The Colors

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.

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Garden Imagery, Stencil Design

My new katazome stencil was inspired by the Robins I wrote about in my last post and by the late spring/early summer garden. I started with sketches on newsprint of plants and a nest, and then chose the shapes I liked best. For the plants, I settled on Hosta from the garden and Wood Anemone, a native wildflower that I discovered growing just down the street in a city park. I worked out the composition by drawing shapes on black paper, cutting them out and arranging them on a white background. I then transferred this design to the back of the stencil paper (shibugami). I found these really great white opaque ink pens called Uniball Signo, which show up very well on the dark brown stencil paper. The nearly-final stencil in the bottom image still has a few narrow bridges that will be cut away during the next step of the process, which is to reinforce the stencil with silk netting, or “sha.”

The Robins

I have a thing for Robins. They are a symbol of the joy I feel in spring after the long, dark winter. A certain robin, the same one for 3 or 4 years, has raised, along with her mate, 2-3 broods every year. She builds her nest on top of a sheltered post on our open back porch. I lure her back to this spot with raisins. She and her mate show up in April, “asking” for raisins with a plucky stance as they gaze up at me through the glass of the kitchen door. In feeding them this occasional treat, I always remember my mother, who started this activity many years ago and derived great pleasure from it, as I now do. Both male and female are devoted and energetic parents.

It is now mid-July, and I think the Robins have moved on for the summer.