Friday, August 27, 2010

Screen printing on hard surfaces

As I said in a previous post, I had the opportunity to learn about screen printing on paper and hard surfaces last Friday.
After we played around with paper, we used our exposed screen (mine had two designs on it) to print onto wood.

We had to use fabric binder rather than paper binder but it seems to have worked well.  I used a photo of grass that I took at Darebin Parklands, my design inspiration for everything at the moment.  I had used the photo to develop this design as part of my work for the Maurice Kain competition.

One of the things that I am loving about the course (Textiles and Design at RMIT) is that designs and skills are transferrable across subjects and projects - and I am seeing that more clearly now in my own work.

Today we are going to use the laser cutter and etcher to work further with the wood.  Then we are going to use the dye sublimation printer on polyester to produce some fabric to incorporate into the piece.  At least, I think we are going to do all that today - we will do at least one of the processes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finally getting some weaving done

I am pleased to say that I have finally started weaving my large tapestry on campus.  It is not far along but at least I have started.

I find that I get into a sort of zone when I weave, time just rushes by and I get lost in the decisions about colour, accuracy of the line, etc.

Today I started to have fun with texture.  I am using a combination of techniques and novelty yarns to produce my texture.  It is so much fun to try different yarns and see what I can do with them.  Sometimes I pull them out because they don't do what I wanted but usually they do an approximation of what I was hoping for.  It is exciting to have a general idea of what you want and just try out different ideas and not worry too much about being exactly true to the original picture - or the cartoon.  I think this free sort of weaving is my thing!  Interpreting the original design or picture, that's what I call it.

I love other people's works that are beautifully flat and wonderful representations of pictures and paintings but I don't want to do that yet - maybe when I am a more confident and proficient weaver.  Maybe not though, it may just be that I love texture. Anyway, it is good that it was fun today - I have plenty more to do on this piece and it is much easier if I am enjoying it.

Half tone print onto paper

When we had the opportunity to screen print on paper, we exposed a halftone design onto a screen and then printed it on paper.
I tried the technique of mixing two colours but it was inexact - I have no experience in this area at all, so it was probably my fault.

I preferred the print done in one colour.  I used coloured paper for this one - green on green.  The image is yet another photo I took at Darebin Parklands that I then played around with in Photoshop.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Screen printing on paper

Last Friday, instead of our usual class about Photoshop and Illustrator, we had a class in which we learnt to apply some of our ideas.  We are studying using the computer, and the above mentioned programs, to enhance screen printing on paper and hard surfaces.  I am really a ring-in for this class as I am not enrolled in the screen print stream of the textile course I am in.  A friend and I were allowed to enrol to learn the programs better, so I feel lucky to be in the class.
The teacher of screen print for paper and hard surfaces, Rose Elizabeth, very kindly walked us through some of the processes.  We had fun!!
We played with torn paper, talc powder and mixing colours on paper.

As I didn't really know what I wanted to do, I used pigment that had been left by other students.  It saved having to mix my own colours.  As the screen was used again and again, the colours mixed and changed.  Part of the fun was not knowing what was going to happen.

You could add colours as you went, so the intensity could be changed.  Now all I have to do is decide what I might use the paper for.  I think I would like to do this class next year if I am able.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Election Night

I don't usually do tapestry weaving at night but there is nothing on tv tonight that I want to see, except the analysis of the Federal Election today.  I will listen occasionally but it is early in the evening and people are just predicting. I live in a safe Labor seat, so it will all depend on the marginal seats, I assume.

I am so grateful that we can go to voting booths and not be in danger, that voting is compulsory and that it is just a normal part of our lives.  Tales from people I know who come from other countries remind us of the privilege we have of a safe voting environment and the human rights we take for granted.  I also like the fact that we vote for a party, not a person.

I did a little weaving today but had the important job of watching the television this afternoon as Hawthorn played Fremantle in the football (Australian Football League).  I don't like watching it on tv, I would much rather see it live, but it was in Tasmania, which is a bit far to go.  I couldn't ignore it and ended up watching it on tv.  As you might assume, little was achieved in terms of weaving today.
I rushed in at the quarter (and half) times and did a little (little being the operative word) and will perhaps do some tonight.

I am more interested in the vote than I used to be when I was younger - I couldn't understand why the older people were so interested but now I get it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home Tapestry

The two tapestries I am doing at present are both progressing slowly.  The one I am doing at home is on the way.  I can do it on weekends and for an hour or so every now and then, between appointments.  I also get together with a friend most Tuesdays and I usually take my tapestry with me.  We have a lovely day together, doing our artistic endeavours (assignments for our courses usually).  She is studying the Diploma of Textiles and Design at Box Hill TAFE.

I am using a cartoon at the back for this one.

