I’ve been able to spend some time at ACAD to print fabric. It always takes a bit of time to settle in to the routine. Even though I try to keep a list of all the things I will need, I can never think of everything. Also my needs seem to change as I try different things, so I guess I need to give up worrying about “the big move in” being perfect. It always feels so good to get the first bits of ink screened down, and even better to get some screens coated with emulsion. The screen coating tends to get big and ugly in my head, as sometimes it goes well and other times, for no discernible reason, goes very very badly. I’m happy to report that the first four screens I coated went well. That sets a good tone for the summer.
The first fabric that I printed was small upholstery samples and a number of fat quarter sized pieces of quilting cottons. I find that the variety in samples offers good practice with mixing colors and getting a feel for the screens. Muscle memory kicks in and I’m ready to go!
An amazing instructor/artist from England, Claire Benn, was recently here in Calgary leading a four-day workshop. I was fortunate to be able to assist with the running of the workshop. Claire uses text as a basis for many of her stunning designs and was sharing exercises and information for others to learn various ways of mark making, based on text. It was fascinating.
As the workshop focus was working with dyes, I didn’t think I should be taking part. I’m a printing ink kind of person. There is a world of difference in the two mediums, but areas which overlap as well. I like the dependability of mixing colors and knowing what they will look like on the fabric. With dyes, there is more “technical” knowledge needed which is chemistry based, and there is also a large element of surprise after the dyes are applied and set and washed. I love the element of surprise in someone else’s work, but I’m obviously too much of a control freak to deal with it on my own work. Having said that, I was able to play with some dyes because the workshop participants were incredibly sharing. My favorite thing to do with the dyes is break down printing. This process involves putting alginate on a screen and sometimes putting items into the alginate to dry. When the screen is totally dry, items are removed before printing begins. (You can add color to the initial alginate, just during printing or both times.) I’m quite clueless about how things will turn out, but I tend to love the results regardless. Let’s face it, even if I don’t love it, I can always print over top, right?
Here are photos of some of the printed upholstery samples, a selection of fat quarters, a detail of the first layer of my break down printing and an overview with another layer of dye. More on that later.