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.
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.”
There are generally four ways to approach the design of katazome stencil – negative (dyed background), positive (dyed foreground), outline (resist lines on a dyed background) and string (dyed lines on a resisted background). Here’s a simple design illustrating these four approaches. I’ve added bridges where necessary so the structure of the stencil holds together.
Oftentimes a single stencil will contain more than one of these approaches.
I am working on a stencil I call “Spring” – some trees with branches and buds. I want to shift the shapes from negative on the bottom to positive on the top. The problem is how to navigate this transition gradually – I don’t want an abrupt break. I added a area of grass-like lines in the middle area of the composition. After attaching my cartoon to the surface of the shibugami (stencil paper), I sketched in some lines to clarify where I want to make my cuts. I made black marker lines to represent the positive leaves of grass – these I cut between – and red marker lines to represent the negative leaves of grass. These I cut away.
Here’s the middle section after cutting.
It’s now ready to reinforce. (See the two “V” bridges at the top edge – these will be cut away.)