Who doesn’t love the Holidays? And the optimism a new year always brings?
Regardless of how you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever your Holiday, the message is the same. And my message is for Peace, Happiness, Good Health and Prosperity for all my followers (and non-followers!) and their families!
As a long time painting artist, I know of hundreds of ways to create art on canvas and paper. I think nothing of switching from pastels to oils to alcohol inks without too much thought. Without realizing it over the course of years, I had developed an expertise in many mediums simply by using them over and over 🙂
So as I began to expand my silk painting it did not take me long to realize that there were as many methods to add color to silk as there was to canvas! I remember my early confusion at reading about dyes and paints in the big catalogues and trying to make sense out of conflicting information!
And of course I wanted to skip the learning curve and get right into the silk art! Think about it: All those methods such as steaming, not steaming, heat setting, instant set, dye paints, dyes, fabrics, types of silk……the list of what to know seemed dauntless at first!
In college I studied printmaking, so carving my own blocks to print on silk was not a problem. I mean there is a huge industry in the arts devoted to stamping but I wanted mine to be unique!
Carving 5 or 6 blocks of just horses has given me so many options for variety and I know that no one else has those images!
And then of course there was the method I use most often, drawing with resist! I love the water based resists. I am not into suffering for my art 🙂 and melting wax, using the equivalent of oils in resists just wasn’t for me.
So making stretcher bars (from canvas stretchers!) has been a solution to drawing out my designs then adding the dyes. There is something zen-like in hand painting anything and watching silk dyes flow up to the resist lines is very much like painting in watercolors…except the resist acts as a “dam” to control the flow of dye.
And then there are the dyes that required steaming and I found rice steamers at the Goodwill that worked! I went from scarves to clothes and love to work my large pieces into garments!
So in my hand painted silk, I love to experiment. I love the colors, the designs and often incorpoarte both into my ecoprinted! There is nothing more beautiful than silk drying on the clothesline!
For over half of the 150 years that the North Carolina State Fair has been in existence, the “Village of Yesteryear” has been one of the most popular exhibits to visit during the 11 day stretch! In short, “The Mission: “To encourage the development and perpetuation of heritage crafts by the display of our products and the demonstration of the skills required for their production. To share what we have learned and developed with all who may be interested.”
There are over 100 craftsmen and women displaying their goods and methods for creating what they sell and I will be there with plenty of silk and silk methods! Ecoprinted, hand painted and handmade! I will have a display board of the various silks available as well as my usual silk cocoons. I thought about live silkworms but that seemed problematic!
And here is artist hubby Stephen Filarsky with part of the set up going up from last year. The 11 days are long and tiring so being next to each other (He is the Sign Painter!) is great!
A State Fair is a Time honored tradition. To say there is something for everyone is an understatement. From 4-H displays and competitions to the midway rides to farm animals, carnival games, fair food, you name it; there is something for everyone to enjoy at their own level. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells but be sure and come by the Village!
The Village of Yesteryear is a “working artists” village that features traditional heritage hand crafts. Demonstrations are performed using skills that, for many, have been passed down for generations. Our goal is to encourage the development and perpetuation of these skills.
The craftspeople do their best to create an exciting learning experience for the visiting public. They wear period costumes and continuously talk about and demonstrate their craft.
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!
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.
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!
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 months of April and May have been been “art show” months with several shows each month …..a great way to showcase my work in person! I was hardly able to unload the vehicle in between shows 🙂 But any way you look at it, if you go to shows you need a place to unload and a place to work! Check out the Silk Art Studio images below 🙂
So what does the studio look in May? Notice the awesome clothesline?
OK, I admit it, I’m hooked! Nature’s colors rock! After 11 days of constant painting on silk at the Village of Yesteryear at the NC State Fair (Another blog!) , I experimented with yet another technique for eco dyeing/printing and the results were gorgeous! (I admit it, I brag!)
I collected yet more leaves from maple trees and along the roadside as well as on my own mini-farm….adding to my collection so I would have leaves when the winter came. It wasn’t hard to enlist the help of my artist husband, Stephen Filarsky! I had hoped that some of the colors of these stunning fall maple trees would dye but the colors did not migrate to the silk….yet. I’ll keep trying 🙂
Working with iron, onion skins and pecans as a mordant in different batches, well, you’ll have to see the results!
The following scarves consist of silk eco-printed with an assortment and variation (in each) of maples, peonies, mimosa, oak, roses, pear, sumac and pecan to name a few natural ingredients.
Oak, maple and sumac were within a few of these silk scarves.
A beautiful combination of colors-a surprise actually 🙂
So real, it seems as though you could pluck them off the silk!
Interesting how different roses printed differently.
The raw silk really takes the dye process. I had previously dyed this piece with indigo and was not happy with it-I am now 🙂
All of my silk work is being done in the small studio. At the moment I am heading off to a show and looking forward to free time after the weekend to experiment a bit more. Big show coming up towards the end of the month!
