Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Printed Fabric Bee: Old World Maps

It's time to reveal another month of The Printed Fabric Bee. (The Printed Fabric Bee is a group of 12 artists who create an original piece of fabric each month using various surface design methods following the size, theme and colors set by the Queen Bee of that month.)

Lisa Chin was this month's Queen Bee and she chose "Old World Maps." Yikes. This was a hard theme. I think it was tough because it wasn't just "maps," but Old World Maps. She also wanted vintage looking colors.

Usually, when I'm working on a project, I need to find some way to connect to the theme on a personal level. So, I came across this beautiful map of Junction City, Kansas from about 1870. 

I lived in Junction City from age 4 to age 12. I consider it my childhood home. Isn't this map fabulous? I knew I could take inspiration from it for my fabric.

I started by enlarging the image, so I could focus mostly on the grid section of the map. I love grids and I'm especially drawn to regular patterns, so it made sense to start there rather than with the beautiful lettering or the other elements of the map. 

I taped the printout to the dining room window and traced the blocks, streets and alleys.

So, here's the first layer of design on my 6x6 inch piece.

I also spent a bunch of time comparing the old map to the current Google map view. I couldn't really figure out what that blank triangle would have been, but I like it as an element of composition.

Then I used watered down acrylic paint to fill in the sections with color.

Now what? This might work for the 6x6 piece since it fills the space nicely, but Lisa requested a 9x16 piece, so I'd need to fill up that space somehow. Eventually, I decided to focus on the beautifully scrolly details in the frame of the map. This was common in old world maps, right?

I decided to carve a stamp. After lots of sketching, I settled on the size and design and transferred it to Speedy Carve.

Lots of test prints along the way. I wanted it to look hand carved rather than completely clean. It was really fun.

If The Printed Fabric Bee is about using a variety of surface design methods and trying new techniques (or returning to old techniques), it's definitely working for me!

Here's the 6x6 piece with the stamped layer. (This piece will go to the winner of our monthly giveaway.)

The general guidelines for The Printed Fabric Bee suggest that the artist use at least two layers of design on her fabric. So, there are three here: the grid outline created with Pigma pen, the painted layer and the stamped layer.

Here is the 9x16 piece that will go to Lisa. I really love how this turned out. I think the stamped section at the top flows nicely into the grid section at the bottom.

Can you see the tiny gold dot just above the leaf on the bottom? That's where my childhood home was.

We lived on Third Street between Washington and Franklin. I attended Franklin Elementary School, so I walked down Third and up Franklin every morning. (I skipped through the alley to come home for lunch some days. We did that back then.) You can also see the railroad tracks on the right edge of the piece. I loved listening to the sound of the train at night, the horn and the rhythmic rumbling of the tracks.

(So, that's four layers if you count the gold dot!)

Close ups of the rubber stamp. I will definitely use it again in the future.

Going forward, for each of my Printed Fabric Bee pieces, I'm going to include some notes about things I think were successful and things I wish I'd done differently.


  • hand carved stamps
  • looking to my childhood for inspiration
  • combining linear grid elements with decorative elements

Less than successful:

  • colors, I wish I would have mixed paint to get a more accurate match to the original map, that would have been more the vintage feel Lisa was looking for
  • found a way to create an additional layer of some kind in the leaf section
  • more carefully considered the stamp placement on the 6x6 piece
Now the best part! Here is the collage of all the other artists' map fabrics. They are so unique and beautiful. 

You can win a collection of 6x6 inch pieces by leaving a comment before January 15 on either The Printed Fabric Bee give away blog post or Queen Bee Lisa Chin's giveaway blog post.

I'm already coming up with ideas for the next theme. I'll keep you posted.


Vivien Zepf said...

What a personal piece of fabric ,but so appealing to anyone. Well done!

Mary C. Nasser said...

LOVE the way you combined mixed media...the drawing, watercolor and hand-carved stamp! Very inspiring!