Monday, 25 July 2016

Printing and dyeing

Usually I lean toward constructed textiles as my main means of expression and there are several techniques such as tapestry weaving, knitting and felting that I find most stimulating. These techniques can be quite slow and thinking about designing using these techniques needs a wider exploration of design and art sources. 

To enhance my design sources I thought I might explore monotype development a bit more. Since I did some 'monoprinting' for the OCA course, I have thought about it quite a bit and have explored certain artists and web-sites - and of course Youtube to learn more about the possibilities of the technique. And so I found that Paul Klee used the monotype to imprint lines to enable him to create tonal areas around his printed defined lines. Other artists such as Degas used the monotype a lot in a painterly way (I am not going to discuss the difference between the 'monoprint' and the 'monotype', it doesn't sound like a great difference in any case, but if you are a purist it might be worth looking at some web-sites that will explain it from a technical perspective), and certain quilting designers use 'monoprinting' as a printing techniques to enable them to create unique patterns or images. At West Dean College a class on monoprinting was oing on when I was a different course and I thought they showed great variety and inventiveness in their work.

I said in a previous post that the lower parts of a boat, the outer sides of the hull, can reveal interesting marks that develop from the patina and scratches that touch the painted surface. I found a boat in a marina that had a very good blue surface (in fact, these three images may not be from the same boat, but I don't remember now how many boats I looked at - it wasn't many, perhaps 2 or 3):

As you can see the marks are varied, from broad volumes of colour to lines and a sort of mottled dottedness.

And so it is with the monoprinting technique - it is a free way of using paint or ink to create unique prints. Although you can print a 'ghost' print from whatever paint is left on the plate, the print you first take from the design you lay down on the plate (glass, acrylic or some other flat clearish surface) is the only print you can achieve.

That way of working suits me quite well. I work intuitively and freely and like to work exploratively. I got myself a couple of acrylic sheets of different sizes and have an old glass fridge shelf that is useful as a plate. As I am a novice at this I am not expecting miracles on these first forays into printing and I am not using ink, so have had to experiment in making acrylic dry a bit more slowly using glycerol. This is probably not ideal but will do until I decide this is definitely something I want to continue to work with.

And so for the results - I am satisfied that using acrylic paint can be used to print on paper and on textiles. I printed on bits of old white sheets, and will move onto dyed cotton and other materials at some point. I think the prints on paper, especially the ghost prints, lend themselves to being drawn over, or added to in some way.

Here are details of the print on cotton:

 At least as a detail this section evoked the ships' hulls in some way

 In this photo you can see a part of a ghost print. It does not show up any details, no lines or scratch marks, but just soft suggestions of colour. I think I may overprint this piece next time I get the paint out.

I have also spent a great deal of time dyeing. There has been vegetable dyeing with ash and walnut wood, ivy (which was not a good colour), lichen and ragwort  which gave a bright yellow, but I am not sure how colourfast this is. As you might know, I also did some synthetic dyeing and some of that was tie-dyed to create pattern:

I have been reading Claire Wellesley-Smith's book, Slow Stitch, and wonder about simplicity and care. She represents the idea of slow craft can be ecologically sound, healthy for the individual and communities as a social bridge, and her work is very simple using the most basic of stitches, mainly running stitch. My work might benefit from some of this awareness of quietude and I will ponder this some more as I read more.

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