Friday, April 17, 2015

FLAG FRIDAY Gelli Print Prayer Flags

I'm a mixed media artist but a total newbie when it comes to prayer flags. I've always had a thing for hearts and decided to work with the color black as the top layer instead of the bottom layer.  Wasn't sure if it would work out but it would be fun to try it anyway.

These are the materials that you will need to give this project a try:
Gelli Printing plate 8x10 (or smaller if you wish)
heavy acrylic paints in favorite colors and black
Natural or white cotton duck cloth
scrap paper and/or text paper
paper plate
wet wipes
spray bottle and paper towels
paper plates
Optional:  acrylic inks and bamboo skewers

You'll need an area where you can lay out all your materials and have a flat surface for your Gelli Plate. Cut your fabric slightly larger than the size of your Gelli Plate so you can press down on the Gelli Plate and not get paint all over your hands. You can use the excess scraps for other projects.

The first layer of paint will provide contrast with the top layer of black paint, so my first layer will be a solid layer of a bright color acrylic.  I squirted a solid color onto the Gelli plate and brayered it all over the plate.  I placed the cloth on top of the plate and applied pressure evenly with my hand across the fabric and plate.  Then I lifted the fabric off the plate.  I don't need a lot of paint. Just enough to cover the plate in an even coat.  I made several of these first layers.  It is not necessary to let the fabric dry completely before you do the next layer. Clean your Gelli Plate with a wet wipe and/or water and paper towels after each pull or each color.

Below,  you will see the 2nd layer of acrylic paint with black on the Gelli Plate + stencil.  Squirt black paint on the plate and brayer it evenly. Immediate lay the stencil on to the plate and then place the fabric on top of the stencil with paint side down.  Use your hands with firm pressure to press down firmly and evenly to get the print on the fabric.  Some people work from the middle out and some work from the top down.  Some people use a brayer to do this but I get a better feel with my hands. Remove the fabric from the stencil immediately after.  

This last one with the black paper is an example of what you get using red paint with black cardstock.  I didn't bother to clean the Gelli Plate before I printed on it.
Note:  You can set the stencil, paint side down on a piece of scrap fabric/paper and get a partial print if there is enough wet paint left on it.  I don't bother to clean my stencils until I am done with all my prints.  That's why my stencils are so colorful.

If you take a piece of scrap paper or text paper and lay on top of the Gelli Plate that you just used with the stencil and press down firmly and evenly throughout the plate you will get a ghost/residual print that you can use in your artwork.  I use mine mostly for backgrounds and journal pages in my art journals. Lay the stenciled pieces of paper aside to dry.  See my two examples below:

I wanted to have some red heart backgrounds so I could cut out some red hearts and sew them onto my prayer flags.  As a result, I brayered red paint on the Gelli Plate and got a red background on my fabric. The only problem was that it looked too plain.  I figured that I would try it again but would stick a stencil in between the plate and the fabric with another layer of red paint. This is what I got.  I really liked the texture even though I used the same color red again.

These are the stencils I used for this project.  I used stencils from MaryBeth Shaw - Stencil Girl Products and Artistcellar Stencils. You can tell that I use them a lot because they are so colorful. Yes, I do clean them all the time, I just don't get to it right away.

Once my layers of paint are all dry, I want to add a little color, embellishing, and writing to it.  This is when I get out the acrylic inks.  I use a wooden skewer to add a bit of color and contrast.

Once it all dries, I cut them to size.  I know they are 5x8" but have to remember that I have to leave a few inches more at the end to fold over so I can hang it.  So, it's more like 5x11". I marked the back side with a dot where I needed to fold it over to sew it, to make it easier on myself later.  These are what the cut-out unfinished pieces of fabric looked like.

I decided I needed to sew my little hanging end/flap first so I knew where I could position my hearts and other stuff.  Then I stitched on the hearts/flowers/stuff and did my writing. This is my end result:

Well, the prayer flags are not complete until I've gone outside and hung them out on a line.  I couldn't do it myself. My daughter had to volunteer to help me. You'll see her in one of the pictures.

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial and will have some fun using the Gelli Plate making your own prayer flags.  You can find me on Facebook. Let me know if you have any questions. Comments are always welcome. 
                      - Belinda Spiwak

Monday, April 13, 2015

Influential Women in My Family

 When I designed this line of fabric "Heart and Soul Sisters," I was influenced by the amazing women in my family who dreamed big to be a doctor, a writer, a teacher, and a dentist.  They followed their hearts.

So be true to yourself, be bold, be brave and be strong to be the best that you can be.  ~ Jamie Fingal

Friday, April 10, 2015

Flag Friday

Text and imagery are a large part of any prayer flag.  There are many ways to add text to your flag and this week we'll talk about stamping and writing on flags.

Some people enjoy printing text directly onto their flag while others will put the text on paper or fabric and stitch it to the flag later.  No matter which method you enjoy, testing your products out first is always a good idea.  I have lined up different types of fabrics to show how each method of stamping and writing looks. 
Starting from left to right we have:  PFD (prepared for dyeing fabric), commercial solid, hand dye, commercial print, three hand dyes and another commercial solid.
Not all stamp pads are waterproof on fabric. Craft Test Dummies has a wonderful comparison of various stamp pads on fabric and their washability.  I like using Memento Luxe from Tsukineko.  The ink is made specifically for Mixed media work and works well on fabric.  This is the ink I will be using on my samples.

