One full day of my stay at the Festival of Quilts was taken up with a Masterclass run by the textile artist Dionne Swift. The workshop was titled Developing Sketchbooks and we were assured that by the end of the day we would have a sketchbook full of design ideas to carry forward. I have never been very good about maintaining a sketchbook and some of the beautifully attractive ones that we see around the internet make me feel I shouldn't start because I could never keep up something so beautiful.
Dionne was true to her word and de-mystified the whole process to the point that I can't wait to make more at home. I've started on a new one to take on our next holiday to St Ives with us and aim to fill it with the marks I see around St Ives while we're there. My head is full of ideas for more books that I can return to again and again for inspiration.
It would be wrong of me to go through Dionne's process but I will share the book I came away with and a collage of some of its pages.
As you can see the book is already bursing at the seams!
These are just a few of the pages within the book. You may be able to guess that we were eventually encouraged to use 'circles' as our theme. I even worked in the book during the evening in my hotel room. The insert from my ice cream tub was soon wrapped in scraps of fabric and glued to one of the pages. These are small steps into keeping sketchbooks but I do feel this is one version that I will come back to. I have lots of workbooks from when I was painting and books of notes, brainstorming scrawls, and stuck in flyers and souvenirs of exhibitions I've been to but this feels like a very lively form of sketchbooking.
In addition to the live workshop I have been working on an online Screen Printing workshop with Dionne this week. It may seem strange to work on such a physical project from online instruction but I have found Dionne to be a very calming influence via video streaming and her teaching style is very clear with full supporting notes. So what have I done so far?
I cut a freezer paper stencil from two commercial stencils I already had and printed through that. I amde some mistakes with the thickness of the manutex paste and with properly loading the screen but I will know better when I print again.
The next task was to play with breakdown printing. I worked from 3 screens.
This first one is done in the style of Kerr Grabowski with lots of found objects.
This second one is just the dye paste and ghost images left on the screen after I had taken off the freezer paper stencil.
This final one is from Dionne's instructions and is on a home made screen made from a picture frame and net curtain. It didn't have as much tension as the commercial frames but it did work quite well.
And the results.....
I quite like these ghostly images from the gingko screen. They could make interesting backgrounds.
More interesting marks here although they are loaded in the wrong order. They should go from pale to strong as the dye paste released more of the dye on the screen.
The three from 'Dionne's' screen made first with clear dye paste and then with coloured dye paste. The top image shouldn't be blue at all, I couldn't get rid of the blue cast my camera gave it. I am pretty certain the lack of tension in the screen meant that these prints are not as strong so I will do some more using a proper screen.
I have several more processes to try as part of this online workshop but I have already learned a lot about the thickness of the dye paste and the fabrics I used. Next step is some overprinting with a different texture of mark.
I got very excited by these prints on silk, even though some of the marks resulted from the cloth flapping over on itself when I moved it to the airer to dry, but, sadly they all but washed out when I rinsed everything. I think that's because I batched the cloth in the airing cupboard and didn't steam the silk. Oh well, better luck next time!
Going back to the Festival of Quilts I was delighted to get my quilt back on Thursday morning, most particularly because it had been well packed and survived the journey (Many thanks to the organisers for its safe return). Pinned to the back of the quilt was the 'Comments' envelope which I opened with some trepidation as I had strayed into mixed media as much as art quilting.
I got mostly 'Good's' and some 'Excellent's' and good comments so I am a very happy bunny. (Just wish I could read the last word in the Comments on the bottom sheet. I'm going to try and make an early start on next year's entry so that this time I know what I'm doing before I fill the final form in! Why don't you join me and have a go? It's a wonderful feeling to see your quilt hanging up with everyone else's and believe me, beginners do very well. The quilters are the Festival of Quilts and noone says yay or nay, all quilts entered are hung. Have a go! You know you want to!