Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Experimenting With A Product

     Do you like to run experiments when you discover a product you've never used? I think I originally became a scientist because I love to do experiments. Now that I'm an artist, I find this skill handy and still fun. The product I'm writing about is called Fiber Etch. I found out about it from Jane Dunnewold when I took the Art Cloth Mastery Class and decided it had potential in my artwork so I ordered a bottle of it. Basically, it destroys cellulose-based materials, which means you can use it to selectively dissolve cotton fabric.  My friend, Angie Knowles, sent me a sample of a silk-cotton fabric she had purchased so that I could try Fiber Etch on it.
     Here's what I did and the results:
1.) I applied the Fiber Etch (which is a thick liquid a little thicker than maple syrup) through a thermofax screen onto the fabric.
the fabric wet with fiber etch
the thermofax design I used
2.) I let it dry overnight.
3.) I ironed it to heat-destroy the cotton fibers where the Fiber Etch had made contact.
the brown parts are where the cotton got destroyed

4.) I soaked it in warm water for about 10 minutes and softly rubbed it with my hands.
5.) I hung it to dry
6.) I ironed it flat and brushed it with a scrub brush (but gently) to remove any stray cotton fibers.

this design was not a good choice since it didn't keep the detail... too much cotton got destroyed.
I redid it with 3 other thermofax screens to try for a more suitable design for using with this product
You can see from the results that this particular fabric is made using silk woven in one direction and cotton in the other, so the result from the fiber etched parts is silk fibers running in one direction with no fibers woven with them in the areas that got etched. This works ok for designs with thin lines or thin shapes, but leaves an area too open for designs with bigger shapes.

7.) I put it in a dye bath of  procion MX dyes ( sun yellow mixed with mixing blue 50:50). (I chose this color mixture because I was aware that cotton turns a different green hue in it than silk does).
8.) Batched it for 24 hours, rinsed it, dried it, and ironed it.
the silk fibers dye a more yellow green and the cotton fibers dye a more blue-green. 
You can see the silk fibers running vertically in the etched areas. 

I had previously tried this product with a poly-cotton fabric in which the all the threads are a mix of cotton and poly. The result is more effective with this type of fabric because you end up with woven shapes in the etched areas, but they are thinner since all the cotton gets removed and only polyester remains. 
The remaining polyester threads (in the etched areas) don't accept the dye; only the cotton does.
So you end up with your thermofax-etched areas staying white
The whole cloth dyes lighter than expected since the polyester part doesn't accept the dye.
I have more things I want to try with this product, but this is a good start and I found it interesting to see how the thread structure plays a roll in the results. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' post to let them know you stopped by.  Thanks for visiting.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Do You Keep Up With Technology and Social Media?

     If you have a blog or website or Etsy shop or other, how often do you check behind the scenes? Apparently, for me, not often enough. I just discovered that I had many comments on my blog waiting for me to ok publishing them. I was just browsing through the settings on blogger and accidentally came across them sitting there for months waiting for me to approve them. That was a surprise. A nice one that so many had taken the time to make comments. But, in the past, I used to get email notification that someone had commented and then I'd approve it right away. It seems that those email notifications somehow got shut off. So now I went ahead and approved all of those waiting comments. I apologize and will find out how to get those notifications to me back again. Thank you for reading my blog and making comments. It's so nice to know there are people out there who care. I hope that some day I can meet some of you in person.
      I also forgot to take my Etsy shop off of vacation mode. I put it on vacation while my solo show was going so that I wouldn't have any conflict with sales. It's up and operating again. I have been keeping up with Instagram, though. I find that to be very satisfying. I decided to use it to promote my art as a love of nature since my art is always about nature. So on Instagram, I mostly post short videos or still photos of things I discover when I'm out and about on the bike trail and in my yard. I take a rest stop on the bike trail at the same place each time just a few days apart and in that one spot have discovered amazing things and am surprised by the changes that take place so quickly.
A view of the bike trail with cicadas sounding

I'd love for you to follow me on Instagram #reginabdunn if you want some quiet nature interludes interspersed with some art here and there. In the meantime, I'm linking to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments so that the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Do You Have A Favorite Season?

