In the studio this week

Talking Heads – The Harmony Of Difference 1

Just the eyes to do!

98cms x 120cms. Dyed and printed fabrics, applique, hand and heavy machine stitching, acrylic paint techniques.

Well I thought it was about time for a little studio catchup. After lots of visitors both human and feline, I’ve found some time and have been quietly stitching away to get this 1st piece in the series of Talking Heads completed. I’ve just got the eyes to paint – in the white spaces which are gessoed – sounds a little job but it’s quite daunting and is why I’ve left it till last. I’ve even put the sleeve on and dealt with the ends and ironed everything; definitely some displacement tactics going on!

The processes I’ve used are relatively simple but putting them together has been a wonderful stretch of the imagination that I’ve enjoyed immensely.

Below: heavy machine stitching around and on the applique. White acrylic paint skimmed over a masked off surface to simulate hair. Stitching and posca pen to simulate a dreadlock perhaps? Eyelids hand and machine stitched with paint inside the circles. All fabric dyed or printed.

Below: Breakdown printing, piecing, stitch, paint, stencilling, posca pen, acrylic paint.

Below: stencilling to represent hair with acrylic paint, heavy machine stitch, piecing and applique.

Below: Hair made by missing areas in the stitching. Hand stitch and machine stitch “colour is not the problem”. Printed fabric using specialist chemicals to ensure the text doesn’t fade.

I’ve also been dyeing lots of fabric using low immersion and breakdown methods. Here’s 2 screens which have been prepared by squeegying on some thickened procion dye and left to dry. I used a warm brown.

Passing coloured thickened dye through the screens onto prepared fabrics. (Fabrics are prepared by soaking for an hour in soda ash and urea). It takes a few goes before the screens release their colour but you can see this begin to happen on the 2nd photo. Interesting results and so much more satisfying for me to be making fabrics in this way rather than buying commercial ones. There’s lots of help with these processes out there on the web – our fellow Through Our Hands artists, Linda and Laura Kemshall have a whole host of videos you can watch endlessly and at a very reasonable price.

I’m looking forward to starting the next piece in the Talking Heads series but I really need to get on with other pieces too. Benjamin Zephaniah has been calling to me for some while now and I really should answer!


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