Thursday, December 31, 2015

The last day of the year

I had plans to get a lot done today—put away Christmas gifts, do some work in the studio, start the laundry that was overflowing the hamper—finish this year with a sense of accomplishment. Then the power went out. I suspect a tree fell into the lines up the hill. The wind is fierce today and there have been several reports of falling trees. No electricity, no lights, not conducive to my planned tasks. Instead we did a grocery run and took a nap! The power came back this afternoon and I started the laundry and went to the studio just long enough to photograph my most recent experiments.

Awhile back I won this small gel printing plate and had yet to really check it out. It is an interesting texture, quite a lot like gummy candy, but more durable, more like those window ornaments that stick to glass. You apply paint to it, create design or texture, lay your cloth on top and burnish it (I use a spoon) and the design transfers to the cloth. The plate is easily washed and ready to be used again.

I painted it with green paint and then pressed one of my wooden printing blocks into the paint, then put the fabric down.


My paint was too watery and didn't clearly hold the block pattern, but it's rather interesting anyway. Then, since my bock was covered with paint, I stamped it onto a piece of fabric. Yes, too watery there too.


I thought the watery beading of the paint was an interesting pattern in itself, so tried one where I just muddled some paint and water around on the plate, then printed it.


I like it. Subtle.

Then I played around with creating some additional patterns, mostly fairly subtle. Textures.


So, another year has come and gone. Hope it's been a good one for you—kind of a mixed bag here, though some great moments and good times with good people. Have a happy new year and be careful out there!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

After Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas, very much a family affair revolving around a very sweet and appreciative 8 year old and a crazy, hilarious 5 year old! Christmas is so much better with children. My gifts were thoughtful and perfect and our meals were festive and delicious. All that Christmas should be. I have a nasty cold and croaky voice, but it hasn't dampened the joy.

I hadn't been in the studio for days, until this afternoon, and enjoyed our first snowfall of the season as I worked.

I thought I was moving on from the fusible web magazine transfers, but I had an idea as I was laying awake at the coast several days ago, with a storm howling outside. I've continued to think about it until I could get back to work. I found an interesting, colorful photo in a magazine to start, and lightly fused a sheet of fusible web to it.

Then I cut it into thin, vertical strips, which I arranged, facedown, on my fabric, and fused with my iron. Then I wet the paper and removed it.

I love stripes, so this really pleased me. I would use this. There is no recognizeable image, just color and texture.

Then I got out my Quito quilt and did some work on it.

It is coming along. I am adding black outlines with my little metal-tipped squeeze bottle and it occurred to me to start adding the lines before I finished building the whole composition. Ordinarily I would do it all at once after it's all assembled, but it is a little dangerous to work over a lot of wet paint—so easy to accidentally smear it. But going back and forth—fusing, painting, fusing, painting—allowing the small areas to dry between, makes smears less likely. Besides, seeing how it is going to look as I go along keeps me excited!

The snow has stopped and what stuck is melting, but was nice while it lasted. I am thinking back on 2015 and forward to 2016. It always feels good to turn that page, though it means that time is just flying by. This year has been a lot. High highs and low lows. This next year promises only that we can expect more of the same. Are we ready?


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another one and some questions answered

The only thing really new about this little sample is that I fused another fabric to my base fabric and then transferred another drawing on tracing paper on top.



No big surprises here. It worked about as expected. I can see some possible uses for this— little houses??

There have been some good questions in the comments and I'll try to answer them.

  • What kind of fusible am I using and would Misty Fuse work the same way? I am using what I think is Stitch Witchery. It has been in my stash for awhile. It has no backing paper, just fusible web. I don't know if Misty Fuse would work. Someone should experiment and let me know!
  • Does this change the hand of the fabric? Yes it does. It makes it stiff and has a "plastic-y" feel. Heating it with a heat gun melts the fusible and makes it less like plastic on the surface, but it is still stiff.
  • What about copyright on magazine images? A consideration, for sure. I would not use a recognizable image from a magazine in a piece that I plan to exhibit.

