Thursday, June 30, 2016

We Have a WINNER!

We have a winner for the Fat Quarter fabric pack! 

Denny1600 June 26, 2016 at 8:06 PM
This is great information! Inspiration, too!

Thank you to everyone who was kind enough to follow the Plein Air Series. I hope you all get outside, embrace being messy and create some cool stuff. 

Please feel free to contact with me for questions or to share your photos - just hop over to my blog to stay connected! I just posted a blog titled, One Color Palette + Paint Brushes, Plastic Balls, Ice Cubes & Bleach = A variety of Results! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Working in Plein Air ~ Thickened Dye + Last Chance to Win Fun Fabric!

Carol R. Eaton here for the final post in the Plien Air Series! I hope this series encouraged those who have never worked outdoors to get outside for some inspiration and fun! Remember to take another peek at the full series of posts to learn more about the awesome artists who shared their outdoor space with us! Now let's get messy printing leaves from thickened dye! 

I love using thickened dye and each time I incorporate the technique into a surface design project I learn something new. Working in plein air allows me to grab foliage from the side yard and the freedom to try out different plants. TIP: I've learned over time to grab the leaves with a more distinctive texture on the underside. My goal is to print a pattern - however - if you like a more solid design you can use leaves that are smooth on the underside. Try them both to see what appeals to you!
There are recipes out there to walk you through the steps to mixing your own print paste but being an instant gratification gal I purchase a mix from Pro Chemical & Dye! I mix the paste with water to reach the consistency of molasses and store in the container on the right. Combining a one to one ratio of soda ash/salt/baking soda I store in the container on the left. Both the wet paste and dry mixtures will store for a very long time. When I'm ready to dye I mix about a cup of the paste/water mixture and a teaspoon of the soda ash/salt/baking soda combination into a cup. I add a teaspoon of dye powder and slowly add water stirring the whole time.  You want to reach the molasses consistency again for this project.
You must wear a mask when working with dye powder!

Grab some leaves - in this case I'm using grape leaves.

We will be working on the underside of the leaf. Using a sponge brush cover the surface as best as you can. The leaves can be delicate so paint softly! 

Lay the leaf on the fabric!

I use a scrap of cloth to cover the leaf and roll a brayer over it. The consistent pressure ensures all the dye is transferred to the fabric and the cloth keeps the brayer clean for repeated use.

Remove the fabric...

Remove the leaf to reveal the print! I find the leaves are good for about 4 prints each before they get super thin and hard to work with. 
Here is another example of printed leaves. I gathered these leaves from the yard but I don't know what the name of this plant is. 

Look at the lovely details left by the textured underside of the leaf! Once the dye has cured for at least 5 hours you can wash and dry like any other dyed fabric. You can stop the design right here or keep going.

I decided the grape leaves were too plain. Once I washed and pressed the fabric I went back outside. Pinning my fabric to the table I randomly applied 3 different greens paints across the surface. I added a few swirls of Raw Sienna paint for interest and lastly I dropped gold metallic paint over the fabric - gotta have a little bling!
The fabric paint was SetaColor.

I'm happy to keep the plein air conversation going on my own blog. I love when you share photos of your creations with me allowing us to chat about the hits and the misses when creating art! Click here to hop over! 

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a pack of awesome fat quarters! 
The winner will be announced on the 30th so hurry up and comment! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Working in Plein Air - Finding Creative Inspiration - Fabric Painting, Dyeing and Discharging Fabrics from a Clothesline!

Carol R. Eaton here for Post #4! We all have a ritual for finding balance between work and play. Artists need time to sort through the creative ideas rolling around in our heads! For me finding a quiet outdoor nook is the answer - do you have a favorite outside ritual that helps you tap into your creativity? 

     I asked fellow artist Lorie Hancock McCown where she finds her inspiration. Lorie's art is primarily focused on hand stitching and storytelling. The layers of meaning and content stitched together form a story. She explores family dynamics, connections and text. When working in plien air Lorie feels a sense of urgency and it helps her be in the moment of creation. Lorie works with household textile castoffs, paint, gouache (which is opaque water colors), yarn, and thread.          

