Start with a piece of unbleached calico (muslin), no larger than about A3 size and iron it carefully. Stamp it with your selection of stamps (in my case I've used Alphastamps and Cavallini Bird and Nests box stamps). Use ink which is suitable for fabric such as Fabrico or Versacraft. I've used a selection of different colours. It's not necessary to make a very careful design as the piece will be cut up for backgrounds later. Just let yourself go, starting with the largest stamps, then the medium sized ones and finishing by filling in with the small ones. Leave the stamped calico (muslin) to dry for approx. 24 hours. After that iron it carefully to set the ink. Err on the side of caution and do it longer than you think is necessary as a lot of liquid will be added to your fabric during the next step and you don't want your ink to run!!
Also stamp white tissue paper with more detailed stamps if you want to use those in your project. These tend not to show on fabric and this is a good way of adding them to your collage in the next step.
Now it's time to actually make the collage itself. Collect together a selection of vintage texts and pictures. I regularly buy old books and albums from the 19th Century specially for this purpose as these are free of copyright. It's a bit difficult to start cutting into these but you get used to it pretty quickly! Tear the edges to integrate these pieces better into the collage.
You will also need paper serviettes (napkins). For the examples I used serviettes (napkins) with flowers and music but anything goes. Only the top layer from the serviette (napkin) is used so remove the extra white layers before you start. Other items you will need to make the collage are PVA glue, water, and fabric paint which is very liquid. I use Dye-na-Flow but thin silk paint also works very well. A 1" brush (cheap!!)
Making the collage:
1. Thin the PVA glue down with approx. 2 parts of water and put down plastic underneath your fabric to protect your working surface. It's hard to say how much water to add to the glue. Not so much that it does not glue adequately but not so little that the resulting piece is stiff. It's a matter of trial and error, think the consistency of buttermilk
2. With the brush spread the water/PVA glue mixture generously all over your calico (muslin) till it is well soaked.
3. Tear or cut the old text, pictures, music etc. and put them onto the calico which is now soaked in the water/glue mixture. It's not necessary to do this in any organized fashion as the background will be cut up later. Don't cover the entire background, you want the stamps to remain partially visible! Cover these new additions with the glue/water mixture too.
4. The next layer is formed by the paper napkins and the stamped tissue paper. Tear these into smaller pieces and add them to the background, partially obscuring the items added in step 3. After they dry the serviettes (napkins) and tissue paper are completely transparent so whatever is underneath them will also be visible. Add the glue mixture to these additions too.
5. The final step is to add the fabric paint. The piece is now well soaked with the glue mixture so the paint will spread well. Use the Dye-na-Flow squeeze bottles and let go with wild abandon (you might want to wear an apron for this step!) or use a teaspoon and just dribble away. Don't use more than 2 or 3 colours otherwise you will just get a browny mess!
6.If you like you can also add some Art Glitter at this stage.
7. Let the whole collage dry for at least 24 hours on your plastic background. It's important to make sure it is completely dry before proceeding with the next step.
9. The collage is now ready to use but before I start cutting into it I scan it into my computer first so that I can use it in the future too.
The collage is now a mixture of fabric and paper which means you can still stitch on it, both by hand and machine, with the greatest ease.
More about the pieces I made with this particular fabric/paper collage in the very near future on this blog!