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Tuesday, June 25, 2013


...but not necessarily of the smoochy variety...  Keep It Simple, Stupid is one of those annoying acronyms from the world of business.  And you don't get much simpler than the image below.  Dye printed on white prepared cotton, using the cheapest, simplest and most readily available 'stamp'... my own hand.

The one thing that everyone says after one of my classes is...but it's so simple.  Err... yes.  Who said it had to be complicated or difficult?  The secret is, there is no secret.  Use what there is to hand (no pun intended!), try it and see for yourself. 

It's particularly interesting to look at this cloth close up, when the hand shapes disappear, and what is seen is just some interesting marks...

If I hadn't already told you that these were finger marks, you might not have seen them that way...but I did, and now, I suspect, you will have difficulty seeing them as anything else, such is the power of the human mind when it comes to interpreting context and content.  But it's still the best piece of cloth I've made in the past couple of days, so I'm a happy person!  What do you think?  Do you like it, too?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Breaking My Own Rules

I've spent a long time encouraging people to break 'the' rules.  There's a lot of talk in quilting about the 'quilt police', and the long litany of rules that apply if you want your quilt to be taken seriously by the quilt cognoscenti.  So I give talks about 'The Rules of Quilting', in which I talk about what the 'rules' really are, why they are and when to ignore them.  And I don't get myself overly riled up about technique. 

So, I was surprised to discover that, as well as these commonly recognised rules, I have been working under unconscious rules of my own.  I was dye painting and printing today, and, just before I packed up for the day, I painted these two pieces.  I think they are the beginning of a series of work in which I explore colour in general, and dye painting in particular.  I had run out of plain material to work with, so I picked up a piece of hand dye in reds and oranges, and painted on top of that.  I'm calling them Rooted In Red, because, in truth, they are; they began as red, with yellow added. 

So...what rule did I break?  I realised that, until now, I had always dye painted on white fabric.  Nothing wrong with that, but when it becomes a rule, it stops you seeing the other possibilities that exist.  If there is a rationale behind that 'rule', it is probably that working colour on top of colour could possibly give you mud, not clear colour.  These, though, don't seem muddy, and I'll be interested to see how they turn out.

I came to break the rule because I had a piece of blue fabric ready to paint, and and had some success with that, so the leap to working with multicoloured cloth was not such a huge one.  I wonder what other 'rules' I place on myself...and how I can break them...and the limitations they put on my work.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Printing Petite....

Well, I've got my technology sorted out (look mom, new card reader...), so I thought I'd continue talking about the print proofing I was doing at the beginning of the week. I wonder if you can guess the size of this particular block?

 Well... it's just under 4" long, and less than 1/2" wide... that's small... I had cut a square from a rectangular block, and had this little bit as scrap.  I don't believe in wasting materials, so I thought I'd see if I could carve it.  As you can see, I could.  I deliberately kept it very, very simple.  I thought it printed out pretty well.  I then tried printing in several colours, below.

 then I took a couple of ACEO sized cards, which had been sprayed with Brusho, and printed the small block repeatedly over their surfaces.  The one on the left was printed in blue alone; the one on the right was double printed, first in blue, then in yellow.  I think they are both interesting, but I do particularly like the double print, which, I have to say, looks better in real life than in a photo.  Ain't that the way...sigh.

 And, of course, a block like this would make a great border print on a card or a piece of fabric, for that matter.... Small, in my mind, is definitely beautiful!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

There's Nothing Worse...

...than sulking technology.  In my case, it's a card reader which point blank refuses to read the card with my images on (or any other card, for that matter...).  Grf.  So the images I meant to use for this post are not available until I go get another one.  So I'll talk about the rest of the printing another time.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch...I'm dyeing.  My hands are blue, cobalt blue, but my cloth is a variety of hues, from pale green to rich brown.  I haven't dyed in a long time, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy it.  I'd also forgotten what it means to lug two gallons of water down to the shed...but that's another complaint entirely.  I'm dyeing cottons and silks, as well as some tshirts and a few onesies, just because they're there, and I can... I think the lilac one will be cute... The image above is of a previous session (that sulking technology strikes again...).

And when I'm done with low immersion dyeing, I'll thicken the leftover dye, and paint with it, though probably not today; there's a fridge in the shed, and the thickened dye will keep in there for up to a week.  I like dye painting; it's more relaxed than formal painting.  That said, I have a painting in my head that needs to be put onto canvas, or at least board... so I may sit in the shed this afternoon and see if we can come to some sort of agreement about what it needs to look like.  I love painting on a large scale, but these seem to want to be small... it's a completely different discipline.

