I named this project 'Olivia's Fish'. Not very exciting but appropriate since I created it for my granddaughter's nursery. It's a simple project that requires fabric but NO SEWING unless you wanted to sew a fabric border. How amazing is that! Actually, if you can use a pair of scissors and an iron, you've passed the skill-level required for completing this project.
Collection of fabric scraps ( I use a lot of batiks because they have a bunches of variation in color tone and value that helps create a stained glass look)
- Tacking Iron
- Regular Iron and Ironing Board
- Piece of black background fabric cut 3" larger on all sides than your finished design. (Olivia's Fish is 8 x 10" - so the background fabric was cut 11 x 13 inches. This allows for bordering or framing your artwork)
- Fabric Bonding material (Fusible Web) - I use Wonder Under Medium by the yard. I recommend purchasing at least 1 yard for this project.
With a chalk pencil mark the perimeter of your finished piece. For this piece it was 8 x 10 inches leaving a 3 inch outside area. Keep all fabric fused within the inside area.
- Choose the main fabric/fabrics for your fish and bond a 5x7 inch piece with the iron-on bonding agent being careful to follow the manufacturers instructions. Do the same with 4 more pieces of fabric that you want to use for the fish's eyes, eyebrows, and nose.
- After bonding the fabric for your fish, take the fabric you chose for the body of the fish and flip it over. You should be looking at the paper backing of your bonding agent. Free-hand draw a funky little fish body. Mine was about 5" tall and 5" at it's widest point. But yours can be any size you want it to be.
- Now draw the fishes eyes, eyebrows, and nose on the back of the bonded fabrics that you chose for those elements. Mine are simple circles, triangle, and an odd shaped nose. BE CREATIVE - THERE ARE NO ART POLICE - SO HAVE FUN WITH THIS. Nothing has to be perfect, you can always reshape, trim, or simply re-cut the pieces if your not happy with your first try.
- At this point I cut out my whole fish body and then cut that into six different sections. If you want your fish to be in one piece, simply leave it as is or cut it into a zillion pieces. Art is about personal expression. Warning: I was only kidding about those zillion pieces.
- I hope you heated up your tacking iron because it's time to use it. Decide where you want your fish buddy to live in this art piece. Mine wanted to live in the center, but yours may have a totally different idea. Composition is another subjective element of art. If your fish wants to huddle in the bottom left corner, don't argue with him, just put him there.
- Okay, enough stalling, position your fish where you want it to be. Now, peel the paper off the back of your fish fabric, one piece at a time, and tack it into position. LOOK AT YOU...You did it, Yippee!
- Follow the same peeling and tacking procedure for the eyes, eyebrows, and nose. This next step is very important: Study your little creature carefully. Depending on your fabric choices, your little fish will definitely have it's own personality. IT NOW NEEDS A NAME! My fish is named 'Olivia's Fish'. He's been called that for several years now and is very happy with it. As long as he's happy, his owner will be happy too.
A FISH NEEDS A POND...
- I sectioned my background so that I could highlight different colors that I felt complimented Olivia's Fish. I lightly drew these lines onto my black background fabric with a piece of chalk. (Don't worry about the chalk showing, you can hide it as you tack the mosaic pieces onto the background fabric.)
- Choose one or two fabrics that will make good seaweed or an aquatic plant of your choice. Back a 5x7 inch piece of each fabric with your bonding agent. Free-hand draw your seaweed on the paper backing. Make sure to give your aquatic plant some variation in width and height. Cut out your seaweed and position it on your fabric. Peel off paper from the back and tack them into place with your tacking iron. Remember: Smart little fish learn to hide in the seaweed to keep from being eaten by bigger fish.
- Now for the bubbles. I bet you didn't notice that Olivia's Fish has a few bubbles coming up from the bottom. Surely you didn't think those little circles were floating rocks...not you?
- ON TO THE MOSAICS - Work on one section at a time. BE SURE TO LEAVE SOME BLACK BACKGROUND FABRIC SHOW BETWEEN MOSAIC PIECES. Choose your fabrics for your background sections and apply the bonding agent as instructed. ( Notice that each section has a primary color theme but there are several different fabrics in each. You need a little variety in color tone and contrast. Study the sample photo for ideas.)
- Peel the paper backing off the back of your bonded fabrics. Here is the absolutely insane part of this project. It shouldn't work but it does! Snip your fabric into varying sized triangles, circles, leaf-shapes, cone shapes, etc. Just snip away...Oh! I almost forgot the most important part. You must have a glass of your favorite beverage and some jazzy background music, then sip and snip in rhythm.
- You will end up with a pile of snippets that look totally useless, but to the contrary, they are priceless. Using your tweezers, pick up 3 or 4 of the larger sized pieces and place them anywhere withing the section your working on, tacking them into place as you go. Now take 6 or 8 of the medium sized shapes and place them randomly inside the same section and tack.
- Can you guess what comes next? You got it! Fill in the remaining area with the smaller pieces. If you don't have enough, just cut up some of the other snippets in the pile. If a piece doesn't fit exactly, you can always trim it to fit.
I never throw away these snippets. If they don't get used in one project, I use them in another. I find these project fun and challenging. Like working a jigsaw puzzle, it takes a little time but the results are worth the effort.
The most important thing is not to rush the process. This isn't about speed, it's about the destination. HAVE FUN!