Adventures with Caran D'Ache Neocolor II: Watch Your Step

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (1)

I have been wanting to try using watercolor on fabric for a while now.  It started with the beautiful AAQI quilts that JoAnn Stowell has been doing.  Since I discovered her work last year I think I've bought three of them!  I asked her about her technique and discovered that she's been trying various ways of doing the watercolors.  I decided I should just jump in and try stuff- my favorite way to work!

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (3)

I searched online and found a video and tutorial by Terri Stegmiller. Both are useful and gave me the impetus to start this project.  This idea was inspired by my Undercover Quilters April 12 x 12 theme of "shoes".  I had an image in my mind from the butterfly house we visited last month.  I was afraid I'd step on one so I kept looking down to watch where I stepped.  Those are my favorite shoes depicted with a Blue Morpho butterfly.

This technique is so much fun to do.  First I created a crazy pieced top with the light neutral fabrics.  Then I layered it with batting and a backing.  I quilted it all over with dense machine quiting lines.  I created my free hand full size drawing on regular paper and traced it onto tracing paper with a Sharpie pen.  If you use a color other than black it's easier to see the paper when you need to tear it off.  I layered the tracing over the quilted sandwich and sketched with black thread over all the lines one time.  Terri's video shows you how to do all of this.  After you pull off the paper, you go over your lines several more times to give it the sketchy quality.  

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (4)

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (5)

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (2)

Then it's time to color in with the Neocolor II water soluble wax crayons.  This was a lot of fun, using the color just as you would on paper.  The colors are pretty dull when they are dry, but you apply them like you would regular crayons, layering and using several values of a color to get texture and shading.

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (6)

The next step is to mix the textile medium with some water.  I combined the two in approximately 1:1 proportions, though you may need less water.  I think the consistency of milk works well.  I used a brush with a small square end to brush it on and into the fabric.  I soaked the colored areas pretty well and noticed that there was very little color spread.  The color did leak through to the backing fabric in some areas, so if that was an issue you might consider putting on another backing afterwards or even doing the quilting and sketching on just the pieced top and some batting.  The colors brighten up significantly when the textile medium/water solution is applied.

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (7)

One thing I love in the above photo is that print with the swirls which really comes alive when the paint is applied.  It's a white on white print and the swirls barely show up normally.

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (8)

The colors stayed pretty vibrant after the piece dried.  Now I just need to add an edge finish.  This was a very fun technique to try and something I know I will do again.

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (9)

Neocolor II- Watch Your Step (10)

I really love the texture you get when the piece is pre-quilted.  The variations in the background surface made this very enjoyable to do.

From what I have read, these crayons are not normally wash fast.  The use of textile medium to dissolve the color does help somewhat though.  I did a little test by running a sample under the faucet with some gentle scrubbing and the colors lost some vibrancy.  The hand of the fabric improved quite a bit though.  I haven't decided whether I'll wash "Watch Your Step" yet, but I might.  Below you can see the colors of Inktense pencils as well.  I used them for some finer details in some other pieces that I'll show you tomorrow.  The adventure continues!

Neocolor II and Inktense wash test