Saturday, December 21, 2013

Using Postage Stamps in Artwork

Scroll #1: Flowers

Madonna and Child - not the postage
stamp but the picture on the self-
adhesive sheet. These images
are always large and very distinct.
I love postage stamps!  Growing up in Connecticut, I collected them since I was a child and sent away for catalogs from states faraway, like Montana and Florida, just so I would get mail and some new stamp I'd never seen before.  When they came out with commemorative stamps (when was that?), I bought all the beautiful ones I could afford.  Then when I studied in Japan I purchased them in lovely sheets.  Even better, my Japanese friends would send me letters and the front of the envelope would be covered with gorgeous stamps so the envelope with the stamp would be saved as well as the letter.
A number of years ago I wanted to include them in my fabric collage cards so I decided to cover each stamp with a piece of tulle, usually black when the stamp was dark (you can see a dark image below it very nicely), so that the stamp floated inside the netting.  For my most recent Christmas and holiday cards this year, I decided to just machine sew the stamp to the fabric and card below.
Earlier this year, the Surface Design Association (SDA) state group had a fabric challenge in which I used many of the flower and flag stamps from Japan.  Because scrolls fascinate me and I wanted to know how they were made, I created one out of obi and kimono fabric (see top image).  These stamps were each covered with a small piece of tulle netting to encase the stamp and allow it to float.

I'm looking forward to more ways to use the stamps I have, especially in themed pieces.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


"Extra Hands Available"
These three pieces are currently on show at the Holland Area Arts Council ( through Feb. 15 in the "Oddbodies" exhibit, an invitational of 10 West Michigan artists.  It's a small show in the Armstrong Gallery, but I am so honored and delighted to have been asked by Lorma Freestone, the Executive Director, to be a part of it.  She came to me last June and said, "We're going to do this ugly doll show for the holidays."  

Ugly dolls!  Me?!  Yicks!  Not me.  I had worked so hard for so long to do such lovely, serene, contemplative, pretty faces.  Well, I looked on the arts council website in October or so and discovered, fortunately, that it had been named "Oddbodies" with the description, "A total departure from the precious - this doll exhibit features figures created from the darker side of our artists' imaginations."  Now there was something I thought I could wrap my mind around, but not the dark side.  I've realized I don't have a dark side; maybe a weird or odd side, but not dark.  It still took me days of drawing and grumbling to realize that all those bags of heads and bags of body parts were finally going to be of use.  So, voila!  And, along with my photo transfer self-portrait pieces where I imagined myself in new bodies (longer legs for one!), such as "Self-Portrait in Pink Zippers", these attempts were unsuccessful, but who knows?  Maybe my next attempts will be prettier and not so odd.

I should also mention that Mary Sundstrom (Program Director at HAAC) has her newest series of "The 7 Deadly Sins" (wickedly funny and very apt) along with pieces that are from the arts council's permanent collection such as my good friend Alice Breese's handmade paper torsos, "Who Will Respond."

"My New Body:
Attempt #1"

"My New Body: Attempt #2"

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deconstructed Screen Printing, Part 2

One of my favorite images:  a snowflake or crystal.  The small screen
was prepainted with acrylic paint as a permanent resist, then painted
with Intense Blue dye.  This pale olive knit was first arashi shibori
resisted and dyed in indigo, then DSP'd for a deeper,
more complex image.
Continuing on with my first post on DSP, I printed so much fabric (all knits) and became so excited with the results.  Here are more images with descriptions of the process(es) in the captions. Near the bottom you'll see some images are the screen before printing with the resulting fabric.  Wish I'd remembered to photograph more screens! ---next time since, of course, I have more painted screens to be printed.
Black dots printed on fine turquoise striped knit
which had previously been dyed in indigo
using a knotted technique.

A fine purple striped knit printed with dark
blue stripes and dots.
Printed fabric.
Screen simply painted
with Fuschia
and Strong Orange.
Printed fabric
Screen has a permanent resist
of leaves painted with acrylic
paint, then painted with Intense
Blue and Strong Orange dye. 

Discharged, Dyed, Handprinted: Multiple Techniques

Chinese Red

I've been doing discharge "dyeing" for a long time, using Kona cotton as a basic fabric removing color to create patterns with bleach (neutralized in Anti-Chlor), Thiox paste and hot Thiox bath, and Jacquard paste.  Most of the patterning has come from shibori techniques, often arashi shibori (fabric wrapped on PVC tubes and scrunched down to create that wild lightning pattern) or the easy technique of knotting long lengths of fabric.  The above Chinese Red Kona was scrunched and tied in a ball, and dyed in hot Thiox bath; then sprayed with bleach.

I've taken a lot of these fabrics and added another layer of design to heighten the patterning.  For instance on the above red fabric, I printed squares and circles with Jacquard paste and then drew lines with thickened Procion MX black dye.

Original discharge print on
Emerald Kona with
crystal/snowflake stamp
Gold printed on top of crystal/snowflake images
 Sometimes, just the discharged images work beautifully, especially when the color modulates from very dark (the original fabric's color), through mid-tones, to very light colors.  This is so obvious to me in the fabric below:  Purple Kona which was scrunched and then discharged in a hot Thiox bath. 
"Purple Galaxy"
"Burgundy Leaves" with bleach sprayed background
and Jacquard printed leaves.
Midnight Galaxy
After discharging the Dark Rose Kona
above, I printed red/pink circles
with Bubble Wrap.