At the November meeting of my art quilt group we played around with paintstiks, which are oil paints compressed into fat crayons. You can draw with them (though nothing too detailed), stencil with them, or do rubbings with them. You can blend the colors together using a special blender crayon. They can be applied directly like crayons or with stencil brushes. Use the shiny side of a sheet of freezer paper as a palette and you can customize your colors for stenciling.
Here’s a member doing rubbings from paintstik plastic plates. You can also use any textured objects that will leave a pattern – pressed glass, leaves, rubber matting, etc.
Paintstiks are less messy to use than paint, though you need to make sure little shavings don’t get on furniture, floors or clothes; as they will stain if rubbed in. It is oil paint. You let the decorated cloth air dry for 24 hours, and then cover and press the cloth at a temperature suited to the fabric. The paintstik crayons seal themselves with a protective skim coat over the areas you use. This needs to be removed the next time you use them with a paper towel, cloth, knife, or vegetable peeler.
I enjoy the versatility of paintstiks and the many iridescent color choices. You can use them to decorate prewashed fabric, or to enhance your piece after quilting. Check out The Painted Quilt by Linda and Laura Kemshall for inspiration. Here’s links to some online tutorials: Dharma Trading Post video, Craft Test Dummies, and Blue Twig Studio. We found that Dawn Blue dish soap works well for brush/stencil/stamp clean up.
If you’ve played with paintstiks I’d love to hear about how you used them.