24 April 2012

Artist's Block

I'm on vacation. I have big plans. I'm burning with eagerness to try everything I ever wanted to try. I should have all the time in the world. So what's happening? - Nothing! I've been suffering from the most awful artist's block. Since my last blog entry a week ago I've managed to finish a sock, cut out the muslin pieces for a wrap-around top (no sewing, though), dye two gradations (one which is still batching), try out a fun technique with paintstiks (which I will come back to when I've found a paintstik which isn't past its 'best before' date), and created a sad little square of surface designed fabric. Yes, I know I sound a bit despondent. I feel a bit despondent. I guess I was more in need of a vacation than I realised, and my body just put the foot down and refused to turn on the creative juices. So I just have to take baby steps. It's frustrating, but not the end of the world.

This is the first gradation I've dyed so far. A warmer colour scheme than the last one, with golden yellow, bright scarlet and medium blue (Jacquard Procion MX dye). Click the tags Gradations, Dyecation, Procion MX and Frieda Anderson for more information about gradations. A lighter gradation (gradation 2, i.e.) is ready to be rinsed out, so I'll show you that one in my next blog post. What I like about working with these gradations is that it makes me mix colours that I know I would never have mixed if I had just been doing it on my own. And to my surprise I've realised that those colours that I thought I considered "ugly" are really very useful and not ugly at all. Bright or muddy, light or dark, they all have and deserve a place in the fabric stash!

First gradation, medium value (they look a bit lighter in this photo)

I mentioned a 'sad little square of surface designed fabric'. Well, to be fair, it's really not that sad, but I was a bit disappointed with it, as it didn't turn out the way I expected. I'll walk you through the process. And if you want more details and inspiration check out Melanie Testa's great article Cut from your imagination. Resist-printing fabric with paper 'snowflakes' in issue 21 of Quilting Arts Magazine.

First I printed a hand dyed piece of fabric with bubble wrap and discharge paste:

Then I applied a Magic paper (freezer paper) 'snowflake' resist:

Here's the result after applying fabric paint (dark green, metallic green and gold):

You can see the problem, right? What I should have realised when I was applying the paint is that I was working with the background. I think I would have got away with it if I'd stopped after the metallic green paint, but I felt like adding a bit of glitz, and that was too much. The gold paint jumps forward and since it's similar in value to the the resisted leaves, it obscures the resisted pattern.

I spent some time mulling over the problem and going through different ways to solve it and save the fabric, and this is what I ended up doing: I grabbed a green Multimark pen and drew in the contours of the resisted motifs.

I'm not wild about it, but it's better, it works, and it taught me a valuable lesson about contrast. Something I'm wild about, however, is the snowflake:

If I don't use it as resist in another piece, I'll glue this one into my sketchbook. I love the metallic sheen on the paper.

Thanks for following my adventures in surface design. There's more to come soon. Flour-resist. That's all I'm saying. ;-)

Have a great week! - Annika


  1. I am so sorry the creative muse has taken a vacation, but I am happy that you have been able to get some creating done. Your gradations are beautiful and I too, like the snowflake. The surface design cloth is beautiful. Sometimes you need a "quiet" fabric and this would be beautiful for that. Hoping that you wake with the creative muse ready to play.

  2. Jee, vad fint! Din snöflinga kunde användas i mitt kortmakeri, så om du blir trött på den så ärver jag den gärna :)