Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Beyond Cotton - Book Review

I've admired the work of Krista Fleckenstein for several years now through her blog Spotted Stones. I particularly enjoy her improv style and color sense. When I heard she was writing a book for Lucky Spool, I immediately reached out to share my eagerness to learn some of the techniques she planned to cover. Krista was kind enough to send me a copy of Beyond Cotton: Making by Hand: Stamp, Print, Dye and Paint 18 Modern Mixed-Media Sewing Projects.
Each project in the book features Krista's impeccable aesthetic showcased by clean, beautiful photography. These book teaches so many techniques I've been curious to learn more about like hand-carved stamps and screen printed designs used to create your own fabrics. Krista includes step-by-step photographs of each technique and lists not only the materials required for each project but exactly where to find them.
a page spread from Beyond Cotton
Stamping fabrics is actually a skill I already had on my goals for 2016, so the book arrived at the perfect time. The Block Printed Tea Towel is a great entry-level project for learning the technique at the same time as creating a beautiful, useful object. As I pondered how to carve my stamp, I thought about shapes that don't lend themselves well to quilting but might make interesting carved shapes, which led me to gingko leaves. I thought this technique would be a good was to explore their delicate variation of shapes.
After carving the stamps, I mounted them on plexiglass, as the book suggests for more complex shapes. I reinforced the slender stems with some extra bits to keep the stems from turning when pressed into the ink pad, and the shapes stamped beautifully. The plexiglass is such a great tip. It keeps your fingers clear of ink, allows for even pressure on each part of the shape, and makes the existing design visible so stamp placement is a breeze.
Krista recommends stamping on a slightly padded surface. She suggests a simple towel or a stamping surface constructed from basic materials as described in detail in the book. I found that the pressing surface of a portable cutting mat/ironing surface combo, as seen here, works really well in a pinch.
I want to try more ink colors and more stamp shapes. I love the chalkboard effect I got from using white ink on black fabric.
Beyond Cotton is a great resource for sewists of all stripes, covering specialized skills from working with leather and rivets to hand painting fabric. It is definitely worth adding to your library not only for reference but for inspiration.

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a great technique! I'd have to stick to very simple designs, but yours have such wonderful detail, Alex. I'm very tempted to give this a go!