Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Working with Resists - Tip #5

Learn the characteristics of each resist

There are a host of substances that can be used as a resist and each has different properties. Some are more water-soluble than others.  Some crack when dried.  Some remain permanent on the fabric even after washing. You are more likely to be pleased with your results if you choose a resist that matches your intended application and dye technique. For example, to achieve a finely detailed image with crisp edges, a silkscreen or thermofax is the perfect tool. That eliminates using oatmeal, flour paste or soy wax as a resist, because none of them go through a silkscreen easily. Commercial water-based resists, acrylic medium and gel glue are the perfect consistency for screen printing and each will yield a slightly different result. 

The cloth below was screen printed with Jacquard water-based resist and with acrylic medium, then brushed with thickened dye.  The acrylic medium left a softer, ghostly image and the Jacquard left a more pronounced image.

This cloth was created using flour paste applied with a squeeze bottle. Many resists could have been used to create a similar effect, however flour was chosen for it's cracking properties.  The cracks add interest to the circle images.

This cloth employs both soy wax and flour paste resists.  The soy wax was applied with a stencil.  Then flour paste was applied with a rag, creating a scumble effect. After the flour paste was dry, the cloth was immersed.  The soy wax holds up better than flour paste in an immersion, so the leaves retain more of the original fabric color.

In each of these cases, the resists and dye application methods were chosen deliberately to achieve the desired affect. The bottom line - work with the properties of the resist. Don’t expect it to do something against its nature!

Read previous tips

Read 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, April 19, 2012

Are You Any Good?

I had a conversation with the gentleman seated next to me on my plane to Philadelphia earlier this month.  He asked what I did, so I had a chance to try out my "elevator conversation" - the two sentence description of my work.  He asked me "Are you any good?" and I replied with a smile, "Yes, I am."

It seemed like a strange question and there was a time when I would have given a self-deprecating answer.  We are raised to be humble and not talk about our accomplishments. But I think that attitude can have a negative impact.  We need to believe in ourselves if we expect anyone else to believe in us.

 So, how about you all?  Are you any good at your art?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Working With Resists - Oatmeal

I first read about using oatmeal as a resist in Sue Beever's book, Off the Shelf Fabric Painting. I really liked the look, but I didn't like the cooking!  I experimented with some no-cook variations and now oatmeal is a staple in my pantry and in my art.

I'll be honest, oatmeal is a little more work than some of the other resists (primarily in the wash-out), but it creates a truly unique look.  You can achieve the signature oat-y crackle or a variety of marbled, wash effects.  I didn't realize it's versatility until I tried a few variations on the basic technique.  And of course it has the benefit of being inexpensive and readily available. The other thing I love about oatmeal is that it is very forgiving.  Almost any variation in the oats to water ratio or in the amount of time it stands before using will produce good results, as will any method of applying the oatmeal.

Oatmeal, cooked
The oatmeal was applied with a brush - note the brush strokes on the upper portion of the cloth.

Oatmeal, uncooked
Here, the oatmeal was applied with a squeegee. You can see how that technique spreads the oats out, leaving more space between them.

Oatmeal, cooked
Using a spoon to apply the oatmeal, as above, allows more control, making it easier to create a more even oat pattern.

Oatmeal, uncooked
 This oatmeal was also applied with a spoon.

Read my tips for working with resists.

Read about working with sugar syrup resist.

Read about working with acrylic medium resist.

Read about working with flour paste resist.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Intentional Play

I have two ways of approaching the creative process.  Sometimes I have a vision for a series of pieces. I have a message I want to communicate (or more often, it's a feeling I wish to convey). I work deliberately to create that vision.  This often means that I do samples to test colors and even create a mini-version of the composition. This tends to be a slow process and sometimes I get bogged down in the detail.

