Monday, December 08, 2008

It's Tuesday

I've been working with the shibori'd fabric I made a couple of weeks ago, trying to integrate it with other fabrics and still have it look like my own work. Not easy. Because often the patterning is strong and geometric in a shibori'd fabric, it can take over and become a distraction or unwanted focal point. Or, if you use several of them together it can become a case of not knowing where to look first. See what I mean? So tonight, I took the pieces down, eliminated a couple, substituted others, changed the sizes and shapes of the pieces and took pictures of about 10 different versions. I may not end up with any of them. With shibori, you are dealing not only with composition and content but pattern-within-pattern. I find this is the case with other hand-printed fabrics, too -- sometimes it is hard to figure out how to use them so they work with others we've printed, or with commercial fabrics. This doesn't work either...I'm still moving fabrics around. Somehow, using hand-prints is more of a challenge than using all commercial fabrics, which we can pick out in the store to and buy specifically to work with each other or to work with something we know we already have. Not as easy when you're printing randomly. On the other hand, there is such a thing as printing with intent. Have you ever been in the middle of making something and you just need one or two more fabrics to complete the piece? I have, many times. So I stop and print something I think will be the missing link. Sometimes it is, sometimes, not, and I have to try again. Do you have the same problem? This is the first piece I can remember having made in which I stopped what I was doing to print fabric so I could finish the quilt. My quilt, Journey, started in 2000 in an open studio at QBL. I combined a couple of hand-dyes, Lonni Rossi's original screened fabrics (she didn't have a commercial line then), Indian batiks from Handloom Batik, and images from family photos and documents. But something was missing. If you click on the quilt and go to the lower left, you'll get a close-up of the simple fabric I stamped and made marks on that ended up being just what it needed. It was printed with intent and was the beginning, for me, of creating my own cloth. I would love to hear your stories and see some images of what you've printed with intent - to fill in the blanks or go with something you already had. Or, let's talk about the challenges of making fabrics work together - what is your experience?


Gerrie said...

I agree with what you said about using our complex cloth and yet when it works, it is serendipitous and wondrous!!

Tiggy Rawling said...

Hi, I have been following your blog for some time, always fascinating - I've even bought the book!

Your comments on printing with intent strikes home right now. I aim to produce three hangings for an exhibition at the beginning of January - what pressure? One done - tick. Indigo pieces ready to go for another, but over the next couple of days I will be printing, dyeing and screening with intent.

I have the knowledge and techniques, gained over the years, now to put them into practice! Nothing like a deadline to concentrate the mind.

Don't even mention the festive season!

TALL GIRL said...

Seldom do I create art cloth for art cloth's sake anymore. I only seem to design cloth with intent of inclusion in a piece I am designing. So far, so good! Oftentimes, I come up with something far more exciting than I had envisioned, but if not, I just add more paint, pattern or both.

Designs by Pauline said...

I love the looks you get with your cloths, they are wonderful! To me, though, it seems like the dissonance isn't as much due to the fact that they are hand-produced as it is that the fabric patterns all have the same (or close to it) scale of pattern. I'm not that familiar with your processs, perhaps it is inherent in the work (scale size). But if some of the fabric patterns were very small (same pattern, same colors) it might help. I noticed that in your journal piece farther down the blog -- you used variation of scale and proportions in the pattern of the fabrics.

I also print/dye fabric on the fly for projects -- I see things in my head, and if I can't find it in the stash then I make it!

Beautiful work you are doing!

Sherryl said...

Funny that you should bring this up today. I am in the process of trying to get the look I want with the shibori pieces I did the other day. I spent hours moving them around and auditioning them with each other. I almost gave up and just dyed up another batch in hopes I could get the look I wanted. I did figure it out. I never thought the process through before because I have not been down this path before. You bring up some very interesting points that I have not thought about before. Integration is going to be an issue. While I love the pieces, too much of a good thing can kill a piece. I think part of the key is taking a step back and waiting awhile before making a decision. Let the brain absorb the patterning without all the overload.
I am just getting into the printing process and I can see the potential for being able to create what you need. I am just beginning this journey.
I will post the background for a piece I am working on a bit later... my mac and cheese is calling tonight!

Terry said...

I have used commercial prints mostly, but am trying to incorporate more of my own printed fabrics with the commercial prints. What I see in your shibori pieces are very similar scales and even pretty similar value ranges. What works so wondrously in the last piece that you show is the sense of similar aesthetic combined with great contrasts in color and scale. You do this so well. Your work NEVER has that mooshy sameness that I get so tired of seeing in so many hand-dyed, hand-printed fabric works. I know your addition of pieces with "intent" will make that shibori shine. Can't wait to see how you handle this one!

kathy said...

