Tag Archives: handpainted silk

Consistency in Ecoprinting

My recent newsletter!

Consistency and Ecoprinting

Let’s tackle the number One question I get in messages and emails pertaining to Ecoprinting. And that is Consistency!

“I am so unhappy with my current results, what am I doing wrong?”

“I simply cannot get it to be consist! It is very frustrating!”

“Sometimes my prints are beautiful and sometimes they are bad. How do I change that?”

I am fortunate that my world of art is pretty all-encompassing-from making a living as a fine art portrait artist (working in all mediums) to leatherwork , woodcarving and the fiber arts. In all my years as a professional artist only ONE art form, for me, has tested my need to control the medium and that is Ecoprinting or Botanical printing! Now I am content to simply understand some of its idiosyncrasies!

Working outside

Let’s face it, with most mediums, from start to finish, the artist is in control and pretty much knows what is going to happen. The artist knows the packaged paints to choose and apply, the best wood to carve, the right clay to make his pottery, the steps to make the jewelry, the colors warped into the loom or stitch length in the sewing machine, etc. Predictable, comfortable and with expected results!

Theresa painting

Then we come to Ecoprinting. Wanting to control the outcome of using leaves to enrich cloth or paper surfaces is the main reason for dissatisfaction among so many Ecoprinters. They seem to have lost sight of why this art form appealed to them in the first place. The sheer excitement and awe of unrolling a bundle every single time to discover a surprise is part of its huge appeal!

But after a while, something like dissatisfaction can happen. Maybe it’s that innate human nature to feel someone else’s results are better than yours! (I see this a LOT in teaching painting classes) And it’s hard not to browse Facebook and Instagram and see results that make you feel your work is inadequate. Suddenly, no longer content with serendipitous results, you want to master and control this Art form of Botanical printing. And usually those first questions of doubt are the results: “Why are my leaves not giving me the same results as before?” Or “How come my maple leaves do not print like So and so’s?”

 

I am not a scientist. But thanks, I believe, to years as a painting artist and observing Nature in all her seasons, and my years of hiking and horseback riding on trails, there is an intuitive understanding of what is happening within my particular environment! So let’s step back to the basics of understanding what influences Nature’s green growth.

It’s hard not to sound like an encyclopedia when mentioning facts but if you do a search for trees you will discover there are roughly four primary factors that affect plant growth: light, water, temperature and nutrients. These four elements affect the plant’s growth hormones, making the plant grow more quickly or more slowly. Changing any of the four can cause the plant stress which changes growth. Now those are the basic influences! One of my blogs from my website talked about Planting and Harvesting by the Signs of the Moon.

Morning sun with Kincho and her rooster pal

 

Think about those basic four elements. I really had to dig back to my high school biology to remember the wording but in the end, I love Google haha.

For me, the crucial element is Light:     “Plants need sunlight for a process that we call photosynthesis. … Plants contain a molecule called chlorophyll, and the chlorophyll is what absorbs the sunlight. The chlorophyll absorbs red and blue light, and they reflect green light.  In addition to giving plants their green color, chlorophyll is vital for photosynthesis as it helps to channel the energy of sunlight into chemical energy. With photosynthesis, chlorophyll absorbs energy and then transforms water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates. The process of photosynthesis converts solar energy into a usable form for plants.”    

That is why the same genus of tree in Alaska will print differently than its counterpart in Florida- Sunlight. Or weeks of rain in your area limit the sunlight for your favorite trees and bushes. Summer drought and weird cold patterns influence the nutrients and growth pattern. Even the time of day influences your results. Watch which plants furl and unfurl their leaves during certain times of the day.

 

Prolonged rain
Prolonged drought

 

 

The interesting thing about all these “scientific” explanations is that I know they are true based not on laboratory experiments but plain common sense and field work.

 

I just returned from a Fiber Show in Michigan and those factors of light, water, temperature and nutrients are among the important factors related to the quality of wool from the sheep farmers. Everything that grows in fact, need those elements!

So all this begins to make sense when you wonder why those leaves from a particular tree are suddenly “not working”. Apply those four elements. What is happening to stress or change the growths process of the leaves this month that did so well before? I had stunning results with the leaves of my pecan tree one year and the following year, not so great. I get beautiful green results from plants that I once deemed “not so great” such as fruit tree leaves and wisteria by not using the leaves during the height of fruiting season.

But wait, you say! What about those fall leaves? They are dead and those four elements do not affect them anymore right? Well…. imagine my surprise in a recent workshop where I brought my Fall 2018 maple leaves for students to re-hydrate for use and watched the normally strong red color print almost black! The tannins had “aged.” I keep the iron strength in my gallon containers the same and experiments since have proved me right so I learned to mix weaker solutions for old leaves 😊

 

So I did not want to turn blog into a science paper. I love the spontaneity of ecoprinting and do not want to turn it into a science. No matter how many formulas you are given, you are still reliant on the leaves and they cannot be controlled like tubes of paint. I tell my students to take notes however to help them understand what is happening. While taking photos of the leaves you used when they have been laid out on the fabric or paper (recommended!) Note the time, the weather and even the outside temperature (if you work outside like I do) and whether the leaves are fresh or dry. If you make a note of where the leaves came from that can be a huge advantage. And if you want to dig deeper—check out a Farmer’s Almanac!

 

I teach a lot of workshops and I remind my students “Your results today are based on what Mother Nature has chosen to give you! Be happy with her gifts!”

Whimsical Women and Holiday shows!

It’s that very busy Holiday time of the year with all of us realizing that the months of October-December seem to fly!
I popped from the NC State Fair where we braved 14 hour days for 11 days to the SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) where we went from 75 degrees one day to 38 and raining over the course of a 3 day weekend!