We are taking a quick pre-Christmas break at the Oregon Coast. The weather in Portland has been wild and it is rainy and wet here, but the winter beach is beautiful in its own fierce way.


Christmas is nearly here. Are you ready?


Friday, December 18, 2015

Two experiments

After transferring printed images from magazines, using fusible web, I got to wondering if my own drawing, done with ink on paper would transfer as well, so I made a little drawing on tracing paper, using a permanent marker.

I layered the drawing, a piece of fusible and my fabric and fused with a hot iron, then I wet the paper and removed it as I had done with magazine paper. I was pleased to find that the tracing paper came off more easily than the magazine paper.

Wow! The ink transferred really well! The only down side was the haze the fusible left on the surface. With nothing to lose, I used the heat gun to remelt the fusible, which kind of beaded up and became fairly transparent. Much better!

It also made the transferred ink a bit "distressed"—an interesting texture that I don't mind at all.

Then—since the ink transfer turned out so well—I wondered what adding some other media would do.

I did a simple leaf drawing on tracing paper, then added color with pastel pencils.

Then layered with fusible and fabric, ironed and removed the paper.

I like this result as well. It was a mistake to cut the fusible to shape. It definitely changes the color of the background fabric, but I will know, if I do this again, to cover the entire background with fusible.

So, you might ask why not just apply the ink and pastel directly to the fabric and skip the transfer process? Well, mainly because the results look different. I have used both ink and pastels directly on fabric and you get a less crisp look. The ink and pastels are softer-edged applied directly, also, the pastels, when applied directly to fabric, need to be sealed with clear medium, which changes their chalky texture. So—different technique, different look.

I'm not sure when or why I would use these techniques, but they are good to know about. One more thing to know is that these seem very durable. The fusible really makes the image waterproof and firmly adhered.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Magazine collage transfer

The last sample I made, you'll remember, was the little flower bouquet transfer I made using fusible web. I wondered how it would work to use a variety of magazine images to create a transfer collage. I laid out my collage on top of a silicon ironing sheet.

Then I carefully put a piece of fusible web on top of it and then my fabric on top of that and pressed with a hot iron. When it had cooled, I spritzed the paper with water and carefully peeled and peeled and rubbed the wet paper old, leaving the collaged ink image fused to the fabric.

The technique worked, but this particular image is pretty disappointing. All the color vibrancy is lost and the torn paper sky just looks messy. But I still think the idea has possibilities. I think the technique lends itself to more subtle images that you want to look aged or weathered.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

I forgot one!

Before we went up to Seattle I did a couple extra experimental pieces so I could continue to post, but I forgot to post one of them! This is one where I painted a simple geometric design outline and then added watercolor in parts of the design.

It was a simple idea and I was trying out a low-contrast color scheme. The painted outline was a grey, very close in tone and value to the background fabric. As it turned out this was another where I like the back side better than the front.

I think I need to clarify a bit about my experiments. Some of the comments lead me to think I haven't been very clear about what I'm doing and/or hoping to learn. I've been chastised about not reading the directions. Maybe the word "experiment" was not a good choice. For example, I didn't just open up a jar of DeColourant and start playing, with no thought as to how the stuff works, using whatever tools I had around. I have used it before and I have read the directions and understand them. The recommended tool for heating and activating the chemical action really is a heat gun. I didn't just make that up! The directions also recommend that you test the product on different fabrics because it reacts differently on different fabrics and dyes. That is what I am doing. And that is what I am hoping to better understand. That is not to say that I wouldn't try out some unorthodox uses of materials, but not as a stubborn defiance of the "rules" but because sometimes really interesting things do happen. And sometimes they don't, but both outcomes are instructive.

