Imagining a “garden at dusk” led me to paint several layers of dusky colors in a very light value on the entire surface of the cloth, using soy milk and natural pigments. I would never have used the vintage white damask formal linen tablecloth for dining purposes. My cloth is long enough for two instances of the stencil, which was created from a full sheet of stencil paper. The finished image will be approximately 16” x 30.” Placing my stencil on the cloth before pasting allows me to see where the background colors fall within the stencil design. Before pasting the design (rice paste through the stencil), the stencil and the bamboo stretching sticks–“shinshi,”–soak in water.
Here is some new work using my new Spring stencil. First I created the background water pattern, using the water stencil featured in this post. I pasted my Spring stencil over that background. One of the challenges for me was getting the values dark enough in contrast to the background. This was in part due to my tendency to be tentative with use of pigments. Also, the work looks darker when it is wet; nevertheless I still had trouble getting dark enough values. I painted probably 4-5 layers of pigments and soy. In the top image, the darkest values in the branches and buds were painted on after washing off the paste – a method of fixing it when you wash the paste off too soon!
Another general challenge in katazome, which I really felt while working on this piece, is that the yellowish rice paste resist covers the lightest values in the work, so what you see is not really what you get. This adds to the excitement (and/or disappointment!) when you do finally wash off the paste! I’ve posted more photos of the work in progress in this photo album on my Facebook page.
I stitched the piece to a sheet of handmade Japanese moriki kozo paper from Wet Paint Art, treated with konnyaku starch (to give it texture and strengthen it for stitching).
In the example above I added an image of a cardinal before pasting the Spring stencil. The cardinal was dyed and covered with paste before adding the primary Spring layer.
A cardinal takes flight from a rain garden near my house – a surprising flash of red that always makes my heart skip a beat!
Below are images of the pieces I completed since I have become a member of Project Art for Nature.
Visiting my site in mid-June, I saw a field of one of my favorite native wildflowers, Monarda fistulosa (also known as wild bergamot or bee balm), not yet in bloom but vigorous with upward verdant growth. The topmost leaves of brilliant yellow-green seemed almost like sources of light. Three of the pieces are my response to observing this field.
I was also attracted to a hillside dense with tall, graceful grass. I have since learned this is an invasive and difficult-to-eradicate species called reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Its presence can lead to a decline in native plants. Since learning this, I have noticed it everywhere – in roadside ditches, parks, etc. It grows so thick it tends to choke the wetlands.