Friday 22 July 2022

Printing on textiles - summer course at NCAD part 2

I previously blogged about the Introduction to Printing on Textiles course that I did a few weeks ago here. This is the second part of that account of my adventures at NCAD. I was thinking about French painter, Henri Rousseau, when I was figuring out imagery for my linen napkins. Here is one of his most famous paintings, The Dream.

After seeing the heat press demonstrations with foliage, I had an idea that I wanted the linen napkins to have a lush foliage design and I kept thinking of Rousseau's work. Here is another of his paintings showing what was in my mind.

I started out thinking that I wanted an overall background colour of green, so painted a sheet of newsprint (with the special ink for the heat press) that was roughly the same size as the napkins.

I used the negatives from the Yupo paper to block out the wild rose, and various bits of foliage to block out areas that I did not want the overall colour to go on. The Yupo paper, which is synthetic, melted in the heat press! But I decided it was an unnecessary precaution anyway as the fuschi screenprint of the wild rose was a stronger colour than anything to overlay it. I also decided that I didn't really like the white foliage areas, even if I did like the foliage shapes.

So I painted some other greens on newsprint and ripped pieces to make a sort of collage of colour, including cut-out leaf shapes and real foliage.

This random collage and colour was more satisfactory to my sensibility and my plans were then to just keep layering as I went along.

The class was a small group, so by time my collage layer was ready, the heat-press was free and it was my turn to do another sixty second countdown.

Up until it was time to clean up on the last day, I was working on my layers. I photographed the finished napkins on a bench outside the work room and the sun was absolutely streaming through the huge windows.

These pictures give some sense of the finished napkins. The colour seems fairly correct on the wild rose, but the individuality of all the foliage is easier to discern in real life.

As well as Rousseau for the foliage, I think I was also channeling Botticelli's Birth of Venus by having the silkscreened goddesses emerge from the wild rose. It was an intense, productive and fun week learning this process!

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Printing on textiles - summer course at NCAD part 1

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Introduction to Printing on Textiles week-long summer course at the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) in Dublin. The experienced, patient, wonderful and lovely tutor was artist Mel Bradley. On the first day she introduced the small class to heat press printing on synthetic fabrics so that we could gain some understanding of the possibilities of this process. The day was one of experimentation and fun!

On the second day Mel gave some demonstrations of silk-screening on fabric and how to create our own stencil designs using newsprint and/or Yupo paper (a more robust synthetic paper).

Mel's demonstrations, of course, made everything look so easy, but she was also using very simple techniques and basic shapes to prove that designs did not need to be complicated to be beautiful.

When I got to the class on Tuesday morning, Mel and her assistant, TrĂ­ona, were preparing workboards for everyone, which was soft on one side and covered with wipeable oilcloth, and hard wood on the other side for cutting. This is my workboard in my workspace before I started working!

I cut out a basic wild rose stencil from Yupo paper to be my basic screen image. I had brought in six linen napkins that I wanted to refresh with textile design and I also brought in four tiny silkscreens of archaeological goddess images from different cultures (for instance, an image of the Venus of Willendorf and  an image of an ancient Egyptian Venus) that I had prepared many years ago.

This is the wild rose silkscreened onto the first linen napkin. As you can see, the cloth must be taped down to the soft part of the workboard before screening.

Here are two napkins with both the image of wild rose and goddesses screened on them, hanging on the wall to dry completely before I do anything else to them.

Midweek I brought a few acetate rose leaf stencils into the class thinking I might use them. My husband had made these stencils when he was painting his suit jacket for our wedding in 1995. Here I used a hard round brush to stipple ink onto the linen through the stencil, but decided this process took too long and it wasn't actually what I had in mind for the napkins. Though I knew already that the heat press process and inks would not be as intense on natural fibres (such as linen) I decided that it was this process that I was most interested in and planned to spend the last two days with working on foliage to get all six napkins completed by the end of the course. I'll continue with the results on the next blog!

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Ceramics at Rathfarnham Castle

I was at Rathfarnham Castle a few weeks ago to see the ceramic exhbition, which was being held in the former old kitchens area of this historic house. 

Curated by Mark St John Ellis for nag gallery offsite exhibitons. the work is from the State Collection 

and beautifully placed in the new exhibition areas of the former kitchens.

Each piece had it's own well-lit space from which to examine it in all its glory.

Some pieces were placed in the individual storage areas. Though obviously one could not walk around these works, they seemed to belong where they were placed. The ceramic pieces inhabited their individual cubby holes - they were not simply "shelved".

The apparent roughness of specific pieces worked well in the raw environment of this part of the castle, The ceramics both evoke and echo the nature of a kitchen as a place of warmth, nourishment and activity.