The questions I’ve heard most frequently since we published Design Magic are “What is a DesignPack?” and “How do I use the DesignPack with my Design Magic book?”
The DesignPack is a convenience item that we put together for readers and teachers. It contains pre-cut and pre-printed templates that allow you to jump right into the design process without taking the time to make templates. Each DesignPack contains:
- 6 pre-cut 4″ squares of black paper,
- 6 pre-printed Design Pages, and
- 6 pre-printed freezer paper stencil templates.
The DesignPack came to life after I taught my first test class for Design Magic. While we made it though the process just fine, it was clear that we spent a lot of time making templates that could have been better used making the actual designs. Personally, I’m a lot more excited about making designs than making templates – I like to see results now! And I figured that a lot of you think the same way, and therefore, we have a DesignPack.
To answer the question about how to use a DesignPack with the Design Magic book, let’s do a quick review of what Design Magic is all about. The best way to do this is a high level overview. I’ll point out how the DesignPack contents are used along the way.
Design Magic – the Short Course
Design Magic is a simple process for creating a design, turning it into a pair of stencils, and then transferring the design to fabric with paintstiks. All of the lovely details are in the book, of course, but here is the high-level overview.
1 – Start with a square
All designs start as a simple square. I prefer to use black paper because it’s easy to see the contrast between the black paper and a white background. If you don’t have black paper, choose the darkest color you can find.
All of the designs in the Design Magic book (and our pre-cut mylar stencils) start with a 4″ square. The DesignPack contains 6 pre-cut 4″ squares. You can, of course, work with squares of a different size if that works better for your project.
2 – Cut shapes from the square
Cut one or more shapes from the square – and save all the little cut-outs. The only real rule here is that the shapes have to start and end on an edge of the square. (You can’t cut a hole out of the middle.) This example has a lot of shapes cut from the square, but some of my favorite designs are done with a single shape.
3 – Make a Design Page
The next step in the process involves arranging the shapes that you cut from the square onto a Design Page. While it’s certainly possible to make your own Design Page templates (the instructions are in the book), it’s really convenient to just grab a page from the DesignPack and start getting everything arranged.
I love making Design Pages. This is where I can first see the positive and negative images that I cut from my squares and how they interact. If a Design Page is put together properly, the white shapes on one side will be the mirror image of the black shapes on the other side.
4 – Create a repeating pattern
With a Design Page in hand, you can actually test a design on paper rather than making stencils and testing the design on fabric. All you need access to is a copy machine (or one of those lovely printers that makes copies). If you make 5 copies of your design page and cut out all the squares, you can do a cut-and-paste exercise and make a repeating pattern from your design.
5 – Review design and make changes (if needed)
Once you have created a repeating pattern from the Design Page, you can review the design and make changes if you wish. There is an entire section of the book dedicated to the review process along with tips on small changes that can transform an “ok” design into a really great design.
6 – Transfer the design to freezer paper
The next step is to transfer the shape from your Design Page to freezer paper. You can either make your own freezer paper templates or use the pre-printed templates from the DesignPack.
One note about freezer paper – it shrinks! It took me a while to figure this out, but freezer paper really does shrink when pressed with a warm iron. (And since we press our freezer paper stencils to fabric before painting, it’s important to pay attention!) So whether you make your own freezer paper stencil templates or use the templates from the Design Pack, please read the information in the Design Magic book about pre-shrinking the freezer paper. It can save you a few headaches before you get further into the process.
7 – Cut equal and opposite stencils
With your design copied on one stencil template, you are ready to cut a pair of equal and opposite stencils. Using the process detailed in the book, it’s really fast and accurate. It’s more than I can explain in a short paragraph, but the result is that you cut away the main shape in one stencil, and cut away the background in the other stencil. The pair of stencils should look just like the design page.
That’s it! You’re ready to paint!
As you can see, the process of making your own personal designs is not exactly rocket science. It’s more a matter of sitting down and doing it. The Design Magic book gives you a recipe and the DesignPack puts you in the fast lane for making great designs. DesignPacks are great for anyone who wants to make their own designs – and a huge time-saver for teachers. I know I’ll never teach another class without them!
Show us your Design Magic
Have you been experimenting with Design Magic? If you have, please send pictures! I would love to see what you are doing. You can always send e-mail using our Contact Page. If you send photos, please let us know if it is OK to share your photos on the blog or in one of our newsletters.