This piece is a mirror image of the view across the street and past Mac's barn to the big trees in the conservation area. I printed it onto the light-colored-fabric transfer sheet, and since I wanted it to show up, I ironed it onto white fabric and stitched it into the book.
It is still wicked cold out, moderated some from last night.
We helped Red Kate move into her apartment (here! in our town!!! Yay!!) at the top of 14 stairs. We know that number well. Arein and I went earlier and helped her dad get the trailer emptied and off the road. Then Al came and helped schlepp the things still in her van. We made the bed. We found her pajamas and toothbrush. Al and Aerin fed her supper. She is at her own place now.
Which is why I missed Timna's opening over ath the Jones Library in Amherst. I was delighted the opening was not on Thursday while everyone was freaking out over the snow, but I forgot we'd be helping at the new time. I will still go see it, and write in the visitors book (how is that pluraled and possessived, anyhow?) but I'm sorry to miss the cookies and the crowd.
7 pieces of purple fabric 5×10" stacked and stitched down the center to give fourteen pages 5×5" (two weeks)
The transfers happen two different ways – transfer-to-dark fabrics and transfer-to-light fabrics. To transfer to dark fabrics, the image is printed right side up (text reads correctly) onto the sheet. The thin white plastic that carries the image is peeled off the backing paper, and ironed, right side up, onto the fabric. In this image, I drew onto the transfer sheet, peeled that off and ironed it down – this is a freehand sketch.
To transfer images to light fabric, the image is reversed, and printed onto the transfer sheet. The sheet is ironed face down onto the fabric, and then the backing is peeled off, so the image is right way around.
The distinction between light fabric and dark exists because of the idea of background. For the reversed transfers, "background color" is the color of the fabric because the image carrying medium is transparent. When the image carrying medium is white, it forms an opaque layer between the image and the fabric, and allows for white and light colors in the image to show against darker fabric.
Still experimenting with gelatin printing.
I used a biscuit cutter to cut nice round circles out of the sheet of gelatin, and experimented using those as block for printing. Since my biscuit cutter is smaller than my circle-a-day circles, there is an unprinted edge that I wanted to accentuate.
I realized I have not yet posted links to my sources for gelatin printing.
My favorite, and primary source, is Linda Germain, and her blog Printmaking Without a Press. Linda does lovely, delicate work. She has answers to frequently asked questions, and videos on YouTube for those who want to see what she's talking about.
The Sketchbook Challenge blog also has a tutorial, and some pictures of the process.
I have really enjoyed having the gelatin block around to experiment with this month. It has been a lovely cool way to spend time working with fabric and color. I found it easy to get started. The gelatin block was fun to make and fun to hold (and fun to make wiggle! think industrail strength Jello Wigglers…) The materials I used were things I had on hand (white fabric, fabric paint) so the project scrimmage was small.
It took me a lot of experimenting to come up with truly lovely things, making me uneasy until I hit my groove. I am also not entirely sure what to do with the pieces I don't love. I finally decided I'd hold them as potential blocks for stitching together into a lightweight coverlet or unfilled quilt. Or maybe I'll just give them away. It is a good year for it!
It is absurdly hot and dry. The studio is not air conditioned, while the downstairs is, so I spend more of my time experimenting with the gelatin plate and various paint options than I do with the stitching.
I think I am letting my brain refill? or sort things out? Processing would be another good word for it. I am not strongly moved to make anything in particular, so I have found a process I am content to explore for the remainder of the month.
Gelatin printing produces astounding numbers of more-or-less gorgeous or interesting prints. I like the print quality best on the quilting cotton. The prints that don't go into circles will be stitched together into a very light quilty thing. I may have to research bojagi – the Korean single layer piecing process.
I got a smaller brayer for rolling paint, because the brushes (shown lower left) make streaks and bubbles, but the brayer wouldn't turn freely and I had to wait for Al to come back and break it loosen it up for me. Which he did, with style and grace, but not until I was done with the process for the day. The lower right shows some swatches I made, still working with smaller pieces of fabric. That great sun shape is a washer I found and used for a resist.