     She describes her outdoor creative space as anywhere her easel is or if she is dyeing or working small Lorie is out on her deck. She typically has her camera and sketch book nearby. Lorie believes the cross pollination between her painting and textile work is better when she has some sort of documentation to recall. 

Similar to other plien air artists Lorie doesn't have a large designated outdoor creative space. As I was snuggled up in my outdoor nook I was curious about how tiny a space was needed to have a productive surface design session. I decided If an artist has room to hang a length of fabric they can re-imagine fabric painting, dyeing and even discharging fabrics! The 3 mediums I chose were bleach, procion dyes and Setacolor fabric paints. 

The first order of bushiness is to find a place to hang a clothesline. The discharge technique is designed to remove color from the fabric. We'll use a solution of 50% bleach and 50% water - so be prepared to get messy! Pour the solution into any bottle with a tip that allows you to drip or squeeze the solution onto the fabric. Hang the fabric and begin to drip the solution from top to bottom.

It's up to you to decide how much or how little solution is dripped - what appeals to you?
You can rotate the fabric during the process to come up with different designs! The bleaching process needs to be stopped once you are satisfied with the design otherwise the fabric could degrade over time. I use a product called, Anti-Clor. The fabric is dropped into a mixture of anti-clor and warm water for 15 minutes and then tossed into the washing machine.
The next challenge is to drip dye onto the fabric! Mix procion dye as you would for any low immersion project, (always wear a mask when mixing dyes). Pour the dye into the bottles, hang the damp fabric and get busy dripping. Use any color combination that excites you.  
The colors will mix and blend freely creating delightful surprises. If you place another piece of fabric under the hanging fabric it will catch the excess dye and give you a bonus piece!
The final technique I tried was pouring fabric paint into the bottles. I began by splattering some paint onto the fabric surface while it was laying flat. My thought was to have some paint on the fabric to get the process started more quickly once it was hung. I also thinned the paint with water to encourage it to run fast and free down the fabric. 
The fabric was dry when I started. Next time I would use damp fabric so the paint would move more quickly. I ended up folding the fabric in half and rubbing the two halves together to ensure the whole piece got it's fair share of paint.

The challenge was fun and with each new technique you try your skills grow! I like the idea of using a bottle to alter the surface of the fabric. I'm going to take the concept as a jumping off point. My next adventure will be to keep the fabric on a flat surface and repeat the steps. I'd like to use the same mediums and squirt it onto the fabric haphazardly to see what a "Jackson Pollack" style creates! 

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a pack of fat quarters for each technique discussed in June, (Ice Cube Painting, Cyanotype & Heliographic Printing, & Rusting Fabric!). The winner will be announced June 30th! 

Only one more post before the Working in Plein Air Series is over and The Printed Fabric Bee moves onto our next member's inspirations and techniques for the month of July!

I'd like to thank Lorie Hancock McCown for sharing her thoughts and creative inspiration with us! July 7th Lorie will be part of a SAQA webinar panel speaking about working in a series. Click for more information:
To learn more about Lorie's art please click here:


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Surface Design in Plein Air ~ Rusting Fabric with Maggie Vanderweit!

Carol R. Eaton here for post #3 of the Plein Air Series! I'm excited to share a tutorial on rusting fabric! Maggie Vanderweit is our guest artist who was kind enough to allow us a peek into her outdoor space and share her approach! 
You will never look at old rusting objects in quite the same way again! 
Maggie lives in southern Ontario, Canada so her ability to work outside is limited to May through October. Her studio is in a walk-out basement with access to her garden and a covered stone patio. Maggie says when she started with surface design 5 years ago being outside was much safer and more comfortable allowing her to work freely and make a mess! When Maggie works outdoors she is surrounded by the sounds of birds and the smells and sights of the garden. Everyone's outdoor space will be unique; the goal is to bring your supplies outside into an area that inspires you and allows you the freedom to fully engage your creativity. Maggie created an inspiring space while living in a typical town neighborhood so don't feel like you can't work outside if you don't have access to a large space; it just needs to feel good to you. 
Maggie says when rusting fabric or eco dyeing the heat, steam, fumes, and dripping fabric on the drying racks are much easier to manage outside! She has direct access to a hose for rinsing the fabric and filling her pots. For her eco dyeing projects she keeps oven mitts, tongs and sticks on hand to poke, stir and transport the hot wet cloth. Maggie uses a pea gravel section of her space to soak, rinse and dry things flat because it drains easily. She also has access to a long covered deck with concrete tables so she doesn’t worry about the heat of the hotplates or the vinegar/dye stains damaging anything.
When in full "dyeing mode" Maggie will stay outside everyday for hours at a time. 
To get started find some interesting rusted objects. When I began to look for items I was surprised to find many objects are made to prevent them from rusting - but keep searching and you will find some treasures!
You will also need need fabric, salt, a solution of 1-part white vinegar and 1-part water.  
 Soak the fabric in the white vinegar/water solution.
Wrap the rusted objects in fabric and cover with plastic for a minimum of 24 hours. 