     Each season has special delights to offer, but is there one that you treasure the most? I'm not sure if I have a favorite, but summers have always been special to me. Perhaps it's because it is the time of vacations. Vacation from school (both when I was a student and when I was a teacher) and vacation with the family away from home. Summer, for me, is a time to flourish; to feed the mind and soul.
     This summer has been no exception to that. I started in May, by getting out into the forest in which I live to remove invasive plants. I don't want to use any poisons so I've been removing them by hand. I go out every other or third day and pull up ferns, coral ardisia plants, and thin out grape vines that are too prolific. While I'm doing that, I discover micro worlds and ecosystems on the forest floor that have a beauty that astounds me. I've found various types of live snails that I didn't know were in my own yard, teeny tiny toads, and listen intently to sounds of birds, insects, and the music of leaves capturing the breezes. One day, my shovel hit something just under the surface of the dirt that was hard and hollow sounding. As I explored, I realized it was rectangular in shape. I even got a little excited hoping I had found a treasure chest. I've lived here over 30 years so it was at least that old because we hadn't buried anything on the property. In the end, it turned out to be roofing material. Probably left from when our house was built. But that's ok. It gave me some moments of fun and adventure.
     In July, I had more adventure when we went on a trip to Cuba for three weeks. We had signed up for a tour. In their literature, they said the group size could be anything from 2-12 people. When my husband and I showed up for the group meeting in Havana, we were the only ones other than the guide. No one else signed up. So we ended up having the tour with our guide in a private taxi! Although, it was very, very hot, we had a great time. I think my gardening in the Florida heat of May and June got me in shape for the trip. The things I liked best about Cuba are the people. They were so friendly and interesting. When we asked someone if we could take their photo, they smiled huge and posed and then carried on fascinating conversations with us. The architecture seems to be trying to reveal stories with every patch of peeling paint and plaster. And the landscapes were stunning from the tropical beaches to the limestone mogotes of Viñales. Since this is basically an art blog, the photos I'll share with you from Cuba relate to that.
Fusterlandia is a place built and designed by artist, José Fuster near Havana.  It is described as Gaudi on steroids.
Fusterlandia, the art of José Fuster

     We had so much fun exploring the house and neighborhood decorated in mosaics. He even honored sewing machines.
at Fursterlandia
At Fursterlandia

     My favorite city was Camaguey. One of the reasons was because the artist, Martha Jiménez , has her studio there. Photography wasn't allowed inside, but the paintings and sculptures there are exquisite. I purchased a small ceramic artwork of hers that is part of her sewing machine series where she honors the work of women. I wish there was a book that had her artwork in it, but I can't find one.
The Longing of My Mother by Martha Jiménez
     Now, well into August, I'm still out in the woods every few days pulling up plants. This is the time for cicadas here and sometimes the sounds from them are deafening, but I really enjoy being out there.
     And, professionally, I've had several things happen this summer. I had an opening reception for my solo show in June and the closing reception is August 24, 6-9PM, at the Blake Elliot Gallery 102 Artisan Alley in DeLand. 386-450-0337. Also, I've had artwork published in the newest book by Jane Dunnewold, Improvisational Screen Printing Second Edition.

A detail of my work in green in the center
My artwork in green in the chapter on stencils

It's a fantastic book full of ways to add imagery to a surface and I'm honored to be included with the other artists in the book.
     I hope to wrap up the summer with a couple of new artworks that are presently on my design wall. And to continue with color studies I'm doing for enrichment.

color studies in paper
     I always dislike seeing summer ending, but also look forward to the idea of autumn being a time to letting go of things that need to go and making room to move forward. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts to let them know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Where Do You Show Your Art?

     There are many choices on how to share your art with the world. When an opportunity presents itself you have to consider several things. Things such as cost to you, number of people who will see it, security, insurance, chances of making a sale, and overall satisfaction with the venue. I've had individual pieces exhibited with SAQA in static shows and traveling shows. I've exhibited individual pieces in some local museums in shows. All have been rewarding to me personally and I've made some sales because of them. But I never had a true body of work that would allow me to have a solo show. Until now.
     After taking and completing the Art Cloth Master Program with Jane Dunnewold, I finally had enough work finished in the same style that I could call a cohesive body of work. Two of the pieces got shipped to Houston for our group exhibit Many Voices from One to be in the International Quilt Festival this autumn. For the remaining pieces, I found a good local venue. It's the Blake Elliot Salon and Gallery in DeLand, Florida. It's only about five miles from my house so I don't have to ship the pieces. During the work week, it's an elegant hair salon with the art hanging on the walls, chandelier from the ceiling, good traffic, and great location in the center of downtown. On reception nights, the salon equipment slides to the back behind partitions and it is a true gallery space. It's located on a street called Artisan Alley which comes alive on Friday nights (when the reception is held). There are vendors selling organic produce, food trucks, music, an amazing gift shop with a bar, an up-scale kitchen goods shop, bats that swarm at sunset, and lots and lots of people sitting, chatting, and partying.

