Category Archives: printmaking

Batik: First Experiments

batik fabrics at amyhoodarts.com

I spent about a week (off and on) dyeing batik fabrics. When I first wanted to learn how to dye, it was with batik as the ultimate goal. Batik is a resist method–you apply wax to the fabric, to protect it from being dyed–but it feels a lot like printmaking. Printmaking and fabric are two of my favorite things. I decided to practice and use the results to make my son a quilt. He chose the colors (green and orange) and I discussed ideas with him, but this was my project. I’m using Color Your Cloth by Malka Dubrawsky as my guide, but I used low-immersion dyeing, which results in a textured color rather than uniform.

I started simply, by applying wax to white fabric and dyeing once.

batik fabrics at amyhoodarts.com

The circles were made with the plastic tube from the inside of a bundle of produce bags, and the triangles were made by fashioning cardboard into a triangle. I was aiming for orange for the bottom, but I learned that deep yellow creates a better orange than lemon yellow. This is a reddish orange.

Then I applied wax to dyed fabric, discharged the color from the unwaxed areas, and dyed again. This is so much fun.

batik fabric at amyhoodarts.com

This fabric was dyed green before wax was applied (using a cardboard rectangle). Then I discharged it and dyed it black. I was using the wax out on the deck and by the time I got to this piece, the sun had warmed it a little overmuch and it was a little runnier than it should have been. I just went with it. My son and I love this fabric.

batik cloth at amyhoodarts.com

This was also dyed green, wax applied with the end of a cardboard paper tube, discharged, and dyed orange. It vibrates (complementary colors will do that) but my son really likes it.

batik fabric at amyhoodarts.com

This fabric was created by dyeing cloth green, adding wax, discharging, adding wax again, and dyeing deep yellow. HOW COOL IS THAT? You get three colors on one piece of cloth! This is the only piece I tried that with this time but it’s definitely something I’ll explore more.

I did three yards by dyeing, adding wax, and overdyeing.

batik fabric at amyhoodarts.com

This first one was dyed turquoise before applying wax, then dyed lemon yellow. This was a little iffy from the get-go because I was putting a lighter color over a darker one. It’s very subtle. I thought about adding wax again and then dyeing the whole thing something darker, but my son likes this, so I kept it. Wax was applied with a potato masher.

I used a different potato masher for these next two.

batik fabric at amyhoodarts.com

Lemon yellow overdyed with cerulean blue.

batik fabric at amyhoodarts.com

Lemon yellow overdyed with light red. This has some circles mixed in too.

batik fabric at amyhoodarts.com

These last two were overdyed together in orange. The top one was dyed light grey, wax was applied with a cardboard diamond, the fabric was discharged, and dyed orange. The bottom one was dyed turquoise, wax applied with a cardboard rectangle, and dyed orange after discharging. The bottom one is a bit more of a rusty orange because the fabric still had a slight turquoise tinge.

I learned so much experimenting like this! I like applying wax with cardboard–something about how the cardboard absorbs the wax a bit made it easier for me, after practice, to control how much wax transferred to the fabric. The metal potato mashers were actually a little more difficult to control. I decided early on to embrace the unpredictability with this process, though. I don’t mind wayward drips of wax; I think it adds to the interest. I really love the effects that can be had using discharging, because you’re not limited to colors that mix well together.

The whole process is time-consuming, uses a lot of water for rinsing and boiling, and is physically wearying! If you ever wondered why hand-produced batik fabric is so expensive, there you go. I have a great space in the basement with a utility sink, second washer, lots of concrete floor space, and a table and shelves. My son called it my “lab.” That’s where I dye, rinse, and discharge, although it’s probably not ventilated quite well enough for the bleaching process. I was applying wax on the deck but then moved indoors to my art studio area, which was a little better on my back, too.

Like I said, though, it’s time-consuming, and I didn’t do any sewing. So now it’s time to shift back to that. My daughter’s quilt just needs quilting–I needed that to sit while I thought about it though. It’ll be the biggest quilt I’ve done and I’m a bit daunted at doing it in my home machine. That’s first on the list, though, above piecing my son’s. I definitely have the dyeing bug though.

Art Quiltlet: 42/52

surface pattern art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

This was completed almost at deadline on Saturday because I’ve been so focused on sewing my daughter a pioneer outfit. But I did begin working on it earlier in the week, when I inexplicably received a free pen in the mail from some company that thinks I’m a company that might want to order pens. It came overly packaged in a plastic thing with bumps on it. I save things like that because they’re useful for printmaking. I decided to discharge with it first, though. I squirted bleach gel on top of all the bumps, lay a piece of fabric on top, and weighted it with glass. I left it while I did other things (sew on a pioneer dress, most likely), then rinsed out the bleach and let it dry. It’s hard to see in a photo, but the bleach created the yellowish circles.

I thought about leaving it that way, but then I decided to flip the plastic thing over and brayer it with red printmaking ink.

printing with found materials at amyhoodarts.com

That shows you what the mysterious plastic thing looks like! Plus you get a better look at the bleached areas. I liked all those triangles.

