Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A twist on an oldie...

Remember when we were kids and, to transfer an image, we used to scribble pencil on the back and draw around it? Easy, eh? I was reading Drawn to Stitch by Gwen Hedley the other day and she used a similar kind of thing to make marks on paper.

Instead of a layer of graphite pencil, she uses a layer of light-coloured chalk pastels with another layer of coloured wax crayons over the top. When you lay a fresh sheet of paper on top and draw on the back with pen, colour transfers to the other sheet.

My first attempt was a tree. (What a surprise!)

Here's the pen drawing side...

...and this is the transfer side. The result, if all goes well, is a positive-negative effect.

However, I learnt there are a few tricks involved. First is not to layer the colour too thickly. What happens is you get transfer but you can't see where it's disappeared from the coloured surface.

I also learnt that you need a distinct difference in tonal value between the chalk pastels and the crayons. My second one (above) had colours that were similar in tone, so the result was fairly ordinary. I think the best results come from using very light chalk pastels and stronger coloured wax crayons.

I'm not sure how useful this technique will be for me, since I don't do much on paper. I wonder whether the same technique would work with fabric crayons and cloth. An experiment for another day!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

A serendipitous find...

Just recently, I happened to be in a woodworking shop. Actually, I visit woodworking places reasonably often, but this particular woodworking place had something I'd never seen before.

Aren't they cute? They have some deep and important woodworking-y kind of use, which the very helpful salesperson explained to me. But I saw mark-makers, of the most delicious kind. A couple of weeks ago, I finally got to have a play with them, with my friend Claire.

How interesting! They are quite fragile with all the cut-outs, so we rolled them gently with a smaller diameter dowel inside.

We were using Permaset printing inks and we quickly realised that the stiffness of the media mattered. Too stiff and the roller ran out of ink too quickly, getting noticeably paler on each rotation, as you can see in the top left of the photo above. A runnier medium worked a lot better and we also got interesting results by spritzing the rollers with a spray bottle after inking.

We weren't trying to ensure exact registration or anything - just seeing what kind of marks we could get from these objects. But even without that, we were pretty impressed! These are successive rows with the same roller, to get a overall pattern.

This one was experimenting with different rollers used successively.  That's pretty effective too.

I'd quite like to try using strips of a low-tack tape or other straight edge, to give a consistent width gap between rows. Another day...

All in all, a very worthwhile impulse buy!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Collagraph prints - taking it further

Remember the collagraphs prints I did back here and here?

I ended up with some prints that were pretty ordinary, as one often does. So I decided to use them as experiments for a technique I've wanted to try for a while.

I started with a leaf print:

Yes, it really is a leaf print, though it's pretty unexciting and you'd be hard pressed to say what was there!

I drew on the print with green beeswax crayon and a wax candle. They are resists , of course, so the areas covered by the wax were protected. Those areas were ones I wanted to stay light. I also expected the areas with the printing ink on them would probably resist taking colour, and that was partly true.

Then I put a wash of blue dye over the surface, using the dyes like ink. Then, when it had dried, I repeated the wax treatment and put a wash of yellow dye over the top. Here's the result...

I really like this! The resists weren't complete, of course, so there is some colour bleed but generally the waxed areas didn't take much colour, as long as I wasn't too heavy-handed with the dye.

I did the same with another very ordinary leaf print.

On this one, I added black beeswax crayon for shadows and drew with the wax candle. Then I gave it a pale turquoise dye wash.

Again, when it was dry, I drew more with the wax candle and added a yellow dye wash.

It looks quite pale here but it worked very well.

The third one was one of the prints from the impression plate. A lot of these prints weren't that exciting but some of them had interesting misty effects that I wanted to exploit.

I added shadows with a dark purple beeswax crayon and covered a lot of the white areas with scribbled candlewax to protect the light areas. Then I gave it a wash with the same pale turquoise as the previous one. The resist effect of the original printing inks was more an issue this time, so the shading gave the original blue some depth.

Then I protected some of the blue areas with the candlewax and added a yellow wash.

Don't you love the magic of colour printing?

Friday, 4 September 2015

And yet more trees...

Remember when I did some spray printing with stencils and some screen printing with thickened dye back in April? Like most printing sessions, it generated a lot of prints (not all of which were entirely wonderful).  But often prints are a starting place for something else.

In my journal, I mounted the paper resists I'd used, which had quite a bit of pattern on then because of the resist already on the screen.

I also took one of the prints, that looked like this...

... and worked on it with Inktense pencils until I thought I could do no more.
It's still a funny looking tree but it's better!  


Thursday, 3 September 2015

A few postcards

It just occurred to me that I haven't written here for, literally, years about the fabric postcards I've been making! I am so used to making them that I just don't think to talk about them here. Of course, they appear on the Fibrecircle blog each time. Mostly, anyway!

This rather weird one included some stamped cloth that I made years ago as a sample for another piece of work, inspired by the standing stones at Filitosa in Corsica. I combined it with frayed  cotton fabric on a painted background.

This one was based on a painted background with added colour and stitch.
This one was made with one of the prints from a playday with Claire early this year. We used compressed sponge to create simple shapes to print from. I added colour to one of my prints with Inktense pencils and embellished it with stitch. It's still a pretty weird looking tree..
I like to use the postcards to try out stuff and make something different from whatever I'm working on at the time.  So they generally end up different each time.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Making print plates 5

Yes, they do come to an end, I promise! But it was a very productive day...

This was a different kind of plate again. I took craft foam and stitched a chain stitch with embroidery thread. When I was designing it, I was thinking of the ongoing Fibrecircle journal work on Trees.
I only took two prints from it so far, but I think this has a lot of possibilities. I printed with a spoon and fingers, hence the obvious finger prints. This was an issue because the plate wasn't mounted and ended to want to move during printing. You can really see this in the second print. I think I need to mount the plate before trying again.

I began a second similar plate, but my aim with this one is to create layers of colour, adding more stitch each time, in a sort of reversal of the reduction printing process. I won't start the process until it's mounted.

So yes, somewhere down the track... My priority at present is to finish my main work for the untethered exhibition out of hand in November, so serious printing time has been eaten up by stitching time. It's quite contemplative... but not yet anything I can show.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Making print plates 4

The fourth plate I made was a fairly basic kind of collagraphs, the kind we probably all made as students! I used cardboard, cork sheet and self-adhesive foam letters to make a marine ply plate covered in letters. I wanted to see whether the different surfaces printed in interesting ways. Like many other textile artists, I like including text and lettering in my work, so this plate was made with a specific context in mind.

I did three test prints with Permaset inks on cartridge paper. Although the plate was sealed, the sealing clearly wasn't adequate, so the plate, especially the cardboard, gradually disintegrated. The foam letters were also ink-greedy, as you'd expect.

I actually don't mind the final plate, which I'll seal again for future printing. I like the way there are gaps and partial letters. I may make more partial letters with cork sheet, as I like the speckly texture it gives.
This is one you'll definitely see again!