Sunday, August 15, 2010

Using the Old to Make the New: Embroidery and Collage on Monoprints

Bird Tracks in the Sky

Cobwebs in the Sky
When I first started painting and printing fabric, I was so hesitant that I decided to use old clothing that was so bad I wouldn't have even given it away.  I especially had an old hooded sweatshirt that was ragged but had been a reject at the store since its parts didn't match well.  I thought I would take it apart, paint it, and put it back and see what kind of wild garment I could create.

Well the taking apart and the painting got done, but the putting back together never happened since, again, I looked at it and decided to embroider over the painted images.  The sweatshirt material was a lovely sky blue and with the huge yellow squares that have blue/green coming through the polka dots, to me it was too tempting.

At the time I had just taken a wonderful 5-day workshop at Split Rock Arts Program (U. of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul) with Ilze Avicks, a contemporary embroiderer, on "Fabric Collage and the Stitched Mark."  I discovered that I love doing what I call exaggerated stitches (such as huge, open, long chain stitches) on small pieces.  So that's what I did with the first 2 pieces, Cobwebs in the Sky (left) and Bird Tracks in the Sky (right), which each measure about 4" x 3.5".

Mending the Universe
I also love to work on painted/printed knit fabric (used exclusively on my tall one-of-a-kind dolls), adding beads and embroidery.  This type of work lends itself wonderfully to a class where student print/paint in the morning (with textile paints) and then embroider in the afternoon.  "Mending the Universe" and the purple on pink with beads are examples of this.

Roses Swimming on Dots 2
Even before the Split Rock Arts workshop, I had been doing a lot of collage work, but mostly with free-form machine embroidery, as illustrated in "Roses Swimming on Dots."  The possibilities are endless.  I have a exhibit at St. Cecilia Music Center's Terryberry Gallery in downtown Grand Rapids (Michigan) for May through June, 2011, in which I'm planning on showing this type of monoprinted and embroidered fabric.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You Won't Believe It: Saving Wipe-Up Paper Towels to Make Fabric Paper

I read about saving the paper towels that you use to wipe up paint and dye and was a little grossed out and exasperated---I save way too much already!  Truly, though, this technique not only recycles, but the scrunching of the paper towels as you wipe up paint/dye creates a pattern.  When you open the PT to flatten it out, you'll see the "tie-dye" pattern.  (Actually, it's a Japanese shibori resist technique---I mentioned "shibori" in one of my earlier posts about arashi shibori patterned scarves.)

Next time you plan to use textile paints or dyes, pay attention to how you scrunch the PT.  You can unfold, rescrunch it to get more color in a white area, unfold and rescrunch, etc.  Then carefully unfold it, gently pull out the painted areas to flatten, then let dry.  Once dry, turn it over on an ironing board (paper, etc., underneath may help to save staining your board), and with steam, adhere a lightweight iron-on interfacing to the back.  Voila!  You have made fabric paper.

The first image shows two of the wipe-up painted paper towels.  The second image shows two pieces that I purposely poured liquid dye pigment on, let dry, and then printed Lumiere paints with stamps.  Between these two techniques, you'll end up with a lot more fabric paper than you probably can use.

 I've sold a lot of these to people doing scrapbooking.  I use them to make dolls, such as my "Self-Portraits in Bloom" shown in one of my previous posts (July'10?).   So, another way to have more fun with your artwork than you thought possible!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Taking the Color Out--What Fun!

I started years ago with the oddly named technique of "discharge" dyeing (people think it's effluent or something horrible...) but really it's one of the most exciting ways to create pattern.  When you're standing in front of your washing machine and accidently realize that your black T-shirt or blouse has a white spot on it from the bleach you were pouring out---"Wow or ouch" as the case may be, but that's discharge dyeing--TAKING THE COLOR OUT!

I began with Kona cotton fabric which almost every fabric store sells.  They come in a huge variety of colors and almost every one of the colors discharges.  I also used black silk scarves to create a wild striped pattern using a polewrapping technique from Japanese shibori called arashi.   I use bleach, Thiox and Jacquard's Discharge Paste to create these patterns.  I also have Formosul to try but haven't gotten the courage yet since it has formaldehyde in it.  Classes on this technique of discharge dyeing are always fun and serendipitous since exact results can never be expected, just amazing pattern and color variations.