The other way in which I work is to do what I call "intentional play".  I'm playing, in the sense that I have no pre-conceived vision or expectations for the cloth. I take it one step at a time and let the cloth "speak to me" to build each layer.  It is intentional in that I choose a surface design technique, a certain approach to color or a compositional style and focus on that as I work on the piece. The spontaneity is a nice complement to the more planned approach. 

Right now I have some ideas for a series based on the first approach, but they are still forming and are not yet ready to be applied to cloth.  So my studio time has been spent on the second approach. I have a pile of fabric in various stages of printing and dyeing.  Each day I add another layer, wash them all out the next morning and start on the next layer.  I have no idea what I'll do with them, but I'm not concerned about that now.

Below are photos of some of the things I'm working on. All were created with one or more resists (of course!) and will end up with several more layers before I'm through.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Nice Surprise

I recently learned that Sue Dennis has awarded my blog the Leibster blog award. People give the award to blogs that have motivated and inspired them. I confess that I'm on the fringes of the blog world and had not heard of it before. It was a nice surprise. When I started this blog several years ago, I had no idea if people would be interested in what I had to say. I kept blogging along anyway, and it's nice to know that at least one person finds it meaningful!

Sue is an artist from Brisbane, Australia.  Her blog, suedennisartquilts.blogspot.com, is a wonderful mix of news and photos of her work and her travels. Thanks, Sue!

The tradition of the blog requires that recipients who choose to accept the award do the following:
1. Link back to the person who gave it and thank them.
2. Post the award to their blog.
3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that they appreciate and value.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

I know - it sounds a little like a chain letter (which I always break!).  I chose to accept this award, because I wanted to honor Sue's recognition and I wanted the chance to promote some of the blogs I follow. It was hard to narrow it down to five, but here are a few that motivate and inspire me:

And Then We Set It On Fire - This blog is a joint effort by Beth Berman, Beth Schnellenberger, Judith DeMilo Brown, Karen Silvers, Kit Lang and Nienke Smit, along with special guest contributors. The group focuses on a different surface design technique each month.  I love to see what they are doing - they are far more adventurous than I!

Art Quill Studio - Marie-Therese Wisniowski, another aussie, writes this blog. Marie-Therese offers insightful commentary on art-related topics, news about the latest trends in surface design and printmaking and photos of her art explorations.

The Happy Printmaker - Jennifer Nieuwenhof's blog is a visual feast.  I am drawn to her work for the composition, the colors and the energy it brings. Her work inspires me and feeds my love for abstraction.

Judy in the Dyes - Judy Carpenter's blog is a nice blend of what is most important in her life. I love seeing her latest artcloth creations and keeping up with what is happening.  From reading her blog, I felt like I knew her long before I met her in person.

Sarazmuz - Sara Crittenden Coppedge's blog is appealing because of it's simplicity.  The posts are short, sometimes only a photo, but they often leave me with a smile, an idea or simple appreciation for her work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Working with Resists - Tip #4

#4 Don't Give Up

Occasionally I meet someone who says,  "I saw your article on (fill in the blank) resist, but when I tried it, it didn't work out."  There are a lot of reasons why someone may have different results than mine. So many variables come into play, and it's difficult to troubleshoot in a brief chance encounter. All I can say is that working with resists requires tenacity. (And if you do have questions about your results, I am happy to troubleshoot with you via email.  Just contact me and let me know what's happening.)

When I first started experimenting eight years ago, I gave up too soon.  I had some initial success with flour paste and potato dextrin, but as I tried to expand beyond the basics, I was not satisfied with the results.  I became frustrated and gave up (not completely, just for awhile!)  Eight years and many studio hours later, I have learned a lot.   I have learned the properties of each resist and I have a better understanding of how they respond in different circumstances. I learned that resist recipes are only guidelines.  Even a "commodity" like flour can be different among different brands. You can adjust the quantities for different results and sometimes even the weather affects the consistency of the final product! With some experimentation, you will come to know what consistency yields the results you like.

