Home Collage Susan Carlson Material Collage Summer season Particular 4 of 16: The way to Select Material

Susan Carlson Material Collage Summer season Particular 4 of 16: The way to Select Material


The way to Select Material: Material Collage By the Numbers #4

Tom and I are utilizing a part of our summer season days to give you a type of DIY Summer season Collage Camp—or a Winter Collage Camp for these of you within the Southern Hemisphere. We’re calling it “Material Collage By the Numbers,” addressing all of the steps of making a material collage quilt. We hope you’ll take part from wherever you’re on this planet—no journey concerned!

Pulling from six and a half years of material collage weblog posts as reference materials, we’re delving into that content material to present you a summertime lineup that you could observe together with. At first of this sequence, there have been eight weeks left of summer season (not by the calendar however by the very subjective lens of the Maine local weather!) so every week we’ll ship two posts for a complete of sixteen within the sequence—until we re-discover extra related posts alongside the best way!

Posts from our Summer season Particular embody; #1—selecting your picture (posted on July 7), #2—selecting a topic (posted on July 9), #3—making a sample (posted on July 14), to ultimately hanging your cloth collage on the wall (deliberate supply on August 27), we’ll cowl every step with no less than one earlier put up.

The pattern above exhibits the choice of materials from my Sea Turtle eWorkshop, which I used to replace the unique put up of Selecting Material.

You will have learn a few of these posts earlier than, so this might be a refresher for you. The knowledge may be harking back to info present in our on-line studying useful resource the Material Collage Grasp Class. If that’s the case, know that you simply’re not imagining issues. A lot of this info is gathered, reorganized and expanded upon within the Grasp Class. For extra details about the Material Collage Grasp Class, click on the button under.


Selecting Material for Material Collage

UPDATE (Replace revealed on March 25, 2017)

I obtained the next touch upon my Fb web page the opposite day:

Query: Do you employ batiks completely or common cotton cloth as nicely? Many of those items have a lot element within the cloth that I’m guessing you would need to be looking for cloth on a regular basis so as to discover the most effective match to your piece.

This query, together with current expertise in my courses, satisfied me that it was a great time to re-visit “Selecting Material for Material Collage” (see unique put up under). Selecting cloth to deliver to class, or to buy in a retailer, will all the time be a problem as a result of a lot of it depends upon trial-and-error expertise. Plus there’s a mind-boggling assortment of materials to select from. Little question, the proper cloth might be left at house—or on the shop shelf— it’s simply a kind of guidelines. And so far as the second a part of the remark above, “Sure, I do store for material on a regular basis—doesn’t everybody?”

Because it was apparent some might use additional steering, I made a decision to take one other crack at deciding on cloth on this replace.

First, although, let me reply the Fb query straight:

Sure, I do use a variety of batiks. Actually, that’s sort of a short-hand reply for what sort of materials I’d select for material collage. (I additionally use all kinds of different cotton, and non-cotton, materials.) Nonetheless, I must make clear. Some batiks work nicely whereas others don’t.

The excellence I draw is between common batiks and “printed” batiks—batiks which have an general sample or design printed on them. I favor the printed batiks. The way in which I work and the way I educate my college students is to make use of the prints within the cloth to assist create kind. Don’t ignore the print. Don’t lower via or throughout the print. The printed design is used to emphasise contours, visible motion and texture within the picture being collaged. It’s like a treasure hunt to search out the appropriate print—mixed with coloration and worth—within the cloth. I then lower alongside that print to create an irregular form, including to my palette of “scraps” to select from.

Listed here are a some batik examples.

The hand-dyed batik on the left is a gorgeous coloration, nonetheless there’s no print for me to chop round—and if I had been to create a form it could appear like a stable coloration. I’ve discovered stable colours arduous to “mix” (however that’s a topic for an additional put up.) The one on the appropriate, can be a non-print batik, however with extra gentle/darkish variation which could possibly be seen as random shapes to chop round. It’s presumably helpful, relying on the subject material, however wouldn’t be my first “greatest wager” selection.

The batiks that flip my head are printed batiks like those above. The prints present motion and one other layer of variation in coloration and worth along with the bottom batiked cloth. I discover materials like these way more versatile for my cloth collage technique.

Check out the 2 new movies I’ve added to this put up. They method the problem from reverse instructions.

The primary talks in a common method in regards to the materials I have collected just lately, however with none specific undertaking in thoughts. They could be good for any variety of material. However you’ll be able to see from my examples the varieties of materials I’d counsel so as to add to your stash.

