Tuesday, October 21, 2014

All About Image Transfers with Jane Davila - My Favorites

The Potomac Fiber Arts Guild hosts speakers at our monthly guild meetings.  This month it was Jane Davila who gave a great talk on the elements of design.   I was only in town for one of her workshops, but happily "All about Image Transfers" was the most useful for my grant work.   Here's the class description:   

  "Learn direct and indirect transfer methods to add images to your projects. Transfer Artist Paper (TAP), acrylic paint, solvent and medium transfers, plus direct printing on a variety of fabrics, will be covered. Students transfer images from their own photos."

I used the B&W and color images below taken from the Sandy Spring Museum archives as my test samples.
Illustration from "Indians of Early Maryland" by Harold Manakee (not sweating copyright issues because the sketch was created in the 1600's and reprinted by Mr. Manakee)

Homeopathic medicine kit bottles

We used Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) in class.  The directions were simple.   I goofed on my first TAP transfer anyway...   Being impatient, I peeked after a bit of ironing, then continued to iron.   I pulled the TAP off half way, but got distracted talking to a friend.   The TAP cooled down and didn't transfer well.   I tried again *following the directions* with excellent results.   This process was more involved than directly printing an image on prepared fabric sheets, but the image can be transferred onto fabric, paper, wood, glass, canvas, metal and more according to packaging making it more versatile process.  I think that this will be the easiest transfer process to integrate into my work.   I'm looking forward to spending time with TAP!   I hope I remember to reverse the images before printing them as this indirect method produces a mirror image.
TAP test - Top left photo of fabric is first attempt with timing issues and top right is TAP paper after transfer showing how much ink wasn't transferred.    Bottom left shows second attempt on fabric with the TAP paper at it's right almost completely transferred.  Only a shadow of ink remains untransferred.  

Direct printing onto Jacquard Inkjet Fabric Sheets worked just as well as TAP.  We tried out silk and cotton.  I missed out on trying the ExtravOrganza Digital Textile sheets, but knew I had squirreled some away in my stash to test at home.   Jane Davila advised us to use an Epson printer with Durabrite ink for best results, so I've added one to my artist tool kit.   The trick will be figuring out how to integrate these fabrics as another layer of the surface design.
Jacquard Inkjet Fabric Sheets - cotton on top and silk on the bottom
The final method that I want to use is a laser toner copy and acrylic paint transfer method.  Once again, it was quick to do and the results were great.   Once again, the question is how to integrate the image as a layer in the composition.   This is an indirect transfer method, so the image printed in reverse.  I loved this method because I already have the necessary supplies at home.

Laser toner copy and acrylic paint transfer method
Image transfer techniques have come a long way since I experimented with Bubble Jet Set in early 2000.   It was great to have Jane Davila walk us through a variety of  methods showing us the various effects that we could expect.   A sample speaks a thousand words...   Some artists in the class preferred methods that gave less perfect results.  The partial transfers lend themselves to softened, mysterious and aged looking images.  I loved the processes that gave complete transfers.   I cut down on my own experimentation time dramatically thanks to Jane's tips and tricks.  I recommend the class and Jane Davila as an instructor if  you're interested in doing image transfers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Neutral Color Study Courtesy of Carol Soderlund

I'm still using the invaluable information I gained in Carol Soderlund's "True Colors" Workshop for mixing dyes.   I used her method for creating neutral colors from the three dyes used for the grant (tangerine MX# 112, strongest red MX# 312N and deep navy MX# 414).   My first thought was that I wasn't using much dye, so I doubled the amount of dye concentrate.  The color swatches came out really dark, but lovely.   I should have stirred more, but even with the mottling I can see the colors...  The colors look lighter on my screen than they do in person even without using flash on my camera, but I photographed all the studies at the same time in the same location.   Hopefully, the viewer will get some idea of the comparison.

I decided to use the original amount of dye for the next study, but I got distracted and left the swatches sit for four days.   This second test came out very matte looking compared to the intensity of the swatches above.   The beauty of using ProChemical & Dye's MX reaction dye deep navy #414 is that it allows you to get really dark values.  Apparently, I'm being less than subtle whacking everything with the navy stick...

This leads me to wonder what the swatches would look like with half the dye strength added.   Now that I'm all set up with Tyvek labels on pins, a dedicated set of cups and dye concentrate made up, it's easy to do more studies.   There were two surprises.   The colors were deeper in shade than I expected.   Also, each color didn't necessarily look like a paler version of the previous test.   The blue dye dominated in many cases.
This study prompted me to try another study.   In this case, I used the original strength for yellow and red, but cut the blue down to half strength to see what the colors would look like without blue dominating.  The red component showed thru in this study in a satisfying manner.  I got some richer brown, green and cranberry shades for variety.
One of Carol's messages is that her classes are just jumping off points for further exploration.   I'm  taking her up on that idea...   One of the purposes of these studies was to find a good outliner color for my Deconstructed Printing Screens (DSP).   I found a dark navy and rich chocolate brown (1st and 3rd samples on left below) that I loved.   I tried for a dark green (rightmost sample), but came up with a really rich medium green that I'll be using for sure.   I used a lot of dye for this color, but it was almost all tangerine, so not a dark shade after all.   I'll be relearning that lesson regularly I fear!   I came up with a lovely dove grey (color #2 from the left) by accident.  When you're cutting stacks of fabric strips for swatches, sometimes the fabric glues itself together on the edges.   I didn't realize that I'd dunked a pair of swatches into the dye until it was too late.   I immediately removed one, but liked the color so well that I tucked it into it's own cup to batch.   How to replicate that color?!   So, I've earmarked that color recipe for a value gradation study.  My "true colors" are happening!

I'm so grateful to have had the chance to study with her!   I've signed up for her Neutral Territory: 50 Shades of Grey and 50 Shades of Brown with Carol Soderlund class at Pro Chemical & Dye in April 2015 to continue focusing on color work.