Once that dried, I decided to intersperse some solid areas and do some free-motion quilting, because I haven’t done any in a while and it seems like a skill that shouldn’t be allowed to get too rusty. It feels like I haven’t had time to get really in depth with these small pieces lately, but I try not to feel bad about that, as they’re first and foremost creativity boosters and play/experimentation time.

Sewn: Musette Bags

musette bags at amyhoodarts.com

These have been completed for a while, but I needed someone to help me with pictures and I kept forgetting to ask. I had the idea to make a musette bag while watching the Tour de France, of course, in July. Musette bags are the lightweight bags handed to the riders, containing their food. They’re not intended to hold anything terribly heavy, yet I wanted one anyway, because why not? As I am wont to do, I added a layer of complication by deciding that I needed to draw and carve a lino block bicycle so I could print it on the bags. So that took some time.

bicycle linoprint at amyhoodarts.com

Close-up of the bicycle linoprint. I used my husband’s bike as the model.

These are made out of utility cotton I found at Joann’s. It’s sturdy. The straps are twill tape, and I bought snaps and a snap setter from snapsource.com. I highly recommend them; installation was so much easier and smoother than trying to use the plier-type tool sold at craft stores.

musette bag at amyhoodarts.com

In the above picture I have an 8×10″ sketchbook and a pencil pouch in the bag; it’s sturdy enough for art supplies, which is probably what I’d use it for. It’s designed to cross the body.

musette bag at amyhoodarts.com

(Don’t judge the hair; it’s still so humid here and I was having an I-don’t-care sort of day.)

I love these bags. I have no use for more than one and am happy to sell or make one with a different color print or with a different print altogether. These have French seams, so no raw edges. They’re simple, as I said, with no interior pockets and a snap closure. I think their simplicity makes me love them more. That, plus it’s always satisfying to go, “I need to make X,” and then do it, and have it come out the way you wanted.

Art Quiltlet: 36/52

I swear I have other stuff going on besides these quiltlets, which I have such good intentions of posting about, and then the week goes by in a whooosh! of driving kids to schools and bus stops and picking them up again and cooking and packing lunches and cleaning and eking out some time to actually sew or read before falling asleep drooling at a ridiculously early hour most nights. But! I’m keeping up on quiltlets. Sometimes I finish one and immediately think, This one has to go bigger, too. Like, for instance, when I finished this week’s.

Symbols art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I took photos as I went with this one, because I knew it was going to be a multi-step process. First I added color to white fabric using Neocolor II water-soluble pastels; they went on dry, then I wet with a brush.

painted fabric amyhoodarts.com

While that dried, I made a foam printing plate. But scratch foam printing results in a block of paint with the scratched-out part allowing the paper (or fabric, in this case) to show through. I decided I wanted more of the fabric visible, so I decided to cut a stencil out of freezer paper. I drew this free-hand, not terribly worried about getting everything exactly even or all the shapes the same size. Here’s the stencil ironed onto the fabric.

freezer paper stencil amyhoodarts.com

Then I painted it black, let it dry, and heat-set the ink. After peeling off the stencil, I had this:

freezer paper stencil amyhoodarts.com

Finally, I added the white geometric stitching, cropped, and finished. As I was stitching, my husband walked by and said, “I like that fabric.”

“I made it!” I said. And how cool is that? I really need to finish gathering the dyeing and batik supplies. That’s one of my goals for September–to have everything I need by the end of the month. Another is to freshen up this site a bit. And post a little more. Goals are good, hmm?

Art Quiltlet: 33/52

Leaf art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Earlier in the week I saw this photograph come across my Instagram feed, and I liked it quite a bit. It stuck in my head, and definitely inspired last week’s quiltlet (completed on Saturday, just posted late). This quiltlet uses several techniques, and I like that I’m getting more comfortable mixing different methods. It’s also great to have expanded my technique toolbox, so to speak, so I have more options and a better likelihood of portraying something the way I see it in my head.

The top of this piece is composed of three layers. I wanted a lighter value green than any I had in stash, so I took a white piece of fabric and used Neocolor II watersoluble pastels on it, then sprayed with water and brushed to blend. The green is the middle layer, with the coral on the bottom and the purple on top. I stitched the leaf and then ripped away the fabric around it using the stitch and slash method, except I used scissors in places for a cleaner edge and I trimmed the green close on the outside edge rather than letting it show. Then I printed the coral with stripes of darker pink paint. After making a quilt sandwich, I free-motion stitched around them, cropped, and zigzagged the edges.

Leaf art quiltlet, detail, at amyhoodarts.com

Leaf art quiltlet, detail

This came out about how I’d hoped, and was a fun bit of play on a Saturday afternoon. I need to bring my sewing machine in for service on Monday–I have thread tangled around the tension discs and it’s not something I can remedy at home (it’s overdue for a cleaning anyway). Depending on how long they keep it, I may be doing this week’s quiltlet entirely by hand. I could borrow my daughter’s Hello Kitty machine–but there is something appealing about adding another layer of challenge.

