A large part of my artwork is experimenting. Even after I’ve developed a concept and/or laid out the basic framework for what I want to do, there is still the matter of playing around with aesthetics. (If you haven’t already, you might want to read parts 1 and 2 of this Concept to Art series)
Right and wrong sides of fabric 1
At root, I am self taught. I read books and watch videos, but mostly I play around and experiment with techniques. One technique I wanted to experiment with was to use flour paste as a resist. I first saw this in the book Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric by Jane Dunnewold and have been looking for an excuse to try it out. The basic idea is that you mix equal parts water and white flour, spread it evenly across the fabric, wait for it to dry and then do any of your dying. If you want to draw into the paste for designs, do it while it is wet.
Now, I have dozens of fabrics to try this out on, so I tested it with a couple. Since the fabrics I started with (both old dresses I’ve taken apart to re-purpose) were already
dark in color, I decided to use bleach instead of dye. It’s also snowing like mad outside and bleach is all I have on hand to try this with. Here is what I learned:
Only one of the fibers used in this black jacquard fabric even responds to bleach. This makes doing a paste resist on it almost pointless. However, when I brush it with bleach straight on, the design really pops out in a nice orangey-yellow. I may juxtapose bleached and unbleached segments.
The test writing is also barely visible on the second test fabric. However, I do quite like the almost explosive effect on the fabric. Not yet sure what I’ll do. Also, I’ve observed that if too much bleach is poured on, the flour will turn into a kind of watery blob… which may have had some part in the explosive effect.
Another technique I want to experiment with was pyrography. I’ve got an old soldering iron that my dad gave me some months ago and an old leather jacket of mine that I’ve taken apart to reuse somehow after it got too worn out for regular wear. You can see where I have written the word “test” with the iron, branding the leather. Thankfully, you cannot smell the horrid stench in my apartment.
These experiments and their results will help me further determine how I will give life to the concepts and ideas of my mind.
What am I working on?
In case you haven’t read my previous posts, each year, 40 North – the arts council for Champaign county, orchestrates the Bonyard Arts Festival throughout Champaign-Urbana, IL and the rest of the county. I am registered with 2 different venues (more details at the bottom of this entry) and have set to work creating artwork for this festival. At C4A I am set to display artwork during April 12-13 and at Habitat for Humanity I am set to conduct a live demonstration on April 13, from 1-5pm, on artistic things that can be done with used clothing.