When I needed a particular theme fabric for an art quilt and was low on funds, I resorted to another hobby of mine -- soft-block carving. I used carved and stamped images  to make my own unique fabric. Below is the process I followed, and photos of each step.

For more information and detailed instructions on soft-block carving, please visit my SOFT-BLOCK CARVING PAGE (link opens a new window).

For this process you will need the following:
  • Something to protect your work surface (I use kitchen parchment paper)
  • Light-colored cotton fabric (You could use dark fabrics with metallic inks if you like.)
  • Stamps (either carved by you, or commercial rubber stamps)
  • Pigment ink (I prefer Brilliance pigment ink pads and re-inkers by Tsukineko)
  • Flat stiff-bristled brush to apply the ink (or you can use a well inked stamp pad if you prefer)
  • Iron to set the ink, plus a pressing cloth to protect your iron

Note: Click on each image below to see a larger view. Close each image after viewing to return to this page.

First I found some copyright-free clip art of the images I wanted. In this case, door keys. I subscribe to clipart.com, an image site, which has fabulous images you can use for a lot of different hobbies. You can draw your own images, of course. I then transferred the images and carved the blocks (for instructions on how to carve see the link to my Soft-Block Carving site above).

At right you can see the clip art images and my carved stamps.

After carving the images, I used double-sided tape to secure them to a wooden block. You don't necessarily need to use a wood mount, but I feel it gives me more control than just the carved block.

At top right is a mounted stamp, and at bottom right is the double-sided tape I used.

You need to use pigment ink for this process. Dye ink dries too quickly. I have found that Brilliance pigment ink is perfect. I have it in both stamp pad form (readily available at craft and stamp stores) and in re-inker bottles (available in some stamp stores and online).

At right is a picture of a Brilliance re-inker and the flat stiff-bristled artist's brush I use.

I use a brush to apply ink to the surface of the stamp. Don't apply it too heavily or it will blob up on the fabric. Practice!
Use steady, even pressure to stamp the fabric. In this case, I used white Kona cotton.
Voila! Here is the finished stamped fabric. When the ink is dry (10 minutes or so), press each stamped image using a hot iron. Press straight down, don't move the iron about. You should protect your iron with a pressing cloth just to be safe.
You can also use commercial rubber stamps. At right is an example using stamps from my old stamp line. The red ink pad was a little dry, so the images are not as bright as they should be.
You can also use the stamp pad itself rather than a re-inker -- just make sure it's well inked and that your stamp is completely covered.
To test how colorfast the Brilliance ink is, I took a piece of fabric that I stamped and painted (using Shiva oil paint sticks) some time ago. I heat-set the images with a hot iron, and then I hand washed the fabric using mild soap. I ironed it again, and didn't notice any degradation of the ink or the paint.

Have fun!

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