Yes and no. I am not sure I had the type of drawings in my store that suited developing repeat designs, which is why I tried out a design process on a picture of a rusty metal surface which became the stencil design. This worked well, and the negative images from the cut-outs from the stencil were even better, they were organic, fresh and felt quite balanced in the compositions I made.
Which fabrics did you choose? What particular qualities appealed to you?When printing smooth surfaces work best. They allow the printing block, equipment or tool to leave defined marks, whereas heavier textured fabrics take print more loosely. That is also the case for painted fabrics when you have to pin down the surface before painting. I liked the shiny acetate for taking very fine detail, and its shiny surface was useful for reflecting light through the matt paint used in printing. If printing on pre-printed fabric I think you have to select a design very carefully to make sure the contrast does not clash and create an imbalance.
Is the scale of marks and shapes on your samples appropriate to the fabric? Would any of your ideas work better on a different type of fabric, for example, sheer, textured, heavyweight? Why?Printing and painting on smaller samples seems to be just the first step, it does not always give a good impression of what a run of repeats for example would look and feel like if planned for use. I re-discovered monoprinting and this does not allow for repeats and tried it on different surfaces, a very light, almost translucent cotton, heavier cottons, a woven wool, the lighter (but not the lightest) cottons (and probably a firmly woven linen) were best suited for this.
The prints using foam blocks rendered only low reliefs so were best suited for very smooth fabrics, while painting on fabric can be done on a variety of weights. I like the calligraphic effect of painting with a dark colour, letting the brush almost dance over the surface like I did for the red silk samples. This worked well on lighter fabrics.
Do the marks and shapes seem well placed, too crowded or too far apart? Were you aware of the negative shapes that were forming in between the positive shapes?In the stencil marks the negative spaces were a bit too far spaced out. It was printed on a white cotton and so I felt something was missing and wanted to fill the white space with something, such as stitching. I have to admit I have not been looking at the negative spaces too much, although some of the better monoprints had an interesting balance between the location of marks and the areas that only reflected areas of dye, but this is not what is being asked for here.
There was more use of negative space in the large sample where I intentionally discharged some of the background fabric so that the varying shades would show through (negative) areas where I did not apply dye on the plate.
What elements are contrasting and what elements are harmonising in each sample? Is there a balance between the two that produces an interesting tension?The design elements of softness (eg in stamping with foam, rolls of yarn, soft paper) contrasts with the stamps made of rubbers, lines painted or dragged with pointed tools. There are contrasts in colour - eg black lines on red, use of complementary colours and between coloured prints and black backgrounds.
Harmony is more achievable by using similar shapes such as round forms (in one print using different round tools such as toilet rolls and wine bottle corks), or similar dynamic lines (such as swirling lines in the red silk painting).
The sampling of the smaller work also definitely prepared this work, although I did not recreate any earlier designs. The smaller monoprints, the stamping, the painted bonding material all provided a bit of learning of how the prints would work.
Do the shapes and marks in your single unit sample relate well to the size and shape of the fabric? Do they make an interesting composition on this larger scale?Yes, as I planned a seascape I placed the sea and sky on each half of the sample with a horizon line cutting through them. I wanted the image to fill the whole of the fabric space which is rectangular. Although I did consider whether I should make the sky the feature as I had done in a photograph.
The marks were free and loose to evoke ideas of clouds and waves, and I think this worked well. In the final sample I am quite satisfied with the sky. I have looked at it close, and thought maybe I should have sewn onto the sky section, but no, I left the print as it stands. The marks are painterly, but not painted directly onto the fabric ground. It might be thought that this could have been painted instead of printed – and would it have made much difference? I am not sure; I used the roller to create direction in the paint-dye, I scraped at the dye, dotted with a brush and then lay the fabric onto this. I think it gives a particular textiley surface rather than a painted one.
How successful do you think your larger sample is? Do you like the design? Have you recreated or extended your ideas from the smaller samples so that there is a visible development between the two?
I am glad I looked at Barbara Rae’s work for this one to take in a sense of mark making in a large way. I like the blues and greens, the sea and sky – the motif retains enough of a sensation of the air I felt over the summer by the sea.
The sampling of the smaller work also definitely prepared this work, although I did not recreate any earlier designs. The smaller monoprints, the stamping, the painted bonding material all provided a bit of learning of how the prints would work