WAFTA Artist in Residence 2018 – Again!
Well, I am stunned and amazed! The selection panel looked favourably on my application to be a WAFTA Artist in Residence at The Shopfront at North Metro TAFE, 149 Beaufort Street, Perth, Western Australia for a second year in succession. There are 3 of us this year, last year there were 2. Apparently our applications all relate to wearable art and body adornment so we should get on like a house on fire 🙂 These are the promotional posters for each of us.
The Shopfront Gallery is open 10-4 on weekdays only (closed weekends). Visitors welcome. We are giving artist talks on Thursdays.
The AIR last year was a cathartic experience for me. I finished the residency making experimental work that was completely different to my usual style. It was big for a start 🙂
This year I have had less time to think and prepare beforehand because I was ill. In my application I said that I am particularly interested in the combination of hard/soft materials, and ways of creating articulated joints to enable drape or change in direction. I have made quite a few brooches over the past year and I was thinking more about necklaces when I was referring to drape and articulated joints.
I bought this little blue dress at an op-shop.
The dress I bought in an op-shop which fits nicely but is made from thin fabric and is a bit short. I’m going to try stitching pieces of other old clothing onto it to make a unique “arty” dress.
It fitted well but the fabric was so thin you could see through it, and it was a bit short. I decided it was a candidate for one of a series of altered clothing pieces that I have had in mind for a while (read that to mean that I have a stash of clothing bought from op-shops destined to be modified into something I would wear!). I am concerned about the amount of textile waste and pollution there is from all stages of the fashion industry – from manufacture right through to the post-consumer. So I “rescue” fabric and clothing whenever I can see a way I might use it. Anyway, this dress was so thin I decided it would make a good base to patch other fabric onto. It is also a very simple shape so I figured I could open the side seams to make it easier to stitch those patches on by machine. That way if the stitching caused some shrinkage (which I think is almost bound to happen) I can add a panel at the side seams. I can do the same thing at the shoulder if that also proves to be a problem.
Nagging doubts that have prevented me from starting this project to date are, 1. it will shrink so much it won’t fit, 2. that it will look really old-fashioned and almost “hippy”, 3. that I’m wasting time that could be better spent on something else, 4. that I won’t like it once I’ve done it, 5. that people will laugh at it, 6. that it isn’t really “art”, 7. that I could make some yardage in the same way and then cut out a dress using a pattern that I know will fit, 8. well, the list goes on – I could probably add 20 more negatives easily. 🙁
Recycled blue shirts destined to be “married” to the Little Blue Dress to make a unique “arty” dress.
So, I have decided to go ahead regardless. The best that can happen is that I end up with a dress that I like and the worst is that some fabric that probably would have ended up as landfill, will end up as landfill. I won’t have wasted my time because I know I will learn a lot along the way.
Finding ways to use up the leftover ink from the workshop
Absorbent Ho Sho paper left overnight in inky water after the workshop so that the colour wicks up the paper.
Trying various ways of using up leftover ink from the workshop on Wednesday
Trying different ways of using up the ink that was left at the end of the workshop yesterday.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay here at the Basement Gallery and feel really quite sad that this is my penultimate day. This morning I gave an artist talk – which turned into more of a conversation between friends so my nervousness quickly faded away 🙂 I pulled out all my materials, pens, brushes, papers, inks, display folders, workbooks and samples from the workshop yesterday so my work desk in the gallery looked like a bomb had gone off! It didn’t take too long to clear up afterwards and it was totally worth it. It’s always rewarding to talk to people who understand when I get excited about leaving paper overnight in the jar of used water loaded with ink to see what I get the following day.
The exhibition is open from 10am to 4pm 24 November so if you haven’t visited yet and would like to then this is your last chance!
The results from leaving Japanese paper in inky water overnight and then laid flat to dry.
Rolled Japanese paper sitting in inky water left at the end of the workshop. This was given an occasional “swirl” and then left overnight before being laid flat to dry.
What a Bonus!
It was a huge bonus to be asked if we would like to stay for another week and we jumped at the chance. Robi wanted to add to her installation in the window and I still had lots of experiments I wanted to do.
