Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mixing Things Up

I’ve been working on some half yard color pieces for the grant project. Unlike the smaller color pieces where I’ve been trying different application techniques using the same resist; in these larger pieces I’m layering different types of resists while using different application techniques. This sometimes leads to interesting surprises.

A couple of years ago I “happened upon” salt resist. You might say it was a “happy accident”. I had started out doing the usual salt effect on fabric; painting a wash of color using my Pebeo Setacolor transparent fabric paints and then sprinkling salt on top. I often do this technique as a class demonstration. I had tucked the sample away, not bothering to wash out the salt. As a result, the salt “recrystalized” on the fabric. The salt seemed almost embedded in the fabric and the crystals shown like a layer of transparent frost. I decided to paint another color wash of the transparent paint to see what would happen. To my surprise, the salt resisted the paint in a beautiful speckled pattern. I then intentionally misted a piece of fabric and sprinkled salt, let it recrystalize, wiped off the excess salt and painted a wash of color. The salt again resisted the paint in that wonderful speckling effect. I tried overprinting the recrystalized salt with Pebeo Setacolor opaque fabric paints and the effect was even more pronounced.

For this half yard of silk, I decided to try another experiment. What would happen if I did a layer of recrystalized salt, then monoprinted with blue glue gel before doing a color wash? 

I started with a wash of pale orange transparent paint. After that was dry and heat set, I re-wet the fabric with my plant mister and sprinkled on table salt. Once the salt had recrystalized, I applied the blue glue gel. After monoprinting with the glue, I had an "uh-oh" moment. The salt seemed to be leeching the moisture out of the glue and distorting the designs. I was worried that the results were going to be one big mess.

Fabric with recrystalized table salt and blue glue gel monoprints. Notice that the moisture is leeching from the glue designs.

To my surprise (and delight), once the glue had dried and I applied a wash of orange-red transparent fabric paint, the speckling effect appeared in the monoprinted glue designs. I’m looking forward to trying more experiments with these two resists in combination. I think the next experiment will be block printing with the blue glue gel on recrystalized salt.

The fabric after applying the red color wash over the resists. The fabric was heat set and the resists washed out.

You can see the speckling effect of the salt within the glue designs.

A close-up of the speckling effect.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Printing at the Corcoran

For the past two Monday nights, I’ve been substitute teaching for Candy Edgerley’s “Surface Design for Textiles” course at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D. C. The first evening, we focused on creating “texture” blocks: blocks made by cutting simple designs from adhesive craft foam and adhering them to thicker craft foam or corrugated cardboard; blocks made by applying textures to corrugated cardboard such as rubber bands, rice and burlap; creating blocks by drawing hot glue designs on corrugated cardboard, embossing moldable foam blocks with textures and making “brayer rubbings” with textures placed under the fabric. The second evening of the class focused on carving blocks from Speedball Speedy Carve (Stamp) and combining those blocks with the texture blocks from the previous class to make multi-layered “sampler” fabrics. Below are a number of photos of student samplers from the two evenings. To see more student work go to

Next Sunday, I will be out of town so the post will be a bit late. My husband, Mark, and I will be continuing our “bridge trekking” adventures with a walk over the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia. This bridge is the second highest bridge in the country! There is a festival next Saturday when the bridge is closed to car traffic. We will be walking…but others will be “base jumping” i.e. parachuting off the bridge…should be interesting!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Of Weather and Weeds

It’s been such a rainy month of September that is now moving into October. When will the sun return? My weed “friends” are making a comeback! This has been a “year of the weeds” for me. In the spring I became fascinated by the beauty of their leaves and flowers. I let them continue to grow in the garden and got to see all the stages.. from ripening “fruit” to seed pods to the imaginative ways in which they spread their seeds. I’ve spent hours sketching and photographing them. I turned some sketches into carved print blocks and stencils and started to create a series of hanging “art” cloths. The first ones of the series are Wood Sorrel. The bright yellow flowers are small but very cheerful. Below are the cloths. I used flour paste resist for both backgrounds of the fabrics and stenciled and printed the flowers and leaves. Each piece is 45" x 18".

Detail showing flour paste resist background, stenciling and printing

Detail showing flour paste resist background, stenciling and printing