Using a palette knife on cotton

posted in: Work in progress | 6

dad-quilt-01For several months now, I’ve been wanting to do a quilt featuring my father. That made me wonder if I could use a palette knife to apply the paint instead of a brush. When I took an oil painting class in college, I spent the whole semester just using a palette knife. I liked that it prevented me from getting too perfectionistic, and I loved the overall effect. Yesterday, I decided to do a bit of experimenting.

I drew out my image full size on paper and then used a silver Roxanne Quilter’s Choice pencil to transfer the image to cream colored cotton. The face on this particular image is about 10 or 11″ high.

I decided to stretch the fabric over the back of my June Tailor Quilter’s Square ‘n Blocker, the same one that I had covered with Teflon. The backside is a fairly firm surface, and the Teflon will prevent the paint from seeping through to the surface below. I used glass head pins to temporarily stretch the fabric on all four sides.

Next, I had to decide which paint to use. I confess I have way too many choices at my fingertips. I’m a sucker for buying every new product, but then never getting around to using it.

My experience with using a palette knife was with oil paint, which has a long drying time. Textile paints are acrylic, which has a much shorter drying time. That means I’ll have to work quickly.

dad-quilt-09I decided to use Jacquard Textile Paint for this experiment. Initially, I pulled out just the Orange, Sapphire Blue, and White bottles and mixed most of my skin tones with just those three colors. After a bit, I added some Yellow and True Red to my palette for some extra variety.

The problem I had with using a palette knife is that it was a little too big. I had a hard time keeping the paint where I wanted it, and once it was there, I couldn’t really paint over it too much, which makes changing a value or color very difficult. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually get everything right the very first time! Also, I was trying hard to keep the paint from getting too thick. When that happens, it doesn’t look very nice quilted. Trust me on that one! Lastly, the fabric was really too smooth. Unlike painter’s canvas, there was no texture to grab the knife, if that makes sense to you. Even Kona cotton, which is pretty coarse compared to most quilter’s cottons, is smooth compared to typical canvas used in oil painting. I could see using a palette knife when applying broad strokes of color in a less demanding image, but maybe not for my immediate needs.

I’m glad I gave this a try, but I’m not ready to leave it here. I think I’ll try another product that I have on the shelf and maybe use a large brush next.

6 Responses

  1. shari

    You inspire me Maria. How about a broad cloth? That always feels more canvassy to me.

    • Maria

      Maybe. I’ll have to spend some time running my fingers over different fabrics to find another possibility 😉

  2. Lynn Luckoski

    Where’s the “like” button on here??? Like!

  3. Sandy Snowden

    Hi Maria,
    What about linen? It has good texture. I like using it in quilts – but then my stuff is nothing like yours! you can find a variety of textures with linen, too. It might actually lend itself to a piece about a man. as in someone who works hard, rather than smooth fabric.
    anyway, it will be interesting to see what you settle on.
    Sandy in the UK

    • Maria

      Linen is an interesting idea, Sandy! I have some in my stash that might be good to experiment with.