Thursday, March 29, 2012

I have a great idea . . .

Some of my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night. Lying in bed, wide awake, I ponder design possibilities, plan the upcoming day and compose blog posts in my head. The other night I had a great idea for a blog post. I composed it, then when I awoke the next morning . . . gone.  I couldn't even remember the topic.  So instead of a great blog post today, you have a post about the possibility of a great blog post.

Now you might be saying that it couldn't have been that great of an idea if I completely forgot it.  And maybe that's true.  I'll never know.  And yes, I could keep a tape recorder or note pad by my bed, but I won't. At least not until I get to the point where I forget all my early morning musings!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Working with Resists - Tip #3

#3 - Break the Rules

Other than safety guidelines, there are few imperatives when working with resists. When someone says "you can't do that", or "that will never work", that indicates an  innovation in the making. I'll admit that I have told workshop participants that something wouldn't work, only to have my recommendations ignored.  And on many occasions the end results were intriguing.  

Those experiences led me to try things with resists that don't fit with conventional wisdom.  Immersing cloth with a flour paste resist is a good example.  Most people use flour paste for the crackle effect.  If you immerse it, the dye will penetrate the flour and you won't get that crackle, right?  Well, I decided to try it for myself just to see what happens. (Photos below)  It certainly looks different than hand painted flour paste, but I really like the effect. 

Now I'm an advocate for trying different things.  Even if I haven't had success with a technique, that doesn't mean someone else won't approach it differently and achieve a good result. Remain open to using the resists in an unconventional manner.  You never know what you will discover!

Flour paste, hand painted with thickened dye
Flour paste, immersed in dye
The effect with immersion is much more subtle, but very beautiful.

Cornstarch is another good example.  It forms a very smooth paste and is great for screenprinting and direct applications. It "doesn't work" for the crackle effect, because it forms a flexible coating that doesn't crack.  

Freshly made cornstarch

Now look at week-old cornstarch.  After sitting a few days, the consistency becomes jelly-like and is difficult to reconstitute into a smooth paste.  The chunky paste was applied to the entire cloth below, and it did crack when dry, creating a unique pattern. 

Week-old cornstarch

The two pieces of cloth below were created with oatmeal resist.  I love it for its distinctive crackle effect. I decided to try painting it while still damp, knowing that I wouldn't get a crackle, but interested to see the result.

Oatmeal, hand painted once dry

Painted while damp, the result is a soft, marbled effect.

Oatmeal, painted while damp

Read previous tips

Read the next tip

Read about sugar syrup resist

Read about acrylic medium resist

Read about flour paste resist

Read about oatmeal resist

Read about potato dextrin resist

Read about soy wax resist

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Small Scale Artwork for a Cause

  Stepping Stones
Tomorrow night is the last chance to bid on over 200 small scale artworks.  The silent auction benefits Say Si, a San Antonio based organization that focuses on providing art education and opportunities for middle and high school students.

The exhibition features work by local and regional artists in a wide variety of styles and media. My piece is pictured above. You can view a slideshow of the exhibit on Say Si's website.

All bidding is done in person, however this year they instituted a "buy now" feature. Individuals can purchase online and circumvent the auction process by paying 50% above the listed retail price. Details about the closing reception are available at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vibrant Color workshop in Newark

I had a great time teaching in Newark last weekend.  The class focused on combining soy wax and MX dyes. It's a tough class to take on the road, but I had lots of help there with the prep and set-up. The class was held at the Newark Museum.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to see anything there but the classroom!

Participants experimented with three techniques, soy wax dye crayons, hot wax combined with dye and soy wax dye paste.

Judith brushes hot wax and dye through a lace doily

Created by brushing hot wax through plastic rug gripper and hardware cloth

Mary Ann adds background color with thickened dye

Layered soy wax crayon rubbings and thickened dye
All the "lovelies" hanging on the clothesline

Hot wax and dye stamped on, then immersed

Randy and Judy prepare the fabric for steaming

Hot wax and dye with a freezer paper mask

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Working with Resists - Acrylic Medium

I learned about acrylic medium as a resist from Jane Dunnewold. She was looking for ways to achieve a discharge look without the use of discharge agents.  I like acrylic medium because it is versatile - you can apply it in many different ways. It is also permanent - it does not wash out of the fabric. In some cases that can be a downside because it can leave the fabric stiff. However, the way I work, I view it as a positive.  It means that the resist properties of the medium are permanent as well. When doing layers of printing and washing, the resist stays intact.

