Preparation for stamping and printing

Project 5 is Painting and Printing, but I haven’t got there yet. There’s an experimentation section first, with the now-standard challenge of the open-ended, never ending exploration. Which is pretty wonderful – that there’s something I love doing where there’s always more to learn and and ideas to try.

Step one was to pull some books from the shelf and do some (re-)reading:

Dunnewold, J. (1996) Complex Cloth: A comprehensive guide to surface design. Woodinville: Martingale & Company. I think this must be one of the classics of surface design. Instructions and “recipes” for a wide variety of techniques and lots of beautiful, inspirational photos.

Grownewegen, D. (2009) The Magic of block printing: make your mark with printmaking. Australia: Diane Groenewegen. Diane is a member of ATASDA, and you can see some of her work on her ATASDA member gallery page here. Diane has self-published a number of small but information-full booklets and also runs classes in her studio and for ATASDA.

Jerstorp, K. and Köhlmark, E. (1988) The fabric design book: understanding and creating patterns using texture, shape, and color, Asheville: Lark Books. I’ve mentioned this book before here in the context of books about colour. What can I say – it’s a great book.

Next was making a padded board for printing based on a mixture of the instructions in Complex Cloth and those in the OCA course notes. I used a dense closed-cell foam for the padding (on a board and covered in cotton) and it’s providing a great smooth, pin-able surface for printing.

Now some photos of the experiments to date (sorry about the particularly bad lighting – too much of a rush). All are on calico that was left over after making the stamping surface, and I haven’t got to the fixing, washing and ironing yet. Trying different fabrics is part of the actual project.
1. I used stamp A, made in polystyrene foam, melting away unwanted areas with a soldering tool. I made the stamp a number of years ago in a class with Marion Boyling, but had never used it.

2 and 3. The same stamp, working back over it using Crayola fabric markers. I don’t like the hard marker lines with the mottled surface of the stamp.

4. The same stamp A, this time working over it with Pentel Arts fabric fun pastel dye sticks. This worked well, the colours blending in and softly filling the gaps left by the stamp surface.

5. Drawing with the pastel dye sticks. There’s some bleeding and blurring at the edges which doesn’t work with this motif but could be effective in other designs.

6. I drew the outline with markers then filled in with the dye sticks. This helped the bleeding issues.

7. Stamp B, which I used and made in Marion’s class (2004 – I found my class notebook).

8. Stamp C, carved in a plastic eraser from a design developed in my sketchbook based on a Raoul Dufy painting. The lino cutting tools have been sitting in a drawer, never used. I was a bit nervous with them – the eraser was small and I’m pretty clumsy, but I managed not to cut myself and I like the design, especially the overlapping and mottled colouring.

9. Left over paint on the foam roller I used to coat the stamps. I’m curious to see the hand of the fabric when it’s fixed and washed.

The next photos are all on a single long strip of calico.

First is shell stencils – the design from earlier exercises for the last project. I did a couple of adjustments to make them suitable for a stencil (simplifying, no “islands” that detach from the stencil), then printed the images from the computer onto acetate sheet sold as printable overhead projector transparencies. I then cut out the printed shapes. Using a sprayon repositionable glue to hold stencil firmly on the fabric, I dabbed with a sponge to apply fabric paint. There’s a little bleeding on the curved shell – I hadn’t fully sprayed the sheet and only decided later to use both shapes. I like the bold, strong blue shape. The mottled colour on the curved shell is also effective, although my stencil cutting was a bit angular and I wonder how well the stencil will last – the long bottom curve is only just attached.

I used toilet roll inserts, with raised areas created using caulking and string. The rolls fit over a toy rolling pin which makes it easy to apply to the fabric, although my choice of colours leaves something to be desired. The rolls started to soften up when I quickly cleaned them with water and an old toothbrush. I’ve since sealed them with a few coats of gloss and will see if that helps durability.

The yellow stamp is a reconstruction – the original corrugated cardboard disintegrated during the stamping and cleaning process. The original stamp came from a class with Diane Groenewegen, and there are better results in the next photo.

The corrugated cardboard makes great marks. I’ve coated the new piece with sealant, hoping for better durability.
The leaf eraser stamp looks good repeated to form a block of patterning. I also like the variation in colour that I got. The paint was applied to the stamp with a foam paint roller and the colours just mixed together on the acetate sheet I used as a palette / roller tray. The final section was simply swirls made using a foam brush with a circular end.
I did this next piece last weekend, a few weeks after the earlier attempts. The photo is actually 2 merged together, which explains some of the odd, uneven colouring. The thumbnail photo show the tools I used.

1. is the same shell stencil as above, but it occurred to me to turn the stencil over and roll over with a brayer to transfer the excess paint onto the fabric (2). It’s almost a monoprinting technique. I love the positive and negative possibilities this opens up.

3. is a new polystyrene foam stamp, from a design started in Peter Griffen’s workshop (post here), and developed further in sketchbook work. I used the polystyrene since the particular sketch I used was in charcoal and I thought the foam gives a somewhat similar uneven mark. I’m very happy with this stamp.

4. Following up the almost monoprint idea above, I stamped onto an acetate sheet then rolled the colour off onto the fabric. It gave a nice reversal, but the image is a bit lighter and different in character compared to the direct stamp.

In 5, I stamped onto the acetate and rolled off, then without re-inking stamped directly. This meant less paint on the direct stamp and the two sit together better in my eyes.

6. uses a number of fancy foam rollers, sold as children’s toys. These could be used to add some texture and interest to an area and the contrasts and overlapping have possibilities.

7. Used a wooden checkers counter (nice) and a cosmetic sponge (boring).

8 and 9 is paint rolled over plastic parts sold as a peg bag. Lots of possibilities as part of a composition, and it could come in handy to have both a square and a circular element.

10 is rolled over a paper doily. 11 was rolling off paint on the foam roller. I tried to use get variation by changing pressure but didn’t have any real control.

I have lots more ideas to try in the future and am continuing work in the sketchbook, but I think I’ll call this enough for the preparation section. More things to try include:

  • vegetable, leaf etc prints (love broccoli)
  • simple screen techniques. I’m thinking of using gum leaves as a stamp (I did that earlier in some assignment 1 work), then holding leaves down under the screen to get the negative image.
  • silk painting. This is where I started my focused textile exploration, back in 2003 (?or so)
  • thickened dyes for stamping and painting
  • shibori techniques
  • monoprints
  • discharging with stamps

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March 2012

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