can save you money and it can cost you money. It can be a way of getting rid of odds and ends or an excuse to go OC on collecting stuff.
What Can You Make With It?
Wallets, ATCs (artist trading cards), paint brush holders, zip pouches, tote bags, customized binder covers, book covers, corsets, handbags, slippers, hats, other wearables, customized organizers, book markers, art quilts, stuffed voodoo dolls, beads, a variety of fabric embellishments, belly dancing belts…the list goes on. It can be thicker, thinner, machine stitched, embroidered, hand beaded, glued, duct taped, fused, painted, stamped, collected, traded, and more. It’s generally tougher to sew by hand but that can be done most times. Other names for it are fabric paper, muslin paper, fabric fusion, or tissue fabric…and some people even spell it “clothpaper.”
The Basic Steps
Here are Beryl Taylor’s basic steps for making fabric paper: Freezer paper, muslin, glue-water, spaced paper and other bits, glue-water, craft tissue, watery paints, let dry, peel, use. She’s well known for making beautiful works out of fabric paper and has both a book and video out on it. I have them and they’re well worth it. She’s amazing.
- Lay a piece of washed, open-weave muslin on the waxy side of freezer paper and wet it all over with diluted PVA glue. The freezer paper or plastic should be larger than the muslin.
- Lay wrapping paper, images, text, etc., into the wet glue, leaving spaces in between.
- Apply another coat of diluted PVA glue over that. Embed craft tissue (tissue paper) into the wet glue layer.
- While the glue is still wet, paint on dyes using a sponge applicator.
- Let dry completely before cutting and stitching. This can take several hours to several days.
A Few Notes on the Glues — I had questions, so many questions, and this is what I found out.
- Acrylic Matte Gel –This is a artist grade acrylic medium that you can order online and from brick and mortar stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. It’s water-resistant once dry and PVA glue isn’t. Mixed-media fabric artist and author, Sherill Kahn mentions using acrylic matte medium instead of PVA glue. Mixed-Media Master Class with Sherrill Kahn: 50+ Surface-Design Techniques for Fabric & Paper. ISBN-10: 160705423X; ISBN-13: 978-1607054238
- Sobo — Many use Sobo fabric and paper glue, a PVA glue, because of its hand and flexibility once it’s dry…but it’s water-soluble once dry. I found mine in Joann’s for $2.99 a 4 oz. bottle.
- Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive — Others are using archival (won’t degrade papers over time) Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive, which is also a flexible PVA glue that’s water-soluble even after drying. Of course, using archival glues doesn’t help if all your papers aren’t archival. Most people are using what they have rather than archival tissue and other papers.
- Fabric Mod Podge –Mod Podge fabric is something you can try and it’s washable once dried. Experiment to see if it can be diluted for this. http://modpodgerocksblog.com/learn-how-to-mod-podge
Cost Comparison If bought in a gallon jug through dickblick.com, Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive presently costs the same as Sobo which does not come in gallon jug containers. Fabric Mod Podge does not come in larger containers and can end up being your most expensive option, although you can frequently use a coupon when buying it in a Michaels store. Per liquid oz, Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium costs the least, if I buy it off of dickblick.com. If you buy it with a 40% off coupon in a brick and mortar store, it’s about the same cost as your PVA glues. You may do your own cost comparisons, of course.
That Moisture Concern
Personally, I’m leaning toward using Fabric Mod Podge and/or Liquitex Matte Gel. The cat, the baby, the cup that tips over, the bottle that leaks in your purse…the humidifier that leaked all over to the table…stuff happens.
Notes on Tissue Paper
So far, I’ve been using weak tissue paper I had around and it ripped while using it. Sigh. So not all tissue paper is strong enough for this, though some people say the torn tissue paper gives cloth paper character. Look through product reviews for complaints that the tissue paper is too substantial or seek out craft tissue paper that’s known to stand up to a lot of tasks. That’s the tissue paper you want. The only Japanese tissue paper I could find, which is what Beryl Taylor prefers, costs about 20 times more than craft or substantial packaging tissue paper and I could only find it online. No, I’m not paying over 1 dollar plus shipping for Japanese tissue paper. I was thinking of getting some “Bulk Basic White Tissue Paper 15″ x 20″ – 100 Sheets,” by Premium Quality Gift Wrap Paper: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0062MQY3C/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=AS03ME368F813
Made with tissue papers, cotton fabric, water, glue, and paints. Can be sewn.
