Simple Steps to Surface Design

Aha and AHHHH…These are the words you want to hear from participants in your workshop. That lovely moment when something clicks or they can see a connection to what you are presenting and the type of work they already do…a new way of working, a slight twist, an “of course”… I’ve had all these moments myself at workshops and artist talks. Some of them are defining moments in my work. Often a small, seemingly insignificant part of the whole, has made the difference.
I had the great pleasure of running two half day workshops for WAFTA late last week. Simple Steps to Surface Design was part of a series of Textile Techniques Toolbox workshops to coincide with the launch of “Altered States” WAFTA’s member challenge exhibition. The challenge is to create a small work of art from the surprise contents of a bag of materials. These workshops are designed to inspire and expand possibilities.Print wsahop 4In my half day workshops we covered screen printing in various forms, gelli printing, stamping, spray stencils, fugitive medium, Dylon and RIT dyeing. A lot to cover in a few hours, just a taster to explore further if it was of interest. The participants made lots of A4 size samples – reference material for future work.Print wshop2Print wshopPrint wshop 12Print wshop 10Print wshop 7I loved seeing my stencils and stamps used in ways I would never have thought of…how each participant explored new possibilities. I loved their delight when something surprised them and they were excited to explore further.Print wshop 3Plastic dyed 4Print wshop 5

Print wshop 9Dyed PlasticPlastic Dye 3 Dyeing DylonI am really looking forward to seeing all that comes from this.

Writing not making

Studio work has been sparse in the past few weeks. Writing seams to have taken over…Writing artist statements and bios, drafting ideas for a magazine article after the twentyONE+ exhibition, an application for a wearable art project and lots of emails. Other time has been sucked up with family/work priorities.

I have been slowly working on a new canvas…Print 1 Print 2I’ve got back to the machine stitching steps in the past few days, now that I have my head around the article and application. The constant hum of the machine, the repetitive stitch is great thinking time…new ideas are sparked, formed and my mind can just wander…Stitch 1

At the same time I have a back log of interesting looking podcasts to listen to…another cup of tea? but I need to sew…I set the iPad up with headphones at the machine and listened to Alyson Stanfield‘s new podcast on TIME – how long it really takes to do things, how we dislike and avoid some areas in our arts practice, and how actually completing these things out of our comfort zone gives us the greatest sense of achievement. After an initial grumble to myself “why can’t I just quickly read this?” The machine stitch/podcast multitask worked very well, and of course the podcast was great.Stitching

It seams to be a theme for me of the past few days, also been reading Mark Manson articles. They are pretty gutsy…I like what he says about Passion – even when doing a job/project/whatever that you love and enjoy there will be a %, probably a biggish % of it that you are really not going to enjoy…

Although I’m not making much at the moment, the result of what I was doing in May/June have come back with great news. I was delighted to receive notification that two of my works were selected for Australia Wide 5 presented by Oz Quilt Network. Australia Wide 5 will be launched at Bunbury Regional Art Galleries at 6pm on Friday, 23 September 2016.

And on Monday afternoon I was surprised and delighted to find out my garment “The Gilded Cage” won the “Red Light Review” category of the Worn Art Revamped show in Broome over the weekend. Very excited that I have been awarded a prize by Merc Electrical WA of a Broome Pearl! supplied by Camdons Broome Pearl and Fine Jewellery. What a pity it doesn’t include traveling to Broome to collect it šŸ™‚

Detail

“Lino Cut” Stamps

Using my son Callum’s drawings as inspiration, I have carved some stamp blocks from Lino Cutting“Soft Carving Blocks” purchased at Jacksons. The blocks are super easy to carve with Lino cutting tools and somewhat more forgiving than lino. They are thick enough to carve a design on both sides, so are more economical than first appear.

 

I drew my design directly onto the block and then carved away the sections I didn’t want to print. A test print shows I need to cut away more from the middle of this one.

Print 1The staining of paint on the stamp block makes it quite easy to see where I have made additional cuts after the print.

StampSince I will use these stamps for my cut away works (where I will stitch around the printed areas and then cut away the print), I want enough white space to show interesting background fabrics and large enough print areas to get the scissors in between the stitch lines.

This one won’t work as the lines are too thin. They say mistakes can lead to new ideas – here I think extra stitching and cutting away the negative spaces might just work.

Print 2And remember your stamp will be the mirror image of your print. Really important if you are using text.

Print and stamp 2Print and Stamp 1Stamp print repeat in silver on shirting fabric.

Stamp print repeat

I didn’t really have time for this…

A few months ago I wandered into Beau est Mein. A gorgeous print shop and studio in Northbridge. The shop at street level sells lovely original prints and giftware and screen printing, etching, collagraphy, linocut and pigment transfer workshops are taught by owner Magali Dincher and her staff in the light filled upstairs studio.