I have tended, over the years, to avoid the whole large area of surface design, mostly because I have found plenty of fabric and materials to work with that I was perfectly happy with and did not have to create from scratch. I also see it as a bit of a distraction from making actual art when one gets so enamored of the making of fabric that that becomes the end in itself. I see people doing that. But lately I am more and more interested in adding my own marks to my work in a more fundamental way. So a month of expermentation seemed like a good way to start. It's a little like taking a class, but I'm my own teacher. I'm enjoying it! I hope you are too.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Photo transfer experiment

OK, I'm officially done with playing around with the deColourent. Onward to other things. I'm not sure if I've seen this done before, or if I dreamed it, but I decided to try transferring a photo from a magazine page onto fabric using fusible web. First I found a little photo of a bouquet of flowers in a Sunset magazine and roughly cut it out.

Then I cut a little scrap of fusible web the same size and placed my photo, facedown onto my fabric with the fusible between the photo and the fabric and fused it well, with a hot iron. When it was cool, I spritzed the adhered paper with water, let it soak in a little, then started carefully rolling the wet paper off with my thumb, which left the ink image imbedded on the fusible stuck to the fabric. Cool!

It's kind of an antique-y look. The fabric is a little stiff and plastic-y and I think I'd have to be pretty careful not to iron this, but it is pretty great looking. I need to try some variations on this for sure.
Another incredibly rainy day today. Our creek is not overflowing its banks yet, but very high and moving swiftly.

It is so darned dark, even in the middle of the day. I will be glad to get past the solstice and have the light start returning. My solar powered watch keeps stopping, which is really unusual. It usually doesn't take much light to keep it charged. I'm not sure I've ever felt so happy to get the Christmas tree and lights up and going. They really do add some cheer to the gloom. My decorating helpers add even more.

Music helps too...


Friday, December 11, 2015

The rain, the train, the cloth again

Sorry. Couldn't resist the rhyme, even though it makes no sense. Rain, yes, lots of rain. It has been just pouring for the last week. Flooding, hillsides sliding, power outages, standing water like new lakes and just so dark. It's kind of a mess. So Ray and I took the train to Seattle for a slightly different view of rain and rain and rain. Truth is one of the days we were there the sky was blue and the sun shone—a little bit. Yesterday the rain was on again and we went out in it and the wind damn near blew us into the bay. View from a taxi:



Ray's face kind of says it all.

We did have a wonderful time at the Intimate Impressionism exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.


The color of the plums in this Pierre Bonnard painting reminds one that somewhere the sun is shining and will someday shine again on the Pacific Northwest. Took the train home yesterday, missing the mudslides on I-5. Today it continues to pour.

Meanwhile, in the studio... My latest experiment was to color on a bit of fabric with watercolor crayons before adding deColourent using a wooden printing block. I wondered how the deColourent would affect the watercolor. Here it is drying:

Then I washed the chemical out and saw......

Almost nothing. Very little effect from the deColourent. So I laid the cloth on the printing block and used one of the watercolor crayons to make a rubbing.

I've gotten a couple days behind with my daily December experiments, but I'll be back to it tomorrow. I am enjoying them. I have had some comments suggesting that I need to go to the DeColourant web site to find out what to expect from the product before using it in differing ways. Yeah, well....then it wouldn't be an experiment, you see. Then it would be research, which is also good, but a different thing. Not knowing quite what to expect is the fun of experimenting.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

A dud

Today's experiment is a dud. Still playing around with the Decolourant color remover, I painted some of it onto a carved wooden printing block I have, then stamped it onto my fabric. Here's the block.

Now, the way Decolourant works, is that the bleaching process is activated by heat, so I use my heat gun on it. Usually you can see as the product dries to a white powdery stuff, and under it you can see the fabric becoming lighter and lighter. With mine, today I saw it turning darker under the dried product. That's odd.

Then I washed the Decolourant out and most of the image completely washed away, leaving just a bit of the dark parts.


I added a little watercolor pencil to see if I could make it a little more interesting, but it didn't help in the least. Oh well.

My niece was here for a short visit and we went to the Portland Art Museum, so she could see the Paul Allen Collection exhibit. This was my third viewing of this exhibit, but I enjoyed it just as much as the first and second. There was cute photo booth there where you could inhabit the setting of a painting called "Brother and Sister" by Portland artist, Katherine Ace. So now we have a souvenir of the day.

You can see the real painting here.