Cloth Paper: Faux Fish Skin
A Recipe for Fabric Paper Textured with Cheesecloth
- Something You Can Peel Your Dried Paper Cloth from Once Dry– Plastic sheets, garbage bag plastic, that wide roll waxy freezer paper – use whatever you have that you can peel your dried fabric paper off of once it’s dried. You can even use washed plastic dog food bag (what I’m using).
- Cotton Fabric — Muslin or other thin, plain cotton fabric (must be pre-washed to remove any sizing)
- Thin, Absorbant Papers — Tissue papers and/or printed paper napkins (some of them are quite beautiful)
- Cheesecloth – Cheesecloth can be bought in Walmart, some grocery stores, fabric stores, or online.
- Optional Odds and Ends — Scrap papers, brown paper bag, metallic candy wrappers, pre-washed fabrics, ribbon, flocking, rock dust, dryer lint, silk roving, dried rose petals, leaf skeletons, glitter…. just any kind of ephemera to make your layers and what makes you happy.
- Glue — Sobo glue, Fabric Mod Podge, Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive and/or Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium.
- Colors– Fabric paint, acrylic paint (craft or fine art paint kinds), alcohol inks (e.g. Adirondack), Dyna-Flow, etc. Many of the fluid acrylic colors are rather transparent and can be diluted with water, making them ideal. They go a long way because of their incredible pigment load and give superior results. That’s why Beryl Taylor uses Golden Fluid Acrylics in her video.
- Brush — Foam paintbrush or cheap craft paint brush. Foam brushes are often preferred for mashing layers without tearing them.
- Optional Mark Makers – Gel pens, dimensional paint, permanent markers (some colors may bleed over time – test)
Method to Make Fabric Paper
- Lay Out the Muslin — Lay your crumpled or ironed fabric on your waxed paper or plastic surface. This is going to be very messy. For the glue-water, the minimum amount of glue is 2 T per half cup of water but 1:1 glue to water mix is quite common. That’s equal parts of glue and water, whether your glue is Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium, Sobo, or Lineco. (I’m not sure if Fabric Mod Podge can be diluted. I’ll have to experiment. Or you can.)
- Add Color to your matte medium or glue and water mixture — Add some color; either fabric paint or acrylic craft paint.
- Brush to Saturate — Using a foam brush, saturate your lightweight cotton fabric of choice with the colored glue or matte medium water mixture. Have no dry edges of areas.
- Add Tissue Paper(s) – Apply a whole sheet or torn strips of tissue paper onto the web fabric with the flat side of the foam brush, mashing it down. You can use either flat or scrunched up tissue paper. Use enough glue-water to flatten it down. You may color the glue water with acrylic paint if you like. The result you want is flattened and has no air bubbles.
- Add Cheese Cloth — Cut a whole sheet, strips or bits of cheesecloth and mash onto the top of the tissue paper too. Make sure it’s web with glue-water. You may scrunch it up a bit in areas. Added Touches — Add bits and pieces for any type of contrast you like (light and dark, contrasting colors). You can use papers, bits of yarn, thread snippings…use your imagination but they have to be totally wet with glue-water.
- Dry Thoroughly — Let dry for 24 hours or more. Peel. Use your fabric paper in a variety of ways. It can be layered and stitched by machine or by hand. Use the stronger sewing machine needles for thicker fabric paper – 70/80 or 90/100, respectively. You may have to replace machine needles more often when sewing fabric paper.
Recipe for Dryer Sheet Fabric Paper (Can Make Flexible or Stiffer)
This is the kind of stuff that some might call “tissue fabric.”
- Used dryer sheet
- Strong PVA glue or Liquitex Matte Gel acrylic medium, etc.
- Freezer paper/waxed paper, cereal bag from inside cereal boxes, plastic type of table cloth, or plastic washed dog food bag that’s flattened out (use what you have but it has to be larger than the fabric paper you want to make)
- Masking tape
- Brush for glue
- Acrylic paints (artist grade, Dyna Flow) and alcohol inks
- Scrap papers, brown paper bag, metallic candy wrappers, fabrics, dried rose petals, leaf skeletons, ribbon, flocking, rock dust, dryer lint, silk roving, Angelina paper, Angelina Fiber, glitter…
Method to Make Fabric Paper
- Protected Surface – Whatever you use, you must be able to later peel your fabric paper off this surface without damage to the surface or your fabric paper. Tape a sheet of freezer paper or waxed paper, whatever you chose to work on, to a piece of cardboard or other board you want to work on. Place this on a level surface. Or tilt it if you’re innovating with coloring it, you dare devil you. But it’ll have to lay it flat to dry.
