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.
So many things going on that I hardly know where to begin. I’ve been working on cleaning and sorting in my studio. I know that’s not anything new, but I feel that I have purpose right now because the Ujamaa Grandma annual sale is coming and I want to round up lots of donations. Mostly I’ve been working on books because I have an enormous collection which I obviously need to edit. I started with the largest studio bookcase – 6 shelves, each about 4 ½’ long. Trust me – that’s a lot of books. I flipped through each and every one of them, deciding which ones I didn’t need any more. Some books are out dated, some topics are no longer relevant to my work, and some just seemed redundant. These are just a few of the donations:
The best part of the process was finding books that I’d forgotten about – information and inspiration I can use right here at my fingertips! I totally re-organized all the books that I’m keeping. You can tell because I have post-it notes stuck on all the shelves, reminding me of the new arrangement. You can read about the Ujamaa Grandma sale here. I’ve covered a past sale here and here. This year the sale takes place April 15th and 16th at Woodcliff United Church, Calgary.
Another project I’ve been working on is a small art quilt for an upcoming exhibition of SAQA – Studio Art Quilt Associates. This exhibition includes work by local members of this international organization. The theme for the show is “Road Trip”. I’ve seen a few of the submissions and it’s going to be a great show. We’re opening with a “meet the artist” event on April 17 from 2 till 4 at the Fish Creek Library. My submission is called “Side View” for obvious reasons.
This piece was a lot of fun to make, though of course it took loads more time than I’d imagined. Story of my life.
Part of my cleaning process involves reclaiming the studio counter tops. I’m sure I’ve seen them before, just not for a really long time. Some piles of stuff keep getting moved around, but now I’m trying to deal with various items making up these piles. My oldest daughter had asked me to make napkins out of the linen table runner that I had printed for her wedding (almost 2 years ago…) and I did it!
My other time consuming project is the design and stitching of the perfect “printer’s apron”. Sounds simple enough, right? An apron is an apron after all. But for a printer to be happy, the apron must meet several criteria, and I want mine to be perfect. No photos on this project yet, as I want it finished before I share. Let’s just say that if I were to sell the one I’m working on right now, it would have to be priced over $5oo to cover my time and materials. Guess I’ll have to get that trimmed down a bit. I don’t intend to mass produce the aprons, but I would like to find a happy medium – something special for those who appreciate the best.
I just realized that I can preview my post in various formats – computer, tablet and phone. I must research how to adjust it for the smaller formats… but not today. That’s it for March as I’m heading off to my studio to do some printing. Hope I haven’t forgotten how!