Sunday, 24 May 2015

UFO Month

This month, I decided it was time to work on some of the unfinished things I have lying about here. OK, this has happened before, I know, but any progress is better than no progress. My stimulus this time was a post on SCQuilters from Prue. Her group was having a UFO challenge. Each person listed their UFOs of any kind - anything begun before this year. Then two numbers were drawn - one between one and twelve, the other between one and a hundred. You have three options with the UFOs chosen for that month; you can bin it, you can give it to someone else or a community quilt group or continue to work on it.

That seemed like a fun idea to me. I have had a list of all my various unfinished projects for a long time, so I chose all the ones that could be worked on, acquired a random number generator for my device and I was ready!

The first two numbers that came up were both quilt tops needing quilting. I am slowly hand quilting a quilt at present so I don't want to start a new one. I chose two more numbers and, unbelievably, both were also tops needing quilting. (I think I might have a few tops needing quilting, don't you think?) So much for that idea.

But as I was looking for things in my workroom, I found a UFO from Fibrecircle back here. It was a round robin book project, which had stalled because I couldn't work out what to do as my own page. (I much prefer projects that require you to make your own part first!) Once I looked at it after the passage of years, I could see that the book actually needed more pages and, in some weird way, that took the pressure off me to produce something incredible as My Page. Now I know it needs multiple pages, I could see an idea for stitching my first page.

It's based on a Byzantine church in Ravenna and shows Christ flanked by angels. I've chosen to make my image look like a leaf of a manuscript (this part yet to be stitched) and I may add some Greek text - not sure yet. More to follow... at least until I get tired of it!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Spray dyeing with the Fibrecircle group

paper stencil
These posts are a bit out of order here, as I actually did this before  my playday with Claire. It also wasn't dyeing - we were using Dala Sun Colors, which seem to fall somewhere between fabric paints and dyes. But the principle was the same.

You can read all about it on the Fibrecircle blog. Suffice it to say it was the same technique as with Claire, but I focused mostly on my paper stencils, which I had coated with Gesso to give them some heft. They were (surprise surprise!) trees. They were also experiments for the untethered piece, as I think I will probably use this technique using coated paper as stencils.
paper stencil positive and negative
This was printed over one of the thickened dye prints I did with Maz a few weeks ago. The left one is just a straight stencil; the right, rather messy one is a negative, then a positive over the top.

More weird looking trees...

This one is a print with the stencil turned over and printed from immediately. The media is really a bit wet for that. Of course, if I'd been really on the ball, I would have sprayed a different colour through the stencil while it was face down! Another good idea I had too late...

This one is a glue gun stencil - not very successful as it's small, which made it very floppy and hard to use.

This is my favourite from the day - done with a commercial stencil.
I always like layers!

Plenty of things to put in my tree book, anyway, even if God wouldn't recognise them as belonging to the plant world! And I found the gessoed paper stencils were robust enough for about seven or eight prints with this very wet media before starting to get a bit soggy, so I should be able to print my fewer prints for untethered with less runny media. Big win!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

out of hand

Moving on from the prostitutes, I started thinking about techniques.

I'd already decided that printmaking would feature in my work. I pondered how that might work.
  • The strength of screen printing is repetition and this is a single work.  Maybe partly screen printed if I need a repeat pattern somewhere? 
  • Printing in series on a single work is interesting and might work, if I use the same image repeated in some way. Not for Wanton, but maybe another one.
  • Monoprinting on fabric interests me but it's hard to do on fabric on a large scale.
  • Stencilling works on a large scale, especially with a freezer paper stencil ironed to the fabric. So that will probably be the way to go.

At this stage, homework was due. The group had decided that we would all make mood boards to bring to the first meeting, so I had been collecting all kinds of images and colours, to try to pull things together enough to articulate to a group of other artists.
I'd been collecting all sort of bits and bobs that somehow spoke to the theme.

(I'm a lot further advanced that these posts suggest - I didn't start blogging about this until I was already underway. I find it hard to talk about what I'm doing, when I'm making something from an idea - it's as if talking about it dilutes the idea.)

Friday, 24 April 2015

Spray dyeing

Now there's two words I never thought to put together! Yet Claire and I got together last week to do that very thing.

First we created some stencils with our hot glue guns. This was surprisingly easy, even though my fine motor skills are not what they were. 

I'd drawn a design as a guide, which I put underneath my silicon mat.
Part made stencil showing lines underneath
Then I "drew" on the mat with the glue gun. The best technique was to work steadily, allowing a 5mm bead on the tip of the glue gun to fall onto the mat where you wanted it. Dragging the gun along really didn't work.

Claire making her stencil
And here is my finished stencil.
We each took a spray print from this one. You can see that the first print was a lot more spatter as the bottle got going, while the second one is much more even.

So lesson learned - do some test sprays until the bottle is spraying properly!

This image shows how we set up to spray.  We masked against overspray with pieces of cartridge paper (any serendipitous effects can be saved and used!) and sprayed on a glass board angled up on wood blocks at the back. As soon as we finished spraying, we laid the board flat, to avoid runs.
This is Claire's stencil, sprayed with the wet stencil beside it.

I had some stencils I made for the Fibrecircle playday with Dala Sun Colors last week. The one on the top left is Claire's new one.
By sheer coincidence, it's the same size as the top right hand one of mine, so we thought we try them together.

 They actually work together really well!

