Thursday, November 08, 2012

Processing progress

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.


Living to work - working to live said...

I really do like those images. Thanks for sharing.

The Idaho Beauty said...

It's always fascinating to read about your design process. When I first saw the different variations, my immediate thought was, how can you choose? They are all wonderful. So I did that aha thing when reading on. Of course, use them all!

Olga said...

Thank you both.
Sheila, yes, it can sometimes be impossible to choose between prints, and in this case I did find that the sum provided me with more pleasure than any one of the parts.

marja-leena said...

Fascinating indeed, and lovely results! Almost makes me want to get back into collagraphs. (I'm sure I will when my images call for it.) Looking forward to seeing the handstitched piece, hope it goes well.

June said...

Great images, especially as variations (call and response?). It looks to me like your long months of study are coming together beautifully; I am looking forward to the results.

Of course, I can only follow in a vague way the description of your processes, but the photos make clear that you have specific directions that you find yourself working in.

And, from the earlier blog post: "Obvious a day for the Kew gardens" -- ahhhhhhh. A phrase like that simply resounds, even to this western American.

Olga said...

Marja-Leena, thanks. I find it interesting how the results of a technique in another's work can stimulate temptation in one's own mind. I have come to the conclusion that it is good to pause, and to look around - even to take a note - but then to make sure one is not diverted simply for the divertissement.

June, thank you. You are right when you say that there is a direction which I find myself working in. Any rationalisation is definitely post fact. A lot of it seems to be a case of learning to trust my own instincts - which links with what I said to Marja-Leena.

And about that phrase ... there is something about appropriate moments, situations, locations, ... something which over the years has been latched onto by clever advertising creatives - but still true nonetheless. Just like today has a certain heavy stillness to it which tells me it's perfect for curling up with a book or three.