This work is based on an aspect of Rockbeare Park and it's geology.  I am playing around with the colours and some texture in this also.  It has quite a long way to go still - I hope I don't get stressed about finishing it by the end of October, when it is due for my course!  I suppose I will have to eventually start working after dark.  It is actually staying light longer these days, so I should be able to get more in from now on.
I just looked up daylight saving hours on the government site, it starts at the beginning of October, so that will give me more time to work in reasonable light.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Winter Masterpieces

Today I went to the Winter Masterpieces exhibition of European Masters: Stadel Museum 19th - 20th Century, at the NGV.  I went with my friend from New York and a friend of hers.  We went in and looked around at some of the rooms, then went to a talk about the exhibition.  This was excellent, it went for about 45 minutes and had a good balance for people who know their art and those who know little.
It was interesting to hear how the political situation in Germany affected the artists.  There was also mention of how the invention of tubes of oil paint allowed outdoor painting. It is interesting to see how new technology can affect developments in art.  I tend to forget that those classic artists were also innovators and trying new ideas, breaking rules, etc - that they were not classic masters at the time. That came out clearly in the talk too.
I was impressed by the use of colour in the gallery, there were several rooms of paintings, representing different movements in the art, and they were presented in rooms that were painted in quite different colours, some of them very bright.  I am not sure if this is to replicate how the Frankfurt Gallery displays the works or if it was a design of the NGV.
The atmosphere at the gallery was great.  It was Wednesday evening and there were people eating and drinking in the foyer area, more people were in the Great Hall, listening to the band that was playing there. Others were in at the exhibition.  It was relaxed, happy and a great place to be.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Large Tapestry (large for me)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am working on a tapestry based on a photo I took in Rockbeare Park/Darebin Parklands.
I decided that I wanted it to be much larger than ones I have done previously, so it will be about 55cm x 75cm.  I have had to borrow one of the looms from RMIT as I do not have one that will accommodate that size.

It is too large to be carrying back and forth, so I will have to work on it on campus.  I am not so keen about this as I will have to change my schedule to be on campus on days that I am not normally there but I am keen to do a larger work, so I will have to grin and bear it.

It has taken me ages to get organised to start - I have only done the small tapestry technique of hitching on so far and that has taken about 2 - 3 hours.  I will have to make sure I socialise less and work more in class from now on!

Monday, August 16, 2010

tree stump

While walking home from the station today, we came across this tree stump.

Lately I have been heavily into to looking at trees, trunks, patterns, etc, in my local surroundings.  So it was interesting to see the patterns and texture.
But it also reminded me of a face (well, I can see a face!) and a fun site - Faces in Places.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Working at home

I like doing my tapestry at home, so I have started on another tapestry as I have a loom all warped up and I don't want to only work on campus (see previous post).  I like to do some weaving on the weekend, so I am doing another piece based on my photos of Darebin Parklands/Rockbeare Park.  This one is based on a different outcropping of rocks and, once again, I hope to play with different textural techniques and yarns.
I have played with the image in Photoshop to see if it helps me see the differences in colours more easily.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Darebin Parklands history blog

The Darebin Parklands Association has started up a blog on which you can write memories of your time at the park.  For me, the memories are about Rockbeare Park, which is now better known as being part of Darebin Parklands.
I will have to try to remember games played in the creek, sliding down the cliff beside the gum tree that is still in Wynstay Crescent, swimming (?) in the creek - maybe I was little and it was deeper. Hopefully, it was cleaner.

We used to slide down here! It is a long way down.
Looking across to Melbourne, from the same spot.

I am sure that memories of the creek, chasing after my brothers who were playing football down there, exploring the secret paths, etc, are what are influencing my current project of art work based on the park.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Finally, I have started working on a new tapestry.  I was getting ready to do one that is based on a photo I took at Darebin Parklands (I suppose it is really Rockbeare Park as it is on the Banyule side of Darebin Creek).  It is of the cliff near a pond and the particular picture is quite purplish.  It must have just been the right time of day at the right time of year.  I have others of the same spot that are not nearly so purple. (Actually, it doesn't look all that purple here, but it prints out very purple every time.)

I forgot that you cannot work all the way up a loom, it gets too tight if you work too high.  So I had to revise the size of the image when I had warped up the frame.  I had intended to do it at about 60cm x 80cm but that would not fit on the loom I had warped up.
I put off starting as I was debating what hitching-on to do.  I have tried the traditional hitching-on that requires plaiting of the warps when finished and leaves a white edge.  I have also  tried the small tapestry hitching-on that does not have such an obvious edge but uses a lot of hitching (and wool, and time).
I have recently found a copy of The Techniques of Woven Tapestry by Tadek Beutlich (a 1986 copy) and he had notes about weaving a small amount that can be turned under when finished.  This eliminates the white edge also.  I saw this technique when we went to see some of Jennifer Sharpe's work too.

I found the book when I was browsing The Book Depository, a website that sells books online and sends them postage free!!  Turns out they did not have it but gave me a link to another site that finds second-hand books (Abe Books) and I ended up getting it from a shop in Healesville, so it came within days!

