Saturday, 24 September 2011

End of August?

We can't imagine how it got to be August already!

Our second meeting in August was a block printing playday. Everyone but Carol decided to decorate fabric using our extensive collection of wooden print blocks and commercial & hand-made stamps.

Carol was busy doing some card weaving, with yarns she'd dyed with food colouring. Here are the yarns:
and here is the weaving:
I love the fresh colours you get with food dyes!

Everyone else was playing around with our combined wood blocks and stamps, using Permaset printing inks.  We used a variety of methods to put colour onto the blocks, and onto the fabric. One method of inking the blocks was to use a plain overhead transparency sheet (not the coated kind for ink jet printers) as the palette. You lay down some inks at the bottom and then roll them up the sheet a little at a time with the brayer to get a tacky surface, before rolling the brayer across the stamp. You get a good coating for the stamp this way, not too thick and blobby but not skimpy either. It's also quite economical on inks, and means that these fast-drying inks don't dry out too quickly. You can also use the brayer itself as a printing medium, once you've run it across the block surface, as a negative version of the block will be left in the remaining ink on the brayer.

 Another method was to use polystyrene trays as palettes, and coat the stamps with a sponge brush. This works well for smaller stamps but leaves brush marks on the larger blocks. This can give interesting effects, but sometimes it's not what you want. Sponge brushes are also very thirsty for ink, and you can waste a lot. You also need to be more careful that the inks don't dry in the brushes before you can wash them clean.

Here is a print from Helen using one of Nola's Indian wooden print blocks.
Helen stamped this one with gold metallic ink. It's very delicate.

Nola also tried stamping with the metallic ink, on a piece of painted cloth, but she also found it very muted.

The metallic ink would be good to over-stamp a coloured print using the same block, which would add gold highlights to the print.

Maz used two different stamps to make a striped design, but once it was dry, she felt it was too regular for what she wanted. So she stamped over the design with a third stamp.
She did the same with this piece, which was stamped with two blocks.

Maz also spent the first part of the day carving a stamp from a block of balsa. The top print here is her test print. She found the balsa tended to split very easily, which wasn't a problem for the kind of block she was carving, but would be very frustrating if you were trying to carve a specific design.
Tricia was also carving balsa. She was aiming to make a block that repeated.
The left print shows the results:
That worked out well! The second print is another stamp she carved previously, without thinking about repeat effects.  The third is one of Nola's print blocks. But blocks don't always have to line up neatly to create in interesting repeat pattern. When she deliberately off-set the prints, the repeat became stronger and more effective.
This is a print by Bev using one of Nola's wood blocks, in which she's working out the registration, to create an overall pattern. The block gives a great all over pattern and the registration (lining up the block elements for repeat prints) is not too difficult.
This is another of Bev's, using a large stamp that gives an interesting all over pattern if you get the registration right, as she has here.
Tricia was also interested in creating all-over patterns using registration. She continued using Nola's print block:
The colour variation comes from laying down two colours on the transparency sheet, without mixing them, and letting the brayer take up both colours on each pass.
 Here's the finished piece. Doesn't it look great?
This piece was made using a string stamp that Nola made a while ago. She glued string to cardboard using PVA glue and allowed it to try thoroughly. She completely coated the cardboard with PVA and mounted it on a wooden block. It wasn't designed as a repeat block, since the beginning and end of the string don't join if the block is printed side by side. But it gives a surprisingly good repeat effect over a piece of cloth painted with Setacolor paint.

Nola was also practising repeats with her newest print block, which has repeat points on the block edges. Although the repeat wasn't perfect, it worked out pretty well.
Tricia continued playing with repeats. Here's an all over-version of the first block on today's blog entry.
And here's the block Nola was using, printed onto chiffon. These print blocks look great stamped onto sheers.

Not all our printing involved us putting paint onto an object and pressing the object onto fabric. We had a pile of texture plates as well, which we printed onto fabric by laying the textured element underneath the fabric and rolling a paint-covered brayer over the top, to pick up the bumps. You can also add the colour to the plate and then lay the fabric on top, and rub with a brayer or spoon.
On this print, Bev used a block with a strong motif and, once it had dried, used a roller over a texture plate to give the motif a textured background. She felt the motifs on their own looked very stark on the cream background, and she likes to create layers and more complexity.
Here's the same motif with a different texture plate underneath.
Not all our printing was done with specialised stamps. This print was made using a piece of rubber non-slip or impact-absorbing mat, which you might buy from a hardware shop, as a texture plate. As you can see, it also gives an interesting all-over print.

Helen made this print as a monotype from her palette...
We all had a piece of cream homespun as a paint rag, because often paint rags give the best patterns. Here's Helen's:
Here's Bev's:
They are going to be very interesting by the time we finish our upcoming painting activities!

Nola was interested in stamping on fabric that already had marks on it. She had several pieces of fabric that had been drawn on with various media in a "graffiti" session. She stamped over the top of these marks using various stamps.
Then she added colour later, to fill in the background:
Another fabric had this star design in fabric crayon:
She added an all over pattern with a wood block
... and then added colour with a brayer.
This is a third graffiti fabric:

and then with colour added:
This piece was an earlier exercise in using resists when painting fabric. Nola cut 1 1/2in squares of freezer paper and ironed them to the cream fabric. Then she painted the fabric using different shades of blue and purple fabric paints, beginning with the lightest shade. As she painted, some of the squares lifted, and were removed, and the paint also bled underneath the squares, blurring most of the lines. As an exercise in resists, it was fairly ordinary, and the fabric ended up very dark and moody. It was also used to test a small area of foil transfer. In our stamping session, Nola stamped over it with window screen mesh and two small stamps, using Supercover White Permaset ink. The white Supercover is opaque, so it really lightened up the piece and gave it a lot more interest. Nola thinks it may be a journal cover one day soon.
Maz brought along her finished Forest piece. She had kept the felted piece whole and used it to make the cover of a book. The pages are handmade paper.
We also swapped postcards this time.
Here's Bev's postcard:
It has a stamped background, from one of our earlier fabric printing sessions, overlaid with a stitched bird. Simple but so effective!
Carol's postcard has tone on tone blue elements added and hand drawn spirals with a silver pen.
Helen's postcard snippets of yarn and fibre trapped under a sheer layer, and stitched. The leaves were lined with Sinamay, a stiffening often used for hats.
Maz's postcard was felted on the embellishing machine.
Nola's postcard was from an earlier playday, when we used paper serviettes to make small art pieces.
Tricia also brought along her first experiments in free motion stitching, from a recent workshop.

This is a clever technique for the drawing challenged!
In September, we plan to do more block printing...