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!


Rosaland Hannibal said...

Oh how smart! Was your stiff interfacing that 1/8" thick stuff made by Pellon? similar to Fast2Fuse? What a brilliant idea to make shapes with that to hold the wax, because of course it would hold onto the wax.

FPR - flour paste resist?
DSP - discharge screen printing?

Oh and congrats on your QSDS sales!
Thanks for this inspiration.

Carole said...

Judi.... this is so cool... I love dropping by just to see what you are doing!

elle said...

I'm luving the labour! I recpgnized the name Moleskine. These had lnes though. I'll be peeking over your shoulder as you fill blank pages. I'm also fiddling with some letters but I just may repurpose them as what you have done is way cooler! Your fabric is really to dye for. Thanks for showing everything.

Anita M said...

Really like your work. Thanks for the step outs. It is beautiful and inspiring!
Keep up the good work!

Gina said...

Wow lots of action at your studio! Congratulations on the QSDS sales! The sketchbook project sounds so interesting; that should be fun. And your fabric is looking great and it still has some layers to go ... looking forward to seeing it progress.

Cate Rose said...

Fabulous, Judi. Wax and bleach on black fabric is a definite winner!

Judi said...

Great pieces, I thought I might mention you should use anti chlor you can get it at walmart in the fish department. It is used to take the chlorine out of the water in a fish take and it stops the bleaching action on fabric. Use only about a tab per gallon of warm water. The vinegar will do nothing to stop the bleach.

Wen said...

Terrific idea- clearly written. Such a lucky find!

Robbie said...

So where do I begin commenting on your week! Wow! You have been the batiking and the stamps! Very cool! And congrats on sellling your fabric..good luck on BB entry!!!

Jan said...

Another terrific post, Judi. I learn so much from your generous blog. Congrats on your sale, now you can buy more art supplies! That last piece on the line is coming along great, can't wait to see what you do to these pieces next.

Jeanne said...

I shouldn't read this at 11:30 pm! Makes me want to run into the studio and start playing. Wish we had a Hobby Lobby near us - Michael's just doesn't compare.
I like the new template with your work on the left. Looks great :-)

Nina Lise@Mrs Moen said...

Congratulations on selling your fabric!
I love your new stamps; very clever to add on the interfacing.
Too much work for a piece of fabric?? Then quilting would be too much work for a blanket, knitting too much work for something that could be store bought and painting too much work for something that just sits on the wall not really doing much. No, no, no...

Thelma said...

I am so thrilled how your discharge piece came out. Fabulous!! I so enjoy following your work!

Julie said...

I'm in the Sketchbook Project too :) Thank you for all the fascinating ideas today. I hadn't thought about repurposing stamp blocks for your own designs. That's a great idea. Your bleached and batiked black fabric is looking really interesting so far and more to come!

Congratulations on your sales.

Anonymous said...

Hi Judi: I'm new to your site and I love, love, love it !! thanks soo much for your tutorials, you are such a caring, generous artiste : ) I've been having some fun with beginning dyeing my own little pieces of fabrics and I'm in love all over again. I also make my own little handmade journals and have some moleskin journals that are still BLANK, ha : ) they are too perfect so it's hard to use them (that's just silly me, ha :)
just wanted to stop by and let you know how much I am enjoying your blog and all that you share with us, thanks again : )
Blessings, Sandra in AZ

Beth said...

I love it. And the idea of using letters as abstract shapes! I never would have thought of discharging such a huge piece of fabric in a bucket of bleach water. I think you've outdone yourself. Bravo!

Quilt or Dye said...

What temp to you keep your soy wax at?