TIP: Maggie will sometimes incorporate botanical materials and powdered dyes in her work. These eco dyeing projects require boiling for long periods of time - all done in her outdoor space! 

The rusting oxidation process must be stopped or it will destabilize the fabric.
Unwrap the objects and place the fabric in a solution of 4 gallons warm water and 1/2 cup of salt. 
Soak for 15 minutes.
Squeeze out excess water and rinse until all the salt is gone - hang to dry.

Have fun with your rusted fabric designs!
Work with the natural design elements to see what they will become.
Try Maggie's tip of eco printing in your outdoor space. There are many blogs to learn more about this process.  
Maggie feels each piece of cloth is unique and says the results are unpredictable. Maggie equates unwrapping each bundle to opening a Christmas gift! Her mantra is to create a space where you feel able to spread out and play with abandon! I agree... I'd love to see photos of your outside space... a condo deck... a picnic table in a side yard - what makes you happy? 

Rusting is a lot of fun... please share your results on the blog! If you have any questions feel free to start a dialogue and we can all get in on the conversation. 

Don’t forget to comment on the blog for a chance to win a pack of fat quarters using all the techniques we’ll discuss over the month of June = swoon! 
The winner will be announced June 30th

All photos on the blog were provided by Maggie.

Maggie is a contemporaneity textile artist, author and travel photographer. She recently published, Stone Threads available from her website at the end of this month. 

To follow Maggie go to: 

Next week mixed media artist Lori Hancock McCown will join the conversation sharing work inspired by working outdoors!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Surface Design in Plein Air ~ Cyanotype and Heliographic Printing with Guest Artist Sue Reno

Carol R. Eaton here again for post #2 of the Plein Air Series! In the first post we talked about setting up a permanent outdoor creative space and a tutorial on ice cube painting. This week I invited guest fiber artist, Sue Reno, to talk about her approach to working outside. Next week my guest will be Maggie Vanderweit Meredith and the following week Lorie Hancock McCown

For Sue working outdoors began as an extension of an interest in and observation of her surrounding environment. Sue says this approach forms the basis of her creative process. She spends as much time as possible outside, hiking and gardening, and that spills over into other aspects of her life. Sue feels making artwork or the components for artwork outdoors now seems as natural as planting flowers or picking vegetables for dinner!

Sue Reno getting up close and personal with some spring crocus. I'm sure the color, texture and shapes will find their way into a design! 

Sue: My main processes for getting imagery onto fabric are directly tied to working outdoors. I make cyanotype prints from natural objects like leaves and flowers that I either forage for or harvest in my yard. I gather the objects, bring them indoors to arrange on treated fabric in the dimly lit studio, and then go back outside for timed exposures in the sunlight. The process is literally dependent on ultraviolet rays and would be difficult to replicate indoors. 