- Lay Down Used Fabric Softener Dryer Sheet. Tape it down on the waxed paper if you like.
- Glue-Water — Mix glue and water using a 1:1 ratio. Or mix matte gel and water using a 1:1 ratio. That’s equal parts of water and glue. The glue will be water soluble once dry and the matte gel won’t be.
- Pour and Spread– Pour the glue-water on the sheet in the middle and spread out until it covers the entire surface. You may mash and tap the wetness all over. Leave no area dry.
- Add Paper and Stuff — Layer and down decorative napkins, tissues papers, fabric, ribbon and thin papers. Use more glue-water over these. Don’t worry, it’ll dry clear and adds strength. Layers add strength; how much strength and how many layers is up to you.
- Color – Alcohol Inks, Glitter Sprays, Dynaflow, Acrylic Paints – Drip, brush or spray these on as you know how. You can use craft or acrylic paints. Weeeee!
- Layer– Keep adding, layers until you’re satisfied. Mash and press down the glued pieces, making sure they come in good contact with the layer below it. You may lay down plastic wrap and a book top of it and let it dry completely. Make sure there’s enough plastic wrap to protect both the book and fabric cloth. If do this, it’ll take longer to dry, of course.
- Dry– Let it dry several hours, 24 hours, or longer. It must be completely dry.
- Peel — Peel your dried fabric paper off of your waxed/freezer paper or other surface you were working on.
Using Your Fabric Paper Use your fabric paper in a variety of ways. It can be layered and stitched by machine or by hand. It can be glued. It can be used in art journals, greeting cards, ATCs (artist trading cards), bags, totes, purses, fabric bowls, functional items, jewelry, and various types of embellishments. Use the stronger sewing machine needles for thinner and thicker fabric paper – 70/80 or 90/100, respectively. You may have to frequently replace machine when sewing fabric paper.
Recipe to Fused Brown Paper Bag
See Maggie Grey’s “Background 3″ in her book (see the resources section below).
Recipe for Laminated Paper Fabric
I haven’t tried it but it’s a thought. Place on silicone oven mat, coat with liquid polymer clay, place it and cure it in a covered pan and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid using anything that might create toxic fumes when exposed to heat (used dryer sheets, plastics, etc.)
- “Tissue Fabric” is covered in Fabric Art Collage, 40+ Mixed Media Techniques, by Rebekah Meier. Glue-water is used.
- Paper cloth is covered in Stitch Alchemy, Combining Fabric + Paper for Mixed-Media Art, by Kelli Perkins. This book has more of a focus on it. Glue-water is used.
- “Making Fabric from Paper” (ch 4) appears in The Quiting Arts Book, Techniques and Inspiration for Creating One-of-a-Kind Quilts, by Patricia Bolton. Yes indeed, it’s paper cloth put together with diluted glue. Beryl Taylor contrubuted.
- Fabric paper is covered in The Cloth Paper Scissors Book, Techniques and Inspiration for Creating Mixed-Media Art, by Barbara Delaney. Look for the “Building Upon Layers, Detailed Design Made Easy” section of Chapter 2: Printmaking and Surace Design, see pages 36 – 39. Once again, Beryl Taylor contributed. Glue-water is used.
- Paper cloth is covered in Mixed Media Explorations, by Beryl Taylor.
- Paper cloth is covered in Mixed-Media Master Class with Sherrill Kahn: 50+ Surface-Design Techniques for Fabric & Paper, by Sherrill Kahn. Glue-water is used but the “glue” is matte gel, an artist acrylic medium.
- From Image to Stitch, by Maggie Grey covered creating a stitchable paper-fabric using crumbled, printed upon, waxed, bonded brown packaging paper. No glue-water used. (How about using Golden Acrylic’s GAC 900 to prepare the paper for printing, I ask?)
- Maggie Grey covers “Background 3: Brown Paper and Bondaweb (fusible webbing)” in Chapter 1: Making Backgrounds of her book Raising the Surface with Machine Embroidery. No glue-water used in that recipe either.