Friday, September 13, 2013

Dragon banner

This year we've had several banner competitions in Amtgard, in which I haven't yet had the chance to participate. Most of the banners are made by applique, but the process easily frustrates me and I'm not very good at it. So I wanted to try my hand at fabric painting.

The design I chose is my personal heraldry that I designed for use in Amtgard years ago. There isn't much meaning behind it except for pretty colors and shapes I like and am proud to have designed and drawn by myself. Maybe something about strength, power, wisdom, beauty.

I figured I could use acrylic paints for the project, which would be ideal since 1. we have a bunch of acrylics, 2. I didn't want to invest in fabric paints for just one project, and 3. I know how to use acrylics but am awkward with fabric paint. The internet said I could water down acrylics and that they would look best on light-colored fabrics, but my design required a black background, so I resigned myself to applying many layers.

I thought maybe I could use an embroidery hoop, but those flimsy wooden ovals cost much more than I wanted to spend. I found a plastic rectangular frame for the same purpose at a better price. I bought some plain black cotton fabric and stretched and clipped it on. I used a ruler to draw the straight lines in chalk and did the rest freehand, which is tricky.

I watered down acrylics and began painting. Actually, I had to mix up a purple first since we didn't have any. It was not pretty. The green was easy and the silver as well. I worried about the gold, thinking shortly after I began that maybe I should have put down a solid color first, but it ultimately turned out lovely.

I later bought purple and added it on, but it just wasn't showing up against the black. It is astounding just how much paint fabric can absorb, and I applied SO many layers. Growing frustrated with the purple, I mixed in silver and ended up with a cool, sparkly lavender that looked lovely on the black. I don't generally like lavender, but this was a huge improvement over the initial layers.

I thought I might use black paint or fabric pen to outline everything, but my aunt suggested gray to give the shield some "pop" against the black. Having used a silver Sharpie with great success on other very different and unrelated projects, I gave that a try and loved the results, again using a straight edge where needed.

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