The second, longer video takes a subject-oriented method. In it, I encourage you to look intently on the options in your topic to assist select printed materials that can work with it. Does your topic have lengthy, flowy hair or a tail? Is your topic spherical or extra angular? What are the shape and contours of the options you’ll be portraying in cloth? Answering these kinds of questions will show you how to focus in on the print you’re in search of, whether or not you’re at school or at a material retailer dreaming about your subsequent undertaking.

After these movies is my unique weblog put up from a number of months prior. Gathering cloth for material collage is an on-going course of. Might this up to date put up show you how to in making your “greatest wager” picks to your subsequent undertaking.

ORIGINAL POST (First revealed on July 23, 2016)

After all, whereas I have to admit that I’ve such a broad style in coloration and design that my husband typically says it quantities to no style in any respect (I favor to explain my style as “eclectic”), I do have some broad pointers for a way I choose cloth.

If I needed to break it down, I’d use the next standards:

  • Colour
  • Sample
  • Scale
  • Amount

College students all the time discover it tough to know simply which materials, and the way a lot, to deliver together with them to my cloth collage courses. One benefit of instructing at a spot just like the Quilt Gallery in Kalispell, Montana, the place I used to be just lately, is that it’s a material retailer. This is likely one of the locations I educate the place, if college students don’t have the appropriate piece, they will browse a complete store’s price.

So what makes a selected piece of material helpful for material collage? What varieties? What colours? What patterns? How a lot do I purchase?

These had been the kinds of questions my college students in Kalispell had been asking, so one afternoon proper after class, I invited them to accompany me on a tour of the shop as I shopped for my very own stash. As I pulled bolts, I talked aloud about what attracted me to them. College students additionally pulled bolts and requested my opinion of them.

It occurred to me then that cloth choice could be a great matter for a weblog put up.

kalispell fabric72dpi
Just a few of the materials I picked out for myself on that tour of the Quilt Gallery. These all make me really feel blissful. I don’t know the place or once I’ll use them, however sometime they’ll be simply what I want.


As I’ve talked about earlier than, I like robust, shiny colours. The extra coloration the higher. A number of colours are nice. However in fact I’m interested in sure colours—aren’t all of us? If I don’t have a selected undertaking in thoughts, I are likely to gravitate towards that specific coloration vary. Try that choice above. Just a little heavy within the pinks and oranges, with inexperienced creeping in and touches of aqua. Add some yellow and that’s me.

With out consciously looking them out, I had pulled materials that color-wise might work nicely collectively. I’ve realized that if I belief my intuition, I don’t go far improper.

As soon as a sure coloration cloth has caught my eye (quite like one thing shiny catches the attention of a magpie), I then take a look at the worth vary within the piece. If the material is just about all one worth—is visually flat—I’m much less doubtless to purchase it. If, nonetheless, it has a dynamic vary of worth, from darkish to gentle—perhaps even with one other coloration thrown in—I’m more likely to maintain it in my buying cart. Patterned batiks, for instance (all however three of the above samples), are sometimes helpful as they include a variety of variation in worth, and normally coloration.


The picture above of my Quilt Gallery buy should additionally offer you a clue as to the patterns I favor. The prints I select are primarily pure shapes: leaves, flowers, bugs, shells, swirls, animal prints, marbleizing, and so forth. Summary prints are additionally helpful, particularly these which can be primarily based on pure shapes.

natural shapes
Abstracted pure shapes. Marbleized prints in two totally different coloration themes, plus giant flaming leaves. All the time helpful in a stash.

These patterns normally present a pleasant number of curves, repeated patterns, and variations in worth to assist in giving kind to the photographs I create. I look for designs within the cloth that I can lower round and use as contours in my picture. Such cloth is commonly in a position to serve a number of functions. Lengthy curves for hair or the flowing tail on a fish or air currents throughout face of a solar might all be from the identical cloth.


A dialogue of sample leads straight into scale. Scale refers to how giant the repeated picture is. I’m interested in bigger scale prints. College students are usually hesitant about utilizing them, however I discover them extra helpful that small-scale patterns. In case you want a curve, it’s simpler to chop one from a big sample than it’s to mix a number of smaller bits to create that curve.

To understand the size of those patterns, I fastidiously organized the materials on my padded board right into a cat mattress.

Nonetheless, smaller general designs have their makes use of as nicely. I usually use them for extra delicate mixing from one worth to the subsequent, reminiscent of in a face of an individual or the physique of an animal. See the images of the “Cousins” and Kali the canine under.


I inform my college students selection is extra necessary that amount. I can and do use tons of of totally different materials per piece, but most of my quilts aren’t any larger than a pair yards whole in measurement.

