Exploring katazome on silk

I continue to work on the katazome piece I wrote about in my previous 2 posts. After making the ecoprinted under layer, I pasted the moon, a few branches and some leaf forms in the foreground. Then I painted the background with 3 layers of natural pigments in gradation. After curing the work for 5 days I rinsed it out. I like how the leaf prints still show through.

Next I pasted my 2 large stencils. I’m working on five of these pieces simultaneously. I guess you might think of them as mono-prints –  the print part is the rice paste spread through the stencil. It resists, or masks, the background from the next layer of color, which will be hand-painted with natural pigments in multiple layers. Below you see the work pasted and stretched, ready for the brush.

Here’s the palette I’m working with so far. I usually adjust colors after seeing what hue and value each layer yields. These are transparent like watercolor, so the layers below will influence the layers above.




Sketches to stencils

I usually start designing a stencil by doing some sketches of my idea. In this piece, I want to combine some pasted background imagery including a moon and some branch and leaf-like forms over the leaf impressions made by the eco-print (see my previous post) Then I’ll add pigments in subtle shades of blue and green, let the piece cure a few days and then rinse out the paste. Over this layer I will paste a single stencil of branches and blackbirds. Here are my initial sketches on newsprint for the final stencil.


Next, I work out a cartoon from my sketches, combining the imagery from the sketches. (I probably have no business making a stencil with this much open area (that is, area to be cut away), but I’m curious and committed to see how my idea works out – or not, as the case may be!) I make design adjustments both after tracing the stencil and while I am cutting it. This one will need lots of bridges to give it stability because of all the open areas. The moon is missing because it will be pasted from a separate Yupo stencil.

A light coat of spray adhesive adheres the cartoon to my stencil paper, which has been cut to allow an ample margin on all sides. My image is larger than my stencil paper so will be spread across two pieces of shibugami.

This week I am pasting and dyeing the under-layers, and hope to share a bit of that work later this week.

Easing into darkness and light

I’ve been invited to participate in Grand Marais Art Colony‘s annual spring theme exhibit, entitled Rhythms of Darkness and Light. Participating artists will make new work in response to the theme. The show will be held March 23 – April 1, 2012. (NOTE: I’ll be teaching a katazome workshop at GMAC this coming summer.)
As I delve into this rich motif, I will share some of my process here. I’ll be working on several closely related pieces simultaneously, one of which will go into this show.

Playing with leaf bundles (as taught by India Flint in her marvy book) last week felt like the perfect way to begin contemplating the theme, allowing space for my imagination to simmer. My intention is to explore the use of these subtle prints as a background to imagery made with layers of rice paste, stencils, and natural pigments (katazome materials and techniques).

Beginning, there many images floating in my mind. A memory of a walk around my local pond near the summer solstice of 2010 is mingling with walks this winter where bare branches – subtle in color – and gray skies are dominant.

As you know if you’ve visited this blog before, katazome is a centuries old Japanese tradition. Sometimes it’s perplexing to explain  to people why I am so passionate about these luscious materials and labor-intensive, exacting processes. This article, does a great job beginning to explain it, within the context of an exhibit review. Have a look:  Beauty in all things