Hi Rayna, I can see the difficulty of putting the random pieces together into a cohesive whole. Personally I like contrasting sizes of patterns together. In your first grouping, the patterns do all look similar in size. I do think the second grouping works better, at least to my eyes. I plan to start doing more shibori and this may be something to think about, how to get variations in size of patterns. Good topic to talk about.

KarenF said...

Funny, I almost emailed you for advice last week...I had a request to make a large vessel for a gallery and I thought "gee, I need to make the fabric for this one since it will be so front and center"...I started out dye painting and that didn't quite get it, so I then began overprinting and still thought it looked flat, so I started overpainting with metallic get the picture. Finally I decided I liked how it looked as a whole cloth and didn't want to cut it up, and besides, it still wasn't what I wanted for the vessel!

I can see where incorporating multiple fabrics like this would be challenging...but you make it look so easy!

lizzieb said...

Do I ever know what you are talking about! I just finished an article about mono printing fabric and they all seemed to have pretty strong designs. The trick was to put them together to for art pieces. I have found that when I am just making fabric I need to be sure to change the values of the fabrics, the scale of the design, and to get a large color range, then I am in a better position to use them together.

I was at a retreat and decided to make some fabric collages. While doing so, with the painted fabric that I had and a little bit of commercial fabric, I realized that I needed a black and white. Not a commercial fabric! So off I went to get some PFD cotton and some sumi ink which I used with a paint brush to create my own calligraphy. Worked out just perfectly as I cut it up.

I find that cutting up the fabrics and not trying to use to large of a piece can be a successful way of utilizing large scale designs in our own work.

anonymous said...

Hello Rayna: I read often, comment seldom. To make this relevant to your question of the day: I do print with intent most of the time. In summer, I mostly create yardage (dye, paint, print)--with intent (background, "themed"...) and without (just yardage with no idea what to do with it or where it will go).

But in Winter, as now, I find I am running ruts in two flights of stairs up and down from sewing studio to wet studio, most often to print or paint a previously created fabric, a sewn top, or a basted WIP.

But today I have another (unrelevant; irrelevant?) reason to comment: I've discovered two Raynas today who were/are fiber activists. One is Rayna Knyaginya, a Bulgarian revlolutionary ("Rayna", I did not know, is a common feminine name in Bulgaria) who embroidered the "freedom or death" revolutionary banner for Bulgaria's 1876 uprising--a kind of Bulgarian Betsy Ross. The other is a Melbourne Australia craftivist who cross-stitches wool messages against land speculators on chain-link fences--often working in the dead of night. There's a You Tube video about her. Her name is Rayna Fahey, a member of radicalcrossstitch.

That's it from me to the Rayna that I know. --Linda in Belgium

Ann Morrell said...

After your book and DVD...I fell in love with gelatin printing...I solved the problem of "odd" pieces that didn't go together so to using different patterns and designs but keeping the same color scheme...if the colors are in the same family, the pieces seem to go together...I have been able to use most of my pieces in making journal covers and in backgrouns of other quilts because the colors are similar but patterns are different. As far as shibori ...that technique provides such a strong piece that I can see it might not want to play nice with others..I have used the few pieces I have done as water or as they are more locked in to a setting other than having to generally fit in, if that makes sense.

Virginia A. Spiegel said...

Rayna - You have discovered the double-edged sword of using your own fabrics exclusively.

The flip side of the great delight and inspiration in using our own unique fabric exclusively is that our own unique fabric has to be already created and available at the moment we need it, unless we want to stop right in the middle of the creative process.

So we need unknown fabric in unknown quantities and, as with every creative process, the moment in which we created our fabric is long gone and cannot be recreated. So we have not only the creation issues of all artists, we have unique pre-creation issues also.

I refer to this as the Fabricivore's Dilemma and I wrote an essay on my blog about it :

or tiny url:

Rayna said...

And then there is Rayna Prohme, after whom I am named: a fiery, red-headed revolutionary who was active in the 20's in Russia and in China during their revolution. So as not to bore you if you have read this amazing story of how I found a "family," see my post of May 21, 2007.