I kept putting off starting the work.  Finally I realised that there was a little voice in my head saying, "You want to do it bigger!"  That was why I had been procrastinating so much.  So I have warped up a bigger loom and will start work on the tapestry this week - if all goes to plan.
I decided to use the traditional technique, I need the practice with plaiting.

I hope I get it done by the time my work is due to be handed in.  I have until November the 5th (Guy Fawkes day  - maybe I can let off some fireworks if I get it done in time).  I will work on it on campus, so that will mean going in at times apart from class times. Once again, I am hoping to play with some texture techniques and novelty yarns.

Monday, August 9, 2010

ATASDA meeting

The inaugural meeting of the Victorian branch of ATASDA was held yesterday.  There were over 40 people present and the mood was very upbeat.  We were told of the usual procedures at meetings in other states and had some demonstrations of various techniques with an embellishing machine.  Some people brought show and tell and described how they had achieved the work they showed.
I hope the group goes ahead and am very grateful to the people who are willing to organise it.   I look forward to interesting workshops and new friendships.
The organisation was explained to us, including the benefits of becoming a member.  These include workshops, online groups, a library and a newsletter.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dyeing with Olives - still

One of the teachers at my campus very kindly tested the olive dyeing for me. She had it exposed to UV light for 80 hours (it was supposed to be 60 hours but the technician did it for 80).
The fabric did fade and turned brown rather than the purplish colour that I had gained.

I am not too disappointed, it did dye, the brown is not awful and 80 hours is a fairly long time.  It actually looks a bit like when I dyed it with alum. (The faded part is on the left.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tapestry by Jennifer Sharpe

Jennifer Sharpe had an exhibition of recent woven tapestries that we visited as part of our excursion to Warrnambool.  It was at the Customs House gallery, a lovely historic building.

Jennifer was kind enough to come and talk to us about her work and answer questions.
Here she is with Cresside

She has recently moved to Castlemaine and that has influenced her recent work.  There was a large number of pieces and she had done some very small miniatures using DMC embroidery thread, a postcard series of doors, landscape scenes, owls,  possums, banksias and probably some other things I can't remember.  It was also well worth the visit.
Some of the pieces were in the TAFTA Textile Forum Magazine in 2008.
She also allowed us to take pictures!

Jennifer and Tim Gresham had been at the week long workshop for the distance education Diploma of Tapestry students and stayed on another day to talk about their own work. (I wrote about these in an earlier post.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Student Tapestry Exhibition at Warrnambool

As I mentioned in the previous post, we went to see Mixed Threads, the exhibition of the off-campus diploma of tapestry students.  It was at the Warrnambool Art Gallery, in the first gallery.
Once again, I was surprised that we were allowed to take pictures, here are some shots.  All the work was great, showing a variety of techniques and topics.

I especially like the way the students had done a large piece and several other accompanying pieces.  They were all clearly related and they styles of the students showed through clearly.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tapestry Excursion to Warrnambool

On Friday we went to Warrnambool to see several examples of tapestry.  It was a long train trip (about 3 hours each way) but well worth it.  As there were about 10 of us going, we were able to chat most of the way or sit quietly if that suited us better.
Of course, I was in the chatting group.  The trip home was a bit quieter as it was getting late and we were tired.  We caught the VLine train at about 7.45am at Southern Cross and returned at 8.30pm.  Then we had to get home from the city.  It was a long but enjoyable day.

We stopped first at Deakin campus near Warrnambool to visit the School of Arts and meet with the organiser of the distance education Diploma of Tapestry that is run by South West TAFE.  This course sounds very interesting and the exhibition we went to later was of students of this course.

As I have been looking online for the links, I have found a short course of tapestry and textiles also.  I'll have to look at this in more detail later.

A few of the ladies on the excursion were interested in hearing about the distance course.  We are wondering what we will do next year when some have finished studying and others have completed the tapestry part of the course.  We were discussing ways to keep in touch and to keep up our interest in tapestry.  We find working in groups very enjoyable and are discussing ways to organise ourselves.We may even get around to organising regular meetings and perhaps - wait for it - a group show.

While at Deakin we were lucky enough to attend a presentation by Tim Gresham who talked about his development as a tapestry weaver.  He showed his developing style of planning his tapestries and also some technical explanations of how he achieves some of his effects.  He showed some amazing drawings he had done and then how he has used aspects of them to inspire his weaving.  You can see some of his art work at his website. One thing I found especially interesting was his latest style of drawing his designs - he doesn't do cartoons at present, he draws straight onto the warp and when he has woven part, he continues the drawing directly on the warp.
Another technique he explained was to use a grid to enlarge, or keep track of, a design so that he could be accurate.  The grid is on both his drawn design and the warp.  (Obviously, this was when he was drawing up his designs.)