Project 5 Stage 1 – Reviewing your fabric collection

The painting and printing project starts with going through one’s fabric collection, spending some time looking and handling, noting the individual qualities of weight and surface. The idea is to develop visual and tactile awareness, plus select a dozen or more textile surfaces for the following work. In later stages we select design ideas, then use print and paint on textile to develop and express those ideas.

I’ve noticed in earlier exercises that I can get confused and overwhelmed if I’m trying to learn and experiment with too many things at once. I decided to make a “sample book” with pages of a wide variety of textiles and a standard set of painting/printing on each. That way I can keep focus on design and mark-making in the later stages. We’re being asked to experiment and explore, be adventurous and take risks, so this could be seen as a safety net or even restricting. For me it’s partly “I need to know the rules so I can break them” and partly managing complexity. It feels freeing.

This sample is on a fine cotton. I used Permaset Aqua Supercover textile printing ink – black on the white or light fabrics, white on the black samples. The techniques are mostly ones seen in the preparation stage here – stencil, a range of different stamps, sponge roller (10), brush (8), textile marker (12), and crayon (10).

I now have 24 samples, all pretty much the same format (most have only one letter stamp, and one has (11) missed – oops).  This gives great information on the basic characteristics of each textile, and it’s very interesting to compare and contrast.

Top row, left to right: a heavy black twill cotton, white tulle, white acrylic felt. Bottom row: cotton gauze, dupion silk, hessian.

I generally photograph everything, but not this time. You really do have to touch and see the real things to appreciate the differences. Even in person one thing I can’t judge yet is the impact on the hand of the fabric. I need to heat fix and wash everything. It was amazingly wet yesterday when I did most of the printing and I want to leave it a few days first.

White samples:

Tissue silk (3.5 mm georgette); silk chiffon; 5.5mm silk organza; felting paj silk; 8.5mm silk habutai; dupion silk (light green); duchess silk (beige); two different weights of cotton gauze; a light weight cotton (voile perhaps); brushed cotton (flannelette); cotton damask; a fairly light linen; hessian; a heavy semi-basket weave upholstery fabric to approximate the texture of some handwovens; tulle; crystal organza; acrylic felt.

Black samples:

Silk organza; cotton voile; heavy cotton twill (drill?); hessian; tulle; acrylic felt.

There’s obviously an almost complete overlap between black and white. This basically reflects my stash, but in any case I thought it would be useful to be mindful of the different impact of black on white versus white on black. The selection also leans heavily to light weight or semi-transparent fabrics. Again, my stash reflects my background (in this instance silk-painting and felting).  Plus I’m very interested in the possibilities for layering. I’ll finish with a shot of the tissue silk over the light cotton – lots of interesting possibilities, and imagine if they were draped in clothing, able to move slightly against each other and the pattern shimmering…

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Germination II
In Basketry NSW Transformation exhibition Sunday 2 July. More info fibresofbeing.wordpress.com

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