I have no idea how to classify my décor style, but it’s definitely not minimalist. That much, I know. I love mixing colors and shapes and wacky “out there” hand-crafted pieces to tell a story. So, today’s tutorial is a first for me because it’s subtle and serene, and dare I say…. grey?!! And I flippin love it. I must be getting old 😀 but I had so much fun playing with plaster of Paris to create this 3D textured fabric art.
See what I mean? It’s calm, understated, and delightfully monochromatic.
It’s still got loads of organic texture and an earthy vibe, though.
It creates a beautiful backdrop to show off some of our air plant art.
So maybe I’m not veering too much off the “anything-goes-as-long-as-it’s-unique” track. I don’t know, you be the judge.
Right, before I share how to use plaster of Paris to make 3D textured fabric art, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!
What you need
To make something similar, you’ll need plaster of Paris (obviously) and different types of left-over fabric to create layers of interest. I used burlap/hessian and muslin. Any fabric with a loose-ish weave that the plaster of Paris can sink into should work, so feel free to experiment.
You also need:
- Craft paint
- Craft glue
- Palette knife (a plastic knife works too)
- Bucket or container
- Something to stir with
- Branch (optional)
- Twine (optional)
Just a heads up; this is a messy business, so it’s probably a good idea to find a sheet of plastic to protect your work area.
How to make 3D textured fabric art
My 3D art has three layers: a raised stencil on top of a flat, firm fabric, with a wrinkly softer fabric as a background. To create contrast and visual interest I choose fabrics with different textures. The muslin is soft and flowing while the hessian, with it’s frayed edges, tends to be a bit stiff and “formal”.
So, I’ll start off by showing you how I used plaster of Paris to paint my fabric and highlight it’s unique characteristics, before moving on to creating a raised stencil.
How to paint fabric with plaster of Paris
There are two ways to use plaster of Paris on fabric. Dip it or paint it. To make this 3D textured fabric art I went for the paint option. It’s not as messy and you can minimize unintentional wrinkles, which is important if you’re going to add a raised stencil later. Plus, if you want to dip the fabric, you need to mix enough plaster so you can submerge the entire thing in the mixture. You end up wasting quite a bit. So, paint it is 😀
To make Plaster of Paris fabric paint you can use any water-based craft paint to add color. Keep in mind that the color won’t be as intense, since the white plaster lightens and dulls the paint.
As a general rule of thumb, I mix 1 part plaster of Paris with 1 part liquid. It’s not an exact science. The liquid is simply watered-down craft paint. The more water you add to the paint, the lighter the final color.
Sprinkle the plaster of Paris powder into the watered-down paint and stir. Add more powder until you have a smooth, lump free, creamy consistency. Not whipped cream, mind you. The way cream looks before you beat it with one of those mixing things.
Using an old paint brush paint the front and back of the fabric with the mixture.
You want the paint to absorb fully into the fabric so you may need to apply more than one coat of paint. The hessian only needed one coat on each side while the muslin needed two coats. I used a darker color on the muslin to create contrast. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Leave the painted fabric to dry completely. The plaster of Paris absorbs into the fabric and makes it stiff once it dries. So, keep that in mind.
Where and how you dry the fabric will depend on what type of effect you want and what you’ll be using it for. I left my hessian to dry on a flat surface.
The muslin, on the other hand, got a good scrunching before I let it dry with wrinkles and creases.
Making a plaster of Paris raised stencil
Using a stencil to create texture and a 3-dimensional effect on fabric is a quick and easy way to add interest to your art. To avoid distorting or cracking the stenciled pattern I would suggest doing the stencil on a stiff fabric like hessian, heavy cotton, linen, or organza. You can buy pre-mixed raised stencil paste or putty at most craft shops or mix your own using wood glue, water and plaster of Paris.
Plaster of Paris can be brittle once it dries. Adding glue to the mix makes it more flexible and rubbery so it won’t chip off as easily. I’m assuming all plaster of Paris is mixed in a ratio of 2 parts plaster to 1 part water. Check the manufacturer’s instructions in your country just to be sure. What you want to do is replace the water part with a 75:25 ratio of glue and water. Using cups as an example, if the instructions say to mix 2 parts plaster with 1 part water, you need to mix 2 cups of plaster with a 3/4 cup of glue and a 1/4 cup of water.
Always add the plaster to the liquid, not the other way around. It helps prevent lumps and you won’t get as much plaster dust flying all over the place. Tape your stencil down on the fabric and use a palette knife to scoop up a generous amount of the stencil paste. Spread the paste over the stencil keeping your knife at an angle. It’s like icing a cake.
To avoid the dreaded stencil bleed, use long, sweeping strokes to apply the paste. The glue can make the plaster mix quite tacky so you don’t want to go backwards, and forwards. It will probably lift the stencil. Once you’ve covered the whole stencil and the plaster is still wet, grab two of the corners and peel the stencil off.
You can use a toothpick or small paintbrush to fix any oopsies before the raised stencil dries.
To clean the stencil, use a palette knife, craft stick or an old credit card to scrape off any excess plaster paste and rinse immediately in a bucket of warm water.
Leave the stenciled fabric on a flat surface to dry. The glue in the mix slows the curing time so if it still feels squishy give it another hour to set before painting or moving on to the next step.
If your raised stencil doesn’t work out the way you hoped, just use your knife or a craft stick to scrape the wet plaster of Paris off. Wipe the fabric with a damp cloth, pat dry and give it another go.
Bonus raised stencil tips
- For a subtle, “barely there” look, use less plaster of Paris paste and just skim over the stencil.
- If you want the raised stencil to really stand out, then load your palette knife with lots of paste.
- To take things up a notch, add a drop shadow by first stenciling in the design with paint and then moving the stencil a teeny, tiny bit before applying the paste.
- Play around with contrasting colors to create drama and highlight the raised details. You can paint or stain the dried paste and it looks lovely if you lightly rub a little gilding paste over the raised details. I just lightly dabbed on a very watered down grey paint over my raised stencil using a sponge.
- Use techniques like antiquing, distressing, or crackling to give your raised stencil an aged or well-worn appearance.
- Try combining the raised stencil with other craft mediums, like decoupage and resin to create a one-of-a-kind work of art.
- Have fun with the process. Plaster of Paris is cheap and readily available so you can experiment without breaking the bank.
- The only downside to making raised stencils is cleaning the stencil up afterwards. I keep a large flat Tupperware container filled with warm water nearby and dunk them between experiments.
Combining all the pieces
Now that all our layers are done, we can start putting the plaster of Paris 3D textured fabric art together. You can choose how you want to combine the layers and how to display your art. I decided to hang mine from a dried branch.
My branch isn’t the straightest, so I pinned muslin straps to the background fabric first. That way I could adjust the straps before sewing them on.
To add interest, I cut small branch slices and drilled a few holes to make rustic buttons.
The buttons were sewn on with twine.
The hessian layer with raised stencil were also sewn on with two small stitches. You can glue the raised stencil down too.
A knot of scrap fabric hides the stitches and adds another layer of interest.
And that’s it.
Hang her up and enjoy.
Sigh. Isn’t it gorgeous? All in all, my new minimalist, grey, textured wall art took about two hours to make. That includes drying time.
In fact, it took me longer to write this tutorial. What do you think? Have you used plaster of Paris to create wall art for your home?
If you like the idea of using plaster of Paris to make 3D textured fabric art, don’t forget to pin it for later.
Sharing is caring
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And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.