Monday, August 15, 2005

Sun Fun

I've been too busy to blog this weekend so now I'm trying to catch up. Spectrum, my dye/surface design study group, met on Saturday and since it was still sunny and hot we decided to play with sun printing. Setacolor transparent fabric paints are a lot of fun to play with. Mix with water and brush over cotton cloth, arrange something that will block the drying time (the effect is not actually caused by the sun itself) and put it out where it will dry quickly. I used bracken fern and cut-leaf maple leaves for mine. Others used different leaves and feathers. Leaf skeletons didn't work as well due to not blocking the drying enough to make a good print. Coarse salt sprinkled on made interesting patterns as did just scrunching up the painted fabric and let it dry (top left in photo). In the bottom right is the piece (kind of ugly methinks!) that I did with a monoprinting technique. On a piece of plexi I sponge rolled some drips of fabric paint. Using a leaf stamp I stamped into the paint from the plexi which picked it up and then stamped it on the fabric (extreme right of that piece). After doing that a few times I then put the rest of the fabric over the plexi and rolled it with the brayer to transfer the negative image to the cloth beside the stamping. I think I should have used more paint for a better image or else it was drying too quickly because the monoprint was somewhat disappointing. I'll have to try this again when it's cooler and damper. Note that the rainbow blips you're seeing on this photo are from a large crystal hanging in the window with the sun shining through it! I didn't think they'd show up this well!

The reason why the sun printing technique works is because the pigments that are in the paint have room to shift when water is added diluting the binder that usually keeps them in place. These pigments migrate out to wherever the cloth is drying the fastest. Putting something over the cloth keeps that spot from drying as quickly as the areas out in the sun. This effect also works indoors with a warm lamp over it, just sitting out (less intense image), or even in a dark closet (faint image) so obviously it isn't the action of the sunlight itself that makes it work. Wherever the leaves weren't contacting the cloth closely, the image is fainter because the cloth underneath those parts dried more quickly. Notice on the scrunched piece the darkest areas are the tops of the mountains and the lightest areas are down in the valleys. You might not be able to see it in the photo, but I mixed in a little metallic opaque fabric paint (bronze) and it helped create a network of fine lines in the lighter areas. Yummy! I love this technique — just don't try it on a windy day. You can't put anything over the cloth to hold the items down if they're very light and if you pin things sometimes the pins show up. See that white spot at the end of the green fern stem (corner of the cloth) in the centre of the photo? That was a small rock! I was concerned the fern would move but I actually had to peel it off when all was dry.

What else?
There's the fingerless gloves (Hooray For Me), one with 3 half-fingers now — an increase of one finger in...oh, about 4 days. 5 more to go. The Confetti socks are up to the heel flaps, both of them. No boring pics of them until I'm a bit farther along. No more sewing, no weaving (though I did buy a weaving book, the first one in ages so there's hope yet), and no more tidying. Actually there has been destruction instead. The kitchen is beginning to look like a war zone as the cupboard doors get taken off and stripped. Now I have primer paint and a new brush so I have to start cleaning out the insides and putting on a coat of primer. The whole room has to be primered because we're changing from alkyd paint to latex and it won't stick properly without the primer. (Ask me how I know.) Interestingly this is only the 3rd time we've painted the kitchen in 26 years. Anyway I guess if we're going to do this, we might as well do it right. This is an older house — over 70 years old — and we're not planning to move (ever!) so anything we do will be something we can enjoy ourselves for a very long time. But, man, is it a lot of work!

And poor Queenie! I'm worried that she'll move out permanently when we start painting her corner. But even for my spider buddy I'm not going to leave it untouched. She'll just have to take her lumps or take a hike. We'll try to be gentle but I have no idea how much disruption and paint smell (taste?) she'll tolerate. But I'm sure we'll find out.

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