Sue is also known for her heliographic printing. Cyanotype... Heliographic... those are unusual terms so let's start by identify these techniques!
 Cyanotype: a photographic process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses 2 chemicals: ammonium iron (III) citrate and potassium ferricyanide.
Sue's design is a perfect image transferred directly onto fabric!
Heliographic: is a word derived from Greek and Graphein. The Heliograph is a type of "sunshine recorder" and Heliography is the photographic process used to make the earliest known permanent photograph from nature.
Sue lays foliage onto painted fabric and exposes to the sunlight. Over time the flora imagine will be seen on the fabric. 
Sue: I make cyanotype prints of animal skulls for works in my Flora and Fauna series. This began in response to a possum skull found while hiking and has grown from there. With the skulls I take macro photos that I turn into transparencies, which I use to make blueprints as described above.

Carol's Cyanotype Notes: Jacquard offers a starter set for cyanotype printing. The chemistry comes premeasured in lightproof black bottles. Fill each bottle with water to create solutions A & B and mix the two to create the cyanotype sensitizer. Coat fabric or paper with the sensitizer and allow to dry. As Sue mentioned above the next step is exposing the fabric to sunlight or UV (3-15 minutes, depending on conditions), using objects or a film negative to create an image. After exposure, prints are processed in a tray of cool water and allowed to air dry over about 24 hours; prints will oxidize to their final deep blue color. To instantly oxidize the print to its final color, submerge in a dilute bath of hydrogen peroxide after washing, then rinse and dry.

Sue: I also make heliographic prints, aka sunprints, using plants. I paint fabric, apply leaves as a mask, and put the composition out in the sun to dry. As the paint dries, it wicks out from under the mask and leaves an outline. It’s a physical process, unlike the chemical reaction of a cyanotype, and the possibilities seem endless. 

Sue: With both cyanotype and heliographic printing, I feel I am capturing a unique moment in the life cycle of my subject. The variables introduced by printing outdoors, at the gentle mercies of the environment, give the prints substance and meaning. I improve with practice but will never fully master control over those variables, and that keeps the process interesting and sustainable.

Carol: In the previous post I discussed creating a permanent outdoor space but I know not everyone wants this option. With all the fabulous artwork Sue creates she is not bound to a designated outdoor space. It doesn't matter if you have access to large outdoor spaces or a small balcony; you too can work outside! Sue's studio is located in the daylight basement of her home, allowing easy access to the outdoors. Living in a 4-season climate most of her printmaking is done in the summer months, however deadlines have driven Sue to working in wintry conditions on occasion! Her setup is impromptu and informal. She has a picnic table as her main work surface, and a hose available for cleanup. Sue follows the sun around the yard and uses the driveway and decks as print-drying locales. Sue has also used her wrought iron patio furniture as a drying platform when painting yardage to compliment her prints - secret - if you look closely you may spot some diamond designs on the fabric from the chairs!

More ideas for Heliographic (sun) printing from CAROL R. EATON! 
TIP: Once you place your object on the wet fabric apply a little more paint around the edges. This creates a more precious outline as the paint dries. 
Try all kinds of masks in your sun printing
Go Wild! 
Any object is fair game! 
Rethink your solid colored hand dyes. Use sun printing to create a new look 
with layers of fabric paint
Be Fearless!  

Nature is never perfect so don't leave out the fun foliage that's been tasted, torn or otherwise lived on when selecting flora for printing! 

Giant Ferns - sometimes it's just fun to go for the biggest foliage you can find. These ferns are about 30" tall! 
I hope you give Cyanotype and Heliographic Printing a try! Please share your results on the blog! If you have any questions, please feel free to start a dialogue and we can all get in in the conversation… and don’t forget to comment on the blog for a chance to win a pack of fat quarters using all the techniques we’ll discuss over the month of June! The winner will be announced June 30th

Next week our guest fiber artist is Maggie Vanderweit Meredith  who will share her rusting techniques!  

Setcolor fabric Paint - Dharma Trading Co

Jacquard Cyanotype Starter Set - Dharma Trading Co

SUE RENO: I am primarily a studio art quilter.  I make art in response to the natural environment and historic architecture in Lancaster County, PA. I use a variety of surface design techniques to put imagery onto the fabric, such as heliographic and cyanotype printing. I also work with screen printing, collagraphy, and digital printing from my own photography. Lately I have added felting and fabric manipulation to my repertoire.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Surface Design in Plein Air ~ Creating an Outdoor Work Space + Ice Cube PAINTING!

