Fabrications – In Bloom Two (part one)

When quilters moved from traditional quilts to contemporary quilts to art quilts, many tools and techniques once used on canvas crossed over into fiber art. One of those tools is Shiva Paintstiks. If you haven’t already used them yourself, you’ve probably seen the work of those who have integrated them into their craft.

Shiva Paintstiks (also called Markal Paintstiks) are a combination of refined linseed oil, pigment, and wax, solidified into solid stick form. Unlike other oil bars, the linseed oil in the Shiva bars is highly refined, less acidic, and fast drying. Therefore, they do not leave an oil outline when used on fabric. Within 24 hours they will be dry to touch. However, they take 3-5 days to fully dry and must be heat set to be permanent. Following the drying time, give your project a gentle wash to remove remaining chemical residue. Do not dry clean..

One characteristic of the paintstiks has both a positive and negative aspect to it. They are self-healing, which means they form a skin after use. This makes for less waste but it also means that the skin has to be removed each time you work with them. I use a sharp knife with a thin blade. The skin is very thin so don’t take off too much in the process. Sometimes the skin flakes intermingle with your work, but they are easy to remove. Since I’m not crazy about the skin or the flakes, I cover my paintstiks with Glad Press n’ Seal if I plan on using them a few days in a row. This retards the formation of the skin and keeps them sealed at the same time.

The first time you use them, practice on a scrap of fabric to get the feel of how they work. Don’t press too hard and work in a consistent linear motion. Although rubbing plates are available, experiment with other items that have interesting raised designs on their surface. I used a plant stand in the example below.

One of my favorite rubbings is random dots found on a textile plate intended for clay.

Additionally, you can make your own raised designs with string or wire. Also, keep your eyes open when shopping and you’re sure to find items that can be adhered to a firm surface and serve as an original rubbing plate. For example, I found decorative paper clips in the scrapbooking section of a local craft store that worked well. Simply glue them to a piece of wood or similar object.

Rubbings are not the only use for paintstiks, though. You can use commercial stencils or stencils you create yourself to decorate fabric. It is best to use a stencil brush to apply thepaintstik to the fabric. As an alternative, you can paint directly onto the fabric and then use an old toothbrush to rub the paint evenly into the fabric.

Shiva Paintstiks come in both matte and iridescent colors, and they can be blended to create even more colors.

I like to use one of the citrus solvents for cleanup, but they don’t really make much of a mess. Regular soap is all you need to clean your hands. However, do prepare your work area just as you would for fabric painting.

In part two, we’ll get to some creative ways to use Shiva Paintstiks in projects.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured