After ruling out discharge and realizing I would have to work over the colour already in the silk, I made a design plan just using pencil on paper. At first I followed this but it changed a bit as I went along.
The first step was to silkscreen print with thickened dye. I used several photographic screens I had made a few years ago with a garden theme. The central motif was the first print but I wasn’t happy with the way it printed as it was too light. I planned to fix this later and went on printing with other screens, placing the prints fairly randomly and repeating them radiating out from the central motif to about halfway down the fabric.
I overprinted one edge of the silk with a collaged rose design using torn paper to give a rough edge and placed some brick prints at random on the other side.
When the printing was finished I used cold wax resist to hand paint a leaf/fern like design in a band across the cloth. I then used elastic bands to resist the dye in the bottom section of the cloth and dipped it in green diazo.
One of the properties of Napthol dyes is that once a dyed section has reacted (napthol then diazo) no further reaction can take place unless the fabric is re-dipped in napthol, which makes it easy to dye different sections. Also the reaction time is almost instant.
After dipping the bottom section I folded the silk through the band of cold wax ferns, scrunched it and dipped into a red/brown.
I like the way the dye makes feathery edges so I dipped the top and sides separately into scarlet and red AL, then another band of scarlet across the fabric.
I improved the centre motif by hand painting the problem section in the same colour as the original print with the intention of over printing it. This meant I had to redip into Napthol. So I also dip dyed over all the edges with violet. I made a contact stencil for the shape inside the centre motif and overprinted it with a bark design. I printed across the top of the tie-dyed section with a wood block wrapped with string. I felt that the cloth was getting a bit divided so I integrated the different sections by using a sponge roller to colour roughly pleated fabric in some areas and a little more overdyeing.
I wanted to use metallic textile paint sparingly just as a highlight so printed another row with the string block then used a lino block with another leafy design.
Conclusion: Although I used screens and blocks I already had made, I used them together in a different way than previously. Most of my large cloth work has been prints designed to repeat on a dyed background. This challenge has given me a new way of looking at cloth. I had already planned to spend this year increasing my dyeing skills and putting into practice all the information I’ve recently come across through books and the Complex Cloth discussion group.
I’ve recently tried breakdown printing for the first time and can see huge possibilities there. I was reasonably happy with the finished result but I would do it differently if I did it again.
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