Thursday, June 23, 2011

Freestyle Fabric Painting Tutorial

Last week my friend, Jen and I decided to experiment with fabric painting.  It is fascinating to see rich wet colors melt into the weave of cloth.  Perhaps I can inspire you to try it too!

You will need:
  • Acrylic paints in assorted colors
  • Brushes and sponges
  • Spray bottle filled with water (optional)
  • Containers for water (We used some old yogurt containers.)
  • Containers for mixing paints (Any old plastic container, preferably shallow, will work.)
  • Fabric (We washed our fabric first and let it hang to dry in a crumpled fashion.)
  • Plastic sheet to protect your work area

Now it's time to get started!
Squeeze out your paints and mix as desired.  (Jen made a lovely aqua blue.)
Wet your fabric in the sink or using the spray bottle.
Lay the fabric on your protected surface.

Water-soaked medium weight canvas cloth

Using a brush or a sponge, begin to work the color into the weave.  Don’t be too shy about the amount of paint you use.  Remember that the colors will fade as they dry.

Brush work

Sponge work

 If you want a more watery look, spray more water on the cloth's surface.

Sprayed surface

Once you have painted your fabric, lay it out to dry.  (We laid our fabric out on the concrete walkway in the sun.  It dried pretty quickly!)

Drying on the cement

After your fabric has dried, you can press it with an iron to set the color.  I used an old damp rag as a barrier between my iron – which my husband also uses for his work shirts! – and the painted cloth.
Wash in cold water (no soap needed) and hang to dry.

Here are some examples...

Pink and green swirls
Color riot

Other ideas:
  • Start with a dry piece of cloth, work the paint into the cloth, and spray with water.
  • Use a leaf or other object as a stencil.
  • Try painting ribbon or lace.  We painted some ribbon and then tied it twisties to create a tie dye effect.

What do you think?  Want to give it a try?

To see more examples, check out Freestyle Fabric Painting Expressions.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bohemian Bag Expressions

When I find a pattern or structure that I enjoy, I want to see it expressed in many ways.  This is how I came to make all those baskets in my Etsy Shop.  This is also why I am still playing with Bohemian Bags!

Here are a few of the latest “bag expressions”.

I made this first bag from fabric I bought at a street market in Provence.  I love the warmth of these colors.

I call this next pouch, "The Manly Bag".  I used earthy plaids and stripes to make this for my Dad for Father's Day.

This last bag was upcycled from fabric given to me by my dear friend, Penny.  As a thank you, I made Penny this funky pouch.

If you use my Bohemian Bag Tutorial to make a bag, I would love to see the results!  You can post a link in your comments.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Best Ever Polenta Pumpkin Seed Bread

I am a bit of a baking nut.  I love baking cakes and cookies, quiches and casseroles.  But my absolute favorite is bread – yeast bread!  My father is Italian, so we never had a meal without bread.  Bread is essential to the Italian table!

One of my favorite ingredients in bread-baking is cornmeal or polenta.  Polenta gives bread a nice golden tint and it adds a little crunch, especially when the bread is toasted.  I also like to add seeds to my dough.  Seeds contribute protein as well as a warm nutty flavor.  Often I will put in a dash of seed oil too.  I especially like pumpkin seed oil as it has this lovely dark greenish brown color that gives the bread an extra nuttiness and a lovely rich tone.

Here is a bread recipe I have used for several years now.  It started out as a cornmeal bread recipe, but has slowly evolved into a multigrain seed bread.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

  • 1.5 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. soft butter
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin seed oil (or other seed oil if you prefer)
  • ½ cup polenta (or any cornmeal)
  • ½ cup oatmeal (this adds moisture)
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour (or all purpose white flour)
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup hulled pumpkins seeds (or sunflower seeds if you prefer) 
  • 2.5 tsp. yeast


If you have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment or a bread machine, just throw your ingredients together – keeping in mind your machine’s instructions – and let the machine do the kneading.  When the kneading is done, let the dough rise for about 45 min. or until it has doubled in size.  I like to cover the dough with a damp dish towel.  (If you prefer hand kneading, see below.) 

Once the dough has doubled, pour it out onto a board or countertop.  At this point shape the dough into a loaf and then roll it over a seed mixture.  The seeds stick to the dough and create a lovely pattern.  (I learned this from my dear friend, Lone.)

Place the loaf in a bread pan lightly coated with oil and dusted with cornmeal. (If you have a baguette pan like me, you can divide the loaf in two.  You won't need the extra dusting of cornmeal if you are using a baguette pan.) 

Preheat your oven to 385 Fahrenheit (about 195 C) and let the dough rise again.  This time it should need about 25-30 minutes. 

Once the dough has risen, bake it for about 25 minutes. (This may be less if you have separated the dough into two loaves.) 

Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing.  Yum!

A note about hand kneading: 

If you prefer to fully experience hand mixing and kneading, mix the wet ingredients with the yeast and salt, and then slowly add the flours and seeds.  Once your dough is well mixed, pour it out onto a large flat surface and knead away!  Here is a great instruction video from epicurious on how to knead:

I'd love to hear how this recipe worked for you.  Enjoy!