Monday, September 15, 2014

Japonesque top

After more than a year hiatus I finally got back to doing some dyeing and surface design.  I tell myself that doing all the things I would like to do is simply a matter of tossing another ball into the air and keeping them all going at a steady clip.  The reality is that the juggling metaphor is somewhat delusional thinking because time is indeed finite.  The time spent doing one thing is inevitably time taken away from another activity.  Especially, in my case, where doing things fast also seems to be an impossibility. 

I did, however, have some help with the stencils I used here.  The circular designs are from Dover Pictura 922 Decorative Vector Ornaments; the cord and tassels are from Japanese Patterns from the Pepin Press.  They would have taken ages to cut by hand with an Exacto knife, but instead I used my new Silhouette Cameo which cut them out in a matter of (very noisy) minutes.  What a fabulous machine!  And stencil cutting is only one of its many uses; I discovered a vast Silhouette Cameo world on You Tube and Pinterest alone.  (I'll also
                                                mention that I bought mine online from B&H: excellent price and service.)

Once I had the stencils ready to go, I printed out the designs on paper and cut them out to decide on placement on the top. Because my Procion MX Fiber Reactive dye powders are well past their supposed effective dates, I did some testing on scrap cloth, both to check their potency and to try out color combinations. (My fabric is cotton jersey from Dharma Trading Company.) Then I stenciled the circular designs and the cord and tassels using dye concentrates mixed with print paste.  That looked too sparse, so I added the three stylized flowers from my collection of old stencils.  After those had dried overnight, I randomly stenciled the squiggles with Jacquard Clear Water Based Resist, using a quilting stencil, allowing that to dry overnight again.  Finally I used a wide soft brush and a foam roller to apply the background color which I wanted to be mottled.  I thought that would be the final step, but after washing out the top, I decided it needed a bit more.  Using the dark purple dye in a squeeze bottle with very fine metal tip, I drew fine lines inside many of the white squiggles with red dots in between.  Over that, sprinkles stenciled in Soft Gold Jacquard Lumière paint. (I frequently wonder how someone else achieved a particular result, so I just ran through the steps here.)

I'm so pleased with the result, and I can't wait to begin on another.  This is one ball that I definitely intend to keep flying through the air!