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

I was able to piece 19 quilts from my hand dyed, shibori dyed and discharged and dyed fabrics in June 2007.
For me it was easy.
Am I better than Rayna????? NO
But the fabrics I had had been dyed over a period of several years. I had a lot to choose from and great variety.
I think you are trying to put all beautiful fabrics together Rayna. You need a supporting cast to showcase the beautiful ones.
You need variety in scale, variety in values, variety in color, variety in patterns, and even variety in fabric textures.
You can not be afraid to cut up a piece of fabric for fear you will ruin it.
Remember "It's only fabric" as my friend Tommy says.
What is the worst that can happen if you cut it up????
Think about combining them with some of the fabrics you have printed.
Maybe you need to make at least one quilt from just one or two of your fabrics and somehow add something to them to "make it work".
Maybe you need to dye (or otherwise acquire) some more hand dyed fabrics that are totally different than those beautiful fabrics you created.
Think about all the possibilities there are and maybe you have the basis for a piece of art, maybe you need a larger supporting cast.
For me it just all came together and those because everything was in place with the size of my hand dyed collection and I also had enough experience creating many types of quilts.
These 19 quilts are half of the quilts that will be shown in my solo show coming up in January.

Cheryl said...

I love making my own fabric and shibori is just addictive. I am also struggling in trying to put these fabrics in my work. I forced myself to use some in my 2007 Journal Quilt but was not totally pleased with the outcome. When it was returned this fall, I took one look at it and saw what was wrong - the 17"x22" format. I whacked off the top portion and it is much better.
At this point I have decided to use some discharged shibori with solid black, just to highlight the pattern I love so much in the fabric. It was going great until I began to quilt it. The stitches disappeared in the pattern. So now I am rethinking how I will quilt this piece.
I do love Jan Myers-Newbury's work. I think she found a beautiful solution to this problem.
Rayna, thanks for sharing your work. I thought it was just me being "design challenged"!

Sue Andrus said...

Your fabrics are super, but I see your problem.....

I have also been trying to use mostly my own painted fabrics. I do a lot of sunprinting during the summer outdoors. It seems each day I am in a different "groove" of colors. The way I lay the leaves and flowers on seems to differ each day also, so I usually end up with pretty varied pieces. Those fabrics are printed with no idea of what I will do with them later.

My sunprinting mini tutorial on my blog came about from my "Stained Glass and Ferns" piece that I had nearly pieced, but didn't have what I wanted for that area, so I had to intentionally print up a batch of pieces to get the right ones to finish. Thankfully I press and keep the leaves I use between newspapers, so I had the leaves to use in January that year.

Most paint days, I try to do up a few pieces that aren't patterned much more than salt or scrunching, or just colors, and try to get different values from light to darks, using that day's color combos, so hopefully I have things that will go together in a future piece. Even doing this, I often will have to break out the paints to see if I can come up with what I see that is needed in my head.

Rayna said...

The fabric audition I posted was already off the wall, cut, reconfigured, mixed with others, and moved around before I posted, but I thought it was a real dilemma that all of us who print our own fabrics face. Of course, I knew it didn't work - and why, but I wish it had!

It is still a work in progress. Most of my fabric stash is at my studio and I have been home so far this week because of various commitments (and my blurry vision today, from a visit to the eye doc). Bottom line - maybe I can print something interesting at home today. If the piece turns out great, I probably won't post the final version. If it doesn't, the fabrics come down and get put away for some future time. That happens a lot around here.

Vivien said...

Ah, the "how do I use these fabrics I made" lament -- I sing it, howl it, growl it all the time! In fact, I have yet to make anything larger than a journal quilt with fabric I made 'cause I just can't make it work. I think, perhaps for me, it will be a little easier when I create a larger stash of hand-printed / painted cloth. How does that sound? :)

Russ Little said...

All of this is close to home for me. When I first started dying my own cloth I told people that it was because I wanted to own the whole process and because I was tired of not finding just the right thing in the store. That has since morphed into an obsession with whole cloth composition. I'm doing some applique to embellish these pieces, but I haven't pieced a quilt top in months. I can't recall too many instances in which I've printed a specific piece to meet a need. The bigger challenge for me is adding a new dye/paint layer to a composition to resolve a problem, or figuring out how the addition of quilted texture will contribute to or distract from the overall design.

Del said...

Before I had any dyeing classes, when I still made mostly traditional quilts, I sometimes dyed fabric for a specific color/texture that I couldn't find in commercial fabric. I experimented with different dyes and fabric paints, but until I took a class I had no idea of the possibilities. However, the part of quilt making that I enjoy is really the piecing, so I have never put information from dyeing classes to work for me. Now I find your book tempting me all over again!

Bev Snow said...

Hi Rayna. I often overdye my shibori to get some of them to "quiet down" so they will play well with others. The patterning is still apparent, but a little more subtle. Bev

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