Friday, March 15, 2013

Thermofaxing a Quilt - Off the Wall Friday

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You know after 20 years in the quilt world, you think you've heard it all.  At least I did, until I was eating lunch one afternoon at Quilting by the Lake and the conversation turned to thermofaxing.   THERMOFAX???  From what I could gather, there was this really great way to make surface designs using a "thermofax".  Not till after lunch, did I confess to my friend Pam, that I had no idea what a thermofax was.  She was kind enough to explain that thermofaxes (early copy machines) were being used with special plastic paper to create stencils for screen printing on fabric.  The stencils could be used over and over and were washable.Well, how cool is that??  (then she had to explain screen printing - but that's a whole other story!)

 Finally today, 2 years later,  I got to make my first thermofax.   I spent the day in Sandy's amazing studio working on the next step in  Sign, Signs.  It was one big day of surface design techniques.  First of all, I had to apply another air brush paint layer of pewter to the background brick wall I made over a month ago. It had originally turned out wayyyyy tooo light for my tastes and needed to be gruffed up a bit!  I mean this is suppose to be a city wall after all!!

While that dried, Sandy showed me how to make a thermofax.  After picking the font I wanted, I had printed out the letters.  I then had the letters copied at Staples with laser printing and black toner.  Each sheet had a letter.  The letter is placed on the special thermofax plastic, run through the machine and then magically "burnt" into the plastic.  WOW!  The plastic is then mounted to a plastic frame using double sided tape.

Once we had all the thermofax stencils made, we had to figure out the placement of them.  The brick wall background was first pinned to a padded coreboard for easy screen printing.  We tried several arrangements - the diagonal line looked the best with the horizontal lines of the bricks.

Almost Right but not quite!

No Way!

Then came the paint.  Isn't paint fun??  Its pretty easy to silk screen - you basically take the paint - put a line of it on one side of the frame and squeegee it across the silk  -  now remember in this case the "frame" is the thermofax and the "silk" is the blue thermofax stencil.   We used screen printing paint, but you can use any fabric paint.   As I did each letter, I wasn't too particular about getting each one just perfect since more urban signs aren't perfect.  A couple of letters bled a bit - either from my inept use of the squeegee or the thinness of the paint.  I have used thermofaxes in the past with regular fabric paint and didn't have any bleeding.

It took about 4 hrs from start to finish but all and all - I was pretty happy with the results. Since the piece is smaller than I originally planned - I don't think I'll need as many stitched signs  as I first thought so maybe the 6 I have done will be enough.  Then again maybe I'll just keep stitching them and pick the ones I like best at the end!!.

The next step???  Quilting and thread painting the brick wall.  Now if I could only get my new studio done so I could stitch in there!!

So what have  you been up to creatively??


Living to work - working to live said...

Thermofax screens are truly wonderful. Over here there are a couple of companies who will do screens to order (you send them your design) or have stock designs for sale.

It's a wonderful way to create repeat patterns or to add words to quilts.

I am a fan!

MulticoloredPieces said...

ok, I'm still resisting this, but you make it so tempting! What fun!
best, nadia

Mandy Pedigo said...

I love Thermofax! Such an easy way to have images on hand.

quilthexle said...

I'm right with Nadia - I'm sitting on the fench, and I think this year will see me trying it. I'm afraid I might get hooked ;-)) Have fun with the stitching !

Margarita Korioth said...

I also love to work with thermofax. Your quilt *Praise Ladies* is beautiful :)

Anonymous said...

I am totally intrigued. I cut some paper stencils this week- fun, but they got soggy in a hurry, and clearly will not be reusable for too much longer. I want to try Thermofax!

Lisa Chin said...

I am SO excited for you! I LOVE thermofax screens and it would be AWESOME to have a machine available to play with - even if it were just for a day. I have several screens but I always have to think ahead and order them and then wait anxiously for them to arrive. Can't wait to see your finished project!

Unknown said...

How do you link up?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Nina Marie, for inviting me, I didn't know how it worked, but Wil helped me out. It's a great idea!
I did comment earlier on this and some other blogs, but for some reason the comments didn't show. Hope this one will.

Nina Marie said...

Thanks for the comments - some of you are set to "No-reply" setting so I can't respond individually. (You can change that through your blog's settings - comments).

Also its easy to link up - just click on the blue frog button under all the thumbnails - put in the URL of the post you want to link (not your URL of the whole blog) - then follow the directions picking out a thumbnail. All links can be deleted by you if you don't like how it turns out and want to do it again.

Please email me with any questions - the work is amazing this week!

Glen QuiltSwissy said...

I was just reading about thermofaxing on another blog and I had to look it up. I guess you need a special machine to do those things.

Your wall is looking incredible.


bohemiannie! art said...

Oh Boy! I can't wait to see how this piece progresses. I tried thermofaxing at my friend's studio last October...and loved it.

Deb Hardman said...

I have been very curious about thhermofaxing, but put off by the fact I would need to buy more "STUFF", & I already have too much stuff!

Thanks for the invite to your circle!
I don't post every week though. Just not enough hours in my days!