Below are photos of cloth created using acrylic medium as a resist.

The large labyrinth shape was screen printed with acrylic medium.  In some places the dye wicked through and other areas stayed white.

Acrylic medium applied with a syringe. The coating was thick enough to provide a strong resist against the dye.

This cloth was created with multiple layers of resist and dye painting. 

Both acrylic medium and gel glue were used as a resist.  The image in the center and at the left were glue.  The others were acrylic medium.  A thin coating of medium sometimes wicks in color, leaving a darker image rather than a lighter image.

Read my tips for working with resists

Read about sugar syrup resist

Read about flour paste resist

Read about oatmeal resist

Read about potato dextrin resist

Read about soy wax resist

Friday, March 16, 2012

Free Art Friday

Artists throughout the world participate in the Free Art Friday movement.  They leave a piece of artwork out in a public space for someone to find and keep. I first heard about it last fall and liked the idea.  What a great way to make your work accessible to all, and to promote arts in the community.  I confess that I haven't yet participated.  Friday is usually my day at the computer, with no access to a car.   But this week, I find myself in New York, and decided to leave a batik miniature somewhere in the city. Below is a photo of the piece.  I don't know where I'll leave it yet, so I can't give you any clues.  It will probably be somewhere near MOMA, one of my must-see's while in the city.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm leaving. . .

on a small plane.  I head out to Newark today to teach at the Newark Museum. I'm looking forward to the workshop and a two day side trip to New York. I always drool over Rayna Gillman's photos of her adventures in the city, so I'm looking forward to my own!

In New York I'll be staying with a friend I haven't seen in 15 years.  Wow.  Don't you love those kinds of friends - you can be apart for years, but when you do see each other you pick up right where you left off.

I'm really bad about taking photos, but I'll try to get a few and post them when I get home.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Working with Resists - Tip #2

#2 Try a variety of approaches
When I started working with resists I tended to stick to the mainstream.  Flour paste and potato dextrin were used to create the crackle effect, gel glue was used for screenprinting and food items such as grits, oatmeal and honey were used for breakfast. It is easy to limit ourselves to one or two common techniques, yet resists are so versatile, it's a shame not to take advantage of their full potential. In my experimentation, I discovered that potato and corn dextrin can be applied with a silk screen, flour paste works great when stamped on and soy wax can be applied with a stencil. Below are photos of a few variations on the traditional.

Potato dextrin dripped from a spoon
The dark spots in the center of the drips were a pleasant surprise.  The dextrin cracked and some of it fell off the cloth, resulting in that patterning.

Potato dextrin brushed through hardware cloth
Hardware cloth is a plastic grid, available at home improvement stores.  It is useful for a lot of surface design techniques.  Here, the plastic was placed on top of the fabric, and the dextrin was brushed over the top.

Flour paste monoprint
Flour paste was applied to a plexiglas surface, then the cloth was placed on top of it, transferring the flour to the cloth.

Rather than applying oatmeal to the entire cloth, circles (where the labyrinths are screen printed) were blocked off with freezer paper.

Read Tip #1

Read Tip #3

Read about working with sugar syrup resist  

Read about working with acrylic medium resist

Read about working with flour paste resist

Read about working with oatmeal resist

Read about working with potato dextrin resist

Read about working with soy wax resist

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lines and Numbers Exhibition

This Moment

The Artcloth Network has an exhibition during FiberPhiladelphia this month.  It is actually two juried exhibitions combined.  Thirteen pieces are from 24 x 80, an exhibition of artcloth defined by the finished size of the piece and juried by Els van Baarle.  Thirteen pieces are from Beyond the Line, an exhibition in which all pieces have a line that starts on one edge 24" from the top and moves through the piece as the artist chooses, ending at the opposite edge 24" from the top.  This exhibit was juried by Jeanne Beck.

