Create Your Own Designer Fabric

gunnel.jpgI took a course from Gunnel Hag at the Haliburton School for the Arts a number of years ago, called Creating Texture and Pattern on Fabric, and it totally changed the way I design quilts. Before the class, I would make up a design, then find fabrics I thought would work together. Marking and piecing ensued. More often than not, I used reverse applique. After taking Gunnel’s class, I began to treat cloth like a blank canvas. I loved the serendipitous process of mixing colours that appealed to me, and playing with them by making various stripes, marks, swirls, whatever. ColourVie has a slow drying time, and allows colour mixing, layering, pulling back colour with stamps, mark making with a stylus or fork, rubbings on kitchen mats . . . just about anything. It was incredibly exhilarating the first, and subsequent, times I used this process, because I loved designing on the fly. On the other hand, if I had a specific theme, mood, or subject in mind, I could produce the exact patterns and colors I wanted . . . I was creating my own designer fabric!

After my painted fabric was dry, I started putting combinations together, often in surprising ways. Or, I could extend the process by adding new layers of paint, stamping, stenciling. When I was satisfied with the fabrics, and the way they went together, I often found myself ripping and tearing instead of carefully cutting. Or cutting freehand, without a pattern. Suddenly, cloth had become the starting point for my quilts, and it was my cloth.

Let me tell you a little about Gunnel. Originally from Sweden, she studied textiles there and in London, England. Her company, Trees Textile Designs & Printers, produced seasonal lines of clothing and cloth for major productions (like Lion King in Toronto) for over 30 years. The owner of ColourVie, Gunnel is an enthusiastic, inspiring teacher. Always encouraging, she knows and demonstrates a thousand different paths to the same goal: gorgeous cloth. Meaningful cloth. On her site she says:

“It is so simple to mix your own colours for creating your own printed and dyed textiles. To produce brilliantly coloured designs all you need to do is add Colour Vie Pigments and Resfix to the Base.

She’s absolutely right: it’s simple, it’s fun, and like me, you may never look back


to the way you used to make quilts.


About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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2 Responses to Create Your Own Designer Fabric

  1. Merri says:

    VERY interesting!
    I love Colour Vie – I just wish I had more courage and less A.D.D. so I could get on with the project I’ve undertaken. I was just looking up Gunnel’s number to ask some basic questions when I saw your name and googled you. I do wish there were more books/sites talking about how they’ve used her product in a more realistic manner or with digital photography.

    Currently I’m attempting to get a garden effect on a banner. I’ve chosen to work on drapery liner as it has a nice hand, is white, and sews well.

    I’ve learned a lot about differing transfer techniques but ended up resorting to freezer paper and fused raw edge applique which I hope will be pulled together with the paint. Finally a friend will machine embroider and I will add calligraphy probably with acrylic paint.

    Wish me luck!

    • carolwiebe says:

      Please elaborate on what you mean when you say you want to know how others have used ColourVie “in a more realistic manner or with digital photography.”

      I would enjoy discussing this at greater length with you. And I most certainly DO wish you luck!

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