NCSF booth
Theresa painting on silk at NCSF
Steve manning the SAFF booth

Now here we are into November and I have a one day show Saturday Nov  18 . Hoping we don’t need the rain date!  Coming up after that is a packed weekend with 2 shows! Dec 2 and Dec 3!

The Wake Forest Holiday Artisans Market and the Boylan Heights Artwalk!


Saturday, December 2 at 9 AM – 3 PM
Renaissance Centre
405 S Brooks St, Wake Forest, N C 27587
ArtWalk 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That moves us into Dec!

A Crafty Christmas!
December 8 – December 9
Dec 8 at 12 PM to Dec 9 at 6 PM
 
Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau
1960 13th Ave Dr SE, Hickory, North Carolina 28602
A Crafty Christmas Dec 8 & 9 in Hickory NC

 

 

 

 

 

And finally on Saturday Dec 16 we have our annual HOLIDAY OPEN STUDIO! Both  studios open from 11-3 or by appointment!

Inside silk studio
The painting studio

So come see us at any of the next 5 locations!-Theresa

Hand painting Silk

People love color! And hand painting and dying fabric offers numerous ways to bring color to fiber. My heart is very much with my eco-printed silk art. However my many years of painting cannot help but be enthusiastic about my first love of hand painting.

When I began to work with fiber art-silk predominantly-it did not take me long to realize that there are as many ways to put color on silk as there are to put paint on canvas!

Hand painted Silk

Block printing, screen printing, hand painted, hand embellished, detailed, abstract….all play a part at some point in what I create with silk.

Drawing and Painting

My tools are simple. Wood stretcher bars, eye screws, elastic and clips.  For a hand painted design, I’ll first stretch a silk piece such as a scarf onto the frame. I’ll use a resist which to free hand draw my design onto the silk. The resist acts as a dam of sorts-containing the liquid dye within its boundaries so an artist can create a particular image.  The end result can be anything from super realistic to whimsical to abstract.

Applying the dye
Cherry Blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting on Silk

People are intrigued with artist  demonstrations and  rightfully so. Nothing is more fascinating to watch than a painting of any kind, come to life as they watch.

Watching a work being created is an experience that cannot be duplicated simply by looking at a finished piece with no knowledge of how it came to be. I have noticed that people do understand painting. A canvas, paints, etc are in the experience of most people. But painting on silk is not. There is a huge difference between the cheap scarves created in masses with digitally imprinted designs vs an artist’s  one of a kind handpainted scarf!

 

Peacocks on Silk
Red Poppies
Hand painted horses on silk

To add to the zen like feeling of slowly hand painting on silk and watching the dyes spread out onto the silk as if pulled by an unseen hand, is the ability to take it outdoors. I work with my ecoprinting outside all the time, spilling out onto my silk studio deck. And when those moments click into place, an artist truly has it all.

The Silk Thread Studio from garden
Working Summer Day at Silk studio

Magical world of Faeries on ecoprint

Who is not entranced by the mystical world of faeries? Whether your first introduction was Tinkerbell or you’re  intrigued with the myriad of myths, legends and sightings of such fleeting “little people”, it is a fun world to enter!

Faeries ( or Fairies)were a favorite theme of my twin sister.  As children, we imagined them in the ancient maples that populated our farm in upstate New York. We would take what figurines we had and play among the stone walls and foundations of the huge barns. We invented names, places, personalities, and made “faerie houses” from all manner of rocks and twigs.

 

Detail of a woodland faerie

So I have enjoyed re-inventing our world of not just faeries but the birds that also populated our country playground. Chickadees, sparrows, finches and tiny house wrens all flocked to our suet feeders in the winter when the snows made life challenging for all!

bird on rose branch

My eco printed silk seemed to call to me to peek closer into the world of nature. As a painter, it was just an additional step to begin creating my hand painted designs among the imprinted silk. The challenge was to keep a soft hand to the silk and yet have control over the silk dyes-not always an easy thing to do! So laying out my plant matter to create designs with open spaces for my birds and faeries, I began to paint. And I am still creating versions of them both.  The possibilities are endless. Yes I could simply paint an entire Faerie world on a single canvas, populated with tiny birds, magical creatures and such. But the challenges of working with silk intrigued me. My hand painted figures dance with the movement of the silk-something that cannot be achieved on canvas.

Four Faeries in the roses

The birds continue to flock to my feeders even in the more temperate climate of North Carolina. And while I paint and design, I see tiny faeries everywhere-dancing on the dust motes, peeking out from behind the roses leaves and perhaps playing tricks on the free range chickens. Join me in this magical world of no worries, playful fun and enjoy the art!

 

Faeries and their little bird friend on Cotton dipped in indigo!

 

Silk Jewelry

I have had people refer to my hand painted scarf clips as jewelry so that’s what I will call them!  I make these unique little pieces as time permits. They are an alternative to traditional scarf clips that often come with a pin setting that pokes holes in delicate silk. My lightweight jewelry pieces are just 1″ in diameter and on the back is a 1″ diameter magnet. Putting the fabric between the alloy and magnet keeps the piece firmly in place…works with the silk scarves of course and can also pin the scarf magnetically to clothes 🙂

Handpainted silk scarf clip
Handpainted silk scarf clip

I cut pieces from my hand painted and eco-printed silk and attach them to the metal alloy-called a bottle cap design- and top with an epoxy dome. Note the tiny hole? It can be used as a necklace as well!

But I didn’t stop there! Collecting driftwood, I sanded, drilled and inserted magnets into the back with the same “no holes” concept and they are beautiful on my eco-scarves.

You can find more on my site of course http://www.TheSilkThread.com

Or if you want to be adventurous, check out my Amazon store! 

1" scarf jewlery
1″ scarf jewelry
driftwood scarf clip 1
driftwood scarf clip 1