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!