A gorgeous day, car windows down and a back road in North Carolina. It really doesn’t get much better than that! With my artist hubby Steve in the passenger seat, we explored yet another favorite back road. This time, we were searching for particular leaves, flowers and berries to collect for my eco-dyeing with silk scarves. Just as the roadsides are awash in June with wild Queen Anne’s lace and orange Tiger lilies, in September and October they are replaced with wild Helianthus or vivid yellow sunflowers and a multitude of plants as yet untouched by the color change . Our mini farm has most of them but we love the fun of looking! The same roads change by the season and this month we were in search of Nature’s early fall bounty.
Our Quest took us into Virginia where we stopped to collect the pure spring waters of the once famous Buffalo Springs Resort. Known to the Indians, then gathering fame with the Colonialists, it reached its peak of fame in the late 1800’s as a curative water for whatever ails you! Now owned by the US Park Service, it’s vast array of buildings are gone, leaving nothing but a gazebo, the always available “Lithia” water and its ghosts of the past. A fascinating history of this place can be read here: http://sovahomefront.org/_site_buffalosprings.php
We searched and collected just what we needed and were going to experiment with such as grasses, tobacco leaves and flowers, assorted leaves from oaks, maples and poplars as well as wild sumac. The leaves have not yet turned to their brilliant fall colors-that’s for another trip!
I’m getting ready for the 11 day North Carolina State Fair where I will be the silk artist in the Village of Yesteryear-a community of craftsmen and women.
Read more here: http://villageofyesteryear.com/
Eco-dyeing is a is time consuming labor of love! This year’s public at the NCSF will see my first series of eco-dyed scarves along with my hand painted and dyed silk designs. I love the subtle patterns left by nature. With the exception of the beautiful reds of the cochineal bug that has been cultivated in South America for centuries (and can be found here in NC), most of the natural colors are softer and less vivid. Eco-dyeing is best done when the artist can enjoy the process from its very beginning of gathering fallen leaves and berries to it’s very end with the slow unwrapping of the silks and the delight of surprise results of colors and patterns!
And finally, after I shared this post, we went to an estate sale of the contents of an old Victorian house and found not one, but two, intact gallons of Buffalo Springs water in the basement (with the 1902 work desk from the old dentist who occupied the home in the 1920’s) What a find for us! Enlarged so you can read the writing!
I just completed 3 weeks of shows as a vendor with my artwork-the portraits, the abstract horses and my silk scarves. I had a small set up with one of my stretcher frames for the silk scarves and worked for hours each day making scarves. It was an awesome experience to have people buying the silk scarves even before I had completed them!
So what went out the door? Well a slew of custom orders will be going out the door but below are different examples of what people liked at the show…horses of course, followed by dogs, followed by flowers and then…so many different choices including the abstract designs with no particular design on them!
The dog above was for a vendor whose best friend loves to walk her dog…but he’s getting older and less able so it is a special gift for her.
As you can imagine, custom orders of both dogs and horses were popular.
And let’s not forget Fall leaves, Koi and the much mentioned whimsical giraffe!
My next post will be my experiences in “eco-dyeing.” I must confess that gathering the plants and materials is my favorite part…but you never know what you will get when you use nature’s bounty!
As professional artists, we have 2 art studios on our property. The larger one is big, beautiful and built from a torn down 1910 house!
Our smaller one is my “cabin in the woods” and was a tired 10 x 20 storage building that we renovated for additional room in our ever expanding art business!
So in my small Art studio that I use for my silk making, I needed a place to hang my scarves while I worked on them. I use an outside clothesline which is perfect for drying. But in between some stages of my techniques, I needed a place to gently hang silk without folding it or dropping it on the floor 🙂
Crib rail hinged to wood attached to wall.
The solution came in the form of parts of a free baby crib! Used cribs can be found at yard sales for next to nothing and the sides can be used for any number of creative projects!
My idea was to attach hinges to the bottom , attach it to the wall of my small studio and have it fold down from the top. When in use, the lightweight chains would let me lower it to pretty much any height I wanted. I did not want it level, just out a foot or so from the top of the wall. When not in use, it folds back up to the wall and hooks with regular latch hooks 🙂
Small chain, latches and hinges are easily found in any hardware store!
A little paint on the wood the piece is hinged to will make it look finished 🙂
As you can see, the lightweight silk dangles easily from the rack away from the wall. It could be closed as well if I choose.
A perfect solution for everything from fabric to paper to your laundry room.
Raise the chains higher if heavier items will be hung. The ceiling is barn style so hanging this from the ceiling where the lights are was not an option-too high and the lights were in the way so this “Murphy style” rack was the perfect solution!
An easy DIY project accomplished in an afternoon or less! (Depending on the number of breaks and how long it takes you to find the tools you put down somewhere!)
October is already here and I am gearing up for some unusual shows!
October 16-26 is the annual NC State Fair where hundreds of thousands of fair goers will have the opportunity to come see me at the Village of Yesteryear and watch me create designs on scarves! I still have to sew my “Colonial Costume” but…I’ll get to it!
The SILK portion of my website has expanded in advance of the show and although I will have everything I have available at the event, if you are unable to come by then of course, see my Etsy store! I have added new ties, new suncatchers….oh so many things to photograph to catch up!