Last week I hired Ineke Berlyn’s barn studio for two days, so I could experiment with my new thermofax screens, with the hope that this would lead to new fabrics and then new work in the future. This was a birthday present to myself. I did have some unformed ideas which have been in my head for some time, and I was also willing to see what happened; well, up to a point, as I find I still want results I am immediately happy with, which I should have grown out of by now, especially as I have often noted that work which is initially disappointing can be the real new work of the future.
I wanted too to use some of a large collection of acrylic inks, some bought, some given to me, and to make a good dent in a motley but useful collection of fabrics. I am on a slow but steady mission to use what I own before needlessly buying more of the same, and in this way I hoped to perhaps eliminate some media from my repertoire too. So although that happened admirably well, on my first day, on the second day when my friend Hilary Beattie arrived to work in the studio too, such resolves broke down as I was converted to the use of over painted procion dyes.
The combination of acrylic paint, inks, prints made with acrylic paint [with screen print medium added] and the whole piece then swished over with vivid dye was wonderful. I have been working in black and white a lot over the last few years, so all this colour took me back to when I first started in textiles and my thrill at all that colour in all those formats. So of course I haven’t eliminated a medium but gained one.
I immediately took over every surface within 15 minutes of arriving; that’s 4 tables and the print table. I love space. Those are the acrylic inks which were brushed mostly onto white cotton. The third image shows one such piece, which was later transformed quite radically. The inks were mainly pearlescent.
On my second day I started to print over acrylic painted and inked surfaces. They were ok, an improvement on the whole, but when Hilary arrived with her dyes, which she kindly let me use, everything became considerably more exciting. She didn’t even cry when she saw how much I was using. This is the first of my fossils pieces.
It’s interesting that my ideas had featured brighter colours. I will probably use the fabrics in pattern based work, in conjunction with plain coloured fabrics. Well, let’s be honest here, it will be black, mostly, for the plain parts.
The paler lines on this print were made using what has proved to be one of my favourite screens. Many of them were drawn with fine liner pen and photocopied, to burn the screen. Others I drew in India ink, which has a high enough carbon content to make a screen. This screen was made from a charcoal pencil drawing, and the sketchiness of the line is perfect for the character of the thermofax screen. Once again with charcoal pencil the screen can be made straight from the drawing.
This piece isn’t finished, I’ve decided. It needs some finer lined imagery over it, it’s a bit clunky. If it totally fails it will be ideal to cut up into interesting pieces. Most of the fabric will be cut up, I imagine, some into smaller pieces than others.
This is the end result from the bland lilac piece shown at the start of the post; yes, it’s psychotic dragonflies. I thought it was a pink disaster at first, but overprinting with black and then layering on other prints turned it into something really exciting. This is my favourite piece, not that I have any idea what I will do with it, as I can’t chop this one up at all. The screen was made from a photograph I took of my dried dragonfly [it is about 20 years old at least] and digitally tweaked. The dragonfly is A4 sized [ not in real life…]. I haven’t put the size on any of the images but if anyone is desperate to know, you know who to ask.
So when I got home with my new bright fabrics, in the spirit of using what I already have, except the dyes etc which I have been forced into purchasing, I dug out this glorious mix of threads and fabrics. The fabrics are mostly from my over the top cheap bling collection, which will now be used in conjunction with the new fabrics, and the threads I bought over time as I love the colours, but mostly use white, cream and black, so they have been sitting in a drawer. As usual I have other work to finish before I start to use this exciting mix of new and old fabric, but I will post my progress.
Lots of thanks to Hils for the dye education,and the use of her dyes of course, and Ineke and John for the generous use of the studio.