Today, my Fibrecircle group played with painting fusible web. I've used this technique before in my work, using acrylic paint, so I was interested in finding out whether the fluidity of the medium affected the results, and whether other media than paint could be used effectively. I also wanted to know if the glue base could be melted with a heat gun instead of an iron and how this might affect the outcome, and what the effect was if the web was torn apart before fusing.
First, I painted a section of fusible web with acrylics straight out of the tube, with a fairly dry sponge brush. The paint seemed to emphasise the webbing pattern, which was very visible once it was ironed onto cream quilters muslin. Dimensions 13in x 9in. The brown touches are from a little printing pigment ink pad, smeared over the surface immediately after painting.
Next, I used the same paint, thinned with just enough water that it flowed onto the web easily. Dimensions 10 1/2 x 11 1/2in. The backing paper buckled due to the wetness of the medium, as it had when I used it previously, giving some nice rippled effects. I added some embossing powder to the paint, but this was lost when the web was transferred, so I added more while the surface was still tacky and zapped it with the heat gun. It really looks like water, doesn't it?
Still working with slightly wetter acrylic paint, I painted the web with three colours, mixing the colours both on the palette and on the web. The texture on this one reminds me of brickwork, and I'm waiting for the graffiti artist with a spraycan to arrive! Dimensions 10 1/2in x 10in.
Last, still using acrylic paint, I created a very watery paint and roughly sloshed it onto the web. The background paper was very wet and buckled. When ironed onto the fabric, it looked rather like rusted fabric, with clear watermarks. Dimensions 13in x 2in.
Clearly, the wetness of the medium makes a big difference to the outcome. In the past, the watery texture hasn't always been what I wanted, so using a stiffer medium gives a rougher, more variable surface finish with more of an imprint from the webbing surface.
I didn't really play with too many different media. I did try fabric crayons, which went onto the web very well, as they are quite soft, like pastels. Dimensions 8in x 6in. The result was very textural, like a rubbing, as the crayons, like the drier acrylic, picked up the web texture. A friend tried Shiva Paintstiks but the effect was no different to drawing with them directly onto cloth, so it was considered not especially useful. Jo Sonja's Opalescent paints looked very ordinary until the web was ironed onto black fabric, when they achieved real star quality.
I also experimented with tearing the web apart before fusing. I've seen the web cut apart into shapes after painting (see especially Linda and Laura Kemshall's book, The Painted Quilt) but I wondered about using painted web as a collage medium, roughly torn apart. This one was painted with the same acrylic paint and, once dry, the web was torn apart and layered, then fused with the iron with a scrap of backing paper as an overlay. Dimensions 6 1/2in x 2in. I also painted one with Setacolour paint, and tore it apart in the same way.
Dimensions 3 1/2 x 2in I think this technique offers a lot of possibilities, as it gives the lovely textured effects but also makes a feature of the sheerness of the fusible web.
We experimented with using the heat gun instead of the iron to fuse the web to the background fabric. It won't show up in photographs but the heat gun results were noticeably more textured than the ironed ones. However, the tackiness of the web vanished, which might not be desirable if you're planning to add other layers, such as organza or foils, before the web dries thoroughly, but is useful to know if you want to stitch immediately without waiting for the web to dry throughly. Now I am wondering what would happen if you painted fusible web with dimensional paint, using the heat gun to transfer the glue to the fabric.