Tuesday, 1 April 2014

And when I wasn't dyeing...

... I was making postcards.

I've made two postcards for swapping at Fibrecircle. I really enjoy making this postcard each month, because I usually begin with one of my paint rags. The paint rags are really one-of-a-kind pieces of cloth, mostly cotton, usually given multiple processes. That can mean dyeing, block printing, monotyping, screen printing, painting, resists, deconstructed screen printing, being used as a drop cloth or as a clean up rag. The result is usually very complex.

My first postcard this year was called Faerie: The Bonny Road, a reference to the ballad Thomas the Rhymer, about Thomas of Learmonth. Thomas met the Queen of Faerie and went with her to Faerie. She shows him the "broad road that lies across the lily land", the Path of Wickedness which leads to Hell; "the narrow road, thick beset with thorns and briars" called The Path  of Righteousness leading to heaven, "though after it but few enquire". The third road is "the bonny road that winds about the ferny brae", which they will take to Faerie.

I thought it might be interesting to share the process. I began with a not-quite-square piece of quilters' muslin. It was used as a paint rag back in 2010.

It looked a bit pale and the white was too stark, so I threw it into the wash water after a dyeing session in 2011, to add some colour.

That made it look a bit forest-like, so I filed it away with that in mind.  Then it got used as a paint rag again.

In April 2012, I grabbed it to add as a top layer on a stack of sun-painted fabrics, to hold the top layer of resists in place. I hadn't tried that sandwich method before, so it didn't occur to me that all the colour from the stack beneath would migrate into the top layer of cloth.


It was very dark and full of pigment.

I thought about screen printing over it with white Supercover, which has given me good results before. But somehow that didn't happen.

When I was looking for the basis of a postcard, it appealed to me because it had the suggestion of a forest, but the heavy pigment made it misty and vague. I imagined the road to Faerie would be not very clear to human eyes.

I cut a 7in x 5in section from the cloth, tacked it to a Timtex base and began to paint it.

I added the Timtex at this point, because I intended to add stitch, once I had shaped out the general form, but as I went along, I felt this would be too hard-edged. The painting was mostly adding dark shadows and highlights, to draw out what was already there.

This photo was partway along, when I was still shaping out what was there into a coherent landscape.

Once I had the image the way I liked it, I cut a backing fabric from another piece of cloth. I folded the edges of the front around the Timtex and folded the edges of the backing fabric in. I like to mitre the corners by folding the corners in first, ensuring the edges are at right angles, and then folding the edges into a neat mitre. I hand stitched the edges together with embroidery thread, making a delicate picot edge.
Faerie: the Bonny Road

It doesn't photograph terribly well, but it's just as I imagined it.

My second postcard was inspired by some journal work we did at Fibrecircle last year. We took turns to choose themes and one was Under the Sea. I wanted to look at unusual things under the sea, so I researched the strange creatures in the Marianas Trench and did some sketches in my journal.

On the basis of those, I wanted to create my own sea monster. I was interested in the Kraken. As a child, I was told that the sea monsters mentioned in the bible, that rise from the deep, included the Kraken. I was interested in the way ideas of the Kraken have changed. Nowadays, influenced by Hollywood, we think of the Kraken as a kind of giant squid, but originally it was a Norwegian monster that surfaced from the deep occasionally, fooling sailors into thinking it was an island. I see it as a mammoth creature with a confusing structure, so that when it comes to the surface, it's not immediately clear what it is.

I started out with a paint rag again. This piece of cloth was originally block printed with a stamp lent to me by Erica Spinks, about a decade ago. It was used as a paint rag in the intervening time. It looked a bit unfocused so, in early 2012, I started drawing black lines on it, to add pattern. It finished up looking like this:

I cut off the bottom left hand corner section, which seemed to offer possibilities for my sea monster. I painted a dark blue background because this is a creature of the depths, but you can still see traces of the original textured stamp.

I wanted my Kraken to look enough like an island to fool sailors but also to have some of the scary features of the Marianas Trench creatures; the spikes and teeth that make them look so fearsome. I'm not sure I achieved that, but I like what I did.

I cut a backing and some Timtex and trimmed the front to 6in x 4in. I layered the front, Timtex and backing and held the lot together with paperclips, which works much better than pins for these thick items.

I didn't want the edges to be too neat on this one, because the creature itself is not neat or limited too much by boundaries.  I took two textured yarns and attached them to the edges with a row of satin stitch in machine embroidery thread, and then added another round of satin stitch inside the first.
So that's it. Just a bit of fun, really!


ozjane (Glenice) said...

what a patient creative lady you are,
A lovely bit of fun and great stickability!

Nola said...

Not so sure about the patient bit, Glenice! I like to feel I've mastered something but with all the different creative things I do, I will never have the skill of someone who focuses on just one. But it's not in my nature to keep doing just one single thing.