The corollary to tenacity is to leave your expectations behind.  I already talked about this, so I'll only say that a piece may not be what you expected, but it may be a great candidate for over-dyeing, discharge, stitching, piecing, or even knitting. So if you have tried some resists, but were not satisfied with the results, please don't give up!  They offer a wonderful way to add depth and texture to cloth.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Have a Great Idea . . . continued

Last weekend I spent three days in Philadelphia for FiberPhiladelphia 2012, an international biennial festival for innovative fiber and textile art. Three days devoted to looking at art. The exhibits were amazing, inspiring and eye-opening.  When I got back to the hotel Saturday night my mind was racing.  I couldn't sleep because I had so many ideas for my work. Remembering my last experience with a great idea (I completely forgot it by morning), I pulled out my Kindle Fire and made notes. It worked well. No need to turn on the light, just turn on the Kindle and type. And no worry about not being able to read my writing in the morning (like Kit!).   The only challenge is trying to decipher the typos!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

ArtCloth Exhibition

Twelve Voices from One, the exhibition for the 2010 ArtCloth Mastery Program graduates, opened last Thursday evening.   Participants in the two year program study the elements of design, dyeing textiles, surface manipulation and mixed media applications. The exhibition is the culmination of the program. Living in San Antonio, I have the advantage of being able to view the exhibit each year. I am always amazed at the diversity of the work.  Each artist has found their own voice.   The works are on exhibit at the Radius Gallery in San Antonio through May 31st. Below are a few photos from the exhibit. I recommend viewing it in person if you have the opportunity! You can also view their blog for more photos.

Work by Ann Graham and Laurie Brainerd

Work by Karen Turckes

Work by Allison Brown-Cestero

Work by Annalisa Jose

Work by Angela Maroun

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Working with Resists - Flour Paste

I remember my first experiment with flour paste. It was in Sidney Jostes' garage in the suburbs of Chicago. We were having a resist play day and it was my first time using some of the resists.  I applied flour paste to a pole-wrapped piece of fabric.  Once dry, I unwrapped it and applied liquid dyes.  The resulting cloth was gorgeous, but some of the flour paste stuck to the cloth and I never could get it out. I learned an important lesson that day - make sure to get all of the flour residue off the cloth before you put it in the dryer.

Flour resist is great because it is very inexpensive and most of us have flour on hand, so there is no need to make a special trip to the store or place an internet order.  And you can use almost any variety.  There are subtle differences between whole wheat, all purpose and bread flour, but they all will work. (The whole wheat can be a little more difficult to remove.) I haven't tried any other grain flours (except rice), so there is a whole world of experimentation out there.

Flour resist is also very versatile.  It creates a lovely crackle pattern and it works well with most application techniques. 

Multiple layers of flour paste crackle

Flour paste leaf print

Multiple layers of flour paste resist

Rice flour resist applied with a syringe

Rice flour applied with a squeeze bottle

Peace Amidst Chaos: the background swirl was created with flour resist

Read my tips for working with resists

Read about working with sugar syrup as a resist

Read about working with acrylic medium as a resist

Read about working with oatmeal resist

Read about working with potato dextrin resist

Read about working with soy wax resist

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fiber Philadelphia I

Last weekend was my splurge trip to Philadelphia.  I went up to view some of the exhibits in Fiber Philadelphia, an international biennial festival of cutting-edge fiber and textile art. Prior to the trip, it seemed a very self-indulgent thing to do - flying across the country just to look at art. Now I realize that it was a very good decision.  In addition to viewing truly amazing work, I came back energized, motivated and inspired to move ahead with my own work. I'll be sharing more of my trip over the next few weeks - there is too much to cover in one blog post.

Here are a few photos from an exhibit at the Philadelphia City Hall building. 

Tectonics, Tegan Brozyna, oil bar and gel medium on paper maps

Tectonics, detail

Growth Ring, Loo Bain, newspaper, glue, wood

Memories (partial view), Won Kyoung Lee, plexiglass, saran wrap, threads
Memories, detail

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...