part of the party outside

part of my exhibit inside
     One of the things that crossed my mind was that salon products may get on my artwork or that people may touch and damage some of the pieces. In the end, I decided not to worry about that. Blake has insurance and having my work seen in public is better than storing it in my gallery under the futon. I'm not sure I'm a good fit for a full-time art gallery because I don't want to be a slave to producing works on schedule as most require. I want to create the work when I feel inspired and enjoy creating it rather than make it feel like it is a job. I retired from working full time a few years ago and want to remain job-free. 
     The best thing about the exhibit was being able to see all the work hanging together, which made me feel fantastic. The works will hang until late August and then there will be a closing reception. I walked in during the week, when people were having their hair done and it was so fun seeing my works surrounding them. The customers are really into the art and love going to this salon for that reason. They sit there sipping whiskey or other drink of their choice while getting beautified. I need to go and take some photos of it set up as the salon with my art. I forgot to do that when I was there.

before the opening

before the opening

before the opening

labels Blake had printed

my artist statement posted near the door

     When the show opened, I was so busy mingling and talking to people about the art that I forgot to take photos of the crowd. I didn't remember until almost before closing at 9 PM.
Blake and two of my friends

     It was a great and satisfying evening for me and I'm so glad that I considered using non-conventional venue to have a solo show. 
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find posts from other artists. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, June 22, 2018

What Do You Look For In A Book About Creating Art?

     I love to read books about many different types of things. And art books are no exception. But as I've progressed, I'm more selective about which books I want to purchase about art techniques. They must have good photos, good examples, detailed descriptions, and exercises to do in order for me to want to spend time with them. In December, I got a book with color studies in it by Richard Mehl

  I have learned a lot from color studies in the past, but feel there is always more to learn. I've been too busy until recently to take the time to start studying from it, but this past week I settled down and did the first exercise in it. I took a meticulous approach to it and took my time creating a color wheel that I hope to use as reference in the future. I've done color wheels before; some simple ones and one that was more detailed, but this one shows me some relationships that are more complicated. 
     To get the exact colors, I purchased colored papers in a kit called Color-Aid. It has papers in 314 different hues, tints, and shades. They are labeled on the back with codes that tell how much white, black, etc. are in them. Just taking them and rearranging them in different ways is a good study. Also, using them as reference to mix paints is a good study. Because of the price, I was hesitant to buy the kit, but decided it would be so useful to me in many ways that it was worth it. 

     The first exercise in the book instructed me to make a color wheel with the 12 basic colors using tints, shades, and compliments if possible, and to also include a 14-step gradation of white to gray.  I could use paints or paper. I can't pass up a good challenge so I wanted to include as many tints, shades, and relationships as possible. I tried several designs sketched out on paper and got inspired when I looked at a mosaic fountain from Morocco. I like the eight-pointed star and the shapes that can be formed when combining the stars in patterns. It took a while to cut out the pieces and glue them together, trying to get everything matched up. All the shapes didn't match up exactly in the end (which is why I gave up piecing fabric long ago), but I'm pleased with the result. 

     I'm looking forward to exercise 2 about contrasts of dark and light. I'm linking this up to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Can Art Be Hung In A Window?

     Have you ever hung any of your art in a window? Usually I wouldn't because I'd be afraid the sunlight would cause the colors to fade. But I have a sliding glass door that I want to mark so that people don't walk into it thinking it is open. (I did that once and almost lost a tooth because I hit it so hard.) I could hang a small piece of metal art or plastic or some other solid one of those clear suction cup hangers. Instead, I decided to try a different sort of fabric art that I'm hoping won't fade.
     I monoprinted regular copy paper with colors of my Prochemical fabric paints. I could have used any type of paint, but I have a nice supply of that in a variety of colors and love it. I allowed the papers to dry. Next, I got a piece of sheer polyester fabric prepared by screening on Color Magnet and dyeing the fabric in dilute black procion mx dye. The dye washed out of the fabric everywhere except where I had screened on the Color Magnet.
     Then I used a technique described in a book by Jane Dunnewold and Claire Benn on  paper and metal leaf lamination to attach the colored papers to the prepared polyester. To get the design, I used a thermofax screen of vines that I had made from my photos to screen on the gel medium to the sheer fabric. After that was done, I applied gold leaf also with a thermofax I had made from one of my photos. Then I did some hand stitching to laminated vines. To complete the artwork, I sewed the laminated polyester fabric to a commercial sheer polyester fabric that had a scroll design embroidered onto it so that when hung in the window, the scrollwork will be visible through the laminated polyester.
Close-up showing the "paper" vines, stitching and gold leaf.
NOTE: you can see some of the scroll work on the under sheer through the top sheer
I put the word paper in quotes above, because the paper is actually gone. It gets washed away in the process, leaving only the paint. But a different look than if the paint was applied directly to the fabric instead of in the lamination process.
Close-up of it hanging in the window

     To hang it, I sewed the top over a painted dowel, attached some wire to the top and sides of the dowel to make the dowel look a little nicer, and hung it from a clear, suction cup hanger stuck to the window. I purposely cut the fabrics beforehand so that the polyester underneath with scroll work would be longer and hang out the bottom.