The participating artists include: Laura Ann Beehler, Janet Hadingham, Sue Copeland Jones, Lisa Kerpoe, Dianne Koppisch Hricko, Judy Langille, Mary-Ellen Latino, Russ Little, Susie Monday, Barbara Schneider, Peggy Sexton, Jeanne Sisson, Priscilla J. Smith, Katherine Sylvan, Connie Tiegel, and Deborah Weir.

I have three pieces in the exhibit, one appearing above and two below.  All three use soy wax resist, dye painting,hand stitching and metal leaf. You can view detail shots of these, as well as all the pieces in the exhibit on the ArtCloth Network Behance portfolio. You can view photos of the artwork hanging in the gallery on the ArtCloth Network blog. And if you are going to Philadelphia this month, here are the details for viewing the exhibit:

White Space, Crane Arts' Old School
March 3 - April 1, 2012
Reception: Sat, March 31, 5 - 8 pm
1417 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Sat & Sun, 12 - 5pm
Wed – Fri by appointment only, call 215-913-7957
Open Thurs, March 8, 5 - 8pm

Crossing the Line

Between the Lines

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Working with Resists - Sugar Syrup

I have decided to make Tuesdays resist day.  Over the next few months, I'll be interspersing tips for working with resists along with info and photos for each of the techniques in my new book, Visual Texture on Fabric. For more info about the book and the special drawing for those who pre-order it, see the end of this blog post.

Last week I posted my first tip.  This week I'll focus on one of the resists - sugar syrup. I heard about sugar syrup years ago as a resist for silk painting.  I didn't have much success with it, so I gave up on it.  A few years ago I decided to try it again. I like it because it is easy to mix, very inexpensive, readily available and easy to wash out. Here are photos of the end result - see what you think.

Silk habotai, painted with liquid dyes
Note the soft edges on this piece.  Because the sugar is water-soluble, using liquid dye instead of thickened dye creates a soft, blurred effect.

Silk broadcloth, painted with liquid dyes
The fabric plays an important role in the end result. The dyes do not spread much on the broadcloth, so you can see the dots where the dye was applied.

Kona Cotton, painted with thickened dye
 The consistency of the syrup also affects the end result.  This entire cloth was spread with the sugar syrup, but it was thicker in some places.  See how the dye breached the resist.

Cotton, liquid dyes, cloth by Pam Farley
The patterning from sugar syrup can be subtle.  Here it gives a soft, ghost image effect.

Below are photos of some finished pieces that were created with the sugar syrup technique.

Sliver, 24" x 18"

Sliver, detail
Flow, 48" x 38"

Flow, detail
Note the "halo" effect caused by the water separating from the syrup.The syrup used was several weeks old and was stored in a warm room, so it became runny.

Now, for more info about the book.  All of the marketing experts tell me that this is where I'm supposed to do the hard sell - to convince you that you need my new book. I'm not really very good at that, so instead I'll let you decide. It is a comprehensive guide to the use of 8 water-based resists and 7 techniques for applying them.  I'll admit that I'm biased, but I do think it's pretty good. (Read more about the book)

If you decide that the book is right for you, I'm having a special drawing for those who buy it directly from me. I'll be giving away some of the artwork I created for the book. Anyone who pre-orders it from my website or from the above link will be entered into the drawing.

I hope you enjoy the series on resists and would love to hear your comments!

Read my tips for working with resists.

Read about working with acrylic medium as a resist. 

Read about working with flour paste resist

Read about working with oatmeal resist

Read about working with potato dextrin resist

Read about working with soy wax resist

Monday, March 5, 2012

All Things Fiber

Several months ago I joined TAFA, the Textile and Fiber Art List.  It is an online community of international artists and small businesses who focus on textile and fiber. The website is a great resource whether you are looking for art quilts, art cloth, textile wall hangings, or functional fiber art, such as clothing, accessories and furniture.  It is also a great place to find hand-spun and dyed yarns and hand-dyed fabrics. Even if you aren't looking to buy, it is inspiring to browse the list and look at  the beautiful work of its members. With over 400 members, you are sure to see some familiar names.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

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