My paintings are usually full of movement and energy.  At the moment, I'm personally low on I think I'll try to reflect that, as in this painting, 'Tranquil'.  It's not as small as I'm planning to work, but it is small by my standards lol.  The problem with painting large, of course is what to do with it when you're done... my house is too small to actually hang these works, and nobody seems to want to buy them.  I'm contemplating lending them to a local hospital or public space of some kind, as they are currently in the shed, and in the way.  Large painting, anyone?

And the card reader isn't the only technology that's sulking.  Our broadband is dipping in and out, more out than in (as it were), so, having written this, I can't publish the damn thing... oh well.  Back to the shed.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

No Comment.

Well, you know, I keep saying I'm coming back to blogging, but then I keep underestimating how severe the depression has been over the past three years or so.  Merely putting on a happy face and continuing to work just hasn't done it, so I haven't been making, and therefore not blogging.  I am, however, hoping that I'm climbing up the other side of a very deep black hole; therefore, I'm not making any promises about blogging.  I'm here today; I might not be here tomorrow.  Regardless, though, I hope you know that I do think about my friends in the world of blogging, and thank you for persevering.

It's been a difficult week (and it's only Tuesday...sigh...).   Recognising it was going to be hard, I bought myself some gerbera, which always cheer me up (what, you didn't think I grew them, did you???).  When I'm coming out of a depression, I begin to realise how muany things I've neglected, and what I need to do to put things right.  The studios look as if bombs have gone off in them, and I've spent a bit of time in the shed today, putting things to rights.  In the kitchen too... I had left a lot of the plastic jugs and buckets I use for dyeing outside for...err... rather a long time... so they needed a good scrubbing.  I don't have plumbing in the studio, so it all got dragged up the path to the house, hosed off outside and finally scrubbed in the kitchen sink.  Mwah.  I'm now ready to dye, and the garden looks a bit better for it, too... no surprises there. Most of the improvement to the garden, though, is thanks to two lovely young chaps who are gradually working their way through much neglected borders, cutting things back, digging things up and generally being helpful.  Including unearthing a LOT of buckets...not sure whether to be grateful or not.

This afternoon, though, I felt that I really had to make something.  So, I looked out some lino blocks that I cut at one of the markets I take the work to, and decided to test print them.  No matter how careful you think you've been in cutting the pattern out, there are always places on the blocks where you haven't quite cut enough away, making odd little marks on the print.  Now I don't mind odd little marks, but I'm planning to make some greetings card type prints, and the General Public tends to have a much tidier mind than me, so I'm being Very Careful.  To my surprise, the leaf print was absolutely fine, no further cutting required.  Here it is printed on an ACEO sized board which I'd sprayed with Brusho.

But it really wasn't enough... so I added another one... different colour, same block...

Better, huh?  More interesting, anyway.  Probably not the best quality printing you've ever seen, but it's a reasonable composition, and I think I'll play with that idea on a larger, or rather, longer, scale; it would make an interesting printed border.    The flower, though, was not so well cut; look at the extraneous marks...

And as well as the unwanted marks, there are one or two places where the petals themselves haven't worked well.  They need a trim, as well as removing all the odd bits and pieces.  That's a job for this evening, in front of the tv.  I have one of those trays on pillows, which is ideal for cutting lino blocks on my knee.

And then there was the little word... Joy.  Joy, my granny.  No joy at all... lots of wee annoying bits to take out...  but it will, I hope, be worth it...

As you can see, haven't quite got it right, yet... and too much paint, too... (as a believer in Making Things Difficult For Myself I'm working with fabric paint rather than printing ink... this is probably A Mistake, but hey, I've done it now.  Besides, most of the time I'm working on fabric, anyway...).

And, when I noticed the too much paint bit, I thought I'd try a ghost print... and preferred it to the first one...

So...the manner in which I apply the paint needs to be considered...

In the spirit of change in which I'm working, I even tidied up after myself, so I can go in the shed tomorrow and dye.  Note the spelling!  If you would like to make comments on the post or the quality of the printing, please feel free.  I answer when I can, particularly if you ask me questions... which I welcome too.  More tomorrow, I hope.