Aims: To explore a variety of fabrics as a ground for printing onto with acrylic paint. To experiment with Acrylic Mediums.
Why did I select this material/process/approach? I really enjoyed my previous paper investigation. Even though I found little difference in the performance of the Gelli Plate from one paper surface to another, I still felt compelled to repeat this activity with fabric.
Sample properties. Degree of success: What worked/What didn’t? Why?
Muslin: The print, below left, was made onto muslin, which gives it a really light airy feel. I noticed that many of the subtleties of my mark making were lost on the open weave, it is quite grey. The Ghost Print (detail, right) was pulled on copy paper, it shows much more tonal variation and the structure of the muslin adds texture.
Tulle: I began to see that fabric could become part of the printing process, rather than just the substrate itself. I laid tulle onto the plate to create a textural surface before removing it and completing my drawing. The print was again pulled on copy paper. I like the marks made by the tulle, they create interest, mimicking the centre of the flower while at the same time contrasting with the smoother petal shapes. I wonder if the pattern is a bit too ‘perfect’ though? The tulle could have been scrunched up a bit.
Organza: I do love a sheer fabric! The organza works because even though it is very thin, it does have a texture of its own. The densely packed threads create a soft linear pattern beneath the print. The print is best viewed when layered (left: over white paper, right: over silky lining fabric with a complimentary sheen) but held to a window the image is soft and delicate.
Sheer fabrics like muslin and organza were challenging to work with. When laid over the plate, areas of thicker paint immediately soaked in and through the fabric. In order to prevent this spreading I placed another layer over the plate before rolling. This produced unexpected additional prints. On the left copy paper has accepted a bold abstraction of the original print. On the right calico has been used multiple times capturing random marks that could be developed into something new.
Organza, Calico and Tulle: I began to combine the properties each fabric had to offer. Initially I exploited the scratchy texture of the tulle by using it as a mark making tool. I then lifted some paint with organza, leaving behind yet another texture. The first Ghost Print (left) was pulled on calico using Textile Medium to lift the acrylic. This is quite different from the second Ghost Print (right) lifted with Gloss Gel Medium onto copy paper. Both have their merits, I like the level of detail in the paper print but the variation of tone in the fabric version is greater. There is still so much to learn!
Muslin and Brushed Cotton: Using tulle like a rag to remove paint from the plate helped loosen my mark-making with the palette knife even further. The ‘drawing’ isn’t perfect but the energy of the marks sort of describes how much I was enjoying myself, this was ‘perfect’ because sunflowers do give me a real sense of joy too.
I chose to print the image onto Muslin to create texture for the Ghost Print which was to be pulled on Brushed Cotton. I chose this fabric because its underlying structure is disguised by the brushed fibres giving it a smooth quality, a bit like paper only softer and warmer. I am in two minds about the result, I’m not sure I like the feel of the plasticity of the paint that sits on top of the fibres but visually I am happy with the level of detail.
Polyester Lining Fabric: I was quite surprised at the performance of this cheap, synthetic fabric but it suits the acrylic paint (perhaps more so than the Brushed Cotton, which was too different?). Following the success of the print on the left, I had high hopes for the Ghost Print, right, I learned a valuable lesson here about expecting the unexpected- it is very dark and contains little contrast, especially when compared to the original.
How could I use this sample/technique/material/research in the future?
I learned how to use the materials I have to make effective prints which will help as I move on to the next exercise. Strangely though it is not the more successful prints that I am now considering. I feel that some of the prints that didn’t quite work out as expected could now be used as the basis for further development. I think I could, like Degas, work on top of these. It would be interesting to draw, paint or even add stitching to these. I wonder if I picked these particular prints because they are less precious since they have already ‘failed’ in some respects.
Did I discover anything new or unexpected? Something that didn’t come as a surprise was this ‘print’. It is fairly typical of the sort of ‘clean-up’ piece I usually produce at the end of any making session. I am always really attracted to these, for their aggressive painterly style, which I actually believe is more ‘me’ that the refined pieces I tend to present as ‘my own’. It is frustrating that in my minds eye, I can sort of see what this could become but as always it is still just out of my reach!
What do I want/need to do next?
I intend to move onto the next exercise. I could happily continue exploring the many other possibilities that this reductive method has to offer, however, I have been caught out too many times, being too thorough at the beginning of a unit and not leaving myself enough time for the later exercises.