Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Sketchbook Arrived for the Sketchbook Project !!!!!!

Wooo Hooo!!!! my sketchbook for the sketchbook project arrived!!!!! The theme for my sketchbook is "Facing Forward". I am so pleased I was able to get that subject, it is so perfect for me at this point in my life.My thought is that I will personalize the theme by  calling my sketchbook "Facing forward.... towards healing"

I can't wait to dig in and get started. I plan on doing some of the pages in silk but I am not sure if I will just mount the silk art to the moleskin pages or if I will rebind the book I want to apply silk to the cover but we are not allowed to remove our I.D. card adhered to the back of the book so I will have to make allowances for that.

Now I wish I was not going to be tied up all weekend because I would love to hunker down and get started!!! Lots of pages to be filled by January 15, 2011. That is the day the books must be returned by.

For more on the Sketchbook Project follow this link:

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Silk Painting Completed & Ready to be Steamed

Late yesterday I finished the Heading South silk painting. I actually made a couple of small changes after these photos were taken. So today I am going to pop it in the steamer for 3 hours to set the dyes. I also took a photo of some of the dye cups showing the colors I used in the painting. some of them get emptied and rinsed along the way so this is just some of the colors I mixed but you get the idea.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Started Layering Dye on "Heading South"

Yesterday  I began painting in the dye layers on the second painting of the 2 I have been working on. This one is called "Heading South". So far I am pleased with the way it is coming out...gasp....did I just say that ;~)

 I plan to work on it again today and am hoping Don will get the mats and mounting boards cut for me for both paintings in the next few days. He has been working on building the frames for them but with all this rain it has bee to humid to spray paint them. The frames get a weird fogging if spray painted on a rainy day.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Matting, Shrink-wrapping & Framing. I Gotta Guy!

I am so lucky to have a husband that helps me out by cutting all of my mats and doing all of my framing! He even builds all of the wooden frames that we use on my silk paintings. I mount and mat the silk but he cuts the mats and then does all the framing work.
 He is also really good at mass production as you can see from these photos of a print order he is framing up for me.
Below is his beloved Fletcher Professional mat-cutter, before this we had an inexpensive Logan and it was a constant battle but the Fletcher is smooth as silk ;~)
The shot below shows my shrink-wrapping machine. We have a portion of our basement dedicated to mating, shrink-wrapping and framing.

And here is one of the print orders, for both shrink-wrapped and framed prints, all ready to be packed up and shipped out.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Got a Spiroliner Drafting Board & Drafting Accessories at a Tag Sale!!!

Went to a tag sale and found this Spiroliner drawing board with attached parallel straight-edge, carrying case/portfolio, compass, drafting pencils, leads, pointer, scaling ruler, guides, book and more!!! What a great find, even hubby had to play with my new toy once I got it set up in the studio. The drawing board adjusts from flat to a few different angles.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Final 3 hour Steaming and Voila!

I have been blogging about the step by step process of how I create a silk painting and except for the mounting and framing part, which I will probably blog about also, here is the last stage of the actual painting process. The final 3 hour steaming to set the dye.

 In the photos above I am rolling the silk in brown framing paper while the steamer preheats to 212 degrees
Below the silk has been removed from the steamer, unrolled and is bring washed to remove the black resist residue and the excess dye molecules on the surface of the silk.

The finished painting on the line ready to be mounted, matted and framed. Onto the next one!

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's Done.......I think??????

I finished the fall farm painting yesterday (that is if I don't darken up any areas today) and if you read my blog post yesterday you know about the meltdown I had......alas such is the life of this artist anyway. I am not sure if I will steam it today or wait until the next painting is done and steam them together. One reason to steam right away is that the silk paintings are in an extremely fragile state until they are steamed. If  any moisture gets on the painting at this point (such as a sweaty husband walking through the studio or fly poo landing on the silk) even one drop will cause a water mark in the dye.

As I have explained before the paintings tend to look a little dull and even muddy before they go through the 3 hour steaming process in the silk steamer. Once they are steamed the dye molecules join with the silk molecules and the surface dye is rinsed away. After washing the iridescent sheen of the silk comes back and the colors take on a brilliant reflective quality.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Habitual Mid-Painting Freak Out

 Ok, it's here. My mid-painting "Freak Out" has arrived. This is the point where I am halfway through with the silk painting and I HATE it. I hate everything about it and the VOICE in my head convinces me that I am a total fraud and don't have an ounce of artistic ability in my body. "What the hell made me think I could pull this painting off" it screams in my head. I am not kidding about this folks, I literally get nauseous, anxious, and bewildered at how the painting can be coming out so badly. AND this lovely roller coaster of emotions happens with almost every painting I do!!!!!

Yup I am an artistic basket case at the mid-painting point, and sometimes it lasts up until the painting has left the studio and is in some distant gallery. I even called a gallery manager once and told him I had made a mistake sending him the painting and asked him to remove it from the gallery wall. He politely talked me down from my fevered painting-hating-hysteria and the painting sold within 2 weeks. It is also one of my top selling prints. So there VOICE, take that!