Experiments with Heat Setting Polyester Fabric
I manipulated the polyester organza fabric in a few ways: I wrapped and tied (string or wire) squares around table-tennis balls, marbles, large beads, plastic poker chips, syringe caps and rolled up aluminium foil. All of those worked well. I stitched tubes of fabric and inserted beads – tying between each bead. I also wrapped stitched tubes around a dowel to create a spring-like form.
Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming.
Another experiment was to cut iron-on pelmet interfacing into strips. I wove these into a grid and stitched them together. Then I poked the polyester squares that had been shaped around table-tennis balls through some of the holes. This worked quite well and might be worth exploring at a later date. Further experiments could include covering the interfacing with fabric before/after cutting into strips, varying the strip widths, making 3D forms from the strips, and more. It was quite interesting to try and form a pleasing composition by moving the red puffs around. I could have poked the puffs through from both sides because the back had interesting texture too. Another effect I thought about (but didn’t actually do at the time) was to stitch the corners of the puffed squares to the grid (so there wasn’t anything at the back).
Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming. Shapes poked through holes in grid of stiff interfacing. Front view.
Experiments with heat setting polyester fabric by steaming. Shapes poked through holes in grid of stiff interfacing. Back view.
Today both Robi Szalay and I set up our Artist in Residence spaces in the Shopfront Gallery, 149 Beaufort St, Northbridge. We were ably assisted by Gail Hawes (WAFTA AIR Coordinator) and Margaret Ford (a very willing friend). WAFTA have done a great job with the publicity – posters and postcards. Robi and I are both very excited at the prospect of 2 weeks to concentrate on our creative work and we look forward to visitors popping in to see what we’re up to and discussing our creations. The shopfront is open from 10-4 (weekdays only) from August 8 to 18th.
The brooch featured on the poster is prominently displayed in the shop window. Other finished items are displayed in the front half of “my” space and the other half dedicated to making. Margaret assures me that it looks like an atelier 🙂
Adam tagging electrical equipment prior to use.
Red Glove Brooch and Red Ripple Necklace by Liz Arnold on the shopfront mannequin.
WAFTA have issued a challenge to its members. To buy a bag full of “bits”, make an artwork from said “bits” and the resulting artwork will be shown in an exhibition at the Perth Town Hall from 16-25 September 2017
The contents of my bag was a very mixed lot – sort of cocktail dress meets rustic. Maybe a “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” theme would work!
We have to use some of everything in the bag (including the bag itself if we wish). The finished item may be 2D or 3D and it must fit within the confines of 30 x 30 x 30 cm. We cannot swap ingredients, nor can we leave anything out. We are allowed to add an armature and we are allowed to add thread so long as it doesn’t visually overpower the items in the bag. We can alter the items in the bag in any way – we can paint, dye, bleach, distress, weave, knit, crochet, felt, darn, unpick, unravel, slash, burn, screenprint, knot, net, glue and more.
Initial conservative thoughts are a vessel or bag. Second thoughts are for a burgundy, yellow-beaked, triple-humped camel-like animal wearing snow shoes and dressed to party…..
I bought these cords from Bunnings today to experiment with. The brightly coloured Polypropylene string (1mm x 60m) was $4 for the 5 reels, the white Venetian Blind cord (2mm x 30m) was $4 and the Grunt cotton sash cord (5mm x 5m) was $4. The Dunn braided cotton rope (15m) was $3.50 in Big W.
Art supplies from the hardware store – rope, cord and string from Bunnings and BigW to experiment with.
I’m planning to experiment with netting, knotting and weaving (maybe even *gasp* macramé) and possibly using them to create more collograph plates. Although with my present luck making/using collograph plates I should probably steer clear of those for a week or so 🙂
The blind cord says it is “abrasion resistant” and although it doesn’t say what is made from the end feels like it has been heated to prevent it from unravelling. I will have fun with all of these I am sure.
How I made the collagraph plate
To make the collagraph plate I sealed a piece of thick card with Atelier Regular Gloss Gel and used the gel to adhere some loom bands. A big tub of loom bands were bought for $1 in a reject shop (obviously not the “in thing” to do anymore). The bands were adhered to the card with the idea of using it to remove paint from the Gelli® plate and also as a collagraph plate in it’s own right.