I made a circle today, and it failed in different ways three different times.
1. the bleach doesn't make black threads white, it just made them kind of green
2. the white paint doesn't sit nicely on the black thread, it soaks in
3. even when the white paint has soaked in and dried, it is not waterproof, and it washed out when I tried to rinse off the water soluble stabilizer I'd constructed the feather on
And I could have stopped there, but instead I persisted, and then:
4. the water soluble stabilizer did not rinse out completely
5. which wouldn't matter except when reapplying the white paint that washed out and trying to remove some of the wetness by ironing the circle, the leftover stabilizer kind of crystallized on top, and then
6. when I tried to photograph it anyhow, just for completeness sake, the photo won't email, so I can't even show you the catastrophe that resulted
So. I'm done now.
I love the texture of ginkgo leaves – the way the veins are long and hardly branch, the way it looks very basic and very old. I emulated the texture entirely with thread, using very long stitches. While I am delighted with this side, I think I like the back even better. Which tells me that I shouldn't have used the variegated thread when I wanted the thread texture to carry the piece.
Here's the back:
You can see how the energy of the thread is more visible without the varied color to distract the eye.
I also had a minor epiphany this morning. I wanted different greens than I had in either of a pair of variegated green threads. One was too dark, with black that I didn't need. The other had a grass green in it that was not at all what I had in mind for pine trees. Alice was home today, keeping me company, sorting the markers into rainbow order when I borrowed two dark greens and started coloring the spool of thread. It worked beautifully!! The marker subdued the bright green and gave more depth and texture to the middle colors. It only soaked into the top layer on the spool, so once I've used that up I have the original color back.
It makes me wonder if I should just start with white thread and color it as I go… Except I like all the threads I have. So probably not.
Three leaves from a copper beech tree outside the place my dad is being taken care of.
As we went north, we traveled backwards through spring. The leaves shrunk and shrivelled, and collapsed into buds, the blooms turned from aged and browning to tiny and brilliant in golds and greens and pinks. The beech tree was perfct for climbing. Alice had limited tolerance for sitting beside a bed, so she'd go out and climb and read, and come back and check on us.
I love the squiggly center line of the leaves at the top; that will straighten out as the leaves age and harden.
These are real leaves, held in place with silk organza and fusible web. I think part of the piece is about aging and change, as much as the leaf itself, and the circle. I'll keep this one pinned to the wall and watch it change.
And a very happy first of May to you!
I morris danced at various times in my life, and today I was grateful I was not dancing in the May at dawn because it was raining and cold and miserable. But I still sang some maying songs, and I admired my work that is hanging at the Cup and Top Cafe for the next two months (yesterday was very busy).
Circles for the month of May will be individual leaves. I've looked at landscapes, and trees and forests, and I'd like to look smaller. I think I can recognize 31 different plants and make something from a leaf of each. I'd like to focus on trees, but I might run out.
This leave was coated with paint from an oil paint stick (think oil paint in fat crayon form) and then ironed onto silk. The heat of the iron melts the paint onto the fabric and dries it, and cooks the leaf too. The whole process smells lovely. There are other ways to get details of an individual leaf onto fabric: crayon rubbings, printing them with paint or ink, using them as a stencil so the outline is visible but no interior features. I plan to try then all.
What I didn't expect when I laid out my plans for the year in January was a snowstorm on March first, followed by gorgeous atmospheric weather and all the colors I've been thinking about. I'm not one to pass up inspiration when it whacks me on the head and gives everyone a snow day, so for a while you'll be seing small black and white landscapes in circles, inspired by the ones seen above.
And the first of those is here.
The advantage to driving a particular path routinely is watching things change across the seasons. I have a particular fondness for this field – the curve of it into the horizon defined by the woods at the edge, the lines of the rows of corn, as they grown green and are harvested. The cut corn stalks make particularly elegant hash marks against new snow.