Working it Out
A Personal Note from Julie
June 23, 2012
In the past week, I've met two artists wishing for studio spaces. Both need a space to dye fabric...a space that their present living situations can't accommodate. Not being able to dye fabric means not being able to complete projects and the result is a sort of limbo where they are treading water creatively.
I have certainly been there! When I first started working on my Kitchen Resists grant project, I also did not have a studio space. Even though, as an empty nester
, there was plenty of room in my home, I found myself working on the dining room table. There is certainly nothing wrong with that sort of set up...except for the lack of privacy and continual need to clear off the table.
With the help of my creative mentor, Lesley Riley of Artist Success
, I did finally get my studio space. It took a mental shift to finally tackle the cluttered prospective space. It meant getting rid of some things that no longer had importance in my life. It meant lining someone up to fix the ceiling and improve the lighting and asking for advice on work tables and storage. It took a lot of mental and physical elbow grease
. In the end, it was certainly work the effort.
My studio space
Even though I am now happily working in my studio, I think many of us put off getting to our art because we are waiting for the perfect space. Sometimes, as with the two artists, downsizing our homes can mean needing to think more creatively about our art spaces. Part of today's newsletter focuses on one possible solution for working in a small space: simple portable work surfaces for painting and printing.
Get Ready, Get Set...
In my last newsletter, I talked about my Design Tool Kit of fifteen of my favorite surface design tools. In this newsletter, we'll focus on some additional materials needed to get set up for our Kitchen Surface Design adventures.
The fabrics I use most often for painting, printing and resist techniques are PFD (Prepared for Dyeing) Kona Cotton
and Silk Habotai (16 mm weight)
. You can certainly use white cotton that has been pre-washed (no softeners) to remove the sizing. As we will be using fabric paint, rather than dye, pre-washing with a mild detergent will suffice.
You will also want to purchase some inexpensive muslin and white acrylic craft felt
I use Pebeo Setacolor Transparent
, Opaque and Pearlescent (Shimmer-metallic)
fabric paints. I like these paints because they are highly pigmented (i.e. vibrant) and don't significantly change the hand
of the fabric. The Transparent paints can mimic the look of fabric dye. The Transparent paints are also unique in that they can be used for sun printing (a technique which I will highlight in the next issue).
and Pearlescent (Shimmer)
paints are available in starter kits which contain ten 1.5 oz bottles. The paints are also available in larger 9 oz bottles which I prefer to buy. If you purchase individual bottles, I suggest buying at least the primary colors plus black in Transparent and Opaque, along with Opaque Titanium White.
Creating a Portable Work Surface
I originally came up with the idea for creating portable work surfaces (or work boards) when I started teaching my multiple session evening class, Exploring Surface Design
. It seemed to be a convenient way for students to carry their fabric pieces back and forth between sessions. Made from foam core board they are easy to carry and store.
Purchase at least four 20" x 30" x 3/16" foam core boards
. Place the foam core board on your Olfa Self-healing Rotary Mat
and use your X-acto knife and Omnigrid clear gridded ruler
to cut each one into two 15" x 20" boards.
To protect the surface of the foam core from moisture, use Graphix Clear Lay Plastic Film (acetate)
. This acetate comes in 20" wide rolls that are either 12' or 50' in length and .003 inch thick. A 12' roll of Clear Lay will cover nine 15" x 20" boards.
Cut 15" x 20" pieces of the acetate to fit on the boards and attach with a few strategically placed pieces of masking tape.
Padded Portable Work Surfaces
At least two of your portable work surfaces should be padded for printing (which we will cover in a future newsletter). Cut two 15" x 20" pieces of white acrylic craft felt (or one larger piece that can be folded to fit on the boards) for each padded board. Place the felt on the boards and attach securely with 2" wide masking tape. Attach a piece of acetate to each board using a few pieces of strategically placed masking tape.
Padded work board before attaching Clear Lay Plastic Film
PLEASE NOTE: Although I prefer to use the above materials for making portable work surfaces, you can certainly substitute other materials: Heavy corrugated cardboard instead of foam core boards; cut up plastic trash bags or plastic drop cloth instead of the Graphix Clear Lay; a thin cotton quilt batt, fleece blanket or old towels cut to size instead of craft felt.
Cutting Your Fabric
After creating your portable work surfaces, cut pieces of cotton or silk fabric to fit on the boards. Be sure that you cut the fabric slightly smaller than the size of the board. Attach the fabric to your boards with a few strategically placed pieces of masking tape.
Now we are ready to get to work creating some beautiful pieces of fabric using the kitchen as our resource!
Coming Up In the Next Issue:
In the next issue of Julie B Booth Surface Design News
we take our portable work surfaces outside to do some sun printing!
Sun printed fabrics using materials from the kitchen