DIY Rubbing Plates

An Upcycling Fabric-Painting Tutorial, with Shiva Paintstiks

3rdRub8a WT
3rdRub6WTClick on smaller photos to see em larger and clearer.

You know how rubbing a pencil over a tombstone makes a picture on paper? You can buy rubbing plates for fabric.

But, wanting my own designs, I made plates by painting old CDs and CD cases with Jones Tones metallic fabric paint. The paint’s thick 3-D lines are perfect, and also will not get dislodged when rubbed—it holds fast to CDs and CD cases.

There was lots of trial ‘n’ error: I made 40 plates, tossed ten, and salvaged many of the remaining ones by touching them up. (Yes, I got obsessed.)

RubbingPlatesWTBut do not be discouraged from making plates. Most of my first ones made fun rubbings. Besides, I already made a lot of mistakes for you, you can skip em. 🙂 The suggestions below are learned from my errors and successes.

Don’t make a crazy number of plates right off the bat. Make a few, try em out, learn what you did wrong before making more.

Steal your children’s CDs. Just kidding.

RbngPlts1WTMake thick, high lines. This might require going over them a few times. If a plate doesn’t work well, building a few lines higher can make the plate satisfactory.

Simpler is often better and can produce gorgeous rubbings—eg a heart, spiral, or daisy-like flower. Some of my detailed attempts produced a mess on fabric. However, I was able to repair some of those plates; this post has ideas on how to do that.

Blous4Barb4WTDon’t try for a detailed plate at first, but for an overall shape. But I got better at details after a while, and hope to get really good at it someday.

Paint the front of cd cases, bc the back’s edge has a lip that the Paintstiks can easily rub against accidentally, making an unwanted mark on the cloth.

Let paint dry a few days before using it for a rubbing, or it might smoosh.

Practice rubbings on rags or paper, so initial mistakes are on an inexpensive surface.

I needed a little practice to learn: how to make more than a few simple plates; how to actually do a rubbing; and how to use Shiva Paintstiks (which were totally new to me). But the process is fun, the results worth the efforts, and the learning curve fast.

WoodsyOutlaw4WTThe learning curve to improve further has been fast too. I think time and practice continues to make a diff, bit by bit.

While you’re waiting for your rubbing plates to dry, be sure to check out some Shiva Paintstiks basics from Shelly Stokes.

There are also good vids online about how to use a rubbing plate.

I made decent plates before I realized the following, so make something pretty for yourself with your intial plates, before applying my more complex instructions below. That will motivate you to pursue this further. Trying too much too soon can result in total discouragement. But if you end up obsessed with improving your plates (moi?), check this out:

* Since simple works well, I made some plates that combine simple shapes. Like a cluster of hearts. Or a vine of leaves.
* Doubling a line is good, e.g., two concentric outlines of a leaf very close to each other. If the Paintstiks doesn’t hit one line when you’re rubbing, the other line might get hit, giving the overall impression of the leaf.
* Also try double lines widely separated—they are pretty. E.g., concentric hearts.
* It doesn’t matter how nice the plate looks, what matters is the impression it gives when rubbed. That’s self-evident but its practical applications took me a while to figure out, though I’m a quick learner. So this might shorten your learning curve:
*Look carefully at each line, three dimensionally. For example, I often discovered big bumps at a line’s end, which would take the paint when a Paintstiks hit them but also block the Paintstiks from hitting the rest of the line.
* In that vein, the main lines of a figure can get obscured. When I added secondary lines, they’d often be more raised at the end that touches a main line, and thus block main lines from getting hit well by the Shiva Paintstiks. After you paint the whole figure, examine main lines and perhaps build them higher. It is fine if secondary lines get somewhat obscured as long as main lines are clearer.

WldChldTCollageWTMy blog on experimenting with oils shares more of my experience making plates.

Thank you for reading about my attempts at making rubbing plates. Do post your experiences, I would love that so much. We can learn from each other.



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4 Responses to DIY Rubbing Plates

  1. Great post, Francesca. I’ll add this to my Blog/Newsletter file to share with the CCT Community.

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Shelly, thank you so much!!!!! I am so glad you like it. I look forward to seeing it shared in the CCT community, wow o wow!

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