Saturday, May 12, 2007

Back to the Studio

Six pieces went out via priority mail this morning for the Fabric Exhibit and sale during the QSDS conference in Columbus, Ohio. If you aren't familiar with QSDS, check out for more information. Great classes there.

It was amazing to return to my studio after coming home from teaching at Pro Chem. One of the best things about teaching is how much it inspires me in my own work. I had entries due for the QSDS Fabric Exhibition and I wanted to explore some new ideas with discharges and resists. I took this photograph of the aging walls at Pro Chem; they just begged to be interpreted on cloth.

I wanted to try and translate the stone shapes and patterns around the building. So over the course of this past week, I experimented with a dye and discharge process that I'm planning to use in a new class called Ancient Cloth, techniques for creating aged looking cloth. It is supposed to premiere at Penland School of Craft in 2008; more on that later once it's definite.

I dyed this two yard piece of silk habotai a medium-dark golden brown. Then I covered the surface with Kraft paper that had stone shapes carved out of it, silkscreened on resist and let it dry. Then I took the paper off and silkscreened on more resist. When that dried, I discharged the whole piece, washed and dried it. Finally, I added more contrast by creating those discharge lines around each stone shape. Great fun.

This piece used much the same process as the previous one, although the cloth was longer and dyed in a gradation of light gold to dark brown. I used the same paper resist as the previous piece, but then I took the cutouts from the paper resist and pinned them on top of the remaining fabric. That preserved more of the dark brown from the original cloth while I discharged the area around it.

I dyed this piece a light golden brown and then monoprinted the entire surface with discharge paste. I was tempted to do more but decided I love its simplicity.

This piece, dyed the darkest of all the fabrics, got coated with potato dextrin resist and then I applied the discharge to the dark brown fabric once it dried and crackled.
Here's a detail so you can appreciate the beauty of the patterning the dextrin creates.

There is a raw, rustic quality to these pieces that is really exciting me. These are just a few from the pile I've collected with various surface design processes and patterning on them. They range from golden to dark brown. I have ideas about how I want to combine them with stitching to create interesting textural works, but I'm heading out on Thursday for an 18 day trip, first to New Mexico for a week and then the Surface Design Association Conference in Kansas City. These ideas will get put on hold for a bit while the travel and conference class and sessions will stimulate and add new ideas. I'll be posting some of my experiences at the SDA conference in a few weeks.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Glorious Textures Pro Chem Class

I taught a five-day class called Glorious Textures on Painted Fabrics at Pro Chemical & Dye Corporation in Fall River, Massachusetts April 25-29th. Seven strong, accomplished, talented women attended my first class there; and in a small class you have the advantage of getting to know each other very well. That's a big plus.
Pro Chem's offices and warehouse are located in an old, converted textile mill. Since I am drawn to aging, time worn structures, the exterior was a treasure trove for me. Look at this wonderful, sculptural piece.

The class dove into experimenting and by the end of the week had painted lots of materials and started layering and hand stitching some great samples. Betsy dove into the experimentation -- she was bold about experimenting and loves texture so she didn't hold back! She also started exploring different combinations of stitching -- combining different stitches adds even more interest to a surface.Those long straight stitches on the green shapes work especially well, don't you think?

Val arrived with a definite focus-- she has learned numerous surface design techniques and she wanted to carry her work to the next step and work on how to combine and use those techniques in compositions. Her thoughtfulness about her work and love of surface design is evident. Her eyes glow with delight as she works. She accomplished a lot as she explored a variety of compositional and layering ideas. Val is starting the master surface design course with Jane Dunnewold --talk about being in good hands -- and brought in some exceptional surface designed cloth she had made in a previous course with Jane.

Karen Q. (way more attractive than this photo, sorry, Karen!) doing some stitching on one piece and another several other incredibly lovely pieces she painted and layered for stitching. I couldn't take my eyes off them on the wall and wanted to start stitching them myself. Karen gave me the push I needed to start blogging, so thank you Karen!

This piece is very Gustav Klimt like, can't wait to see what she does with the stitching. Lots of possibilities.

Cheryl has a strong art background and has returned to textiles after many years working and selling her work as a painter. She has a great love of line and creates wonderful calligraphic lines in many of her paintings.
She's putting us all on her mailing list so we will get updates on where she's showing and selling her work and how she transitions from painting on paper to painting on textiles.

Janet is beginning her artistic explorations. She has great passion and spirit and spent a wonderful week painting components to create a small, very meaningful piece for her personally. Her sharing and wisdom touched and inspired the whole group. She did a small, very powerful piece based on an emotion -- unfortunately my image of it didn't turn out. She is truly a Butterfly Woman, emerging from her chrysalis in beautiful colors.

Karen R came with some ideas and imagery that really resonated with me from photographing Buddhist temples. She keeps excellent sketchbooks and spent the week working through -- and abandoning -- some of the ideas she first thought would best express the temple imagery. By the end of the week she had worked through a number of ideas and samples and hopefully will keep working with this theme. This is a piece in progress where she is exploring adding the temple elements with stitching. Check out the wall behind her picture -- she produced a LOT.

Pam, as this sample illustrates so well, loves color and loves to hand stitch. Since she is also a fabric designer, author and quilting teacher, I took several deep breaths when I found out she was coming to my first class at Pro Chem. She was great -- no surprise, she's a fellow Libra and loves playing with color and textures in the same improvisational way that I do. Look for her new quilting fabric designs for RJR Fabrics this fall!

Finally, here's Vicki Jensen, Pro Chem's amazing technical consultant and workshop director, who joined us for a few demos during the week, showed us some wonderful techniques with wax and then settled in to stitch with us on the weekend. Here she is working on layering and stitching gorgeous felted pieces she made in Chad Hagen's class (and Chad will be teaching at Pro Chem in August, check out for more information).

My experience at Pro Chem was wonderful in every way -- the lunches were EXCELLENT -- and I can wholeheartedly recommend taking classes at their facility. I'll look forward to returning there again to teach in 2008.