Hi – Carol R. Eaton here for the month of June! This is a fabulous month in New England with light baby rains alternating with full sunshine. Memorial Day signals me that it's time to get my outdoor studio space cleaned up and ready for a summer filled with surface design in plein air. How many of you work outside? I posed the question to some artist friends and found that many people take their work outside = love! I’ll spend this month providing tips on setting up your own outdoor creative space and I’ll also share techniques that work best outside. I’ve enlisted the help of fellow artists, Sue Reno, MaggieVanderweit Meredith and Lorie Hancock McCown – check back each week as they share their approach to working outside and the art they produce there. I’ll set a fat quarter aside each week and on June 30th a lucky reader will win the fabric! All you need to do is comment on the blog and you're entered into the drawing. 

Over time my outdoor space has evolved into a permanent area in the yard. Due to a losing battle with the deer I dug up a good sized garden. I covered the ground with landscaping fabric to keep the weeds down

My dear sweet hubby and Dad built oversize wooden sawhorses to use as table bases. I’m on the tall side so I had the saw horses built to accommodate my height saving my back from an ache. You can customize yours in the same way – it’s your creative space so make it perfect just for you! The table tops are insulation board wrapped in clear plastic. They are quite long so hopefully you have a friend with a truck or van who can help you bring the boards home! I chose the boards for their light weight making them very easy to maneuver. I have 4 boards I rotate; when I’ve filled up one board with wet fabric I can easily lift it off the table and set it on the driveway for curing. I lay the next board on the table top to keep the creations flowing! Each Memorial Day I tape a fresh clean layer of plastic over the boards to start the new season off. 

The boards will last many years unless you bend them causing a big crease or drive over them (yes – I’ve done this!).  In my defense the tire imprint makes an interesting design element!

Now that your space is set up let’s have some fun! Have you ever tried ice cube painting? This is perfect for a nice sunny day. You really just need a flat surface and a place to leave your fabric undisturbed for a while. If creating a large table is simply not an option you can scale it back to covering foam board with contact paper or plastic. You can get these items in a department store or office supply company.
Today I’ll use fabric previously dyed a robin’s egg blue. I have pins to keep the fabric from catching a breeze (HINT: even if there is no wind pin the fabric. There can be a sneaky little breeze that will flip your fabric over just at the wrong time!). The pins stick easily into the insulation board and won’t leave a hole big enough to cause any problems with the plastic. I use SetaColor transparent fabric paint diluted with water. Here I have 2 containers of blues, a paint brush, a pail of water for rinsing the brush and a spray bottle to mist the fabric.
Misting the fabric surface before painting allows the paint to immediately start spreading and meandering across the surface as soon as you start painting. Ready, Set, Go – slather on the paint. There is no reason to be neat… you’re outside so go wild! 
Once the fabric surface is covered scrunch it slightly. Drop ice cubes randomly across the surface. If you have coarse salt sprinkle that too for a fun effect.

I'm told that I never stop talking when I’m excited about a project! OK - it's true! 

Place the fabric somewhere it can be undisturbed until the ice is completely melted (like a hot driveway). I leave the fabric on the board for 24 hours to allow the paint to cure. The final step is to press with a warm dry iron. This step sets the paint so don’t forget to do it. Painted fabric can be washed delicately but the preferred method would be to spot clean as needed. Paint sits on the surface of the fabric so it can lose its brilliance if treated too harshly. With that being said I made a painted silk bandana for hiking that I washed all the time and it was fine but you should experiment and decide for yourself.

Here are some results using the ice cube painting technique. Give it a try and share your results on the blog! If you have any questions, please feel free to start a dialogue and we can all get in in the conversation… and don’t forget to comment on the blog for a chance to win a pack of fat quarters using all the techniques we’ll discuss over the month of June! The winner will be announced June 30th

Next week Sue Reno will be my guest sharing her approach to plein air surface design. Sue says her main processes for getting imagery onto fabric is directly tied to working outdoors. She makes cyanotype prints from natural objects like leaves and flowers that she either forages for or harvests in her yard. She is literally dependent on ultraviolet rays to create her designs… stay tuned for more detail!