Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Continuing with Botanical Topics - Solar Printing

Two prints on linen with "Black" SolarFast paint. The fabric was light rosy pink to start.
 I've just finished writing the April posts for the very cool blog "... and Then We Set It on Fire", where I wrote about using plants as both medium and subject matter in surface design work. I am mainly designing on fabric but works on paper show up as well. I wasn't able to post about my entire list of topics on the Fire blog, so I'll do it here.

One of the topics on my list was sun printing. I've done some of that with Setacolor paints, with good success and I am going to experiment with that again. But Robbie, of the blog "Robbie's Paw Prints", and I had a short online chat about her experience with SolarFast paints as one way to solar print on fabric with plants (and other materials). (Thanks, Robbie!)
Fern photo edited and converted to a negative on my computer (l) and the negative printing on Solarfast transparency film (r).

SolarFast paint and cotton fabric laid out on a foamcore sheet.
Spreading SolarFast paint on the fabric in a dim corner of my studio. This is supposed be the "Avocado" color.

Transparency negative immediately laid over the painted fabric, covered with plexiglass to keep it flat. I placed it in a sunny window.

Finished fabric, with transparency removed after 40 minutes. Still doesn't look like "Avocado" to me, but I like it.
This was a very easy process. A few things learned:
  • the less intense the sunlight, the longer the material needs to be left to develop. (Five p.m. is rather late this time of year.)
  • the colors of the SolarFast paint don't quite do what is expected. Be open to that.
  • although I correctly placed my printed film ink-side up (it was the darker side on my film) to avoid dissolving the ink onto the fabric when developing, I left the plexiglass on it for awhile and some evaporative moisture on it caused a small amount of ink to come off on an edge of the film.
  • the feel of the printed fabric is about the same as the original fabric. Can't wait to stitch on it!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April in My Studio and Beyond

To say that April is quiet month where I live is an understatement. Which means that it is a great month for travel, writing, and art making with few interruptions. So this post will be a bit of a diary of my projects and whereabouts over the past 3 weeks.
The colorful photo above is the catalog cover of the gorgeous art quilt exhibit at the Wayne Art Center a bit northwest of Philadelphia. I went there as part of the Studio Art Quilt Associates annual conference, held in downtown Philadelphia. The conference included great talks, lots of interaction with terrific artists, and renewed energy for the whole field of art quilting. If you want to see the art made and promoted by SAQA, click here. Lots of diversity and skill to be seen.

In addition to the conference itself, it was wonderful to see some of Philadelphia's attractions, including the quite astonishing Magic Garden, located on and around South Street.
Me, taking those Too Many Photos

As an added bonus, it was SPRING there! I drove home in a blizzard, and we still haven't see much green. Good thing the summer is glorious here.

The other big project this month is my turn as the month of April artist-in-virtual-residence on the fabric surface design blog "... And Then We Set It on Fire." I am so honored to be part of this group of accomplished fabric artists. If you are interested in fabric surface design, you might want to join and follow.

For the "Fire" blog, I'm writing about and showing images of fiber art with plants as both part of the media used to make the art and as subject matter. Here is one of my deconstructed screen printing projects, using an overwintered wood fern and some dried grasses from the Bloomingdale Bog Trail (to ground you locals).

There are several classes going on in the Pink House studio too. I'm especially enjoying the "Learn Drawing (and Some Botany)" and our monthly drawing group. And you haven't really seen the world until you look at box elder flowers under the dissecting microscope!!!

Can't help myself - I'm such a botany geek!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Eco Printing from the Shoreline

A significant portion of my childhood was spent on this beach at Ft. DeSoto Park near St. Petersburg, Florida. Each winter when visiting my mom, we spend some time there. It's always a highlight of my stay.
This year, the mysteries of printing with plant pigments is always on my mind. And I had read recently that sea water makes a good mordant for printing on cotton. The photo above indicates it might be a good mordant for sand as well. Do you see the brown pigment bleeding from the mangrove leaf?
My shoreline walk that windy, cool day yielded lots of mangrove leaves washed up on the beach, along with some seaweeds. I used them as I found them - with a salty, sandy coating straight form the sea.
The seaweed (Sargassum, I believe) printed beautifully on seawater-soaked watercolor paper that was steamed in a packet, along with the mangrove leaves. I love the experiments!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Eco Printing Experiment #...