Whenever Don walks into the studio at the mid-painting point, like he did today, he says "Hows it going?" and I respond with something like "It is coming out awful, nothing works, it is a disaster, I'm freaking out, what am I going to do??!!!" He then says, "Oh good, so things are progressing as usual." Then I counter with words that I don't even think my spell checker will let me type here but you get the idea.

So anyway here I am mid-painting, freaking out as usual. I decided to walk away for a while, take a break and take some photos of it to get some distance and perspective. Because my paintings are created with dyes on silk any corrections are pretty much impossible but often some distance calms me down enough that I can at least resume working on the darn thing again.

Oh how I long to finish these two paintings and get back to playing with screen printing, block printing and discharging art that is FUN!!!!!!!

OK, back to work, deep breaths.......breathing in I love my painting.....breathing out I love my painting......Ohmmmmmm..........

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Steam or not to Steam , Silk Dyes or Silk Paints

I got both of the resisted paintings steamed today and I took some photos along the way to illustrate just how simple the steaming process is. So many silk artists have told me that they use silk paints because they are afraid to make the leap to using professional steam set dyes because of the steaming process. It is my hope that these photos will show you just how easy it is to steam silk.

A couple of important differences between paints and dyes are that silk paints, no matter how thin, cover the silks luminous surface and make it dull. It is the same idea as putting watercolor paint over paper or oil paint on a canvas which will then cover the surface of the canvas. Silk paints also leave a "hand" or stiff feel to the silk and that affects the silks liquid drape. Steam set dyes allow the iridescent brilliance of the silk to shine through and leave absolutely no hand or stiffness to the silk. Because of the steaming process the molecules of the dye actually join with the molecules of the silk so the color becomes part of the silk fibers and does not sit on top of the silk as paints do, therefore the dyes will not cover up the beautiful shinny surface of the silk
Each silk painting (in this case with just the resist applied) is layered between 2 sheets of paper.

Once all of the layering is done the silk is rolled onto a metal bar and sealed with tape. The horizontal steamer on the Garland in the background is preheating in this photo.

Once the steamer is preheated, (you can see the steam rising in the photo above) the roll of paper and silk is placed into the steamer.
In the photo above I have removed the silk paintings from the steamer and unrolled them. Since I was only steaming to set the resist, and not to set a completed painting with many layers of dye, this steaming is shorter and was completed in under 2 hours.

The next step will be to re-stretch the silk onto the wooden stretchers and to begin applying the layers of dye.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Resist Flowed onto the Silk Like Honey Today!

I love it when the resist cooperates and today it did. I was really worried about getting it to do the really small areas on this drawing but it behaved very well and for the most part it did not spread or goop up on me. We were in Maine on vacation from Thursday until Monday so I had a lot of catching up to do but I did manage to get the second drawing transferred onto the silk AND even got the resist applied!!!
In the photos above and below I am applying the resist that I have colored with black dye over the water soluble pencil drawing with a tiny air compressor. I wear a special glove on my hand to help with hand pain.

Painting on silk is done lying flat like watercolor painting and is tough on the neck and back. Looking at myself working in this photo answers my question "Why am I getting so hunchbacked?"

One silk painting hanging on the line and one drying in the stretcher. Next I will steam set the resist lines and then re-stretch them and begin applying the dyes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bonnie Samuel writes about TAFA (Textile and Fiber Art List)

Bonnie Samuel wrote a great article about TAFA on her amazing blog today. I was thrilled when she asked if she could use the photo of me in my studio in the article. 
 Bonnie begins the article saying;
" TAFA, The Textile and Fiber Art List is a rousing success by any measure. TAFA is the promotional  and networking site for member working artists and textile businesses who represent fiber in all forms. The site was conceived and created by Rachel Biel and launched in early 2010, and now boasts 145 members plus to date."

To read the full article as well as a plethora of other very interesting articles about the textile/fiber world visit her blog at: Bonnie Samuel Designs Fiber in Art, Culture and Life

Bonnie notes that the price of membership is going up from $25.00 to $48.00  in September so if you are a fiber artist join now!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Farm Painting Resisted, Hands on ice

I finally got the resist applied to the fall farm silk painting I have been working on. It is sooo.... hot and humid in the studio and the resist was really goopy and sticky. I had a really hard time getting it to behave in the really small tight areas. My  Dr. put me back on antibiotics and they are making me feel crappy so I did not have much patience for rouge resist today.

My hands are really struggling with doing resist work and after I apply resist to a silk painting I find that I have to sit with ice on my hands to get the pain and swelling down. I am really wondering how much longer I am going to be able to do this kind of work.But this one is done, and after it dries I will steam it in the silk steamer for a few hours to set the dye in the resist and to activate the resists holding properties. Then I will put it back on the stretcher and begin applying the layers of dye.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Saturday we went to Brattstock and it was one of those amazing Vermont summer days with lots of sun and refreshing cool breezes. We sat with the dogs uner ancient trees in dappled shade and listened to some of Brattleboros awesome musical talant. I was exhausted so we didn't stay as long as we would have liked to but it was still a wonderful day.

I am planning to get back to my silk painting Monday after I get back from my Doctors appointments. If all goes well I will get the resist applied Monday and Tuesday and do the first steaming Wednesday.