Breakdown printing with discharge paste
Another piece of gorgeous fabric created this weekend. I made a breakdown screen by spreading a layer of Formosol discharge paste on the back of a screen and embedding some metal joining plates. (Yes – B&Q is a great source of interesting bits and bobs!). After letting the screen dry completely I printed through the screen using plain print paste onto a piece of fabric that I had previously printed with the darker colours from the rust / black colour family. I kept printing with the screen until all the discharge paste had peeled off onto the fabric.
I left the fabric overnight to dry before using an iron (carefully) from the back of the fabric to activate the discharge paste. The black areas of the fabric discharged very easily to a chalky cream colour. Discharging the rust areas was more difficult and left a golden yellow colour. Ironing the cloth baked the print paste into the cloth so lots of hot soapy water and agitation was needed to wash the fabric. But the results were worth it!
Breakdown printing with discharge paste
My good friend Ruth Brown (http://stonecreektextiles.co.uk/) has come to stay and play for a few days. And we are having great fun in the studio! Ruth and I meet at a C2C course several years ago and have been ‘workshop buddies’ since then. We’ve also worked together in her studio but this is the first time she has worked in my studio.
As well as working on our own projects we often have a technique that we want to experiment with. This time it is discharge. We’ve both used different media and techniques in the past so our time together has been about sharing knowledge but also about asking ‘what if?’.
And one ‘what if?’ has lead to a really surprising result. We wondered what would happen if you used discharge paste and thickened procion dyes at the same time? So we took a piece of pre-soda soaked fabric and printed it with a Formosol paste (Formosol powder dissolved in a little warm water then mixed with print paste). We let that dry then used an open screen to apply thickened dye. The piece was left to dry overnight. We then ironed it carefully from the back to activate the discharge paste before rinsing and washing thoroughly. The discharge process definitely worked but somehow we have got shadow images and don’t really understand why. Guess we will just have to keep playing tomorrow!
Discharge paste printed onto white, soda soaked, cotton
Thickened dye added by pulling through an open screen on top of screened discharge paste
After drying overnight you can see the areas where there is discharge paste quite clearly
Discharging the fabric
But when the piece was washed and dried we found it had discharged colour in other areas. No idea why (yet) but the result is gorgeous!
Although I am a bit of a neat freak one of my favourite methods for creating a jagged background is really messy. It is a one of those processes that gives the best results if you apply multiple layers of colour. Yesterday I took a piece of pre soda soaked cotton and started to apply thickened dyes through an open screen. I used a rust and half strength black colour family (as taught by Leslie Morgan at C2C). I roughly scrunched the fabric then screened on top, opened the fabric out, re-scrunched, screened on top … over and over again with different colours. After adding quite a bit of colour I opened the fabric out and left on my bench overnight to dry.
First layer of colour
Today I applied a second layer of colour using the same method and same colour family. I have left the fabric overnight to batch. Tomorrow I will rinse, wash and dry the fabric and assess the colours. I’ll then soda the fabric again and keep going. It is time consuming process but the results are wonderful!
Adding more colour through an open screen
As you lift the screen the fabric opens up revealing lots of lovely jagged shapes and texture
This is what the fabric looks like after applying the second layer of colour
Yesterday I sent off my entry to the European Quilt Triennial. A big moment! And I could not be happier with the way the quilt turned out. The rules prohibit me showing the full quilt but here is a detail.
Ruins 1 detail
I have always had a fascination with buildings. I am a city girl and will take a cityscape over a picture of green, nature, countryside things any day. Cityscapes feature in some of my earlier works such as Sin City 2. My current Hidden Message series is inspired, in part, by high rise buildings in Shanghai. The spark that ignited the ideas behind the Ruins quilt was an online list of 50 abandoned buildings I came across quite by accident last year. From there I found the work of French photographer Martin Vaisse (www.flickr.com/photos/pheizy). His photos of abandoned factories are just stunning.
So I started looking at the textures and colours in old buildings. When I visited the Cloth and Memory exhibition at Salts Mill I took more photos of the building than of the art!
Salts Mill – girders and skylights
Salts Mill – peeling wall
Salts Mill – peeling girders
I spent last summer creating lots of fabulous cloth using a rust and black colour family. The good weather meant I was able to do lots of breakdown printing which seemed very appropriate. As an experiment I had a thermofax made from a photo of one of the breakdown pieces. I used this to build layers of line and colour.
Greyscale photo used to make a thermofax
Once I had a reasonable collection of cloth I started to construct ‘brick walls’. I played around with the size of the bricks and with the overall dimensions of the pieced quilt tops. Ruins 1 and Ruins 2 (which is nearly finished) are both long thin pieces. They are meant to evoke a landscape. The quilting is dense but is not intended to distract from the textures and colours of the bricks.
I have a third piece in progress and a headful of ideas, both for printing more cloth and for making more quilts. I feel more comfortable with this series than I have with earlier work, including the Hidden Message series. It feels more intuitive, less forced. It feels like I have found my artistic voice.
Last year I read a review of a book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art. I get fed the occasional ‘how to be a better XYZ’ as part of my day job and I am not a fan. But I felt like I needed some help in keeping focussed on my art, and the book was pretty cheap, so I thought ‘what the heck’. And I am glad I did.
Pressfield calls all the things that stop us achieving what we are truly meant to achieve ‘the Resistance’. And most of them reside in ourselves. The book is an easy read, in turn humourous and somber. And it really resonated with me. I’m on my third read through and take the book with me when my day job takes me away from my studio. Over Christmas I brought and read his more recent book Turning Pro. The most basic message across both books is ‘turn up, do the work, and don’t let anything get in the way – don’ let the resistence win’.
This week the Resistance was really strong. The first week in January is always miserable. Back to the day job after a couple of weeks without phone conferences, emails, reports and the realisation that I am very likely to be in the same place in 365 days. It is grey, cold and wet. And everybody everywhere is also miserable. And that was before turning on the news. For me the January blues was compounded by a stomach virus. But instead of soldiering on through I let the Resistance get me. For 3 evenings I watched TV and went to bed early. But I didn’t sleep well. So on Thursday I went into the studio with the single goal of being in there two hours. Nothing more than that. But after I tidied some stuff that didn’t need tidying I sat at my machine and I stitched. I turned up and I did the work. And woke up the next morning with a head full of quilt ideas.
Sin City 2
This week was definitely not my most productive but I got back into the studio. And yesterday I heard that Sin City 2 will be shown in the CQ exhibition ‘Inspirations’ at Olympia later this year along side pieces from wonderful art quilters such as Janet Atherton and Kate Dowty and fellow Etcetera member Linda Bilsborrow. Go eat dust Resistance!