Cherry leaves on watercolor paper cooked between tin can lids with red cabbage leaves and a little vinegar in the simmering water bath.
Here are some recent eco printing experiments done in my studio with frozen plant material on watercolor paper. The prints here are a few of the many successes and failures. Since these, I have done much more, and right now I am about return to my studio after 10 days in Florida. And I have made some technical and creative leaps here that I could not possibly have made at home. So, my next several posts will take you along on my ride!

I also want to say that I have many online artists to thank. In the upcoming posts, I'll be sharing their links to blogs and websites that have been so valuable to me. The huge world wide artists community is fantastic, don't you think?!

Sweet gum (Liquidamber styraciflua) leaf.
Resulting print, with no mordants or other additions.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sophisticated Tie Dye

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Susan taught a wonderful Shibori dyeing class at the Pink House. Those beautiful dots up above were made by folding the cotton into nine squares then places three acrylic disks on top, bottom, and inside. Then the fabric-acrylic sandwich was placed between two pieces of thin wood, clamped, and dropped into bucket of blue fiber reactive dye.
Susan showing us how to make a honey comb Shibori by wrapping the fabric around a cord, which is then pulled up tight before dyeing.
Pleating and tying a fabric square.
Pulling the pleated and tied fabric out of the dye.

Laura with her beautiful honey comb Shibori.
Susan adding the soda ash to the dye bath.

The finished products with Kelly hiding in the background.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Magical Process on Silk Scarves

Great group with their colorful new scarves.
My friend Lynne Taylor taught another workshop at the Pink House Studio recently that involved applying color to silk. (She taught a workshop on silk painting in August - see my post from August 14th "My New Studio in Service!").
Lynne showing us how it's done.
This time, she taught us how to draw on the silk with Sharpie markers and then to move the color around with rubbing alcohol. It was much like using watercolor paint - lovely and somewhat unpredictable results that are permanent after heat setting. And because there is not an issue with the type of fiber used, the method works on cotton and blends as well.

Lynne brought an incredible array of Sharpies for us to try. Huge range of colors, a variety of tip choices including a brush. Even Sharpies specifically for fabric! There was also a range of results from the various pens too, when the rubbing alcohol was applied.

By the way, some ventilation is required once the alcohol is brought out. It gets pretty strong! 
Alcohol sprayed on the drawings on the silk.
Note the marks on the green square made by the spray.

Sharon's silk scarf with a spritz of alcohol.
Sharon's scarf with more alcohol applied.
 The first set of lovely scarves.
Carefully-rendered drawing with alcohol applied to the dots on the left.
Carefully-rendered drawing with alcohol applied very freely, including spitz.
The similarity to watercolor painting is very appealing to me. As you can see above, being careful with the drawing is not worth much in the end. Love it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Really? Fabric Dye?!

I bought this sideboard a few months ago for my little kitchen. It is perfect in every way - right size, drawers and cabinets to hold just the right stuff, great price, AND some history, as an added bonus. The tale is that this piece of furniture came out of a cottage on Lower Saranac Lake that Mark Twain used to rent in summers. No cigars burns to definitely authenticate it, but I'm going with it anyway!

The finish was dark, though, and some areas needed to be shored up a bit. After lots of sanding to get some of that old finish off and some repairs, it was moved into my studio for its real face lift.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to add color to the surface. After much searching around and talking with a woodworker artist friend, I found instructions on ProChem's website on how to use the powdered fiber reactive dyes I already have to dye wood. (Please read my comment to Laura to see how I added a sealer/finish. The dye is water soluble when applied.)

I primed then painted the insides of the drawers with some great colors. Then, with some trepidation, I mixed up my dye with equal parts water and rubbing alcohol and started. Wow! It was much easier than (and about as messy as) I had expected. But even more beautiful! What a satisfying project.
 Now I'm thinking about how to add some Mark Twain-related embellishments. I think he would be pleased.