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.
Last Wednesday evening I attended a trunk show and presentation by Vancouver quilt artist, Catherine Nicholls. This took place at a favorite local shop, Out of Hand, where there is a most incredible selection of supplies for people who love to stitch. It was an enjoyable evening with a surprising outcome. I was delighted to run into my friend, Lorraine, as we haven’t seen each other for quite a while. Due to circumstances beyond her control, Lorraine was unable to attend the upcoming 4 day workshop which she had registered for. She offered me her spot.
The workshop called “exploring the natural world with Catherine Nicholls.” The course description read as follows: “Using the natural world as our inspiration, we will experiment on fabric to re-create and interpret nature’s wide range of textures and colours. For the first two days we will explore the use of ink, paint, crayon and discharge in a variety of techniques creating samples and generating ideas. Students will then be guided through the process of developing their own original composition, pattern and fibre art masterpiece.” Here’s a photo of Catherine at the trunk show and details from 2 of her pieces.
I finished putting together my son, Marc’s quilt top and back. Just need to pack them up to mail to my friend, Louise, who is going to quilt it for me. I’ll wait to post photos of the finished quilt once I have it back from Ontario. (no pressure, Louise) Actually, the only pressure is for the quilt to be finished this year, as I dated the back and I certainly wouldn’t want to change that!
Today I went to my off-site studio to do some printing, and it was not a successful day. I won’t bore you with the tedious and annoying details. I did learn a few things and will be able to get some work done during the week. So in the spirit of remaining creative, I’ll share another of my mosaic tile projects – the front of our house. We live in a split level house, and the wall treatment around the living room windows was stucco. Can you believe it? Plain and boring old stucco. After the successful completion of the tile project on the side of the house, I was ready for the street side. (You can look at that wall in this post, and this post, if you missed it.) This was back in 2004, (before I started blogging) when I was still fairly new to tiling, but I’ve always loved a good “project”. This one took me all summer. Let me try to explain how I worked.
Once I had decided on color, I set about buying all the cobalt blue tile I could find. I still had some from the side wall, but I needed more, more, more! Since I build my projects like I’m creating a giant jig saw puzzle, it is almost impossible to estimate the amount of square footage I should start with. Besides that, I’m really bad with numbers. While my friend, Norm, was busy putting a skim coat of cement over the stucco, I started cutting up tiles into interesting shapes. We had set up a beautiful work area in the front patio area of the house, adjacent to where I would be tiling. I measured the wall, and then just started laying out pieces, cutting and sanding as I went to try to establish even grout spaces between the pieces. I worked on sections of plastic corrugated board – lightweight, strong and not damaged by water. I worked in sections about 2″ square, and when I had several ready, I covered them with brown paper that had been coated with diluted white glue. They were left to dry.