Collagraph plate problems
Collagraph plate made from loom bands glued to thick card using Gel Medium. When I used Matisse Block Printing Ink the stickiness of the ink was strong enough to pull the bands off of the board. But there is an interesting texture left in the medium ?
The top half of the photo shows the state of the plate after only a few prints. The lower half shows (l to r) a previously printed sheet overprinted from the cardboard plate, a ghost print from the Gelli® plate, a print from the cardboard plate, a print from the Gelli® plate.
I had applied 3 coats of gel to adhere the bands. This time I decided to experiment with the Matisse Block Printing inks after the disaster with the Shellac/acrylic paint/open medium disaster. The block printing inks are much stickier than the paint mixture. So sticky in fact that they started to pull the loom bands off the gel medium! So this too has turned into a mini-disaster. It’s just not my week 🙁 I will try other glues to stick the loom bands down as I really like the effect of these slightly “off” circles. The block printing inks didn’t really cover very well on the Gelli® plate either so I got lines/patchiness and sometimes the roller picked the ink up again as I rolled. So I probably need to use some other base for mono-printing with the printing inks. The bands that have come off have left an imprint in the gel medium so maybe all is not lost – maybe I can take all the bands off and use the texture of the gel medium as a printing plate. I managed a few prints before the loom bands all started looking a bit loose.
Some more painted paper results. Various papers scrunched and painted with dilute acrylics (Yellow Oxide and Cadmium Scarlet).
Painted paper experiments for collage. Various papers: brown Kraft, white 80gsm and 70gsm bond, light engineering drawing, bank layout, tissue, light cartridge and handmade Chinese. All chosen because they were acid free. January 2015
The detail shot is Chinese handmade paper which was laid over some plastic which had some interesting-looking dried paint on it.
I deliberately chose a colour from the opposite side of the colour wheel so that the paint marks would show up clearly if they transferred. So now I’m creating a stash of plastic with interesting dried paint on it as well! 🙂
I used the woven card collagraph plate sealed with shellac to print using Jo Sonja and Atelier artists acrylics mixed with Derivan Matisse Open Medium to extend the drying time of the paints.
Problems with cleaning the collagraph plate
A detail of the print from the Gelli® plate where the woven card coated with Shellac was used to remove paint. You can see the woven texture.
It was ok until I came to clean the plate – at which point it became a disaster. I managed 5 prints. I did notice that the plate had become sticky after the second print but I thought that was the paint. Then I noticed that the smell had changed – not for the better. After 5 prints I decided to clean the plate. I submerged it in water and wiped with a cloth. The paint didn’t move so I scrubbed with a nailbrush. The paint and shellac all came off where the paint was in contact with the shellac – so the card absorbed quite a bit of water.
The shellac coating came off when washing (submerged in cool water and scrubbed). The shellac came off where there was paint. I think the Matisse open medium acted as a solvent for the shellac. It didn’t come off where there was no paint.
Where there was shellac only (around the edges and on the back) the shellac remained intact (even when it was scrubbed with the nailbrush). I can only conclude that something in the open medium affected the shellac (or maybe the medium in combination with paints from another brand). I must admit I was not using the Matisse open medium with the Matisse Structure paints for which it was intended so it could be the combination and not the open medium by itself that has caused the problem. I have left the plate in the sun to dry out as I quite like it as it is so it could be sealed once dry and re-used for another purpose.
I learnt that I should have tested the shellac as a waterproofing agent on some small pieces of the card rather than using it for the first time on a plate that took me several hours to make. Then I should have tested the painting medium on those samples. My reading had indicated that shellac was the way to go but most of the books I was referring to were pretty old – open medium and paints that can be “unlocked” have been developed since they were written. The information I had would have been written for plates that were intended to be used with printing ink (which at that time would have all been oil based I imagine). Now I do actually have some Derivan Matisse Structure paints and some of their Block Printing inks (water clean up is also a recent development) so I guess there is a whole new area of enquiry right there. The question is – am I ever going to actually produce any artwork or am I going to carry on testing for ever? 🙂