I recently posted that I can’t created in chaos. And that messy in my studio is when there are snippets of thread and fabric on the floor. Well I got really, really messy (for me) over the long weekend we have just enjoyed in the UK. I also got sore feet from standing for hours. And my rotary cutter needed a long lie down in a dark room afterwards. But look what I got in return – trays of cut ‘bricks’ and bondaweb backed ‘brickettes’ ready to build backgrounds in my Ruins and my View series.
I love printing and it is so tempting to just keep on printing, especially on sunny days when breakdown screens dry quickly. But it is only by cutting up the fabrics that I can see if I have the right balance of colour and pattern. I can see that I have enough fabric to start making backgrounds. I use the bricks to piece backgrounds for my large quilts and I use the brickettes to fuse backgrounds for smaller works. But I can also see that I will need more of the darker fabrics in both series to complete the work I am planning for the rest of this year. Which means more printing. Happy days!
In between wrapping presents last week I did manage to prepare and pull some breakdown screens. I got some really promising marks by using a screen made with torn strips of freezer paper gently ironed onto the screen before rollering on a very thin layer of black thickened dye. I also made a screen using strips of torn masking tape. I wanted the marks to be delicate so pulled through with lots of print paste. And replaced the paste if it got tinted with colour.
However those lovely marks only appeared from the first and sometimes second pull. After that everything went ‘blobby’ and not at all what I wanted.
I have found before that I get the best marks and the most ‘pulls’ when I dry breakdown screens outside on warm sunny days. Drying out screens quickly and thoroughly is not easy in the winter. I have tried drying this batch of screens next to and above radiators and I still only get one good pull. Trying to develop a new palette of textiles based on this low success rate could be really frustrating! Luckily I am not working to a deadline so, although Plan B looks to be a good one I am putting it on hold until spring. I wonder if Santa can bring me an early spring?
Well I am a long, long way from transforming my ugly ducklings into beautiful swans but I have had some success using the soya wax screen on a piece of really awful fabric. Again I found that using white ‘L’ frames to select small sections of fabric really helped me to evaluate the results. As a big piece of fabric it does absolutely nothing for me. But in small sections it shows promise!
Original fabric on right, I added lots of lines using a soya wax screen
Fabric scrapped with thickened dyes then overprinted using a soya wax screen
I also took a piece that was original printed with the soya wax screen and added more lines, mostly in a mid grey colour selected from the same Dunure colour family. The resulting fabric is also best viewed in small sections but is definitely starting to spark!
Soya wax screen and thickened dyes
Soya wax screen and thickened dyes
The beach at Dunure, Scotland has provided the inspiration for my new colour family and forms part of the inspiration for what I hope will build into a new series. I’m not interested in creating art that represent the rocks, pebbles or rolling waves as nature is itself has limited appeal to me. Instead I want to create fabrics and finished works that embody the calmness, the stillness and the tranquility I felt when I sat on Dunure beach. I grew up near the sea and whilst I couldn’t imagine living anywhere other than in a city there are moments when I long to hear nothing but the sea.
But what does ‘stillness’ look like? I think it is linear. And soft. It fades in and out.
I used soya wax and a brush to create slightly different screens then printed with thickened dyes