1 + 1 = !
The Three Creative "Syns"
A Personal Note from Julie
December 22, 2012
You may have noticed that at the end of each of my Newletters, I have a little teaser: In the next issue of Julie B Booth Surface Design News...
Now some of you may be thinking, WOW, that Julie, she's so organized, always thinking ahead. I bet she has that next issue already planned out!
Truth be told, those little teasers are teasers to me as well. They serve as challenges...sometimes even dares! How AM I going to create fabric designs with recycled gift wrap, ribbon and packing supplies? I may have a vague idea, but it is always the process of playing with the materials that makes me realize the potential they hold.
When I was in high school, one of my teachers told me that I was great at "synthesizing" ideas. At the time, I didn't have a clear idea of what that meant. As I've gotten older (and hopefully a bit wiser), I've come to appreciate what I call, The Three Creative Syns: Synthesis, Synergy and Synchronicity.
The first Syn, Synthesis
is defined as:The combining of different elements to form a coherent whole.
Our art is a bringing together of our life's experiences to produce something both coherent and unique. No two people will approach a challenge in exactly the same way and even the same person will approach a challenge from a different angle in a different stage of his or her life.
I first read about the concept of Synergy
in R. Buckminster Fuller's book, I Seem to Be a Verb
. The dictionary definition: Interaction of two or more agents, their combined effects is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
Although that seems to be defining a chemical reaction, my personal experience with this concept is when I'm in the flow
, those amazing times when ideas and artwork pour forth. As a teacher, I've witnessed synergy
in the classroom as students experiment with materials and bounce ideas off one another. In this way new discoveries are often made.
The last Syn
is defined as: A coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related.
Originally based on the theories of Carl Jung, I first read about it in Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way
. Another way of describing this concept is putting it out there
. Set a focus, put in effort and most important be open to listening for answers. And the answers may not be what you expect. As artists, we must put in the work (or play) with the materials, with our ideas but we must remain open to the unexpected. Sometimes what appears to be a mistake is a gateway to a whole new way of looking at things (think Sticky Notes!).
I hope you enjoy the project below. As I was playing with these materials, I realized that I was just scratching the surface of their potential. I know that I will be spending more time (especially listening time!) with them in the future.
May we all have a happy, Syn-fully
creative New Year!
Black and white samplers.
For this month's project, you will use recycled mailing and gift wrap materials to create print blocks.
Using Recycled Materials to Create Print Blocks
You will need the following materials to create print blocks:
Corrugated cardboard. I'm sure you've been receiving a lot of corrugated cardboard boxes over the last month (I know that we've received many "boxes with a smile"!). Cut the boxes up into pieces that are at least 3" x 4". You can also cut similarly-sized shaped pieces out of the cardboard. You will be gluing and taping other materials to these cardboard pieces. In addition, cut 1/4" strips and smaller shapes. You will use these to create designs.
Packing and gift wrapping materials. Bubble wrap, padded envelopes, packing foam, ribbons, bows, used wrapping paper, tissue paper and any other holiday gift and packing materials you've accumulated.
Recycled gift wrap, ribbons and bows.
Preparing to Make the Print Blocks
White glue or matte medium. Below are a few varieties of glue that you could use. I decided to use Mod Podge.
Before creating print blocks, you may want to create separate components to then glue onto the rectangular cardboard pieces. You can manipulate some of the recycled materials in the following ways:
1. Cut strips.
In the case of the corrugated cardboard, I suggest cutting 1/4" strips. The length can vary. Gift wrap and tissue paper can also be cut into wider strips.
2. Roll and tape strips.
I rolled the cardboard strips into tight spirals and used a small strip of masking or clear tape to hold the spiral shapes together. I cut 2" x 15" strips of white tissue paper, crumpled and then twisted the paper and rolled it into tight spirals. Again, I used a small strip of masking or clear tape to hold the spirals together. You can also roll strips into spirals and leave them untaped so that they unwind slightly.
3. Roll up and cut cross sections
. Cut a piece of 6" x 8" gift wrap. Roll from the short side. You can either make a very tight roll (1/4" diameter) or a looser roll (1/2" diameter). Once you finish rolling up the gift wrap, tape along the edge to keep it from unrolling. Cut 1/2" cross section pieces using an X-acto knife.
4. Roll up and cut into longer pieces.
Cut a piece of 6" x 8" gift wrap. Roll a tight roll (1/4" diameter) from the short side. Use clear tape and tape along the edge to keep the wrap from unrolling. Cut 2"- 4" tubes.
5. Crumple up.
Crumple up pieces of tissue paper or gift wrap.
Use a pair of scissors and run along curling ribbon
to make it curl up.
Creating the Print Blocks
Gluing Components to the Blocks:
1. Pour Mod Podge, glue or matte medium into the plastic container.
2. Use the foam brush to apply a thin layer of glue to the 3" x 4" pieces of cardboard.
3. Arrange the components on the cardboard. When using the 1/4" cardboard strips, you can cut them to different lengths and either arrange them flat or stand them on edge.
4. Let the glue dry.
5. Once dry, paint another layer of glue over the textured items. This will help to further secure the items to the cardboard as well as sealing and protecting them from moisture.