The sprayed media built up on the stencils, so we wondered if we could print from that, so we turned them over onto paper after we'd finished spraying.
Kinda, sorta! Not a wonderful print but I've seen worse. I like this one better, as it went over other earlier prints.

We also found that wiping off the stencils generated another kind of print.

Wiped stencil
Result of wiped stencil

We never waste a skerrick of media around here!

Claire also brought along some beautiful stencils to try. Some were laser cut cardboard and came with small cut out pieces that fitted inside the  open spaces.  The black circles were made from laser cut thin wood. We thought they would turn into a soggy mess with the wet media we were using, so we spent some time sealing them first.

Here's some of my prints from the stencils. We didn't use any of the inserts this time.

We found we could print from them too.
I like the way the circle one fits with the honeycomb one.
You can see Claire's printing on her blog here.

Another interesting day!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Back to thickened dye

Printing with thickened dye is something that's really interesting me at present. I think it has a lot of potential for me to combine my love of more formal printmaking with my need to work in textiles, rather than printing on paper. I love the way the hand of the fabric is still so soft, and I love the way you can  build up layers of colour in a fairly controlled way.

Well, that's the theory. My latest screen printing play day with Maz was a lot of fun but none of the results are likely to set the world on fire. I did find it instructive, though, which is the point of the exercise.

My first prints were on paper. OK, I know I just said I prefer fabric but remember that I'm also trying to include some tree prints for my Fibrecircle tree journal every time I do anything. I used the screen I created with wax resist back here and added some tree cutouts I've made from cartridge paper.

The results were a bit dubious, because the background was so busy that the tree silhouette tended to get lost. (The tree shape is also rather weird!)

I printed eight of these, thinking I could do different things with them, so I set a couple aside and put the rest in the to-do pile.

While I was doing paper, I tried a print with my oldest screen. It's was originally made by cutting jagged paper strips with scissors but I liked it so much I gave it a coat of resist so it's actually the reverse of the original screen.
It's quite interesting and I like it, though I have no idea what use it might be!

I used the same green on two samples I printed on the same day , the yellow one and the pale orange one.

Not terribly exciting but it's another layer. More to come...

Then I printed a calico bag that I dyed back in 2013. It was a bit boring...
 ... so I decided to add some printing. The first side was OK, though not exciting...
...but the second side wasn't much good, because the screen dried out a bit much between prints. I always forget it does that.
I think it might be quite interesting with some more layers added. We'll see.

Then I took some quilters' muslin fat quarters that I dyed with Maz last time. They were ones I thought were the least interesting. This one was printed with the oldest screen.

It's OK - quite interesting.

These two were printed with the newest screen. The first is OK but needs more to happen to it.
 This one is rather nice - I do like it.

As printing days go, I've had better results but it was fun anyway!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Out of hand

First of all, something about how I work: It often seems like I'm not actually doing anything. (Truthfully, sometimes I'm not!) Some of my friends like to just start and see where it takes them, making lots of false starts and mistakes along the way. I can't work like that; it drives me nuts! I have a long conversation with myself via a Word document, over a period of weeks, sometimes months, about how the work will come together. Then I just make it, usually over quite a short period.

So this is some excerpts from that online conversation.

I decided that I was interested in the concept wanton. I also found I was interested in faces, although these are technically difficult. They lend themselves to printing, though, as the most basic images read as faces, hence the popularity of emoticons. I am hoping for something more nuanced than that, of course! I didn't want to use an image of someone recognisable so I decided to use an image of a forebear of mine, long since gone to her reward. She wasn't, as far as I know, at all wanton. She was a very fierce and independent woman, which probably didn't make her a popular person in her time and so she probably attracted a few labels in her time. I'm using her silhouette, as a kind of all-purpose woman.

I did some research on the kind of women who were labelled as wanton, which led me to the Newcastle Industrial School I mentioned last time. I also got side-tracked onto words for prostitute (I found 37 before I stopped looking) and so many of them were denigrating. It intrigued me that there were no equivalent words for a man who goes with a prostitute. There isn't a word in Australian or UK English; the US word is a john. In Australia, they are clients or customers or punters...all words that have more respectable connotations as well. Just one of the double standards in our society, I guess.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Getting out of hand

One of the things I've been doing, when I'm not playing, has been planning for works I'm making for an exhibition later this year.

OK, first the exhibition. It's with a group from ATASDA called Untethered, which has formed specifically to exhibit together. The difference about this group is that we formed to work collegiately (for want of a better word). I can't say collaboratively because that generally means people working on the same work; this is working together on our individual pieces, talking about our ideas, supporting each other, critiquing ideas, having exhibition visits together. It's a different kind of exhibition group.

The theme of the first exhibition is out of hand. The exhibition will be held at Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, Edgeworth David Ave, Hornsby, 9th November - 15th November 2015. I'm sure you'll hear more about this in due course!

I don't usually post about my process, because most of the time it's just thinking. But maybe other people find my process as interesting as I find other people's process? Doubtful. If you get bored, just move on!

For my out of hand, I decided to work with the concept of wanton. I want to say something about the way we label people, and how sometimes the labels become the only way to think about that person. That was most visibly true in the past when women could be labelled as social outcasts, often through no fault of their own. For example, the young women sent to the Newcastle Industrial School in the 1870s were stigmatised, even though they may have been sent there for reasons beyond their control, like poverty or sexual assault. For more information about the Newcastle Industrial School, go to their very illuminating website.

I'll post more about my out of hand thinking, in between the play days and other stuff.