Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Rusty, Waxed Apple Bag by Jill McDowell

Hi Creatives.  It's Jill McDowell here with my fall inspired take on this month's StencilGirl Creative Team theme, Dress It or Wear It. I'm pretty proud of the fact that I came up with a project that I think ticks off both the dress it and the wear it boxes.  I've decided to dress up an inexpensive canvas bag and wear it to the local apple orchard where I'll be filling it with Macouns. (Genius huh?  Hopefully, MaryBeth and Carol will think so too...) All kidding aside, I love projects that use technics from more than one art form.  This one combines rust printing, encaustic, sewing, and embroidery together with October, my absolute favorite month.

The idea grew out of my new found fascination with all things rust. You see, this summer, I spent many blissful hours tending a rust garden. I woke up early every morning and planted seeds of rust in beds of Washi paper, vintage linens, and muslin. Then I went to my day job. But I rushed home every evening to unravel all of the tightly wound strings and marvel at all of the caramel goodness that had grown since morning.

The harvest from the garden was bountiful, yielding paper and fabric covered in beautiful rust marks and prints. I was happy, and my stash grew, and grew, and grew. And now I have an overflowing treasure trove of rust prints to work on during those long, cold winter nights that will be here before we know it. 

I stenciled a piece of the rusty muslin with StencilGirl's®  Chinese Garden Plum Blossoms Stencil designed by Gwen Lafleur. The color comes from a mixture of India ink toned down with a tiny bit of walnut ink. I made a conscious decision to use natural inks because I planned on waxing the fabric with encaustic medium which doesn't play nice with acrylics.

I colored in the stencil design in with Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Artist Crayons. They also play nice in the sandbox with encaustic medium.

When I was happy with the design, I melted a small amount of encaustic medium onto a hot plate, (an old electric griddle would have worked fine too), and then laid the stenciled cloth on top. Once the wax had fully seeped into the fibers of the fabric, I blotted up the excess wax with copy paper. Then I squeegeed off as much wax as I could with a Catalyst Wedge to make the piece as thin as possible.

Here is a pic of the finished waxed cloth that will be the focal point of the bag. The wax really brought the design to life.

I used the same method to wax a piece of finely woven rusted cotton to use as another layer in the design. This made the fabric translucent. 

I wanted to get some texture and lines going. So I folded the cloth a'la Origami style, (nothing fancy, just a few simple folds.)

When unfolded, the creases in the cloth made an interesting pattern that I was able to stitch over on my sewing machine.

I was so enchanted by the translucency of this fabric that I decided to make my own coordinating fabric to put underneath it. I stenciled a piece of plain muslin with Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints and one of my favorite StencilGirl Stencils, New Orleans Stencil designed by Nathalie Kalbach. I also snuck in a flower or two from Kathy Nichol's Love Story Stencil.

It was actually hard to choose which side to use in my final composition. Should I use the front or the back? The conundrum is real...

I  pulled out some embroidery floss to stitch around the waxed stenciled layer.

It was easy to sew the component parts onto the canvas bag.  I used my sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch to attach the layers. I left the top of the translucent cloth open at the top to create an outside pocket.

Now that my bag is dressed, it's time to wear it to the orchard.

I love living in New England in the fall! The fall colors haven't peaked yet, but there's defiantly a nip in the air and the apples are ready.

The color of this old apple press is gorgeous. I wonder how many gallons of cider have passed through here.

Nothing says October like a giant Charlie Brown box that I know will soon be filled with pumpkins!

I'm sure I could get some good rust prints from this old tractor. Think they’d let me try?

I picked up a few colorful mums and pumpkins to decorate my steps.

The Macouns went right into my bag, (well, most of the Macouns went into my bag if truth be told).

Looks like there may be some homemade apple pies in my future!

I hope I’ve inspired you to take some inspiration from fall and think about using your StencilGirl® Stencils in new creative ways.  

Happy Fall Y'All.  Hugs until next time,  Jill


  1. Great bag! Love your rust garden!!!

  2. what do you mean when you say 'rust seeds'?

  3. Are you just kidding? This is gorgeous. I never would have thought of a rust garden and the beautiful marks and colors that it would have provided. And that bag? The time and the care and the love that went into it, what a work of art. Absolutely brilliant. Thanks so much for sharing this.


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