Friday, January 23, 2015

Birds in Print

Last week, as part of a group exhibition themed on birds, I ran a couple of workshops including one focusing on creating relief printing blocks using the Ezy-Carve product.  This is a white rubber block, much like eraser material, that acts like lino but much easier to carve.  Its soft and thick, and very forgiving.

Each student in my workshop had an A6 size block to work with and a set of simple lino tools comprising 2 'v' shaped tools and one 'u' shaped tool.

The designs were based on birds to reflect the theme of the exhibition.  Everyone produced very creative work.  Some carved in a very free and loose manner, creating imagery consisting of fluid lines and movement.  Others concentrated on detailed designs for a more realistic image.

After carving and printing the blocks, the second part of the workshop was a couple of hours of printing and play with paint, what I called 'Feathered Friends Art Frenzy'.  We had homemade gelatine plates as well as the Gelli Arts plates, relief blocks, rubber stamps and lots of paint and paper.

Everyone had a lot of fun, experimenting with layering their relief prints over their monoprints created on the gelli plates.  A great day of play as well as a welcome relief from the hot day outside.

This is my promotional photo for the workshop, showing
one of my prints and equipment used.
Drawing and tracing designs onto the relief blocks.
Inspiration was gleaned from bird books and photographs.
Carving their blocks, a methodical but relaxing process.
Printing the relief blocks, using water based
block printing inks and a silver spoon as a baren.
Printing time!  Everyone was very keen to try out monoprinting
using the gelli plates.  The homemade gelatine plates
were also good to try to see the difference.
Some of Wendy's wonderful work, her Spangled Drongo block
had expressive line work balanced with positive and negative space.
The Magpie image was popular - a great design
for first timers!  This one is layered over a blue monoprint
from a gelli plate.
A gorgeous and creative use of a Magpie design on a card.
A beautiful carving by Sharyn, the attention to
detail makes the bird come to life.
Her design is based on a vintage woodcut, you
can really see that in her imagery.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Experimenting with Printing & Dyeing

The Christmas/New Year period is my favourite time of year as it allows me a couple of weeks of relaxing slow time in my studio without having a set routine.   Of course I end up with a 'to do' list a mile long, which is really more of a wish list given I usually want to do a year's worth of art in a few days.

This year's big project was to give Lumi Printing a try.  Its something I spied at the art shop earlier in the year and I decided to treat myself as an early Christmas present.

The Lumi system is simply sun printing on fabric.  I had briefly experimented with sun printing a few years before, so seeing the Lumi products gave me the inspiration to try printing and eco-dyeing together.

I made transparencies of Bracken Ferns to expose with the Lumi dye on a couple of cheap white cotton t-shirts.  I painted the dye onto the shirts, then exposed them to the sun for 20 minutes with the transparencies on top.  Pretty simple to do on one of our clear, hot summer days.

After washing, I then prepared the t-shirts for eco-dyeing.  This time I pre-mordanted using a couple of dips in soy milk (organic, no added sugar).  I decided on a cabbage brew, aiming for soft blues and browns to compliment my fern prints.  HOWEVER as usual, my dye bath didn't go to plan, I ended up with a nasty dark brew which was more like an iron brew, so the results were much darker than I wanted.  The other problem is the smell - I've washed the shirts several times, there's still a bit of a residual odour but good enough to wear without turning people off.

In conclusion, I'd say it was a bit of holiday fun.  The results were not as I expected, but I've created some very unique artwork that I can wear.  My next experiment will be monoprinting on shirts with my etching press 'Thumper' instead of the Lumi dyes.

The Lumi Dye Products.
I bought a few small packets to give it a try.
One packet of dye did one A4 size area on a shirt.
Applying the Lumi dye.
Exposing the dye to sunlight to make the print.
The resulting prints.
Bundling after eco-dyeing.
I decided to try using a shibori fold instead of
rolling around a stick.
One of the finished t-shirts,
a combination of print and dye,
very organic looking.
Here I am modelling the other shirt.
 I think the colour of the print doesn't really sit well
with the accidental darks of the eco-print.
But I'm not too worried.  The cost of the whole process
was only about $15 per shirt
(including the cost of the shirt!).

With this singlet, I painted the Lumi dye on in a
random way then placed silky oak leaves on it before
exposing to sunlight.  A bit more of an abstract result.
The dye colour was black, but I watered it down a bit
so its more of a purple/blue.
And of course one of the best eco prints on the BACK
of the t-shirt!  I might chop the shirt up and collage it
onto something else...... always possibilities!