Cheesecloth Explorations 2: Introduction to Portraiture

Is it hard to create a human face out of cheesecloth? Not at all! Maybe you need stellar drawing skills to take this class? Absolutely not! I hope you'll join me for this introduction to cheesecloth portraiture that covers my unique method of manipulating cheesecloth that combines “sculpting” or “painting” with fibres. By utilizing the effects of transparency and opacity, you will learn how to create an effective portrait with cheesecloth.

Working from a simple photo - the first one that I used when pioneering this method - you will explore various application techniques, learning the basic skills required to create stunning portraits out of humble cheesecloth. I'll be with you every step of the way, with easy-to-follow instructions and videos to show you exactly how I achieve the dramatic effects in my cheesecloth portraits. 

Attempts to duplicate my results by fusing layers of cheesecloth - a messy, fiddly process - result in a very static portrait. My signature method involves smoothing the cheesecloth so it mimics the movement of actual human skin. It's like painting with fabric! Then simply machine appliqué it to a background fabric, and I offer several possible approaches to finishing and displaying your completed portrait. 

Suitable for confident beginners who can operate a sewing machine. This is a one-day project.

You will also have an opportunity to join a private Facebook group to meet other cheesecloth portrait students for sharing ideas, and to participate monthly in a group zoom call with me so you can ask any questions you might have and see what others in our community are creating.

For this class you will need two pieces of clear .005 Dura-Lar, 9 x 12 inches, available at art supply stores or from online shops like Dick Blick or Amazon. 

What You Will Learn

  • How to use cheesecloth to incorporate texture into your fibre art 
  • The power of value for dramatic portraits
  • How to get different cheesecloth effects, such as movement and varying values
  • Methods for “invisible” appliqué using monofilament in your sewing machine
  • A quick finishing method for displaying your finished portrait

Don't miss out
It's the best course ever

Table of Contents

About Mary
Why Cheesecloth?
1. Getting Started
Supply List and Pattern
(Do I really need to get Dura-lar? )
Introducing ... Cheesecloth!
Assembling Your Supplies
2. Basic Cheesecloth Techniques
Warm-up Exercises
Removing Cheesecloth from the Dura-lar
Threading Your Machine
Machine Appliqué
3. Shaping a Face
Origin of the Pattern
Creating a Pattern with Values
Shaping a Cheesecloth Portrait
Making Tweaks & Adjustments
4. Appliqué Stage
Putting the Puzzle Together, Piece by Piece

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have access to the course?

Once you've enrolled and paid, you will have access to all of the course material for at least one year. So devour it all in one weekend or take things slow. It's your choice!

Can I take this class if I didn't take the first class in the series?

Yes, you can. Even if you have never worked with cheesecloth before, you can make this portrait in a day. The Introductory classes have both been designed as a complete introduction to using cheesecloth, but everything you need to know is included in each course. Windswept Pine has additional information on colouring cheesecloth and painting a background that is not included in the portrait class.

What do I need to know about using a computer?

You'll need to be able to save the URL and your login/password information for the CourseCraft site. They have an online chat Help button on the lower right of your screen.

Do I need to have a sewing machine to make this project?

While it is theoretically possible to glue your cheesecloth portrait to a stretched canvas, it will not give you a very pleasing result (IMHO!). The sewing is done with "invisible" thread, so no one will see your stitches, but they are an important part of the process and result in a superior finished portrait.

Can I use a photo of my own, instead of the class pattern?

This class is intended as an introduction to making portraits from cheesecloth, and the pattern walks you through all the steps using a simple pattern. The fourth class in the Cheesecloth Explorations series is Advanced Portraiture, and there you learn all the steps to translate any portrait into cheesecloth.

What if I'm unhappy with my purchase?

Since all of the information is available at the time of purchase, unfortunately refunds are not possible.

I still have a question, how can I contact you?

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Send me an email at Or post it at the end of a lesson and I will reply. Or post it in our Facebook group, Cheesecloth Converts and I will reply to that, too!

Don't miss out
It's the best course ever

  • The short snippets of video and instruction are great so as to not overwhelm a student so they can try and experiment in small steps!

    — Barb R.
  • I do want to share with you how very well done these tutorials are. I really appreciate and need your “running commentary” which I always find so helpful in order to avoid any pitfalls, and the photography is very good as well. But mostly I wanted to compliment you on how cleverly you thought this process through in order to enable both yourself and now your students to get such good results. Good for you!!, and all the compliments you’ve gotten and continue to get are well earned.

    — J.R.