Monday, July 21, 2008

Independent study

My friends, Gerrie and Reva, have been taking classes this summer at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. I've been jealous. They have been having serious fun and brought great piles of hand-printed fabrics they made in the classes to our STASH meeting last week. I haven't taken any kind of a class for a long time and mostly I'm not too interested in most classes, but it would be fun to mess around in the dyes and resists and such and come home with a pile of usable fabrics.

I decided I should create my own class of one, or probably it would be more accurate to call it an "independent study." (So much more serious sounding than "playin' around with fabric," don't you think?) My textbook is Rayna Gilman's new book, Create Your own Hand-Printed Cloth.

I chose a technique I have never tried—using blue school glue to create a resist on a silk screen to print. I put some of the glue into a fine pointed plastic bottle and drew all over the screen with it, then let it dry very well.

Then I printed, using purple, thickened dye on several solid colors of fabric. This is my screen printing setup on the patio table.

I have been doing traditional screen printing for many years and use a board with hinge clamps which I find very useful. My board is lightly padded and covered with a vinyl fabric. Here are some of my prints:

This red one shows pretty clearly areas that were flooded with too much dye and areas that did not get enough dye.

This last one shows that the glue resist is beginning to break down. It happened very fast, from one print to the next there was a big change. When I washed the screen the glue washed out with the dye. I was pretty obvious that it had reached its breakdown point.

My results were not stellar, but were instructive. My conclusions:

  1. I lost a lot of detail because either the lines I made were too fine for this technique, or the print paste/dye was too thin. It was probably a combination of the the two. The dye simply filled in a lot of the fine lines.
  2. I don't think I care a lot for this technique because it is one that has you printing the negative (background) space. Lots of room for unevenness and globbiness with so much dye going through the screen. I think I prefer a stencil method that allows you to block the background and print the positive design.
  3. I think I have some usable fabrics, but they will be cut up and probably further painted or printed. It will be fun to see what I can do with them from here.

By the way, Rayna's book is terrific. I will be continuing my independent study and trying more of her techniques.


  1. That's a cool technique, though, and at least you know its limitations. I have Rayna's book on order.

  2. There's a lot to be said for independent study. Everyone needs time to try new things and see what's a good fit and what's not.

  3. I've been reading your blog for awhile and enjoy it and your wonderful artwork so much. Your independent study course reminded me of a batik tutorial that I recently came across - if you haven't seen it yet:

  4. Thanks for showing us what you learned. I am anxiously waiting my copy of that book. However, I'm not sure when I will have "play" time.

  5. Iusually glob the glue all over the screen so I can get good coverage - but it's a learning process and was a lot of trial and error. I like the results you got - but if you don't -- hey - you know what to do!