Saturday, April 25, 2020

Kabuki Haiku: ISO Toilet Paper with TAP

It’s Jill McDowell here with you today. I hope that this post finds you well as we navigate through these incredibly crazy and stressful times. I’m sure that I’m not the only one craving a little levity to help alleviate some of the tension we’re feeling. Case in point, early on in this crisis I found myself in the grocery store staring in total disbelief at the paper goods aisle. Such absurdity! The entire row was empty except for one ‘gynormous” package of Huggies Snug and Dry smack in the middle of where the toilet paper should have been. Then it struck me that evidently one of my neighbors must have a really “dry” sense of humor.... The more I thought about that package of diapers the more I chuckled. And instead of being outraged, I found myself feeling just a little lighter than before. Sometimes you just have to turn and laugh.

The theme for this month’s StencilGirl®️ Creative Team project is Stencil Poetry.  So I’m using my ISO toilet paper experience as inspiration for a little Kabuki Haiku in my new Dina Wakley Mixed Media Journal (It’s the new blue edition with denim pages and I’m really excited to get to use it.)

ISO Toilet Paper

    Towers of cold steel
Long empty paper cupboards
    Huggies aisle fifteen

I often search the Metropolitan Museum of Arts website for images to use in my journals. If left alone, I could spend hours perusing that site. I’m partial to images from 18th Century Japanese Ukiyo-e prints of stylized Kabuki actors and other characters. They make perfect subjects for little satirical Haiku journal pages. I think this Geisha befits my utter exasperation whilst I quest to find a source of toilet paper.  Who else is with me on this one?

I upload my images into the ProCreate app where I crop and flip them horizontally to get a mirror image.  When working with text it is essential to work with a mirror image so that the text is readable after it’s transferred onto your substrate. 

I‘ve been having lots of fun printing my images onto Lesley Riley’s TAP Transfer Artist Paper. It’s made to work with inkjet printers, (a huge plus) and the iron-on method of transferring the image is quick and easy.  

To transfer the TAP image, fussy cut it out and then place it face down onto a 100% white cotton fabric. (I’ve gotten the crispest results using solid white tightly woven 100% cotton.) While continually moving the iron, press the back side of the image without steam on the highest setting suitable for your fabric. It should take between 20 and 30 seconds of continually moving the iron over the image of this size to transfer it onto the fabric.

Peel back a corner of the backing paper to check if the image has released onto the fabric. If not, place the paper backing back down over the image and iron again. Be careful as the image will get hot.  I usually give the image about 30 seconds to cool down before peeling off the whole backing. (FYI: The paper backing makes a great mask for your stencils - but that’s a post for another day....)

For my journal page, I used Mary Beth Shaw’s Large Hall Stencil from StencilGirl®️ to represent an aisle of empty toilet paper shelves.  Are you feeling it yet?

Since I love to upcycle, I stenciled on a piece of cloth ripped from some old linen curtains I found at the Goodwill Store a while back. (Ripping gives me so much satisfaction.) The pattern on the curtain doesn’t fit in with my design, but the back of it works fine.  And besides, who doesn’t enjoy the feel of stitching on linen?

I used Nautical Blue MentoLuxe pigment ink to stencil the design.  And for a hint of authenticity, I stenciled with a hand made Japanese stencil brush.  The brush is made with deer hair and I’m smitten with it. 


I got out my stitching supplies and went to town.  For this kind of stitching, I never use a hoop.  I prefer to freestyle it instead.  FYI, my favorite needle is a #5 embroidery needle. (I found these two packages of vintage needles in a thrift shop - I think I paid 20 cents for both packs. SCORE!)

I choose a double page journal spread with blue denim on the left side and heavyweight cotton paper on the right side. I had a great piece of vintage blue bamboo kimono material in my starship that I used to cover the paper side. Since I wanted to minimize the amount of stitching that I need to do in the book itself, I pinned everything down without piercing the pages. Then I sat down and began stitching. 

I stitched on top of my Geisha Girl’s robe and then outlined her using a backstitch.  I left  the edges to fray.

I used a blanket stitch to attach the Haiku poem to the soft stenciled cloth collage and then to attach the cloth collage to the journal. 

My finished Kabuki Haiku journal page:

LOL. I’m still on a quest to locate some toilet paper. Fear not though, things have not gotten desperate yet.  We have enough rolls to last us two or three weeks so please don’t worry for us. My ISO Toilet Paper is really all in good jest.   

Before I close this post though, I want to thank you all for letting me share just a little bit of your day. And I want to give an especially big shout out to all of our caregivers out there everyday during this time. Those of you on the front line and those of you who are supporting us each and every day are our hero’s: Doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, Veterinarians, grocery store and retail clerks, mail handlers, custodial and security staff, and all those other dedicated essential individuals working and volunteering out in the public each day. You are all heroes and I am thankful for your care. I owe you big time.  But for now, I’m committed to staying home as long as it takes to help keep you safe.

Stay well,

Post Epilogue:  
The other day my masked husband ventured out to the grocery store. When he returned he said that they’d finally gotten a shipment toilet paper. But since it was the cheap store brand he didn’t buy any....  LOL. You just can’t make this stuff up. Sometimes you’ve just got to turn and laugh. 


  1. Delightful project and stories! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Brilliant! I appreciate your sense of humor and your style.


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