Saturday, July 18, 2009
going back in
I like to say that I started printing on fabric because I’m such a terrible dyer. However, since I started printing, I haven’t made a great effort to improve my dyeing that would give me the good, rich colors that so many people covet. I can buy those from Helene Davis, master dyer extraordinaire.
In my experience, you can save almost anything– but even I have been known to throw fabrics in the garbage. Not, however, before I have gone back in and added layers in hopes of improving the cloth.
Since I’ve been cleaning out and sorting my fabrics, I’ve found more than my share that fall into the category of “just because you can (use them) doesn’t mean you should. Of course, this is a matter of opinion (one person’s trash, etc) – but did I really want to use something that looks like this?
Lots of layers but b-l-a-h. Layer #1 was a deconstructed screenprint on white fabric. Layer #2 was a blotchy overdye in golden yellow. Layer #3 was tape on a screen, which looked too dark, so I washed it out. Layer #4 was a misguided attempt to add another color with oil pastel rubbings (in red).I tried cutting a strip, but it didn’t look like much.
Then, I wanted to see what it would look like if I cut it into squares. But this one just reminded me of a dissected frog in high school biology class.
At that point, I gave up and put it away. Yesterday, as I was sorting my stash, I found it and decided to try again. I got out my screen, tore newspaper strips and added irregular black stripes. The finishing touch was a layer of red stripes, courtesy of a Thermofax screen. Much better.
But now it has six layers! According to the formula for pricing hand-printed cloth, this piece (about a fat eighth) would sell for about $8. Not enough to put food on the table and below poverty-level wages per hour, considering the time I put in. So why do I do this? Why do you do this? (if you do).
Ever a glutton for punishment, I did one more experiment. I had found an over-zealously over-dyed piece, resulting only in values so close the layers below hardly showed.
There was so much dye in the fabric that it would not have taken any more, so I decided to take out some of the color, instead. Out came the Thermofax screens and the Thiox paste (I prefer it to commercial discharge paste). And this is how it turned out.
Not bad but it still needs something and will probably percolate for a while. At least there is a difference in value. What would you do next?
What fascinates me is that no two people would do the same thing with this fabric and I’m thinking that I ought to just tear up an unsatisfactory piece into bits, send the bits off to a variety of people, and see what they do with it. Now THAT would be an interesting experiment! Any volunteers, should I decide to do this one day?? E-mail me, just in case I get around to this, or any other experiment.
Now that I’ve done True Confessions about some of my failures, you can be confident that anything goes! And I invite you to visit my website, if you haven't already done so, to see what I do with my fabrics. And before you go, don't forget to leave a comment here!
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