Art Quiltlet: 31/52

Patterns

This one is simple and slow. First I carved a two-inch pinwheel quilt block stamp, which I then block printed on some fabric I dyed in a class a few weeks ago. I also dyed some thread in that class as an experiment, so I used it to outline on the diagonal by hand. Then I cropped and finished the edges. It’s simple, but satisfying. And I enjoy hand-stitching. I stitched this while watching the Olympic opening ceremonies with kids who wouldn’t stop talking.

So, I did finish this on time–it was completed Saturday morning–but the weekend was busy so I’m posting it now. Thirty-one weeks in and I’m still on schedule with making one each week.

Patterns quiltlet detail at amyhoodarts.com

Experiments

I’m trying to work on something every day, and one day last week I was at a loss, so I just started stitching fabric together. A whole bunch of blues, because I somehow have more blue fabric than any other color. Not surprisingly, it began to remind me of the ocean. I experimented with free-motion stitching on just the fabric (versus a “quilt sandwich” of fabric, batting, and backing) to see what happened. It puckers the fabric a bit more, is what, even if you’re careful. So it gets texture-y. I added some paint after carving a quick wave-like stamp. I decided it needed a girl doing a cartwheel. She was happy to be back at the beach.

She missed the ocean at amyhoodarts.com

“She missed the ocean”

It might be a little bit busy… and you can see how the fabric doesn’t lay completely flat. Do I like that? Or do I mind that? I’m deciding. I’m experimenting. I stitched some words, too.

She missed the ocean, detail. amyhoodarts.com

I really liked this cartwheel girl.

She missed the ocean, detail, amyhoodarts.com

I wondered what she’d look like cropped all the way down so she was the main focus, so I made another, smaller, piece, this time in a meadow full of flowers.

JOY at amyhoodarts.com

“JOY”

This one is only about 4×6″.  And while I typically like to work, then crop down, next time I’m using French knots I’ll crop first, then add the French knots, just because they get in the way a little bit on the edges. Ah, but check out her hair! All of it, really–I like it a lot. Doing creates ideas and those ideas create more ideas. There is always something new to try when I’m feeling a little stuck.

Art Quiltlet: 21/52

art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I am making so very much that doesn’t get posted here, although most of it gets shared on Instagram. This quiltlet uses another piece of gelli-plate-printed fabric from last Monday’s printing session. I wasn’t happy with the way this print turned out (that blue shadow around the plant is because I didn’t get enough of the paint off on the first print with paper), so I decided to use it as practice, filling in the space with free-motion pebbling. Here’s what it looked like before I cropped it.

leaf print + texture before cropping, amyhoodarts.com

I would do things differently. I’d eliminate the outline stitching and just use pebbling. I ended up with some billowing in some of the leaves. And I’d make a better print to start. But this is why I like these low-risk quiltlets. It’s built in that I’m learning things and/or figuring things out as I go. Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you do something you don’t like. Not that I don’t like this piece; I just think it could be improved.

The back looks pretty cool too.

back of art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

It’s got me thinking about what I can do with negative space….

Art Quiltlet: 20/52

leaf print art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I bought myself a Gelli Plate because while I love gelatin plate printmaking, I don’t have a place to store them here. Our fridge is side-by-side and flat shelf space is hard to find. So I decided to try the Gelli Plate and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a good option. Monday I picked some plants, gathered some textures, and had myself a little printmaking session using fabric. This quiltlet came from that.

I felt like sitting down and stitching by hand yesterday, so I did. It’s been a week of Mondays and I wanted that quiet soothing-ness that comes from handwork. The result is pretty subtle. Kind of calm. Just what I needed.

This is week 20. Twenty! For week 10 I shared a picture of the first ten all together, so here’s a photo of quiltlets 11-20.

art quiltlets 11-20 at amyhoodarts.com

I like the variety. I like that I’m trying new things. I like how some of them very much reflect the week in which they were made, and some reflect how I was feeling (ready to tackle a new technique? or needing a bit of a respite?). I definitely like that I haven’t missed a week yet.

Art Quiltlets: 18 + 19/52

Again with the double post! I’m making weekly, just didn’t get a chance to post last week. I was busy working on a larger piece, which is actually where last week’s quiltlet came from. At the end of the week I looked at all the scraps on my work table, pulled some out, and collaged an art quiltlet.

Scraps art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

That white fabric with black printing wasn’t even used in the larger piece, in the end, but it found its way here. This was pure play, and it’s fun how many of the same elements turned into something so different than the piece from which they originated.

This week, I carved a stamp inspired by a book I found on the library shelf while browsing, Art Deco Textiles. Then I used it to make this little quiltlet.

Lepidoptera art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

The quiltlet itself is very simple. I’ve been in a frenzy of creating/sewing the past several weeks and I think I needed a little simple. But I like its quietness. Also, I really like carving stamps and I’m getting lots of inspiration from that book.

And now I am caught up on posting the quiltlets! I can’t believe we’re almost to week 20 of 2016.