I began my marks explorations with black and white as I reported last week, but soon added color. I have finally caught on that so-so surface designs are often improved with more layers, so I dug out a few pieces I had made in a Sue Benner thickened dye class with a eye to tarting them up a bit.
A rather haphazard squodge of red, blue and gold got another layer of yellow using torn freezer paper as a mask. I like how the somewhat transparent yellow turns the blue to turquoise.
On another piece I used a deformed empty toilet paper roll to add white on top of black bits. The result is probably best used cut up in bits.
I also added layers to my gelli plate experiments.
Finally, I created another fabric bowl with black and white printed canvas, sections cut out of really bad black and white mark making efforts, commercial fabrics, and hand dyed yellow fabric. I know I was influenced by clay pottery from the southwestern U.S. I saw at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Lately I’ve been working through an online course from Susan Purney Mark that uses just black and white paint and ink. It’s called Squiggle, Line and Dot; and focuses on mark making with markers and paint. Mark marking seems an artistic term for abstract streaks and blobs on paper or fabric.
So far my success rate has been 50/50. I like some of the techniques enough to tuck them in my toolbox. Others I had high hopes for have just fallen flat for me.
Let’s start with the successes. Both are easy and involve an iron.
Both of the above techniques achieve fast results and can be used with multiple colors of paint.
Here’s another piece with freezer paper strips over writing with a marker, followed by printing with wrapped string.
Now for the flops. I was excited to try straight and curving lines with paint and a tool like a credit card. Unfortunately, my efforts achieved lots of blobs and few sustained lines. I had to draw in the curved lines with Penn artist markers.
I tried different thicknesses of paint, but never managed to get effects like those shown in Susan’s video. Instead, I used my palette to print with the leftover white paint after I ran some printing tools across it.
Another failure for me was asemic writing. Susan’s looked elegant; mine looked like failed cursive writing. The only example of my attempts I’m willing to share is the last freezer paper strip piece above.
I did learn a good tip for dealing with palette cleanup. Cover your palette (mine is a pane of glass with taped edges) with Press ‘n Seal. Then, pull it off and throw it away when you’re done.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this class. I’ve learned new techniques and have the foundation for a new fabric bowl. I discovered white markers, which I could cheerfully overuse.
But, I bought lots of paper and ink as they were on the supply list. The class videos didn’t use paper. Of course the exercises can be done on paper, but I think the paper supplies were optional. More importantly, I found I missed the ability to ask questions. Apparently there is a Facebook page, but I don’t do Facebook.
In all, I’m glad I took the class and plan to use what I learned, but it just wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Too often I trip myself up with a lack of focus in my work. I start with an idea that cascades into yet other ideas and, in the end, I realize none of them well because I try to do them all. I find I do better by putting metaphorical blinders on – to work only with certain colors, shapes, or techniques. In her 1965 book “On Weaving” Anni Albers said, “Great freedom can be a hindrance because of the bewildering choices it leaves to us, while limitations, when approached open-mindedly, can spur the imagination to make the best use of them and possibly even to overcome them.”
I have two long term projects on the go that have built in size and material limitations. Both are sets of squares, needle felted ones and appliqued roundish shapes that I call pebbles.
The former came about because I had wool roving left from a wet felting class and was given felted wool fabric scraps. I bought a Clover needle felting tool, read a book, watched a video and went to work. The work is limited to the colors I have on hand, hand embroidery, and 5 inch wool squares. At some point I may sew the squares together. So far I have 16 squares made and only a small amount of roving left. I’m undecided about buying more. Right now I’m concentrating on embroidering them all.
The pebbles are a variation like this one on the classic Dale Fleming 6 minute circle, with my monoprinting experiments used as the pebbles and backgrounds of hand dyed mottled fabrics in green, blue-green, and turquoise. When I make just one inset circular shape I often use a single layer of freezer paper as my template. If I’m making several shapes, as with my pebbles, I iron two layers of freezer paper together to make a longer lasting template.
For my pebbles I used pieces of my monoprints smaller than the template so I could get more pebbles – 30 in all. It worked fine as I made sure the stitching lines wouldn’t go beyond the edges of my fabric pieces.
Here’s the pebbles I created with four different templates. I’m now out of monoprinted fabrics.
I debated whether to go with a simple layout or try to concoct something more elaborate. I decided to surround each square with uneven thin lines, somewhat like a tile floor.
Next up is figuring out a surround. I’m working on an uneven border. After that is settled I need to decide whether to pursue a wild hair idea to turn my pebbles into talismans by crossing them with threads to make them look wrapped. I wouldn’t add beads and feathers, though.
I have saved all the innards I cut out of the framing fabrics and fused WonderUnder to them. Maybe I could figure a way to add them, or maybe not. At this point I should reread the first paragraph of this post.