The timing was really bad with a busy few weeks and being a week prior to Fibres West, but the one day collagraphy class really appealed to me. I did a lot of etching at high school and really enjoyed it, although isn’t the sort of thing I could continue to do in a home studio, it had some pretty nasty chemicals, and textiles won me over anyway!Collagraph 1The design inspiration for the class was architecture of your home area or your travels. I chose some photographs of doors from our holiday in Lucca, Italy a couple of years ago. We loved this part of our holiday and the variety, detail, colours and texture of the doors was a big focus of my photography at the time. I have images of over 60 doors. I met an American lady who had been coming to Lucca for 30 years painting these doors, so I think they are an inspiration to many. I hadn’t really known how to use them in my work until now.Collagraph 2In the workshop we used A5 card print plates. My focus was to learn the technique, so due to the time constraints I traced the doors rather than freehand drew them. The design was then redrawn several times before it was transferred to the plate through the etching press, so it became more stylised and simplified. Collagraph 3The plate is varnished with several coats and when dry, etched into with an etching pen.Collagraph 6The plate is then ready to be inked up and run through the printing press. Lots of the etching processes came flooding back…Inking plate

Collagraph 7Inked plate ready to print

Collagraph 111st print using sepia oil based ink

Collagraph 12
2nd print using sepia water based ink

Collagraph 10
3rd print using black oil based ink

Collagraph 13

At home I coloured this with water soluble pencils

I am very pleased I squeezed the workshop into this busy week. I can see the possibilities of printing on fabric, of course a lot of experimentation required, or incorporating paper with textiles. I like the texture of the plate and that every print will vary, unlike a screen print. Most of the processes can be done at home (other than the printing) and there are no nasty chemicals which is a big priority for me.

Fibres West is next week. I am busy packing. I have just finished a final canvas Moments #2 for my sale table at the Bizarre Bazaar.Moments #2

 

Some Progress on a Stormy Day

We have had a wet and stormy weekend in Perth. After a few weeks of trialling samples for my latest work, Sunday was the perfect day to stay indoors and get on with it!

Paper DoilliesOver a month ago I cut out these paper doilies whilst watching TV. Simply cutting, not with any great consideration to the result, just playing. They sat pinned to the design board for a few weeks and then I have trialled printing, stamping, reworking, stitching, redrawing.Printing 10 On Friday I dyed a batch of fabrics to bring the colours to something tonally similar. I used a dylon multipurpose dye as some are silks, some blends of other things.This image doesn’t show the full range of fabrics I dyed. Some were strong pinks and bright greens. TheĀ  error in photography after the event…Printing 1 A final six motifs were planned and initially printed. A little more refining and stitching and I decided to use the two strongest motifs only. I printed about 100 of these motifs in just over an hour.Printing 2 Printing 3 While I was cleaning up the screens in the laundry, I noticed some colour on this stormy grey day. The last of the leaves of our neighbour’s Chinese Tallow Tree and an orange creeper. Printing 5 The greens in our own backyard were also more vibrant, not washed out by the sun. Printing 7 Then the sun came out…Stunning, glistening, autumn leaves. Printing 8 After the stormy night I am sure there are very few leaves left on the tree now.Printing 9There was more vivid orange in our lentil soup cooking on the stove as I printed. What a contrast to my fabric choice!

 

 

Back to the Basics

I am starting a new piece of work for an exhibition and one of the first steps is to make some transfer prints. The process of making the print involves applying dispersal dyes to a piece of paper and when dry, ironing the print onto fabric. The dyes on the paper are lovely muted colours, the heat process changes the print to rich, vibrant colour. As you will see below, not always in the direction you expect!

Print 1 Print 2 Print 6 Print 6a I do know however after years of trial and error that the colour combinations I use will have a fairly predictable pleasant result. Most of the texture markings are from old lace.Print 8 Print 8a Print 9 Print 9a Print 10 Print 10a The dyes are very economical so I haven’t bought any for a long time. I purchased some online a little while ago assuming I was getting similar, good mixing colours.Ā  Using my standard “Surprise Mix” technique, I have ended up with darker and more brown/orange shades than I had hoped. The challenges of colour selection via computer screen.

So, Back to the Basics. Testing and mixing samples. I started with a standard mix of each colour, including the set of textile crayons I use for texture rubbings. Dyes are Turquoise, Royal Blue, Scarlet, Violet and Canary Yellow.

. Sample 3 Sample 4

Next I made a set of each colour combination, 1:1, 1:2 & 1:3 mixes. The paper is on the left, the fabric on the right, mirror image.

Sample 2Samples 1It is now much clearer what colour possibilities are available, AND that I need to order some Magenta! I hope it is brighter than the computer screen sample suggests…

Massive Distraction

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Cushion with green leaf print is by Callum

The Massive Distraction (Mini Dachshund named Ruby) has arrived and truly settled into our household. Here she is with ownership of her spot on the couch in my studio. She is very well behaved for a puppy, although a gorgeous distraction from getting any sort of work done.

School has now commenced for the year and although that means less time due to the various work/school routines and being a taxi service after school commitments, I do find I actually achieve more. I know sometimes that odd hour before dinner prep is the only opportunity to get some printing or machine stitching done. I plan time ahead for the other steps required to start new work. This is often much more productive than giving me a whole free day to work which gets wasted on important stuff like emails and washing. I also find the time spent doing mundane things like driving in the car, going for a walk or having a shower is when the creative challenges are resolved. In my head anyway!

Print set up 2

A simple set up on the washing machine, in the laundry, but it works well.

These were printedĀ  a couple of days ago for a new large canvas I have in mind.Ā  Printing Stamp printing 1 Stamp printing

Yesterday afternoon I made a series of transfer prints for the under layer. The actual fabrics are lovely, the colours here are a bit off – I had the time to print although not enough time to photograph them well.Transfer print 1 Transfer print 2Ā  Transfer print 4 Transfer print 5 Transfer printsI have a few projects on the go at present and now back into my usual routine, I am feeling quite good about them.