6. Let the glue dry on the blocks before printing with them. Depending on the amount of glue needed to seal the items on the block, this may take several hours.
Using Double-stick Tape
For some flat items you can use double stick tape to adhere them to cardboard.
1. Lay strips of double-stick tape along one side of the cardboard.
2. Arrange flat items on the tape.
3. Paint a layer of glue over the items.
4. Let the glue dry before printing with the block.
Assorted blocks ready to print.
Direct Printing with Packing Materials
You can print directly with some of your recycled packing materials rather than gluing them to cardboard. Examples include: Bubble wrap, padded envelopes (cut apart to expose bubble wrap padding), and packing foam, Peel and Stick Holiday Bows
can be either attached to cardboard (peel and stick) or used to print directly.
Printing with Recycled Packing and Gift Wrapping Materials
You will need the following:
Pebeo Setacolor Opaque Fabric Paints (your choice of colors, but include black).
Rollrite foam brayers. You will want one for each paint color you choose.
Small plastic containers with lids to hold paint. I like to use Ziploc xs/bowl 8 fl. oz. containers but you could use recycled yogurt, margarine or other small containers.
Plastic spoons for mixing paint and spooning it out.
Glass or plexi-glass palettes. I purchase glass from the framing department of my local craft store. Buy the least expensive glass available and tape the edges with duct tape. I like to have several available to use with different paint colors. You will spoon the paint onto the glass.
15" x 20" Padded Portable Work Surfaces (See Issue #2 under Get Ready, Get Set...). You will want one for each piece of fabric you plan to print.
15" x 20" piece of 1/2" thick upholstery foam (soft spongy foam)
15" x 20" (or slightly larger) piece of muslin or cotton fabric. This will be placed on top of the upholstery foam.
Prepared for Dyeing Kona Cotton. Cut fabric into 12" x 15" pieces. You may also use pre-washed 100% cotton fabric in white or solid colors. I like to create my own painted background fabrics using diluted Pebeo Setacolor Transparent Fabric Paints (1 part paint/ 2 parts water). Apply the diluted paint to the fabric with a 2" wide foam brushes (one brush for each color used).
Plant mister for cleaning the foam blocks after printing (I suggest Tip N' Spray).
1. Masking tape the edges of your fabric to a Padded Portable Work Surface. If you are using a more dimensional block, you may need extra padding under the fabric in order for more of the paint to release from the block onto the fabric. Place the 15" x 20" piece of 1/2" upholstery foam onto your Padded Portable Work Surface. Cover this with the 15" x 20" piece of muslin and then tape your fabric to the muslin.
2. Mix up colors of Pebeo Setacolor Opaque Fabric Paint or use colors directly from the bottles. If you are mixing a custom color, be sure you start with the lightest color and gradually add darker colors. Always remember that a little paint goes a long way.
3. Spoon a small amount of paint onto the glass palette. Better to err on the side of too little paint to start, as too much paint on the block can result in messy prints.
4. Use a Rollrite foam brayer to spread the paint evenly across the glass. Roll the brayer in different directions until there is an even coat of paint on the brayer.
5. Use the brayer to roll an even coat of paint onto the block. I suggest rolling the brayer over the block in different directions to make sure all parts of the block are covered.
6. Turn the block over onto the fabric and use you hand(s) to press down on all the parts of the block to release the paint onto the fabric.
7. I suggest starting with a sampler of all your blocks. I usually use black opaque paint to print block samplers. After testing all your blocks, take a look at the printed designs and consider the following:
Which blocks will make good backgrounds? (overall pattern or texture)
Which blocks will make good designs printed on top of the backgrounds?
Do some designs look like they would work well together (similar shapes or design elements that complement each other)?
Sometimes a block can serve as a background texture or focal block. There can often be surprises when combining blocks. Don't be afraid to experiment with different arrangements.
8. For more information about working with color see Issue # 5
. Below are some color samples.
Multiple printings using a block made of strips of rolled up and taped cardboard.
Designs using a padded envelope, packing foam, flat strips of cardboard and rolled strips of cardboard.
Designs using crumpled tissue paper, rolled and taped gift wrap cut into cross sections.
Setting the Fabric Paint
After the fabrics are completely dry, the fabric paint needs to be set before the fabric can be washed. The paint can be set in one of the following ways:
1. Let the fabrics passively set by letting them sit for a week.
2. Iron to set. Place a piece of muslin or a pressing cloth over the printed fabric and iron for 5 minutes using the cotton setting.
3. Place the printed fabrics in a clothes dryer and dry them for 50 minutes on a high heat setting.
Once the fabric paint is set, the fabrics can be machine washed in a cold or warm delicate setting with a small amount of detergent.
Cleaning the Print Blocks
It's best if you can clean the blocks before the paint dries. If you have completely sealed the components on the block with glue, you can mist the block and carefully wipe the paint off with a paper towel. For blocks that have more fragile components, mist a couple of paper towels, fold over and print with the block. Continue to print on the damp paper towels until most of the paint has come off the block.
Coming Up In the Next Issue:
In the next issue of Julie B Booth Surface Design News
we learn how to use freezer paper and doilies to create Hearts and Lace
Issue #9 comes out on Saturday, January 26.