The summer is racing along and my summer residency at the Art College is more than half way done. How did that happen? I feel this is a wake-up call and I will be more focused on printing for the next 6 weeks. Today I spent most my studio time working on new screens. I had been thinking about some design ideas while visiting my folks in Lethbridge. I couldn’t get any work done there, but I spent time working out ideas in my head. The notebook that I took with me was untouched. Obviously, it wasn’t necessary.
Here are rough prints made from the new screens. I’m too frugal to waste too much ink testing them, so there are a few light spots that will print properly with enough ink.
You need to use your imagination to clean up the images. I printed them onto my drop cloth because it was handy. The first screen is very delicate and might prove useful when I’m creating overall patterns on fabric. The second screen was the one I planned last week and I think I’ll redo it with a few minor adjustments. Overall I like the effect. The last screen was a surprise and I really like it. The only problem is that the giant orb almost fills the whole screen. I need to figure out how to use it, or how to modify the design to a smaller size. It’s a never-ending job. It’s a job I love but the pay is terrible.
Cutting this short so I can get it posted before it gets lost.
BTW I see that I can preview my post the way it looks on a computer, a tablet and a phone. The only one that is readable is the computer. If anyone can help me make it more viewable in the other formats, I’d love to hear from you! Thanks
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.
Now it seems I can’t even manage to post on my blog once a month. How sad! But the good news is that I’ve been busy printing fabrics and creating screens in readiness to print more wonderful things. For the third consecutive summer I am taking part in a self-directed residency program organized by Contextural, utilizing the textile facilities at ACAD. This amazing opportunity is too good to pass on, and I’m afraid most other things in my life are put on hold for 3 months. We all know how fast 3 months can whip by, so it really isn’t that long, right?
Last summer I spent almost my whole residency printing on commercially printed quilt fabrics to alter or enhance the fabric, and to basically make it my own. I started this summer off by bringing in many of those fabrics and printing another layer on them. I’m delighted with the results, but I wanted to do other things as well. My next adventure in silkscreening involved printing imagery over the surface of a large variety of upholstery samples. I have used similar samples (unprinted) to make pin cushions, and the next round I make should be more interesting. We shall see.
My most recent work involves printing on purchased napkins, tea towels, table runners, place mats and table cloths. A large number of these will be available for sale at the Contextural sale in November. It seems early to start, but then again – we all know how fast 3 months can slip by! (Everyone knows that summer is printing season.) Here are photos of some of my work so far this season.
We’re having lovely hot weather here in Calgary, and I stayed home to write this post and do a few things around the house before I head to the art college. The long week-end is a perfect time to work – quiet studio and free parking. (Don’t get me started on the $10 parking fee charged by SAIT!) (Did I mention no in and out privileges?)
There will be an exhibition at the end of the month, showcasing work done by residency participants. I’ll post details – I promise! Until then, I’d better get to work.