On the window just after sunset
     I love how it looks in the window. It's size is about 12 x 8 so it still leaves lots of clear window to see outside. And it's character changes as the light changes during the daytime and in the evening which makes it an interesting piece. How long the colors last in the exposure to sun remains to be seen, but since they are applied with gel medium, I expect them to last awhile.
     And I have news... I'm having a solo show of my work this summer in a local gallery. The gallery is an interesting one. The front section is the art gallery while the rooms in the back house a salon. And it is located in an alley of the main street. The alley has a great gift shop, up-scale kitchen shop, and comes alive on Friday nights with food trucks, music, organic farmer's market, and even bat houses from which the bats swarm at sunset. It's called The Blake Elliot Gallery The opening reception will be Friday, June 22, 6 PM - 9PM. If you are in the area, try to come. It should be fun.

Promo for the exhibit
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other fabric related artworks. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Do You Have A Favorite Product To Use In Making Art?

     Do you have a product that you use often in making your art and that amazes you? I have several products I love to use. Procion MX dyes, fabric paints, colorless extender, thermofax screens, and others. But I just discovered a product that has been around awhile but I never tried called Color Magnet by Jacquard. It is advertised as a dye attractant that magically attracts more dye where it is applied. I was intrigued with possibilities for its use. So I bought some and set up an experiment.
     I took swatches of white cotton broadcloth that I had scoured. And I applied the Color Magnet paste to the fabric through a thermofax screen. I let it dry overnight. Then the next day, I put each swatch in its own ziploc baggie. I mixed up a solution of ProChemical's Procion MX dye called Celery. I chose that color because when I had used it before on folded fabrics, the colors that are in it split to create a multi-colored cloth. And I wanted to use a dye mixture that I knew could split easily to see if it would split using Color Magnet. I made up several dilutions of my stock Celery dye in water with soda ash. I poured each concentration in a baggie with the swatches and let them batch 24 hours.
     The following day, I washed them out and loved the results. And the Celery dye did indeed split a little in the places where the Color Magnet was on the cloth.
Sample A on top is the most concentrated
Sample B is a dilution of the dye in A
There's B again on top
Sample C is a dilution of the dye in B
There's C again
Sample D is a dilution of C
note that it is more brown
     I was also curious to see if Color Magnet would work on previously dyed cloth. So I took a swatch of the broadcloth that I had previously dyed in the color Marine, which is a not so intense blue-green. I screened on the Color Magnet, let it dry overnight and the next day put it into the same dye dilution as Sample C.
the cloth shows it has been overdyed
and the leaf is the same tone of Celery that Sample C has
And while I was doing these experiments, I got another idea. Would Color Magnet allow polyester fabric to take the dye? Normally, the Procion MX dyes wash right out of polyester. So I took a swatch of white sheer polyester and screened on Color Magnet, dried it overnight, and also dyed it in Solution C.
The next day, the whole cloth looked like it had taken the dye. But, of course, when I washed it out, the dye washed out of the polyester...EXCEPT for where the leaf had been screen on with Color Magnet. The dye stuck! And it didn't change the hand of the fabric at all. 

     So now I have all sorts of ideas to add imagery to my fabrics without changing the hand of it. The downside is that when you dye it, it also changes the background color. But it will definitely have a prominent place in my future works. I'm running more experiments now with different ways of screening Color Magnet on, diluting it, extra applications of it, etc.

     Also, I want to announce that I have a new Website I built with WordPress. I had never done any kind of tech work like that before. The first two days, I couldn't figure anything out and couldn't get text or images onto it. Then, I hired a service called WordPress Live for $150. For that price, you get unlimited phone calls for 1 month and they screen share with you and teach you how to use WordPress. Their goal is for you to end up with a cool website that will attain the goals you want and that you can maintain on your own. Each phone call is limited to 25 minutes, but you can call right back if you want as many times as you want. They limit it so that you will be encouraged to work on your own. It only took a few calls to get me to understand how to use WordPress. It's a very impressive service and I'm not getting any compensation from them to tell you this. I just want you to know about it in case you want to build a website, too.
     I also started an Instagram account where I want to share photos of nature and also to help promote my art. All this from a person, who, back in the day said "Email? I'll never use email. Internet? What a crazy idea. Not for me." Now I try to keep up with it all. I've read tech learning is a good exercise for the brain and helps prevent dementia. Hope it's true.  I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other fabric art blogs. Please make comments on the artists' posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.