Surface Design on Textiles with Lonni

I’ve just returned from Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove where I took a class with Lonni Rossi through Empty Spools Seminars. Lonni has been designing fabric collections (5 or more a year) for Andover Fabrics for 12 years and she shared her techniques for creating designs on textiles using Setacolor paints, silk screens, stencils and a variety of hand-made and found objects.

I have been using Setacolor transparent paints by pēbēo for many years to create my sun prints. Lonni introduced me to the opaque and metallic paints as well as thickener and discharge paste. Setacolor paints are water based, non-toxic and clean up easily with water. They are permanently set with a hot iron.

Lonni and the 22 students there brought a variety of tools which we shared with each other freely. I couldn’t resist using Anne’s rope stamp. She made this by securing the rope to a piece of wood with double-stick tape and painting the entire surface with house paint.


Here is the discharge paste stamped onto some hand-dyed fabric.


When the fabric is dry, the paste completely disappears. Then it is ironed with a hot iron. At home I soaked the fabric in a vinegar-water solution for 15 minutes, then washed it in the washing machine. And here is the final fabric.


I didn’t get a picture of this piece during the ironing step but here is one of Anne ironing her fabric — the design appears as if by magic!


This piece became the first in what is now called my radiator series. I screened the background dots and stamped with Anne’s rope stamp, then I placed it on a working radiator. Not only did the fabric dry quickly but I got a stunning striped fabric in both directions! The deep blue vertical lines are a result of direct contact with the hot radiator tops; the three softer horizontal lines of color are a result of the color in the middle of the fabric moving to create the darker vertical lines.


I liked the effect so much that I created several half-yard pieces of fabric using the same drying method.


My friend Suzanna was creating a staggering amount of fabric for a project she’ll be working on very soon.


She brought some wonderful stamps and other tools. I borrowed her rubber band-wrapped rolling-pin to transform a lovely green linen:


I used copper-colored transparent paint to stamp the entire surface. To achieve a lighter shade of the transparent paint, simply thin with water. To use the thinned paint for stamping, add thickener. After drying I used opaque green, then blue paint to create larger striped areas.

One of our learning exercises involved painting a half-yard of fabric, tearing it in half and painting a ‘wash’ over one piece. The wash is made by diluting transparent paint 50/50 with water. Here is Nancy’s stunning tree fabric:


And here are Denise and Nancy sharing a laugh.


A trip to Pacific Grove always includes a visit to see what new things Pat Riley has. Here I am with Pat and my sister, Christy. I’m wearing a jean jacket I bought several years ago — it still looks brand new.


Next up:  News about exciting improvements being made at Asilomar Conference Center!

17 replies
  1. Sherry Boram
    Sherry Boram says:

    Thanks for the pix and tips. I just finished the taxes so will play tomorrow!! So glad you had a great time. I was thinking about you and your sis. And the ocean, and the fun, and the paint, etc….

  2. Joyce Lytle
    Joyce Lytle says:

    Looks like you had fun, fun. Looking forward to seeing what you do with your fabrics. Can’t wait to hear about what Improvements they are making to Asilomar. Going there the beginning of April.

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      You will be happy with what they are doing at Asilomar. Lots of positive upgrades. I hope their plan includes remakes in the sleeping rooms next. Right now they are working on the hard scape. Stay tuned.

  3. slbenton
    slbenton says:

    Franki – how fun! And beautiful work. And Asilomar – what a beautiful setting. Can’t wait to see what you create with your new creations!

  4. Renate
    Renate says:

    The class was a wonderful experience, wasn’t it. It was wonderful to meet you too! Perhaps we will meet again next year. BTW The fabric you created was stunning and I also can’t wait to see what you create with it.

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