It was a long week and I found it difficult to get back into my studio routine, but I did manage to produce some work after all. I think I can forgive myself, though: I found out in the span of just a few days that 1) I didn't get chosen for the Denver gallery, and 2) my magazine article was declined.
I felt sorry for myself for almost a full day, got bored with that, and then got my tush back in the chair.
This canvas (repainted) met this textile piece and magic happened.
Over the weekend I'd done a 4-step white-to-black gradation, hoping to get some interesting textures in the two mid-ranged pieces. I did, though not to the extent I had hoped. More experimentation is necessary to find the right recipe. I was a little paranoid about not getting a good solid black that I think I added a little too much dye powder. I'll scale it back next time.
I took the two blackest pieces, neither of which had much variation in color at all, and discharged them with Softscrub paste and hand-made stamps.
I loved the way the dye discharged to an earthy brown... luscious color that put me in the mood for fall.
In that spirit, I took on my largest project of the week, and the one that ended up being the most fun, too: playing with deconstructed screen printing.
I've been having some wonderful email conversations with artist Rayna Gillman and while most of our chats aren't necessarily about DSP, spending time browsing her blogs and web site helped reaffirm my desire to explore the outer edges of surface design.
The set up for this technique was more intensive than the technique itself but now that I've built my tools and played with thickened dyes, it will go much faster and smoother next time (probably later today- I have another screen and more fabric prepared).
First, I took my old paper-making silk screens (I used to use them as molds- guess I will need new molds before I make paper again) and covered them in duct tape to protect the wood and create "wells" upon which to spread the pigment.
The duct tape needed 24 hours to cure to keep it from sliding around when it gets moist, so I moved on to creating another stamping board, this one larger than my usual one.
The smaller board measures about 18" x 14". I used a scrap piece of masonite, padded it with an old towel, turned a piece of commercial fabric to the wrong side and attached it to the board by taping it with duct tape at the back. Then I gesso'd over the surface to make it easier to wipe clean.
The larger piece at the back is the one I made yesterday. It was constructed in essentially the same manner but I used foam core for the backing and an old sheet for the padding. I haven't Gesso'd the top, yet.
Next I chose my colors. I've been in a somewhat darker mood lately, and the onset of fall is effecting me as well, so in honor of both of those influences, I've gone to the earthy end of the spectrum. Bronze and Avocado, with Brown Rose as an accent. I mixed a small amount of each and thickened them in the usual manner with sodium alginate.
In order to create a pattern on the screen that I could "deconstruct" onto fabric later, I covered one of my padded boards with plastic (to protect it), crumpled a paper lunch sack I'd previously cut open, laid it on the plastic and then laid the screen on top of that. As I flooded the screen with the thickened dyes, the paper would wrinkle and create great texture that would dry on the screen.
This worked well and I got some wonderful creases and patterns. I'm still not sure exactly how much dye to use, and whether I should squeegee most of it out or leave a good portion on the screen itself- information that I'm sure will come with experimentation and experience- but once I had my pattern the way I wanted it, I lifted the screen, peeled off the now wet paper sack (which I used to make a monoprint on soda-soaked, dry cotton muslin) and set it aside to dry.
I repeated the process for the second screen, adding in bits of textured ephemera underneath in the hopes of generating more exciting textures, and then set that screen aside to dry, as well.
By last night, they were ready to be used. I laid out dry, ironed, soda-soaked white muslin on top of the large padded board, laid one of the screens on the fabric and flooded it with un-dyed thickened water. I pulled prints off of each screen until it looked as if there was hardly any dye left and then I took them to the sink and scrubbed them clean. For a couple of the prints, I flooded the screen with both clean alginate and thickened Brown Rose at the same time.
I'm more pleased with my results than I thought I would be when they went into the machine this morning for the wash-out: the pieces had dried very quickly and I didn't think they would hold the dyes well because of it (Procion MX likes to "batch" damp for 24-48 hours). I did lose enough dye in the wash out to compel me to figure out how to keep the fabric damp for longer periods without smudging and bleeding. Time to hit the books (or take a class or watch a DVD).
I foresee a wonderful winter of exploration for me in surface design. Now if I could just manage to devote as much time to my machine stitching!
Finally, I looked out of the window the other day and saw this guy sitting on the back fence.