I’m waiting…I needed to order more linoleum for another large cloud linocut, and of course this is taking longer than expected.
So as I wait, I’m exploring more ideas to incorporate into my printmaking. I have several drawings of rice paddies, and thought how nice it would be if there could be a watercolor effect in the paddies that are flooded. This type of blending with relief printmaking is nearly impossible. As my mind turned toward all things originating in Asia, I thought “SILK!”
Painting on silk is harder than tie-dying
My daughter and I have painted silk scarves with Procion dyes, often used for tie-dying. A e-mail exchange with the folks at Dharma Trading Company prompted me to purchase Jacquard (Green Label) dyes because I wanted to make sure all the colors were going to be stable. Blues (again!) are often the problem.
I began with the three process colors and a few yards of traditional silk. Just figuring how to mix and dilute these colors without wasting them was a challenge. I finally raided my husband’s shop and found some blunt syringes. These helped dispense very small amounts of each color into plastic cups, which I could then dilute.
Accepting a lack of control
Most silk painting is done with either batik wax or gutta resist to control where the dye flows from brush. I used the no-control method, meaning that the colors just flowed together in interesting ways. This type of “fast art” is always a mix of exhilaration and stress for me, but some of the colors were just spectacular.
One challenge arose because I was not stretching the silk, as is traditional. The thin fabric allowed the dyes to pool on my glass table in wild ripples. My ultimate goal was to have the colors follow the general areas of a linocut, in this case a 10-inch square linocut of topographical lines. I plan to put the printed key block under some acrylic to use as a guide.
Getting some more control
Clearly I needed some way to stabilize the silk — both when I was painting, and also when I used glues to adhere it to my Rives BFK printmaking paper. I remembered the advice of a textile artist friend who recommended freezer paper.
I put the silk down onto newsprint and covered it shiny side down with the freezer paper. Using the silk setting — don’t get too hot! — and the freezer paper gently adhered to the silk but pulled up off the newsprint. Now the prospect of gluing seemed somewhat more possible. Silk is so slippery.
I also experimented with painting on already stabilized silk. I had been washing the painted silk in a chemical solution to set the colors, but since I was not going to get the silk wet again, another textile artist friend said she thought this step was not necessary. On the freezer paper, the dyes seemed to migrate for some time, so I had to give up having strict control over the outcome. Which was the point.
Next week I’ll write more about this experiment, including glues to “chine colle” the silk onto the Rives BFK, and finally printing a linocut block on top of the silk.
Getting crazy…and glue-y…in the print studio.