I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell is fiber paste?”
Okay, maybe it wasn’t put in such colorful terms, but this is a question I get a lot. It’s a material I stumbled across in my senior year of college when I was trying to find as many textured mediums as possible for a final project, and it’s been a personal favorite ever since. Fiber paste is a thick, opaque medium that looks like handmade paper once dry. It can be used with acrylic paints and other mediums, so you can go to town making it any color or finish you like. I like to apply it using a palette knife or rubber spatula on wooden panels, sort of like frosting a cake. Once it’s dry, it’s ready for whatever you want to put on it - in my case, my favorite medium is gouache.
I love french knots.
In case that wasn’t obvious. It’s one of the only “special” embroidery stitches that I know well or practice often, and it’s in every single one of my needlework pieces. To start off each piece, I pick out a wooden hoop from my collection (thanks, Joann Fabrics, for feeding that addiction), and stretch a piece of ironed cloth over it (I use unbleached muslin or hand-dyed canvas). Usually I’ll paint with gouache on the muslin before I start embroidering, but I don’t really go into it with a shape in mind - needlework for me has become a totally intuitive process and I try not to plan too much beforehand. Once the paint is dry, I can start embroidering. Just like with the paint, I don’t go into it with a specific plan, aside from maybe color palette, and I’ll switch colors or build out the form of the french knot blob on the cloth in whatever way feels right. My gut usually dictates when I stop, or what I’ll add next - beading, simpler stitches, whatever. It’s a much more relaxed practice than my painting practice, which is typically pretty planned and rigid.