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Portraits on Cheesecloth

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

One of my favourite mixed media techniques is to print faces or other images onto cheesecloth. I have done this many times and I want to review why this is such an appealing method of adding images to textiles.

Dover Publications Copyright Free Image

Left is a Dover Publications copyright free image of a Geisha. This is the image I used.

When you look for cheesecloth to use for this technique, find the one that is fairly closely woven. There is cheesecloth that is really loosely woven and you may lose most of the image if you try to use this type of cheesecloth.

Image printed on cheesecloth.

First I prepared my cheesecloth by cutting a piece to 8 1/2" X 11". Try to cut the weave on the straight grain if you can as it will make a difference to what you can d​​o with the image. I have pre-cut sheets of freezer paper this size, but if you don't have these, simply cut your own piece of freezer paper to fit your printer. Next, iron the cheesecloth onto the freezer paper. This works best if you use a piece of parchment paper over top of the cheesecloth. Print the image onto the paper backed cheesecloth. I use an Epson printer and have a single sheet feed that I use for this type of printing.

Iron the printed image to heat set the print. Then remove the image from the freezer paper and it is ready to use.

I used fusible web to attach this image to fabric. I have also used matte medium for attaching. I frayed the edges before ironing on the fusible web as I wanted the frayed edges to be loose. So, the fusible web piece was cut to cover only the portion I wanted attached to the fabric.

Completed Geisha artwork.

Once the image was adhered to the backing fabric, I added beadwork to the image. This image was then layered onto dyed torn book pages and burlap. Embellishments were added and the piece was attached to wrapped canvas.​​

Once the image is attached to the fabric, it is more definite an image, and how it looks will depend on the background fabric. In this case, the brown stamped fabric really brought out the yellow and brown tones.

Here is another example of a cheesecloth image. This is an image of Shakespeare. The frayed edges looked too white on this piece, so they were painted with acrylic paint after it was printed and frayed. This image was adhered with matte medium to a mixed media background made with wheat paste and papers on a recycled upholstery sample.

Of course, you can alter the photo before printing onto cheesecloth. The Shakespeare image was changed to brown tones before printing.

I hope you give this technique a try. It really is an interesting way to add images to your artwork.

Image of sewer cover printed on cheesecloth layered over print on Evolon.

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