Thursday, June 17, 2010

A New Week Starts

It's been a really busy week, so I'll just dive right in!

I'm playing with the look of my blog, as most of us have been since the new template designer was released. This isn't its finished look, but it's an interesting start. 

I joined The Brooklyn Art Library's Sketchbook Project and my Moleskine Journal arrived!

My chosen theme for the journal is "Lines And Grids", two things of which I am incredibly fond. I've been jotting down notes for days about what I'd like to include in the journal and I'm looking forward to starting. In the meantime, my journal is as I am at the beginning of this journey whose goal is to release a small part of my unvarnished self out into the world: a blank page.

I had a nice bit of good news this week, as well. Two of my entries into the QSDS Fabric Show- while not placing for a prize- were sold! Yesterday in the mail I received the remaining piece of fabric and a check! Now I'm looking ahead to the Blurred Boundaries entry deadline of July 12.

Towards that end, I've been playing with more fabrics. Last week, an impulsive trip into Hobby Lobby yielded an amazing bargain that I jumped up and down on.

I found these in the back wall sales bins.

Cut wooden letters mounted on MDF blocks in two sizes, 4" and 3". They were an amazing .70 cents! I snatched up every letter that looked as if it could be layered in an abstract piece of art and look abstract, rather than reading as a letter.

So what do you do with such a perfect find at such a perfect price?

Why, you cover them with stiff interfacing and turn them into soy wax batik stamps, what else?

I used an old StayzOn solvent-based ink pad to brush color onto the wooden letter and then quickly pressed a small piece of the interfacing onto the letter to pick up the ink. That gave me my cutting template. I cut the shapes out and adhered them to the tops of the letters with Elmer's wood glue. I needed the interfacing to be sure that the wax would have a place to collect so I'd get a good, solid print.

While I was at it, I used some old, repurposed wooden blocks and extra interfacing to create a few new images. I also used the negative of some of the letters I'd cut out and mounted those on wooden blocks. too.

If you're not handy with a saw or don't have access to wood scraps, try prowling your local craft or scrapbooking store for sales on rubber stamps. (Again, Hobby Lobby stores are great for this, because their back wall of sales bins usually contain at least a dozen or so discontinued or damaged stamps.) Once you get them home, peel the vulcanized stamp off the block and you've got a lovely wooden handle for your next stamp!

The first piece of fabric I'm batik'ing this week is a length of cotton, Primatex, 45" wide by about three yards. I've folded it into quarters and it will remain this way throughout the different stages of waxing and dye baths. It has already been soaked in soda ash and drip-dried. I layered old sheets under the fabric to help absorb some of the wax so it wouldn't pool underneath.

I melted my soy wax and decided on the stamps I'd be using.

Then I got to work on the first layer of design. I kept the design simple and left a lot of open space for subsequent layers. This piece will have three layers.

When the wax had set up, I soaked the fabric in a wash of dye that contained one part lemon yellow and one part antique gold.

It's been scrunched, sprinkled with salt, and left to dry on this plexiglass platter. It will probably take a few days to dry and when it does, I will stretch it out again, stamp it with soy wax once more, and then hit it with another color of dye, probably something in the Carmine Red range. Then when that dries, it'll get one last wax treatment and one last dye color, probably a reddish-brown. If it was smaller, I would then coat the whole thing in soy wax, stick it in the freezer until I could crack it, and hit it with a final layer of black dye.

However, it might just be more cost-efficient to just do a final FPR in black, instead. Time will tell which direction I take.

The next piece I worked on this week is this black cotton muslin, about 45" wide  by 3 yards long.

I stamped it first and then used a Tjanting tool to to draw squares in between the stamps. Next, I used a small wooden cube to which I'd attached some felt and stamped with that, and then finally I splattered the whole thing with wax.

Then the fabric got plunged into a bucket of bleach water. I swished it around in the bleach until I'd reached the color I wanted, rinsed it in cold water, and then soaked it for a couple of hours in vinegar water. Finally, it got several long, hot baths with soapy water in the washing machine.

Not bad for a first layer.

Next will probably be either screening or DSP.

It all sounds like so much work for just a few yards of fabric, doesn't it? Well, it is, yes. But when you're like me and have a burning passion for surface design, it's a true labor of love.

Until next week, happy blogging!
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