In April last year I started going to printmaking classes. My main purpose was to expand my image making. I wanted to have a different view of how I was getting to my primary means of expression.
I am certainly enjoying learning to use new techniques to generate images, and very much enjoying the thinking that leads to the employment of those techniques. I relish the opportunity of using a different array of 'constraints' through which to progress with 'solutions'.
The first of the product of the printmaking classes is now coming through as a concrete textile project. The traditional technique of collagraph used with variable viscosity inking led to five different prints from the same plate.
I scanned the prints - initially for my records - but liked seeing them together. I like the idea of repetition, but at the same time not quite exact repetition. I liked the variations that came about because of the inking, and because of the use of colour in a reasonably limited palette.
Usually I work in cotton, but these images want to flow more, so I thought of them on silk. I had some A3 habotai prepared for use in an inkjet printer, and so tried that. Success! I printed one each of the prints (!) and pinned them up to look at over a wee while.
I liked what I saw, but found it too 'thin', both literally and metaphorically. So hey ho I ordered more printable habotai and printed another two sets, having first made a maquette in paper which definitely pleased me and gave me a title: Crowd.
The sheets of A3 habotai are thin and slippery to handle. They also are in danger at this stage of losing a squared form, so needing to stiffen them a little before machine stitching them together into one large sheet, I ironed a light vilene backing onto each one.
Having achieved one piece of pieced fabric made up of printed prints (repetition is definitely involved here!), it was still too slippery to handle easily, and I also now wanted some means of keeping the whole taut while I got going on the hand stitching. I had previously tried stitching a single prototype piece of printed silk with wadding, but I did not like the effect, so I decided to use light calico. This has a taut enough weave without otherwise imposing its character on the silk.
I do not want the stitching to leap out immediately, and so I decided to eschew my normal cotton thread. On the other hand, I wanted to retain the colour variation in that thread, and so decided to go back to Stef Francis but this time for fine silk threads.
I have not exactly speeded up any progress - it has taken me about a year to get to this stage, and the hand stitching will take me a wee while yet. But I shall be interested to see what I think of it by the time I'm done. In the meantime I am certainly enjoying the processes.