This weekend I was invited to teach a monoprinting and embroidery workshop at Tuk Tuk Bazar in downtown Brest (France). Oh my golly gosh it was so fun! What is monoprinting? I'm so glad you asked. Wikipedia has a very succinct definition that I think pretty much sums it up:
A monoprint is a single impression of an image made from a reprintable block.
Instead of reprintable blocks, we used templates I had made a few months ago for the appliqué shapes I use most in my work. A quick backstory before we continue...
Last year I fell in love (like, really obsessed) with appliqué. It wasn't a new technique for me, I just hadn't used it much in my work. My husband and I were in the process of moving from Australia to France and all of my sewing supplies were on a slow boat from Sydney to Paris. We were back in the US visiting friends and family for a much needed four month break. Being away from home never stops me from working or making art and during this time I was mostly working on finishing old projects but once they were all done I was really in the mood to start new ones. Limited by my lack of sewing machine, necessity once again became the mother of invention.
I drew up plans for an appliqué quilt inspired by Matisse's cut-outs. Without my fabric dyeing supplies either, I had to make do with what was around and lucky for me, I was visiting my in-law's farm that just so happened to have black walnuts ready for harvest. I also collected onion skins from every grocery store we passed while traversing the country. Onion skins and black walnuts make excellent natural dye and don't require chemical mordants (what makes the dye stick to the fabric). My very gracious in-laws let me turn their pasture into a black walnut dye studio and their kitchen into an onion skin fabric dye factory. They are so kind.
With my naturally dyed fabric and my cut-out shapes, I made my first all appliqué quilt and was so impressed with the result. Appliqué opened up a whole new world for me with my quilted creations. After my first successful experience, I made tens of cardboard templates and started designing all kinds of quilts, pillows, and just about anything else you can make out of fabric. I started to use a few floral shapes over and over in my work and noticed that with each use my shapes were becoming less precise as the cardboard became more worn. Not wanting to lose my work, I had each shape lazer cut out of acrylic. This was the best idea I have every had! Now I could use my appliqué templates over and over again (as you can see in my gallery I really used the heck out of them!).
So that's the story about how I ended up having acrylic templates for my appliqué shapes. A few months later, I was doing a bit of screen printing and had a small bucket of paint left over. Not wanting to waste anything, I decided to try to use my acrylic templates as monoprinting templates. The results were amazing! I embellished the prints with a simple embroidered floral outline and a star was born.
This weekend was the first time I shared my monoprinting and embroidery technique with five awesome ladies. We spent the afternoon learning to monoprint on totebags, drinking tea, and embroidering our creations. After I demonstrated the technique, each participant went her own unique way. My favorite part of the workshop (and all workshops I teach) was seeing what everyone came up with on their own.
I love this technique because there are so many different ways to use it. I can't wait until later this month for the next monoprinting class!