the thinking stage

One of my teachers said that the secret to a good painting is to do these steps:

I'm getting quite good at the thinking stage.

These pieces have been hanging on my design wall for several days. And these pieces

have been hanging on my side wall for just as long. (They were snow dyed) (ignore the tv in the middle). Some of the small pieces have had stuff done to them (stitching, layering), but none of them are 'done'. I dither about what to do next on them. The big pieces look so good on their own that I'm at the stage of being afraid to touch them for fear of ruining them. I'll get over that. Eventually.

Meanwhile, what I have been doing are these:

These are 4x4" pieces of polyester that have had disperse dye paintings transferred to them. They have been backed with acrylic felt. I am working on adding details to them, with the intent of matting them with a 2x2 opening, in a 9x9 overall sized mat. I've been needing to make some small pieces to sell, and the other day I saw something similar in a restaurant--small square pieces, framed large, hanging in multiples. I liked the look, and these are small enough that it's not dangerous to play with them--not much initial investment, so if I mess up, no big deal.

And then there are distractions like this:

The snow melting on my deck in the sunlight. I see another strata piece in there, but of course none of the fabrics I'm currently working with would do...

But I expect that I'm on the final 'think' step for most of the pieces. Will move on to the 'plan' steps any moment now...

That is all.


A reason to want snow

Last week I went to my first PAQA meeting--it's only about a half hour from my house, but somehow I'd either been busy or the weather was awful since I moved here. A good time was had by all.

Karen Hampton came all the way from my in-laws' home town of Evansville, Indiana, to get there. And she brought great things--fabric and shirts she had snowed dyed during their recent storm. One of the shirts came home with me.

I had been reading about snow dyeing online, but hadn't tried it. One useful tutorial is on Bunks' Blog, page down and see the pictures. From what I understood Karen to say, they approach it somewhat differently. Both presoak the fabric in soda ash. The blog writer scoops up snow and squirts liquid Procion MX dye on it. Karen, and I, mixed the dye powder into the snow.

The liquid method is probably a little safer because the only time Procion is really a hazard is when it is in powder form and inhalable. But I don't think you'd get some of the effects I got with the powder.

I laid my still wet fabrics in a shallow plastic tub, then went and scooped up snow in a bowl. I added a small amount of dye powder, and found the best way to mix it in was with my gloved hand. Then I sprinkled the colored snow over the fabrics. I used two different colored large batches of snow, spreading them around randomly. Then I mixed a small bowl of accent color and selectively added it. Next came the hard part, waiting overnight.

By morning the snow was melted, so I washed the fabrics as usual. They came out pretty cool, especially since I had chosen the colors by what I just had little bits left of. Here's a close up:

The haloing of color (the turquoise at the edges of the magenta) is something I haven't seen very often in dyeing--maybe it's the temperature slowing down the reaction, maybe it's the use of undissolved powder, maybe it's the snow. It's a pretty cool effect.

So will this become my primary way of dyeing? Probably not. Will I do it again? For sure. But hopefully I won't be able to play with it again until next winter...

That is all.


what to do, what to do

Is this or is this not cool? The random patterning, the mix of colors, the hard intersections, the soft transitions. I'm quite fond of this new thing in my life.

One problem. It's plastic. As in cheap, disposable tablecloth plastic. It was the drop cloth I used to make my poured painting. So I've been trying to figure out a way to transfer it to cloth, my substrate of choice.

First try was to replicate something I've done with monoprints before--with them, you can paint on the substrate, let it dry, then put a piece of wet paper on it and run it through a printing press and the paint transfers to the paper. So I tried this:

This shows plastic face up, then wet fabric, rolled with a heavy marble rolling pin (which does work with monotype/paper process). The result:

Nada. In case you can't tell, this is the fabric being peeled up from the plastic. For the record, I tried it the other way around, too, with the plastic on top so more pressure was applied to it. That worked a little better, but not good enough.

So now I'm stuck with this:

Yep, it's hanging there on my rocking chair taunting me. The alternatives I've come up with are:

--learn to sew with plastic
--turn it into a mixed media piece, forget about fiber
--photograph/scan it and print the photos on fabric

Any other ideas? There are sections on this that would make really great fabric, if only...

Sadly, that is all.


transfer prints with disperse dyes

While I was in Quincy last weekend, Ann and I had a play date making these:

These are regular paper that we painted on using thickened disperse dyes. After the paper is dry, you place it upside down on a polyester fabric and iron it until the dye transfers to the cloth.

Not the best picture, but it shows the paper being pulled off the cloth. The color in the paper isn't exactly what you get on the cloth. Here's a better look at a print:

The colors are quite bright, but not real intense in this piece--I think I need a hotter iron. And for some reason, both Ann and I are having some problems getting the blues to print--takes a long time and a lot of heat. I used some black dye that I thus far have been unable to transfer.

Here's another look at a print and the paper that made it:

One of the nice things about this method is that you can get multiple prints from each paper--maybe 9 or 10. Each will usually be a little lighter than the previous one. They do not change the hand of the fabric at all. The only downside is the whole manmade fiber thing, but even that isn't so bad.

Here's a small 'sketch' I made with one of the prints:

In person, it's pretty cool--a little shiny which makes it hard to photograph, but very nice.

That is all.


opening report

The opening of Ann and my show was a big success, and lots of fun. We had a big turnout, and I even sold three small pieces. As usual, our work--even though it's different in a lot of ways--looked great together:

Two rooms of fiber art. A chance to catch up with old friends. Can't beat that.

And the rest of the weekend was fun, too:

But more about those in another post.

That is all.


Two Roads Show

My new show, with Ann Miller Titus, is now hanging in the Gray Gallery at Quincy University, Quincy, Illinois. It will hang through the month of February.

If you can, please join us for the opening reception on this coming Sunday, February 8, 2009, from 2-4pm. Both of us plan on being there to greet old friends and talk about our work.

We chose to have a two person show because we think that our work looks good together, and that the presence of both strengthens each. We play well together (in fact we have a 'play date' scheduled for this Saturday afternoon), and work together well. Having a partner in art is a very good thing.

That is all.