Monday, February 6, 2012

Stolen Ideas Project 1 - Dyeing paper and fabric

As I've told you in some of my Wednesday posts I'm starting a 'stolen ideas project' in which I take books from my own stash as inspiration to try new things or work with prompts and things like that. I made a box with the names of all the books I would like to work from sometime and use it as a kind of lottery system to draw a book title.

Well recently it was time to really get this project going and draw my first title. It turned out to be the book Arteffects by Jean Drysdale Green. A wonderful book if you want to know what different kind of materials can do and how they interact with each other. I cannot recommend it enough.

The first chapter of this book deals with inks and how you can use them. An idea that I liked was folding paper, dipping it in ink and so creating different kind of patterns and decorative papers. Only problem: I had no suitable inks available in my studio. The only inks I have are a few little bottles of drawing ink. Dip once and it would all be gone. ;-) So I decided to think up an alternative.

I got out four colors of acrylic paint and put a dab in a bowl with a lot of water and mixed it up so it became really fluid. Those would serve as my inks now.

Now it was time to get some paper and fold it and dip it. Well, I soon found out I didn't have suitable paper either. For this technique to work you either need a fluid that really clings to the paper or a paper that really sucks up the fluid. I didn't have either. I was kind of bummed out about that.

But then I remembered how Traci Bautista uses paper towels in her work and I figured that nothing absorbs fluids better than paper towels, so why not give that a try. And before I knew it the floors of my upstairs rooms were covered with boldly colored paper towels! (I put plastic underneath them of course)

Some I folded like the book instructed and that resulted in very nicely defined patterns and lines. But what I really liked was just crumpling them up and dipping them on different sides. The patterns that emerged then were way more interesting and unexpected. I was also surprised at how bold the colors still remained. I had expected them to become lighter and less bright because of them being diluted so much with water. But just look how bright they are.

After I had my hand on a couple of dozen paper towels (and my floors were filling up) I figured this would be a good time to try doing something I'd wanted to do for a while already, namely dye pieces of fabric. I tried dipping the fabric first like the paper towels, but found the fabric I used didn't absorb very well either. So I got out my paintbrush and just started coloring them that way. I ended up with nine pieces of fabric of approximately 30x30cm (12x12 inches).

You can see how the colors on the fabric turned out a little less bright than on the paper towels. I guess this has to do with the absorption factor. It was interesting to see what you can do. When you wet the fabric with one color you can for instance drop another color on there and it will spread out a little and merge. It gave some really nice effects.

I left the paper and fabric to dry for a few hours and at the end of the day I had pile of these:

The papers are a little wrinkly, but I understand you can iron them. I'm not sure I want to do that however, 'cause I like the rough effect of how they are now. The fabrics, as you can see below, were a lot less wrinkly, probably because I had not crumpled them so much when dyeing them.

So after a three hour session in my studio I now have a small stash of really brightly colored papers and fabrics. I have no idea what I'm going to do with them yet, but I think they would go nice with some machine stitching or collage like endeavours.

I think my first Stolen Ideas Project shows how a little nudge from a book can lead you into a totally different direction. That's exactly what I had in mind for this whole ongoing project. Experimenting and seeing where the materials lead you, not so much literally copying things from a book. I really enjoyed this process and am quite happy with the results. And...I learned something new!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy week!