Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Crazy Quilt Tissue Box

Step 1 - getting the design on the item
Trying to keep myself busy and my mind and hands active I decided that the plain wooden tissue box on a small table next to my chair needed something. I didn't want it too colorful or even a solid color or stained wood, I definitely wanted a little more character than a plain wooden box.

If you have never tried creating a crazy quilt design, try to pencil in what you would think fabric scraps might look like on an object. I have used this on birdhouses (my first series), wooden plates and now this tissue box. The drawn "fabrics" are all shapes and sizes depending on the item you are making. The secret of a good crazy quilt is that you use whatever is at hand ... cottons, velvet even suiting and tie materials.

Before doing anything though, I gave the item a light sanding feeling for rough edges and iffy sides. When I felt that it was smooth, I was ready. You might want to use a sealer for your next step making sure the wood was 100% dry before putting on the base coat. I was going for a more primitive look and usually like the look of paint getting soaked up by the wood.

Your next step is to pencil in the "Crazy Quilt" pattern. I had a dream about it and in that dream I had done each of the sides and the top in different color ways ... 
Step 2 - coloring the fabric base colors
blues, greens, reds, yellows and purples on top. It was an interesting idea. However, as I started painting I realized that "pieces" of fabric from the other sides needed to be brought in. This helped keep the palette in a kind of continuity with the two sides it was touching.

I tried to use a base color at least twice on each side. That way you didn't have to use too many colors (I used something like 35 as it was, WAY too many?). Yet, it seemed that I needed to use this many to keep the continuity I wanted where base colors blended into the next side. I started with the top using purples that would blend in with the four side colors of blue, yellow, red and green. Finished, I think it worked.
Step 3 - flat base fabrics of paint completed

While painstaking, it is important to follow these steps and see where the colors take you. It is not always easy and I repainted more than one fabric scrap to make it's color fit especially as it would creep around the side into the next color way.

Once the entire surface is painted (No, I didn't seal the box first as many would do because I didn't care whether the paints soaked into the wood or not. However if you are having problems stop painting and seal the wood. You can always continue painting when the sealer is dry.) Then comes the real decision making time. What designs do I give my painted "fabrics?"

As you can see from Step 3, on the left, the base of flat fabrics is often ragged and complicated. It seemed right to me to do this because of the variety of scraps I have seen leftover from a sewing project. It would have been easier to make more or less squares but then, where's the challenge? Here you can also see the red, yellow and purple sides. Notice how they tend to invade each others spaces. I believe that it makes for a better continuity.
Step 4 - adding fabric design on base colors

Now for the designs. For me, this is never easy. While I am using gel and Sharpie pens for designs, this is not a smooth paper surface and lines don't always go as straight as you would like. The same goes using even liner brushes with paint on them. Probably I don't have the steadiest of hands but more than once I feel thwarted by the surface as I draw or paint a line, circle or square. If you wanted a more perfect surface then probably a coat of sealer well sanded would give you a smoother surface. I wanted to have a kind of hand-drawn feel. I didn't want it perfect. What's the fun of that?

As you can see here, on the blue, green and purple sides, (right) the fabric designs are being added on. I often used the same design giving it a different color way as I went around the sides. In the end it would be changed the minute I started to "antique" it making the patterns and sides become far more unified and making individual differences less noticeable. That was my goal from the beginning. The solid flat colors can be jarring (look at Step 3 again) and even with the fabrics in place a bit much. I say this loving color!
Step 5  - The finished, antiqued box
However, when all is in place, the base colors and fabric designs,  I think that there needs to be a process that makes it all work together. For me it is the antiquing, a wash of brown heaviest on the edges and washed inward. That's why I usually use DecoArts Traditional Raw Umber rather than black because with age things go brownish not blackish. It is a matter of preference. I believe you could use any color you wanted depending on the look you wanted. I have tried other colors but for aging something I find that dark browns seem to work the best.

As you can see in Step 5 the antiquing has given the box and instant antique look, a look where after years of use the box has achieved a patina of old age just like you might find on something old around grandma's house.

The last step, for me at least, is to take a gold pen, or one that will write on the acrylic and put in the stitching that would be used to hold the fabrics in place. That's right, each and every piece of "fabric" is "sewn" in place with golden thread. As daunting as that sounds, it can be done in about an hour. After all that has already taken place ... putting on the base coat, then the fabric designs what's another hour? When you are looking at it or holding it, it gives the entire piece a very finished look.

If you are a crafter, get out some object and give it a try. I am going to try a wooden photo frame next and possibly teach it to my class of seniors. This is something they can easily do and have something they can be proud of. Add a photo and they have a wonderful memory of family or friends using a piece of art they created themselves.

If interested in buying this small treasure, contact me in comments where we can reach a deal.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Comments are always welcome. Please check out my earlier blogs as they range from a wide variety of comments on design and how it affects our lives!

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