Sunday, October 7, 2012


I saw it in my mind's eye: white flowers with rust centers, green shapes, a rust squiggle running through it all and a violet background.  I stenciled on the flowers with some of my remaining Presist (a water-based resist), using Procion MX Fiber Reactive dye mixed with print paste on the centers.  Then for the green shapes I finally utilized some of the silk screens Mr C kindly made for me a couple of years ago.  So easy!   I cut the shapes out of freezer paper, used a bit of masking tape to adhere the stencils to the silkscreen, then printed them using dye thickened with print paste.  Simple Screenprinting by Annie Stromquist, a Lark Book, is an excellent, user-friendly reference. There were three different shapes which I printed first in a darker green, then mixed with more print paste to give what I hoped would be an echoing color.  On top of that I drew the rust squiggle with dye mixed with print paste in a fine wire-tipped squeeze bottle, which, unfortunately, kept snagging on the knit.  So I went over it with the same dye mixture in a tjanting (used for applying wax for batik)  which worked a bit better but wasn't stellar on close inspection.

I let each step dry for a day before proceeding to the next step.  Finally I was ready for the violet.  My biggest question was if the green shapes – dye mixed with print paste – would resist the violet dye. I brushed on a fairly dark shade of violet mixed with print paste and let it cure for a day.

Then, with bated breath, I washed it all out.  And washed and washed and washed, every bucket full of blue dye.  Oh no!  So instead of the leafy green and blue violet I had envisaged, I had a yellow green clashing unpleasantly with a mauve background.  The rust centers of the flowers disappeared, and somehow the rust squiggle, which is barely visable, turned about the same green as the shapes.

So here is what I've learned.  No 1 is that the particular blue dye I used, which I have had for much longer than recommended, must have lost some of its potency, although I did use it on the previous fish-stenciled top with no problems.  Secondly, the dye mixed with print paste did work as a resist, however the second printing of the shapes which was supposed to be much lighter was almost the same color as the first.  As to the color change and near disappearance of the squiggle and the flower centers, I have no idea.  I'm trying the whole thing again.  I know it's supposed to be about enjoying the process as much as the product, but I can't help but be a bit disappointed when the product falls short of what I envisaged. However, this particular product will not be abandoned and perhaps the process of salvaging it will prove more interesting than my original idea.  So stay tuned!

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