Design Play: Exercise 5 – Collecting textures – Part 1

Goal: To create a resource of both found and self-created textures for future reference and to stimulate ideas.

I’m planning my next print project which will involve producing prints from textural collagraphs and as I have fairly specific imagery in mind it seems like a good time to explore a variety of textures and see what might work for my theme.

External images:

Pictures labelled left to right.
Row 1: log pile, algae on water pipeline, rust spots on water pipeline
Row 2: rust section on water pipeline, grass tree fronds, tangled dead twigs, garden wall
Row 3: industrial machinery, Virginia King sculpture, Banksia flower head
Row 4: wind eroded rock face, sea over sand, gourd skin
Row 5: fungi on burnt log, water on Bamboo leaf, rotted and disintegrated grass tree, sand

Internal (in my home) images:

Pictures labelled left to right.
Row 1: rattan coasters, citrus peel soap, rubber non-slip mat
Row 2: wood shavings, cut dowel, woven wool, cling-film
Row 3: felted art piece, back of pan scourer, used blister pack, shredded paper
Row 4: worn varnished wood, spiral-bound diary, Nubuck suede, unwashed frying pan
Row 5: woolen sock, cotton buds, string, halogen light, jean pocket

This has produced a range of ideas to explore and my next sample range will be my own created textures.  This might look like a basic exercise to many but it’s a great way to get your brain working and thinking, as well as really turning your eyes on to see what is around you.

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2019 01 14 Image of the week

I’ve spent 18 months working on creative ideas around linear containment (still not sure if it’s out of my system yet, I suspect not) and for various reasons have decided to start 2019 with a totally different approach.

My initial working title is ‘Out There’ and I’m concentrating on everything that is not linear, rigid and precisely shaped (hence the  natural dyed random marks from my course last week instead of  precise plant and leaf transfers).  So outer space, organic matter, volcanoes, storms and such like come to mind.

A 2019 calendar is providing some initial inspiration and this page deserves my image of the week spot.

Steam rising in a geothermal area. Námaskarō, Iceland

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Natural Dyeing with Kirsten Ingemar

5 days natural dyeing at Sturt summer school  was an enjoyable way to start the new year.

The course was interesting although I already knew much of what was taught.  I went for several reasons; I’ve never really had a reliable method of getting a good green dye colour from plant material as they usually turn to browns and greys: I wanted to explore natural dyeing on paper again and I was interested in more linear and random patterns/colours than just transferring plant images/stencils to cloth and paper.

The results were mixed, some people had very vibrant sharp marks/patterns whilst others came out more sludgy and with fuzzy imagery.  I’ve always used silk in previous classes but learned that wool cloth produces stunning results with excellent colour pick-up.  I didn’t have any, so relied on silk noil and cotton.  Different paper types gave enormous variations in outcome.

Above: Eucalyptus bark pot with copper mordant results.  Top – 185gsm and 300gsm Arches watercolour paper.  Bottom – 250gsm Somerset print paper.

Hard to believe the two sets of dyed papers shown above were treated in exactly the same way; both with similar plant material, the same resist between layers to stop dye seepage, both tied tightly between the same tiles and in the pot together and for the same length of time.

Above: Plant impressions on Canson watercolour paper, around 200-250gsm.

Lesson learned:
The type of paper used makes or breaks the results.  The best outcomes were those using Canson watercolour paper.

We worked with around 11 pots of different plant material including various Eucalyptus leaves and bark, American Ash, red cabbage, Bottlebrush, Purple Plum, Wattle, Oak, Maple, Smokebush, Cinerea and Rosemary.  Each pot was boiled, samples of the colours were taken and different mordants were added to see what colours would evolve.

Lesson learned:
Mark jars with the type of mordant to be added (alum, copper sulphate or iron sulphate in our case). 
Once main pot has boiled and colour achieved put a little of the liquid into each jar and add a smidge of mordant, add fabric scraps to jars (we used silk noil) and continue to boil the pot with the jars for another hour. 
Remove the fabric samples and choose which colour you wish to work with.  Add that mordant to the main pot, boil and add fabric or paper to dye.

We brushed egg white onto the underside of plant material before lying it onto fabrics, folding, securing and dyeing.  This increases the protein level and produces a better colour and pattern transfer.

Above: Brushing the underside of leaves with egg white before placing onto fabric.  Cloth impressed with Eucalyptus Cinerea leaves.

Lesson learned:
Never, never do this with plant material that is going onto paper as the egg white turns to glue and leaves cannot be easily removed, thereby ruining the pattern.  Yes, it’s the second time I’ve done it without thinking in advance – what a pain.  Won’t do it again!

Above: Yep, what a mess!

Here are some of my better results, on paper, cotton fabric and silk noil.

Folded and dyed silk noil, overdyed using arashi method on pole.

Top: Dyed BFK Reeves print paper.  Bottom: Dyed silk noil

Both pieces: 300gsm watercolour paper, dyed using torn leaves, pine needles, twigs and bark.

Left: Ferns on cotton fabric with green dyed silk noil (achieved in Rosemary pot).  Right: Silk noil with very thick layers of plant material embossed into the surface.

Large piece of cotton fabric (and close-up sections), folded and secured between wooden blocks.  Patterning achieved by inserting pine needles between layers.

Overall a fun week with a bunch of lovely classmates.  I learned a lot from them and the tutor, so next time I try this I’ll have some new ideas to experiment with.

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2019 01 11 Image of the week

I’m late this week as I’ve been otherwise engaged.

Sorting through my rejected prints, and rescuing paper to be recycled into new sheets for future projects, I came across probably my first ever monoprint depicting a scene.  It might not attract anyone else but to me it demonstrates a freedom of movement and stroke that is rarely evident in my work.

So ‘not me’.  I think I’ll pin it on my wall for a while.

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2019 01 01 Image of the week

Illustrator Jennifer Orkin Lewis brings selfies to a whole new level: She takes photos of herself in a mirror and then makes paintings of them, adding backgrounds such as plants, wallpaper and detailed gardens.

This is just one of her great collection of self images.

See more about Jennifer and her work at:

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Design Play: Exercise 3 – Final design & prints

The goal: To turn solid shapes into line drawings, create variations on the theme and translate these into a workable design to print.

Stage 1 of this exercise started by using photos of Walking Irises in my garden.  I developed and abstracted the flowers and added other components.

Stage 2 I worked on the individual aspects and created a composition, culminating in an etched solar plate ready for printing.

This final stage shows the printed images including the best print, hand-coloured (seeing as I’m enjoying my Inktense pigment pencils so much).

Above left: Black oil based ink + 40% extender on 250gsm Arches 88 paper. Right: Dairylide yellow/ultramarine blue/black mix + 40% extender on 125gsm cartridge proofing paper.

Above: Black oil based ink + 40% extender, magenta mix (from another person using the studio), Inktense pigment pencils, on 250gsm Arches 88 paper.

Great outcome, learned a lot from this exercise and the resulting prints.

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2018 12 24 Image of the week


Claire B

Etched print, oil based inks, on 250gsm BFK Reeves paper, coloured with Inktense pigments.

This is the best of the prints I completed in November, and today I finished it with hand-colouring.  Very happy with this final outcome.

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