I sometimes purchase materials in half-yard (give or take) increments. Even fats quarters are typically sufficient. When do I purchase extra? The reply to that query is usually dependent upon scale—the dimensions of the picture repeated throughout the cloth.

With a view to get sufficient of the elements I wished from this Australian Aboriginal print for “Dixie Dingo Dreaming” (lower out of the middle) I purchased no less than a yard. Djinni the Studio Cat continues to help me.

For instance, in my quilt “Dixie Dingo Dreaming” I used completely Aboriginal motif materials. A lot of these Australian materials have giant design components, so giant that I normally purchased a yard or extra of every to make sure that I obtained sufficient of these repeated patterns to make use of within the piece. Just a few of these materials then got here in useful for Crocodylus Smylus, an Australian saltwater crocodile, a number of years later.


Typically you simply must see one thing accomplished so as to perceive it. I take advantage of two of my items, “Kissin’ Cousins” and “Golden Temple of the Good Women” to exhibit how and the place I used specific materials.

For scale of the patterns, every cloth swatch is 5 inches vast by 8 inches tall.

“Kissin’ Cousins”, Sam and Maia, (nonetheless in progress).
fabric swatches 72dpi
A choice of smaller general design materials from “Kissin’ Cousins.” All of those I’d discuss with as a patterned batik. As a batik, I can use both aspect of the material to attain the look I would like. The sample on the again of batiks seems to be fairly darn near what’s on the entrance, simply in reverse. Every numbered cloth is highlighted and referred to within the following collage particulars.
Cheek and brow of Maia (on proper of picture). I’ve used this flower sample a number of instances on this piece, and quite a few instances in different quilts. Search for it within the following images. In every occasion, I select the lightness or darkness of the material sample plus the background coloration to assist describe the lightness or darkness of that a part of the face.
A floral batik for Sam’s neck. The petals and leaf add kind, contour, and common curiosity to an open space.  The identical cloth was additionally used for the curves within the ear.
The grassy curves on this batik sample circulation in the identical path as Sam’s chubby cheek. Discover how the background coloring is lighter on the high and darker on the backside, matching the highlights and shadowing on the face.
From this spiral batik I select an space with darker strains in it to assist outline the sting of Sam’s jaw. The curves within the design add to the roundness of his face.
Now, on to a different member of the household… Kali, element from “Golden Temple of the Good Women.” Kali is an all white canine, however since I’ve an aversion to white, I made a decision blue would work simply fantastic. But, she nonetheless seems to be like slightly white canine, proper?
kali fabric swatches
A choice of materials used for Kali. 1.) A Liberty of London from many years in the past. Not what I’m at present interested in. Had I considered it, I’d have lengthy since donated it. Nonetheless, it proved to be a significant go-to cloth for our little pup. Ethical of story: I can’t eliminate something. 2.) A printed batik with gentle coloured “fur tufts” (a.ok.a. pine needles). 3.) One other printed batik with “fur tufts”. This cloth sample is of Montana wild flowers, designed by Joan Hodgeboom of The Quilt Gallery in Kalispell. Three years in the past I introduced house an surprising memento from my Montana instructing—our Kali from Kalispell—sister pet to Joan’s Sally pet. That’s the great distance of claiming I had to incorporate this cloth in Kali’s portrait. 4.) A printed cloth with nice flowing contours of a paua shell (NZ abalone) introduced again from a instructing journey to New Zealand a number of years in the past.
The parts highlighted are solely two of the a number of locations this floral cloth is utilized in Kali’s face. The mixture of white on the gently curving flower petals was excellent for her furriness.
A element from Kali’s proper shoulder. Along with the sunshine tufts within the design, the branches on this cloth sample helped outline the road between her shoulder and aspect of her physique.
One other part of the appropriate shoulder and chest, specializing in the Montana wildflower “Kalispell” cloth, offering extra petals and pine needles for Kali’s contours. Bonus cloth discover: be aware little blue canine tucked beneath her coronary heart identify tag within the higher proper of this picture. That one and two extra pups are included within the portrait—true remnants from a shirt my mother made for me again once I was in Junior Excessive Faculty. Yikes!
Element of her proper entrance leg utilizing the paua shell design for shaded fur.

So, there are only a few of the ideas that undergo my head as I’m making cloth selection selections. I do know some college students could also be in search of arduous and quick guidelines for selecting cloth, however I suppose it’s extra like pointers.

First, purchase cloth that makes you smile and also you be ok with. There’s nothing unhealthy about that. Then complement with cloth picked particularly to your undertaking, be it due to coloration, design, or scale. Go for selection. Extra is healthier. That’s my motto and I’m sticking with it.

I stay unapologetically eclectic.


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