Ann Miller Titus thinks I give her all my scraps. I used to do so. And I still give her some things I think I'll never use again. But now I keep the best ones for myself.

Because I never know when they'll come in handy. Like in this little piece I made last week:

It is quite small, like 3"x5". The background is one of the leftovers from the silk piece I cut up last fall, the part where I decided it would be a good idea to add some black paint. Not. Anyway, a small piece found its way into the jumbled bin I keep such little treasures in. I pulled it out the other day, found a piece of already fused hand dyed green silk. The shapes I cut of the green were inspired by some rubber stamp designs from my stamp carving month. Pretty simple.

But these leftovers find themselves in my larger pieces, too. I'm in the process of getting Strata 4 up on my website; part of its focal point is some leftover strips trimmed off of a previous work.

I guess the point of this is that I'm starting to see how these little bits and pieces tie everything together--because my palette evolves over time rather than jumping from color to color, I can see the evolution by looking at these pieces side by side. I've been working on putting together a professional looking portfolio, and after I printed out some pictures of works and laid them in a row to determine their order, I finally saw the connection between the pieces that I hadn't noticed before. I am starting to see the 'style' that others have seen in my body of work.

All that being said, the main purpose of saving these bits and pieces is a practical one--I can try out an idea quickly, with little investment of time or supplies, and can tell whether to pursue the idea or not because I already have something that meets the idea's criteria in that bin of bits. Sometimes I end up making a bigger or slightly different bit from scratch, but the saved bit led the way.

And it's kind of a treasure hunt--just today I found a piece leftover froma couple of silk pieces that I had completely forgotten about--the leftover piece, I mean. It's big enough to do something with. So I'm off down another tangent, thanks to my scrap bin.

Sorry, Ann. But not too sorry.


watercolor techniques on cloth

My other art medium is watercolor. I have taken several workshops from an outstanding watercolorist, Wendell Mohr, of nearby Keosauqua, Iowa. He does a lot of 'wet on wet' work, and one of the exercises he teaches involves this process to get a varied, glowing background:
1. thoroughly wet the paper and attach it to a board
2. starting on one edge, with the board upright, brush on a pigment heavy, juicy swath of a color
3. let it run down the page
4. turn the board 90 degrees, and repeat with another color--all while the first wash is still wet
5. let this run down, blending with the first color
6. turn again another 90 degrees, and repeat with a third color.

This can result in a beautiful, glowing, varied background. Any three colors can work, and done wet on wet you don't get any mud.

So I decided to try this on fabric. My first attempt was outside with a large linen tablecloth hung on a clothesline, using Procion Mx dyes. Although very messy, it worked great. Do I have a picture of it? No. Did I mention it was a LARGE tablecloth?

The other day I decided to try the same process with Setacolor fabric paints. This time I chose a linen napkin and pinned it to a piece of gator board. I got the fabric wet, and used a yellow, ultramarine blue, and oriental red. Here is the result:

It is close to what I intended. I found that at least with Setacolor, i have the ability to muddy it up some, whether I want to or not. This paint doesn't flow on this substrate as well as watercolor does on paper, so I had to help it along by continuing to add water and 'pushing' it along. I like the piece, and will do more like it--and make something of this one. I put paper towels beneath the edge of the board to protect my tabletop, and got some interesting paper towels that I've been using in mixed media work.

So it was a successful experiment. And I continue to like the implied texture provided by the pattern of the damask weave on linens--I like that a close study of my work would show this reference to the past.