Rubber stamps are readily available at craft, scrapbook, major fabric stores, some big box stores, and always online. The first row of Joy in the photo below was stamped using individual letter stamps I picked up from my local craft shop. They are affordable (especially with a coupon!) and versatile. The letters in this set are about 1" tall.

One of the hardest things about stamping onto fabric is remembering that you don't need to push the stamp into the paper like the ink will run away!  Doing so will often give a ghost image of the edges of the stamp (as you can see on all my letters below!)  If you like that look then stamp with all your might!

The large letter A's that are stamped at the bottom of the black fabric were created using acrylic paint.  Paints can easily be pounced or brushed onto stamps and provide a nice image. Just make sure you wash the paint off quickly so that it doesn't gum up your stamps!
"Love" is a stamp I carved from my own handwriting and an eraser.  I left the stamp rough (little bits not carved away) so that the stamp didn't look manufactured.

Here are a few links on how to carve your own stamp:
Hand Carved Stamps (blog tutorial)

If you want to add your own hand writing directly to the fabric there are many wonderful pens and markers on the market.  I have demonstrated a few in these photos:
Silver, White, Gold and Copper Zig Fabricolor pens flow nicely across the fabric.  Zig also makes other colors but I only have the metallic and white.  The white often needs to be applied a few times on dark fabric to get a nice opaque white but it still makes a nice line.  The markers say they are a fine tip but they are thicker than I would have imagined.  I used the white marker with my letter stamps to create the word Love at the bottom of the black fabric below.
The next line of joy's were written with a Sharpie Grip Pen in purple. They are surprisingly smooth to write with on fabric and I think would be ideal for writing out an entire poem, song lyric or prayer onto a flag.  The line if very fine.

The next line of joy's were written using the Sharpie Fine Point Pen.  The pen is a bit thicker than the Grip Pen by Sharpie but still writes smoothly across the fabric.

The next line of Joy's were made using a Pigma Micron Pen, size 005.  Micron's have been a staple for writing on fabric for many years, and while it is my favorite for drawing with on paper, I don't enjoy using it on fabric.  The pen doesn't glide across the fabric but sticks and stutters making writing difficult.

Finally at the bottom right on the white PFD fabric is the Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric.  This pen glides across fabric like butter!  It is so nice to write with, however each pen does not contain much ink and so it has lost favor with me.  The pen I was using for the sample above is on it's last leg and so I'm afraid the sample doesn't give you a good indication of just how beautiful it writes when new.

*Tip - Iron a piece of freezer paper onto the back of your fabric before writing with any pens or markers.  This will keep your fabric tight and flat and much easier to write on!

Do you have a favorite pen or marker for writing on fabric that I did not cover?
Next Friday there we will have a guest blogger, Belinda Spiwak, showing how to make a gelli print prayer flag.  

*NOTE - The links in this post are NOT sponsored but are given for your benefit only.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I forgot to mention in the post on Friday that I would love to hear from anyone who would like to share a tutorial on Flag Friday.  Please email me at if you are interested!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Flag Friday

Welcome to Flag Friday!

Starting today, each Friday here at The Prayer Flag Project, a post will be dedicated to a tutorial, challenge or link to fun things you might want to know about making and sharing the love and healing of Prayer Flags.  This week I wanted to start out at the beginning:

Prayer flags have a very long and beautiful history rooted in Tibetan and Buddhist culture.  Vivika DeNegre and I covered a little bit of this history in a blog post at Quilting Daily, which I encourage you to read if you haven't already.  If the history of prayer flags intrigues you can read more about them in this article, as well as this article.

In their most basic form a Prayer Flag is nothing more than a piece of cloth printed with images and words, strung together and hung outside, however it is the love of the maker, that truly brings the  prayer flags to life.

Why Make a Prayer Flag?

Prayer flags are just fun to make!  There are no rules in the art of prayer flags and because of the small size, they are also an easy way to experiment with new art techniques, however, I find I enjoy making prayer flags for their loving qualities.

Carrie Bloomston enjoys making prayer flags because it is a creative project with purposefulness, and meaning that is sacred and filled with prayer and intention.  Although not religious in their modern format, prayer flags, like many sewing projects, act as a placeholder for the divine.  We sew with love and give that love away to family and friends.  They feel that love as they use the items we give. It is the same with prayer flags.  Every stitch is a prayer for love if we hold that spirit as we work.

Jane LaFazio likes to make prayer flags because it allows her to think of the person or cause as she sews the flags.  Making the flags helps her to focus on the receiver and send positive thoughts to them.

One of the reasons Jamie Fingal makes prayer flags is because she likes to have small flags with positive affirmations to inspire her in her art studio.  They also make excellent gifts for friends.  Jamie started making them when she had a couple of personal tragedies in her life.  The flags gave her comfort and helped with the healing process.  She was able to get her mojo back by making prayer flags.  She still enjoys making and giving prayer flags.

Get Ready. . .

Come back each Friday for a new tutorial or challenge.  This weeks challenge is to read over the flag making tutorials on the blog and think of someone you would like to share a flag with.  Gather your supplies and come back next Friday for a tutorial on adding text to your flags.

Feel free to share this post with your friends, and invite them to join the party.  You can email me at prayerflagproject (at) gmail (dot) com if you have photos you would like to share on the blog.