When I was filling out the entry form for the 2017 AQS Show in Paducah, I realized how far the Paintstiks on Fabric adventure has come in the past 17 years. Here’s what grabbed my attention.
The folks at AQS expanded the section on the entry form to include the most common techniques and embellishments that quilters included in the “Other” section of the previous form.
I only used two techniques on my quilts, so I figured this would be was easy. Hand Embroidery, check. Fabric Painting, check. I scanned through the rest of the list and did a double take when I saw Shiva Paintstiks in the last column. Seriously? Holy buckets!
This got me thinking about how my Paintstiks on Fabric adventure got started. Here’s a quick trip down memory lane.
Back in 1999, I was blessed to pick up a copy of Color on Paper and Fabric by Ruth Issett. I remember being very surprised to see the book in a traditional shop in the middle of Minnesota. But, I was excited. I had jumped into fabric dying with both feet, and color on fabric was right up my alley.
In the book, Ruth covered a wide range of methods for adding color, including dyes, inks, bronze powders, acrylic colors and Markal Paintstiks. I was intrigued, but disappointed that the only sources for Markal Paintstiks I could locate were in London, Australia and New Zealand.
Seriously? No Paintstiks in the US? I changed my Google search to the odd spelling of Paintstik, discovered Shiva Paintstiks, found a mail order source here in the US, and soon had my first delivery from UPS. (Hooray for brown trucks!) One thing led to another, and I got totally hooked on Paintstiks.
(A bit of trivia for those of you new to this story. Shiva and Markal Paintstiks are exactly the same product. It’s Shiva here in the US, and Markal in markets outside the US. Both are manufactured near Chicago.)
I rummaged through the closet the other day and pulled out some of the samples I made for teaching my first classes. They look pretty tame today, but at the time, this was all new.
I loved the way Paintstik colors could be very sheer. It was a great way to make transparent images.
Before I tracked down rubbing plates, I relied strictly on found objects or homemade textures. Cording wrapped around a block? Works like a champ.
Commercial stencils that appealed to me were far and few between at that time, but I loved the images created by Laura Murray. (And still do, by the way!) As for the stripes… Those were easy to make by placing strips of masking tape close together on fabric and painting in between. Easy peasy.
I found one of the samples from the book and took a quick photo with my iPhone, which led to another OMG moment. The cameras on today’s phones are far better than the digital camera I used to take the photos for the book. But, I digress…
Those early experiments led to Paintstiks on Fabric, the book that brought Paintstiks into the quilting and fabric art mainstream here in the US. The first copies came off the press in May of 2005, and it has been one of those books that just keep going and going. After eight printings and more than 30,000 copies out the door, it still feels a little unreal.
I will be forever grateful that I found the reference to Paintstiks in Ruth’s book. The paints were created before I was born. Putting these glorious paints on fabric was not my idea. I did, however, have the sense to say “Sure, I can do that!” when opportunity knocked. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I would not have missed this adventure for the world!
How did your Paintstiks on Fabric adventure begin? Leave a comment below. I’m always curious to know how people find these marvelous paints.