Resources on Surface Design: Other Techniques

SAQA Seminar (Article)

The theme for this unit of SAQA Seminar: Surface Design is Other Techniques. The possibilities are endless for adding pattern and design to the surface of fabrics, including the use of digital imagery.

History and Culture

It’s possible marbling was invented in Turkey in the 13th century where it is known as Ebru. This article explores it’s early history. In Japan, the technique became knows as Suminagashi, the ancient Japanese art of decorating paper with marbled ink. The name comes from the words meaning “ink floating.”


We've rounded up some great tutorials for you to try - there are so many different ways to add design to fabric!

Metallic Foil on Fabric
Marbling Fabric with Shaving Cream
Dharma Trading Tutorial on Fabric Marbling
Lynda Heine’s Collection of Marbling Tutorials
The Art of Marbling
Image Transfer with Citrasolve
Another Citrasolve Tutorial
Several Additional Image Transfer Techniques

Even more irresisting tutorials for you to play with!

Jacquards Promotion for Decolourant
Mashed Potato Resist
Chick Pea Flour Resist
Eight Steps to Successful Cyantype from Sue Reno
Faux Batik Using Gel Glue


Inspiring Links and Other Resources

Why are cyanotypes blue? (Science!)

Wen Redmond discusses her Quilt National piece, The Creative Hand, which uses digital imagery.

Spoonflower made digital printing accessible to anyone. This business profile from Inc. traces the rise of the company along with the rise of creative freelancers. 

Want more information about printing on fabric? The Pixeladies explored other online printing services in this SAQA Journal article (page 12).

This is a fascinating description of the process Laura Kemshall used to create her prize-winning enormous art quilt, 52 Degrees. It was entirely quilted before being run through a large scale textile printer.

Luana Rubin discussing the history and growing popularity of digitally printed fabrics.

Julie Fei Fan Balzer having fun with Decolourant.

This wonderful video introduction of Michael James and his work covers his process, studio and inspiration. (It’s from 2013, but still beautiful and an excellent example of using digital printing in innovative ways.)


Book Recommendations


Digital Fiber Art: Combine Photos & Fabric - Create Your Own Mixed-Media 
by Wen Redmond *

Compose, create, and print innovative art quilts starting from your own digital photographs! This book teaches you to alter images, print them on a variety of fibers, and accentuate them with stitching.


Creative Image Transfer: Any Artist – Any Style – Any Surface
by Lesley Riley

This book has 16 mixed-media projects using TAP Transfer Artist Paper. Riley developed TAP which is able to transfer images onto any surface.


Paintstiks: Marvellous Markal – Sumptuous Shiva
by Ruth Issett

Shiva Paintstiks (Markal in Europe) are oil paints in stick form. They can be used to color or pattern fabrics, and as a resist.

* This book is currently only available used in US



Paintstiks on Fabric: Simple Techniques, Fantastic Results
by Shelly Stokes

Another excellent book about creative ways to use paint sticks.




A Field Guide to Fabric Design: Design, Print & Sell Your Own Fabric; Traditional & Digital Techniques; For Quilting, Home Dec & Apparel 
by Kim Kight

If you want to take your original surface design to the next level with commercial printing, this book is an excellent resource.



Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design
by Laurie Wisbrun

Another great resource if you want to learn more about creating your own fabrics. This book covers printing techniques as well as how to create patterns digitally.