Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Vibrant Color" Soy Wax Techniques

I'm really excited about some new ways to use soy wax. Jane Dunnewold and I have been experimenting with several techniques that involve mixing fiber reactive dyes with soy wax. For the past year and a half, Jane has worked on a recipe to create dye crayons. I initially got involved last summer by helping her test the crayons.

Jane has perfected the recipe and is marketing a soy wax blend so artists can make their own dye crayons. The soy wax crayons are perfect for drawing, writing and creating rubbings from a variety of textured items. The dye in the wax forms a permanent bond with the fabric and the excess dye easily washes out in the washing machine.

We also experimented with adding fiber reactive dyes to hot wax. I am particularly intrigued with the dye/hot wax mix. The color in the wax penetrates the fabric and the wax acts as a resist for overpainting with dye. It results in vibrant color and creates a look that is not possible with any other technique.

We have also formulated a recipe for a soy wax paste that is perfect for stenciling. It gives a softer look and allows greater control than applying thickened dye through a stencil. Refining these techniques took a lot of experimentation. Just mixing the powdered dyes with the wax gave unsatisfactory results. Now, after perfecting the techniques, we have collaborated on a DVD and workshop to introduce the process. Our first workshop was last weekend in San Antonio. Below are some photos.

The next workshop will be in San Antonio in October and the DVD is scheduled for release in July. Stay tuned for more photos as we continue to refine these techniques.

Update 6/1/11 - We now have both a book and a DVD available on the techniques. See my website for more information.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Working with Intention....Or Not

I've been in a number of conversations this year with other artists, talking about the variety of ways in which we work. A subtle thread that I have noticed is that most people think the way they do it is the "right" way. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - don't most of us think our way is best?

I have always been a strong believer in setting an intention for a body of work and then working toward that intention. Usually my intention revolves around a theme or creating a certain feeling. I don't usually draw sketches or plan the entire piece - I have a general idea where I want to go and then let the cloth and my intuition guide me as it evolves. It was easy for me to think that my way was superior, because I was working with intention rather than just letting it happen. And someone who works in a more spontaneous approach could easily feel their way is superior because it is more intuitive and free.

Earlier this year I came to realize the value of working in a more spontaneous manner. I worked on several pieces that did not start with a theme or focus- I was playing with color and technique. I realized how freeing that was and how much I enjoyed it. I found that working more loosely helped bring out my creativity and led to inspiration on my "intentional" pieces. It brought me back to my watercolor days, when my favorite way to paint was to put on music, grab some brushes and just paint.

I used to see it in a black and white way - some people work with intention, others don't. I have come to see it as more of a continuum with those who work very serendipitously with no "plan" at one end and those who draw sketches, make mock-ups, etc. at the other end. And many of us fall somewhere in between. I guess I have come to value all ways of working. No way is better than another. And I now like to vary my approach, depending on the project. It is up to us to find the approach that brings out our creativity and honor others, whatever their approach.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fiber: A Closer Look

Laura Ann Beehler and I are curating a fiber exhibition this month at the San Antonio Visual Artists' (SAVA) gallery. The invitational exhibit of Texas fiber artists represents a range of artforms including art quilts, wearable and functional art, 3 dimensional sculpted fiber, artcloth, basketry and weaving. Fourteen Texas artists are featured, including Jane Bishop, Laurie Brainerd, Jane Dunnewold, Martha K. Grant, Caryl Gaubatz, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Lisa Mittler, Susie Monday, Susan Oaks, Linda Rael, Letitia Rogers, Linda Sura, Laura and I.

I hope you will join us for the opening reception on Thursday, May 6. The reception is from 6 to 8 pm and the gallery is located at the RiverCenter Mall, Suite 205 (near the Commerce Street entrance).

Below is a sneak preview of some of the items in the exhibition.

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