I taught a one day workshop yesterday, and as I like to have work in progress as well as finished work to show students, this week I made some birds using the slip method, and also printed and dyed some Khadi paper backgrounds for them. The slip method is basically constructing the bird or any other piece of work separately, stitching it as an independent unit and then applying it to its background. It was a method much used by the Elizabethans, and doubtless by stitchers before them. It’s very useful if you have an awkward background, either through size or type of material, which would make working on a small detailed piece on a large unwieldy background difficult.
As I like to use Khadi paper, which in bigger sheets isn’t that much fun to handle, I use this slip method quite a lot. I decided I wanted to use some bright silks for my new birds, so dyed some small pieces of silk and put them in the sun to dry. The dye is heat fixed but I didn’t rely on the sun to do that, I did use an iron.
The circles in the title of this post are actually some ready made, round pieces of Khadi paper I bought on a whim from the Khadi website. They are about 40 cm across; I admit that is a guess as they are downstairs and I am not, and I can’t possibly go downstairs to check, now can I? [ I have now, and they are 56 cm in diameter.] Here they are in my newly reinstated print and dye studio [garage] which has been out of action all winter.
The circles of paper [there are 5], and a few other random sheets of paper after having been printed with thermofax screens and acrylic paints. I mix screen printing medium into the paints, which helps in cleaning the screens, and in keeping the paint fluid. The paint also keeps for ages in an airtight pot too, which is handy.
When the acrylic prints were dry I dyed the papers using procion dyes, brushed on. The circles were meant to be kept quite plain, but as you can see, things got out of hand. No, it was a decision I made, as they looked a bit boring; I did keep one very plain, just printed with a simple screen in silver. I find the silver and gold work really well, especially with the interesting way they resist the dye.
Here are all the birds, actually except one, who escaped this photograph. The top four are silk, and the others are simply cut from a piece of previously printed fabric which caught my eye; I decided to make multiple birds from it for a more pattern based piece, with a few appliquéd additions on wings, and possibly tails.