Sketchbook – the indeterminate

This week I wanted to explore some ideas following from my last experiment (14-Dec-2014). That involved dropping lengths of string. What else could I drop?

2014121520141215b20141215cMonday. The initial idea was to suspend an “ink-dripping-device” over paper and set it swinging. First up – some handmade paper, slightly less than A4 (I made it in an ATASDA workshop at Primrose Park (29-May-2011). The dripper didn’t drip. A thick cotton cord dipped in ink didn’t drip. A wet brush got caught on the paper and wouldn’t move smoothly. A small plastic bag with a hole in the corner let some colour through, but in random drops rather than leaving a trail as I’d imagined. Some areas on the back are slightly more interesting. I’d included some small pieces torn from a dictionary in the original paper-making, so there are a couple of levels of randomness interacting.
I attempted the same plastic bag delivery over A3 white cartridge paper. Blah bland. I would need an improved delivery system and to experiment with viscosity of my ink/paint to get random but fairly continuous lines.
20141216Tuesday. I coated A3 kraft paper with mod podge, then dropped mixed torn papers – tissue, from books, bits of maps, … I’d shake loose bits off, then re-drop them until everything had stuck. A final brushed coating of mod podge was used to firm things up and integrate the surface.
The result was too mixed. Could it work as a background? Be brought together in some way? I wasn’t keen on brushmarks in the mod podge, but did like the transparency of the tissue, especially with text underneath.
2014121720141217bWednesday. This was very similar to Tuesday’s, but using only tissue paper, a more careful selection of colours, and with A3 white cartridge paper as a base. I also used a single lot of dropping, rather than repeating until everything stuck. I was interested in getting a more transparent effect.
All the way through I couldn’t pin down a connection, then realised it was a variation on the woven tissue I’d done exploring Aztec themes (link). The new version was much more varied, and also had a lot of texture and irregularity of the surface which I like, was well as a rich/jewel/wet/transparent/sea-weedy effect.
I’d like to try this with a tissue base, and then experiment with hand and machine stitch over.
2014121820141218bThursday. Back to dropping thread – rayon machine-embroidery threads, in a similar colour palette to the tissue example, on to A3 white cartridge. I wanted to capture the fall of the threads, undisturbed by tracing or brushing over, so carefully laid plastic cling film on and pressed into the mod podge which had captured the threads.
I pulled out each individual thread to its full length before dropping, but they all sprang back into curls. I didn’t get the coverage or the mixing of colours that I was hoping for. I like the sense of depth and general liveliness of the result. The shine of the cling film is distracting, and possibly unnecessary given the sheen of the threads themselves. I wonder what I could use instead.
2014121920141219c20141219bFriday. A fresh attempt at Monday’s original idea. This time I used acrylic paint, which I could water down to get the right level of runniness. The base is A3 cartridge paper.
The delivery device started life as a small toy plastic rolling pin, included in a container of plasticine. One end already had a hole from its manufacture. I cut off the other end so paint could be inserted, and suspended it all over the paper with string. A real step-up in sophistication from the original plastic bag!
I love the movement and energy, and that even the dotted areas read as lines. I’m quite keen on the colour combination too – in keeping with the feel of freshness and energy.
Leftover paint was used on the large paper I used to protect the work-surface. Being slightly more controlling over the direction of the swinging paint dispenser had quite an impact on the result. Still lively, but much more a sense of purpose, of representing something.
20141220b20141220Saturday. I wondered if Friday’s paint effect would provide the unifying factor that Tuesday’s torn paper needed.
First I experimented on the computer, using gimp to isolate the coloured swirls of paint, and overlaying them on the earlier photo. I tried the orange and blue separately and together, and decided on orange alone.
The second image here shows the actual result of dripping paint on to the page. I think it provides the cohesion needed. It would be a good framing device, but I would want to control it more, to be less central. The swirls also give the eye a path around the page. It’s not clear in the photo, but the watered down paint allows underlying text and images to show through, which is interesting. The paint also has a matte surface, which contrasts with the brushed shine of the mod podge.
Overall I’m pleased with the sequence of experiments. I tried to keep asking “what if…” and “what else…”. There are a number of things in the results which I might use in the future. It also fit well with the working week – in odd moments each day I could think about the previous results and come up with an idea for that night’s experiment.

4 Responses to “Sketchbook – the indeterminate”


  1. 1 Lyn December 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Interesting experiments. The blue-green tissue looks a bit like like stained glass.

  2. 2 fibresofbeing December 21, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Yes – I hadn’t seen that. Definitely something to take further.

  3. 3 aliak77 December 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

    nice experiments. there’s always the option of going over parts of the background with gesso to select shapes/colours you like. we do this in some of the classes with carla sonheim thatI’ve done. if it’s applied thinky, you still see the colours underneath. can be useful sometimes.
    –kath

  4. 4 fibresofbeing December 23, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks Kath – that’s a technique I must try some time.


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

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