My friend Laura asked if she could commission a scarf. She didn't have anything specific in mind, but wanted something that would look good with a dark blue jacket she has. Maybe greens? Teals?
One thing I love best is sitting down and thinking about a project with someone specific in mind. Because then not only do you have to think about color, but also about personality. You know how the person dresses, how they move, the way they think, what makes them laugh. And all those things figure in, you know?
I chose a process that as far as I know is called deconstructed screen printing.
It's unlike regular screen printing in that instead of burning an image onto a screen with photo emulsion, and being able to print the same image over and over, this is a one-shot deal. Because the dye in your screen disintegrates as you go.
Basically, you take textured objects - in this case bubble wrap (with bubbles popped - something I used to love doing but now drives me a little crazy), woven rubber floor mat, and a piece of plastic doily. Which reminds me - it's so hard to find plastic doilies! Who knew, till you look for one?
Anyway, you position those as you like under your screen. And then, using a squeegee, you pull thickened dye across the screen. I typically use black dye for this. And then you peel of the textured object and let the dye dry in your screen.
Once it's dry, you take a different color or colors of thickened dye (in this case I chose turquoise and cool yellow) and pull the dye through the screen. At some point the dry black dye starts to loosen and come out of the screen, so your color gets darker. And in some spots you get the black pattern, which I love.
I really liked how this scarf turned out, but I felt like it just wasn't "done" so I took a screen I had burned with a picture of Geishas and printed it here and there on the scarf. It's a reproduction of a Japanese woodcut taken from a coloring book I bought after seeing a cool exhibit on a Japanese artist whose name escapes me at the Phillips a couple years ago. Anyway, I think you can see them a bit in this detail picture.
Deconstructed screen printing is one of my favorite techniques because you have no real idea how your piece is going to turn out. I mean, you choose where you place the screen on the fabric, and how many times to pull dye through.
But you can't control the rate at which the dye in your screen softens and releases from the screen. You don't exactly know how the colors are going to mix. And you don't know, till you steam it and wash it out, how much of the black stuck or how vibrant the colors will be.
Precise people in the classes usually hate this technique. They need more control over the end result. They tend to prefer regular screen printing over all other techniques.
But for me most of the fun is the surprise of how it turns out. Don't get me wrong - I've made some really unfortunate things and wasted plenty of time and fabric.
But when things turn out well, it's so cool. And completely impossible to replicate.