I had planned to type Results May Will Vary, but the latest version of WordPress editing tools don’t seem to make that possible. I wanted that caution because of my recent experiences with gel plate printing. Now I find I can’t even do a new paragraph.
<Let’s see what happens with this button. It seems to return me to Classic Mode.>
Anyway, although I’ve owned gel plates for a while, it took a nudge from a friend to get me started with them. She was interested in printing on sheer and semi-sheer fabrics, so we ironed rectangles of said fabric to freezer paper and began to print with fabric paints. After trials with shapes of cutout sponges, stencils, stamps, and patterned rolling pins we found the video instructor got better results than we did. (Here’s the video we used.)
My guess is the consistency of the paint wasn’t right, as the video’s results were much sharper. Also, the detail of some stencils didn’t show at all. We found pressing on the wet paint sometimes caused the image to smear, as in my results below. Some of my other efforts were sort of successful, but printed sheers don’t show up well.
My second experiment with gel plates involved shapes cut from a paper towel. Per the video, I coated my plate with matte medium, cut out shapes from a towel, laid them over the medium, and then sprayed fabric paint over the lot. I had more success with this approach, though I often sprayed too much paint which blurred my oval blobs. Of course I deviated from the video a bit – I didn’t use paper or alcohol inks and I applied matte medium only once. Some of my results follow.
I think for my next gel plate adventure I’ll try screen printing ink for fabric to see if I get more consistent results. In the video the results look great. Yes, there’s one born every minute.
I found summer was slipping by all too quickly without my promised fabric design activities, so I used a lovely day for sun fabric printing with stencils and PVC tubes. The latter I used for arashi shibori, though with paint, not dye.
Frankly, I find it easier to color fabric with paint than with dye. No soda ash baths, no endless rinsing. Of course the resulting colors aren’t as intense, and the color sits on top of the fabric rather than permeating it. I think your chosen method depends on how you hope to use the fabric.
My equipment was basic – Setacolor transparent paints, foam brushes, three or four stencils, a sprayer, paint containers, cotton fabric, foam core boards, 24 inch long PVC pipes, rubber bands, and painters tape. I mixed three colors of paint – a yellow/orange, a red/orange, and a blue/green.
I did the shibori by wrapping folded fabric around the pipe and securing it with rubber bands. Next I pushed the fabric together to form folds and slopped paint on it. Then I sprayed each wrapped pipe with water to encourage the paint to migrate to inner fabric layers.
The inner parts have some interesting veining.
My stencils were a mix of bought and created designs. The most successful stencil was a plastic place mat I cut the edges from. Both the leaf and numbers prints were done on patterned fabric.
I finished my day with a second printing on my less successful efforts and produced the following:
I mixed my blue/green and red/orange paints to create purple, which I painted over the fabric on the left. For the fabric on the right I mixed yellow/orange and red/orange paints for an orange/red, which created a more subtle effect.
Update: In response to commenters’ questions, here’s a photo of the place mat I used. The edges were cut off. I think I bought it at Target.
When I saw Spoonflower had their new signature petal fabric yardage on sale I knew it was time to print some of my photo-shopped inspiration pix. After some time trying various layouts available, I settled on the following:
Before, a footbridge over the Cuyahoga River:
Before, a shattered mirror backstage:
Before, a garden shed made of recycled soda bottles:
Before, construction materials:
How is the new fabric? It’s better than Spoonflower’s basic cotton and certainly equal to their Kona cotton option. As always, printing leaves the fabric stiff even after washing. If that bothers you, then this process isn’t for you.
No, I have no idea how I’ll use my new fabric, but it’s fun to consider the possibilities.
Like many women of my generation, I have inherited handiwork made by women in the previous generation. Some artists like Amy Meissner have created art with such bits. While I’ve repurposed inherited table linens by dyeing, printing, etc., I’ve been more hesitant to cut up crocheted pieces made by my father’s Aunt Harriet.
Great Aunt Harriet must have covered all her relatives’ tables with doilies and the backs and arms of their upholstered furniture with antimacassars. She also crocheted afghans with wool yarn from a local carpet factory. Those afghans have held up for at least 80 years, though they are a bit scratchy.
I decided to use the doilies to print designs on cyanotype fabrics I bought on a whim. If you’ve ever done sun printing on fabric, you know the process. The fabric is treated with potassium ferricyanide and a ferric salt solution, and turns a bright color (usually blue) everywhere except where you’ve placed an object that blocks the light.
After I used up the whole pack of fabric I realized that I had no plan for how to use my prints. Now I wish I had been more methodical, but oh well.
The cyanotype squares sat in my unique-fabrics-that-I-have-no-idea-what-to-do with pile until last week when I wanted to use ombre fabric I had already cut for a top that I decided not to make up. The colors of the scrappy blocks I created just were too delicate for that green. No one would call my cyanotype colors delicate.
Of course, I still have nine other cyanotype blocks to find a use for.