Paper and Cloth Lamination Project

Last Christmas (!) I got myself a copy of the very aesthetically pleasing book  Paper & Metal Leaf Lamination: A Mixed Media Approach With Cloth, a joint venture by well-known fiber artists Jane Dunnewold and Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan.

I’ve been meaning to give some of the techniques a try; I finally got around to it the past few days after work. Above you can see the basic ingredients: book with instructions, bottle of acrylic gel medium (not inexpensive, it’s from France), silk screen and squeegee, and sheer piece of fabric–in this case, silk organza.

My goal: use gel medium to transfer photocopied images onto fabric, creating a sheer, durable, laminated piece of fabric with (ideally) cool, ghostly images. The first time around is always a sample; but I still give a sample my 100%!

With my supplies above, I cut up photocopies I made of photos I took during last months’ trip to Washington D.C.; the photocopies are over a week old, and supposedly they make a better transferred image when the ink on the copies has had a week to “cure”.

I arranged the photocopies on a piece plywood that had several layers of polyester batting and cotton flannel stapled on top; then, I placed the organza on top, and per the instructions in the book, diligently pinned the silk down, stretching it tight over the collage.

Then, I took the board outside in the blistering heat of the day; I worked under my patio umbrella. Here you see the collage under the fabric, the silkscreen, squeegee and acrylic gel medium. Also, a plastic tub of water to immediately wash the tools–that gel medium dries fast, and permanently. I silkscreened about half the bottle of gel medium onto the silk, making sure that the fabric was thoroughly saturated.

It took just 20 minutes for the piece to dry; here it is on my ironing table, paper stuck to fabric:

I pressed the silk/paper sandwich on the highest setting, using baking parchment so nothing got scorched:


Once heat set, the piece was stuck in a bucket of cool water for 20 minutes to soften the paper for easy removal:

Here’s the wet fabric-paper sandwich, and a green brillo-type scrub pad. Most of the paper just peels right off, in messy papier-mache blobs; the gummy residue of the paper needs to be scrubbed off, firmly but gently so as not to scrub a hole right through the silk (I did make one small hole due to over-zealous scrubbing). You can see some of the small wet-paper blobs below:

Once all the paper is removed, and the gummy stuff scrubbed off, I tossed the fabric into the washer with cold water for a quick rinse; when I took it out, I lightly pressed it. Both sides of the silk are free of paper, just the image from the ink is left behind.  Here is the finished sheer piece,  the “wrong” side showing (i.e. not the side that had the paper directly touching it) hanging on my white design wall:

And here it is over some blue fabric, just for a different perspective:

I don’t know how I feel about this technique at this time. I think I’ll try it again. I’m not really fond of altering the “hand” of the fabric– maybe I’m a purist, or, just not adventurous!–and the gel medium significantly alters the hand of the silk, to the point where it now feels like a restaurant menu. I noticed in a few places there were bubbles on the transferred images, so I think I may have used too much gel medium in certain places.

The reason I’m hanging up this piece with the wrong-side showing is because I want to read the text from my images. The ink from the photocopies is lifted onto the fabric where the fabric touches the ink; so, on the “right” side the ink will be stronger, and the text (and all images) will be backwards.

If you use this technique to transfer photocopied text, just remember that the paper side of the fabric will have backwards text once you’ve scrubbed off the paper, and you will only be able to read the text from the “wrong” side of the fabric, and the wrong side is perfectly fine, it’s a bit more “ghostly”; if you want to read the text, you will need to consider this and consider the “front” of the piece to be the fabric-side. I think this isn’t a big issue if you’re using sheer fabric; but, if you transfer images onto a more solid piece of fabric, you will most likely have no choice but to use the paper-side, and your text will be backwards. Which is not bad or anything. It’s just something to consider.

2 thoughts on “Paper and Cloth Lamination Project

  1. Claire
    Don’t you ever come home from work and just relax. With the weather so hot how do you have all the energy. You will never be bored when you retire. How are the bees doing? Have you gotten stung yet?How long does it take for the bees to produce Honey? I guess it is worth it if you like honey. I don’t think that I would keep bees even though I do like honey.
    You better have a great and relaxing holiday when you go to Newfoundland because with all the activities that you have going on in Tucson you will need a good rest. I think you said that your Aunt was going on Port Kirwan the day that she arrives. If she is driving and if it is night time I hope that she knows about the Moose on the road. It is very dangerous driving on the highway at night time because the moose get blinded by the automobiles head lights and stop in the centre of the road. Their legs are long and what usually happens is that if you hit one it will slide along the hood and brake the wind shield and seriously injuring the driver and the front seat passengers. They do have a high number of accidents every year.Hopefully if she is driving she will be driving when it is still daylight.
    So long for now. Take care Claire. We’ll see you and your Aunt in Port Kirwan in August.

    • Denis,

      Thanks for your kind words. I just like to stay active; and, you’re right, when I “retire” I’ll never be bored. I don’t think I can ever remember a time being bored. It would be great if I didn’t have to work and could just work on my art and music all day!! It is very hot. But my house is air conditioned, so, while inside I feel energetic: it’s cool in here! I just have a lot of diverse interests, and I hate the idea of just dabbling….I like to do things well. For example, the button box; I figure if I stick with it for about 10 years I’ll actually get a decent sound out of that thing. It’s a challenge!

      I am looking forward to my trip to Newfoundland; it’ll be shock to the system! When do you arrive in NFLD? My aunt, Mary Stewart, is quite the formidable presence; and she has far too much common sense to drive on those roads at night; I have complete faith in her driving. I have heard about the moose problems.

      I had a great night playing fiddle tunes with a great guitarist I know here; I’m warming up for the pub sessions I hope to attend in St. Johns, as well as the tunes I hope to share in Port Kirwan in just……3 weeks!! Geez.

      See you soon, Clare

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