Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Collage, And Silk

This week I want to talk a little more about a mixed-media piece I finished, and a little less about fabrics- but if you can stay tuned until the end of this post, I promise to help you get your silk ya-yas on!

As I stated in a recent post, I spent an enjoyable afternoon playing recently with a product called CitraSolv Concentrate and several hapless National Geographic Magazines. The resulting product- reams of fascinating papers to use in mixed-media projects- excited me. I determined then to do one collage a week out of these papers either until they run out, or my substrates do.

Here is week twos' collage:
CS No. 2, 1.2010. 16" x 18"

Like the last piece, this one was created by fusing solvent-melted magazine pages- this time in torn strips to help emphasize the unpredictable nature of the process used to create them- to a piece of masonite board with Wonder Under.

As I added more and more strips, the collage began to look like a cross-section of the Earth's crust, an effect I found very appealing. In order to help reinforce that earthy feeling, I wanted to add one of my own nature photos somewhere in the piece, a desire which led me to consider incorporating something else I was playing with last week- a product called Sheer Heaven.

Sheer Heaven is a synthetic paper with unusual properties. Unlike other synthetic art papers such as Yupo, which is opaque white and smooth to the touch on both sides, Sheer Heaven is somewhat translucent, and one side- the "right" side- has a soft, suede-like feel to it. This is where you do most of your work, evidently.

It arrived only a few days ago, so I haven't had a lot of time to really put this product through its paces, but the results I've had so far have been interesting, and the product itself is just fun to play with.

I started by running a few sheets of Sheer Heaven through my computer printer, printing out some of my own photos. On the Sheer Heaven web site, there's a brief tutorial for photo transfers using your injet printer and 70% Isopropal alcohol. The tutorial covers transfers onto watercolor paper, but I wanted to test the technique with fabric. My results were less than thrilling- I didn't even bother photographing them- so more testing is in order.

However, a really fascinating thing happened with the SH paper- after I transferred this photo: the Sheer Heaven, and then onto fabric, I noticed that a good deal of the original photo was still visible on the SH paper, a faded version that had great texture. I started to wonder- could I treat the SH paper as if it were a dye-charged silk screen as would be used in a deconstructed silk screen technique? Maybe if I kept layering photos one top of another, discharging just once after each run through the printer, I could just keep discharging layer after of layer of ink.

I ran the sheet through the inkjet printer again and printed this photo on top of the first now-faded image:

For this attempt at discharging, I used the same piece of fabric that I had discharged the first photo onto, hoping to get a more complex impression. Again, the fabric was a failure- but the SH paper was magnificent.

Both the image of the Spanish Moss-laden branch and the cardinal sitting on the fence could be seen and yet the paper was still sheer. Even more fascinating was that the images had now taken on the look of the weave of the muslin I'd try to use for discharging! I knew then that I didn't want to run this piece through the printer again, I wanted to use it as is.

Because of SH's translucence, though, the CitraSolv/masonite background was bleeding though the birds' breast and face, an effect I didn't like. To combat that while still allowing the background to show through around the shape of the bird, I turned the SH over to the back and painted in the outline of the bird with two coats of gesso. Still, I wasn't totally satisfied with the muted appearance of the cardinal's coloration... in the original photo, his feathers had been brilliant red. I wanted to revive some of that color.

Out came the oil pastels and ink pens. I used the oils to brighten up the red and black feathers in his body and make his feet a little more prominent, and then I gave him a soft outline with ink. I brightened the area directly around his head and body with some pale umber pastel in order to draw attention to him and make him a real focal point. I liked the way the pastels blurred the bird a bit, so I didn't go back in and add much more detail.

I brushed the background with a quick wash of burnt umber liquid acrylic mixed with semi-gloss liquid medium, which not only sealed the piece, but helped to softly unify all the colors.

This collage wound up taking a lot longer than I plan on these pieces taking in the future- I want them to be "jump starters" to creativity, not works of fine art, but even still I think it was worth the extra effort.

Evidently, the CitraSolv folks noticed a little activity coming to their site from mine (thanks, readers!) and in response, they sent me a lovely letter thanking me for my usage of their product. They have also offered to feature me on their artists' page and, because I was so determined to find their product the first time, they say they've sent me a little thank you gift, as well! A very nice lady named Melissa has been emailing with me about it since last week. Thanks, Melissa!

Also on deck last week, Mom and I put the new wet studio to the test and did some experimenting with silk dyeing.


I'm hoping to come close to reproducing the amazing effects I've gotten with parfait (cotton) dyeing except on silk, and towards that end, I've been purchasing small amounts of it to putter with. I purchased two 8mm habotai silk veils and Mom and I cut each one into four pieces. We soda-soaked the eight pieces as if they were cotton (a suggestion I got from several reliable sources), scrunched them one by one into a coffee tin, and poured quarter cups of dye solutions in eight different colors onto the silk pieces, one at a time.

Then the whole coffee tin was covered and the silks allowed to batch for about 6 hours. Finally, I zapped in the container in the microwave, allowed the silks to sit in it until cooled, and washed each one out with synthrapol. I wrung them in a towel to remove most of the moisture, and ironed them on a low setting to dry them and bring back the silky hand.

Pretty, but not what I'm looking for, so I'll be doing more of this in the future and you can expect to see discussions of it here soon.

And finally, today's down-and-dirty of a piece I've already begun stitching this morning:

Happy creating!


Eva said...

What a lovely collage! The bird is striking. I like the transparent effect. Just used it on purpose!

DeBorah Beatty said...

How do you microwave a coffee can (tin) Or did you mean the newer plastic kind? I never thought of using those. Great job, though. Love the parfait.

Michele/TextileTraveler said...

Beautiful, beautiful, and beautiful! I'm giving up on finding CitraSolv locally; I guess I'm going to have to order it online!

Judy said...

found your post very interesting...thanks for so much explanation and great pics! Love, love, love that Cardinal!
also love your last piece, and look forward to seeing how you complete it.


Carole said...

This is great!! And I have given up trying to find citra-solve...
I will be back to study your process again. Please post when you have new work.

Robbie said...

Judi, very interesting post...I saw sheer heaves SEVERAL years ago online and had it bookmarked...but never ordered it. Now you've peaked my interest again. I'll have to reread your post again when I'm more awake in the a.m.

Gina said...

Interesting process and experimentation. I don't buy silk and wonder if the dyeing would work similarly on rayon.

I look forward to seeing your finished piece...looks great!

Jan said...

Wow, nice work you are doing here Judy. Thanks for your description of your process, that was interesting and I will file that away. Love the colors of your silks, gorgeous new piece you are working on too. Hope to see more of that when it is done.

LynnDel said...

Love those earthy strips!

Anonymous said...

I love your collage! I have to try it right away and I found Citra Solv easily thanks to their shop finder on their site, turns out my local grocery store had it!



Fabulous collage Judi

Happy weekend
Carolyn ♥

3 Hip Chics said...

lovely collage...thanks for sharing the process