As the designer, I have been asked to create for this client a unique, hand-painted design on cotton, as she will be draping the fabrics over natural wood poles and hand-painted iron rods. They are simply beautiful. I am looking for help or instructions on creating some unique fabrics for the client. Where do I start? Do you have instructions and ideas I may use?
Answer: Decorative textiles have become the rage lately. The opportunity to create one-of-a-kind fabrics will give you and your client many creative avenues to explore.
Many faux finishing techniques for painting on walls can be used in painting on fabric. The key to the success of these techniques is in selecting the proper paints and fabrics and making sure they are compatible. There are paints made specifically for painting on fabric. Non-toxic paints should be preferred. These paints also should be water soluble.
First, decide your color palette. Either white or cream is the best selection for the background color. Next, select a cotton fabric with a non-polished surface. Finally, have various sizes of paint brushes, sponges, stencils and tools available to try different techniques.
Using either a photograph, a client's favorite design from an accessory in the home, or designs selected from your palette of ideas for inspiration, paint a selection of images or designs onto a canvas or mat board. Stencils also may be used. Once you feel confident with your technique, paint your design ideas onto the cotton fabric selected for your client. Be sure to let the paint dry according to the manufacturer's directions. Iron on the opposite side of the cotton to set the paint dye. Again, do this according to the manufacturer's directions.
There are various types of paints available for use on different fabrics. Deka paints are non-toxic. Createx can be used either on natural or synthetic fabrics. Polymark (dimensional fabric paint) and Cermacoat also may be used. These various types of paint are for specific types of fabric. Be sure to read the instructions on the label before using any paint. You might even try painting on silk with Deka dyes or French jacquard dyes. They are beautiful when finished. Batik is another type of textile design you might want to experiment with.
Visit your local craft store to check out the wide range of paint selections available. At your craft store and local book store, you will find many books on fabric painting and decorative textiles. You also might want to check your local college or adult school for classes offered in decorative painting on fabric.
Whatever technique you choose, once it is to your and your client's satisfaction, you will have created a unique design with a personality all its own!
Sharon L. Anderson, Associate Member, Interior Design Educator's Council (IDEC), has more than 14 years experience as a commercial and residential design professional. She has taught numerous courses at colleges and universities throughout Southern California and is a published author and frequent public speaker.