Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Greetings and so long to 2010

The year is being buffeted away by extremely strong winds this week, making room for the New Year and new opportunities! On January 10, 2011 the fiber pieces currently in the gallery will be removed and new pieces will be installed. The theme is "Hot Tropics - Warmth in winter’s freeze". How appropriate! Our gallery member Betty Ford and guest Diane Smith will share the responsibility of jurying new pieces of fiber into the gallery. Diane has been interested in fibers and textile arts for as long as she can remember but weaving is still her art of choice. Her specialty is designing scarves, shawls and other wearable items with variegated yarns. Betty is a nationally known quilter. You can see her work at http://www.bettyfordquilts.com/home.html

Please stop by the gallery and get warm!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Samples of Silkscreening

Here is an example of silkscreening on silk broadcloth - it's important to keep your fabric or paper (substrate) pinned down firmly onto a printing table or on a frame, so it doesn't move as you lift the silkscreen off and move it to different locations on the fabric.

In the sample above you can see several layers of silkscreening - the very large rectangular images done in a beige-gold color and then smaller rectangular images over them, done with gel medium and silver foil. Using the same shape (rectangle in this case) but combining different sizes or orientation help create depth and interest. This piece is fairly large (60" x 60"). IF you look closely you can also see some very small squares in a dark green-blue.

Hope your holiday shopping list is getting smaller - if your looking for a unique gift, stop by the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery in the Torpedo Factory - we'd love to help you find the perfect gift.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Silkscreening basics

The supplies that you will need to start silkscreening are a silkscreen, a squeegee and paints or dyes -these are the basics and you can certainly bring more equipment to the party once you get familiar with the technique.

The first item is a squeegee - this pushes the paint or thickened dye through the mesh of the screen. It should be a size and weight that fits inside the screen (obviously!) but it also should fit comfortably in your hand as well. Squeegees are labeled by their durometer (70, 100). A durometer is a measurement of the hardness or softness of a material. A higher number means its stiffer (and for a silkscreening artist, harder to push materials through the mesh). I use a durometer 70 squeegee.

You need paints or dyes to push through the mesh onto your substrate. If you use dyes, they need to be thickened with a clear agent such as sodium alginate. This thickens the dyes and allows you to smoothly apply the dyes with the squeegee. Yes, it's messy!

The next item is the silkscreen. It consists of a wooden or aluminum frame with polyester mesh applied tautly to the back of the frame, allowing the artist to squeegy paints or dyes through the mesh. Silkscreens come in all sizes and are not that difficult to make yourself. Many years ago the mesh was made of silk, thus the legacy name.

If you used the screen just as it is to push dyes and paints onto the fabric or paper, you would end up with a large rectangle of color applied to the substrate, similar to the image below.

So artists use some form of resist with their silkscreen. A resist is a temporary or permanent material applied to the back of the silkscreen to prevent the dyes and paints from going onto the substrate which creates a pattern on the substrate. Resists can include masking tape, freezer paper, wax, glue, flour paste, rice paste - anything that will prevent the dyes from transferring to the fabric. The following silk pieces have had paints and or dyes applied by using different silkscreened patterns.

Next time we'll look at using different resists on the back of a silkscreen, such as soy wax, freezer paper and masking tape to make different patterns.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Getting in the Holiday Spirit

Hello and welcome to the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery (PFAG) - my name is Ann Graham and I'll be your host and tour guide for the month of December, 2010. As you may have already sensed from earlier posts, PFAG members exhibit and sell juried items in the gallery, so we hope you'll stop by during the holiday season to find that special, unique gift - for a loved one or for yourself!

I work with silk materials, using silkscreening methods with different methods of resists. My goal is to create multiple layers of color, images and textures on one piece of art to add depth and interest to the silk.

During this month, I'll be explaining what silkscreening is and then demonstrate different resist methods that can be combined with silkscreen techniques. If you have any questions or comments, please submit them and we'll respond as promptly as possible.