Preparing for upcoming class

In preparing for my upcoming katazome class, which starts on December 8th at the Textile Center of Minnesota, I’ve been looking into some alternatives to shibugami (traditional katazome stencil paper), because, though shibugami is lovely, pleasant to cut and extremely durable, it is expensive. It can be helpful to explore alternatives, especially when beginning to learn katazome materials and techniques. Some months ago I heard about using Yupo as an alternative from Australian katazome artist, Melinda of so-meru. Since then I have tried it with some of my own work.


When I first used these Yupo stencils, I found pasting somewhat awkward because they are not reinforced.  My paste spreader (hera) was catching on points and edges of shapes in the stencil. I learned to reinforce my shibugami stencils with silk netting, called sha. John Marshall developed an innovative method which doesn’t require toxic lacquer. The netting, which is attached to the front (top) of the stencil, both stabilizes it and protects it from damage while pasting. Here is a close up of one of my reinforced stencils. You can see how fine the sha is.

The solution I came up with seems to work well so far with these Yupo stencils. I found some mosquito screen at my local hardware store. It’s made from lightweight plastic or nylon. A roll of it costs less than $10 and is enough to make a bunch of screens. I cut it to approximately the same size as my stencil (or a little smaller), and created a flexible margin around it using duct tape. The stencil goes down on the cloth first, then the screen goes over the top. Paste as usual, then mist lightly, and remove both the stencil and the screen from the surface simultaneously.


Below is a close up of the screen corner. I made the margin a bit too narrow, but since my Yupo stencil already had a rather wide margin it didn’t really matter. You need a margin for the extra paste to flow as you spread it across the stencil.


The border of the screen below is wider, and I think this works better. I used 2 pieces of duct tape, one on back, one on front, overlapping the screen by about 1/2″.

You will have to make sure your paste is of the proper consistency, i.e. not too thick. Thick paste will likely leave little squares on your cloth in the pattern of the screen. Here’s a close up of my wet paste after screening. You’ll see a few areas where I need to smooth it out a bit but generally it covers well. The cloth is linen: loosely woven, soft, with a basket weave pattern woven in, which gives it dimension and texture. (I am making curtains for the household.)


I think this is an adequate and flexible solution. Everything is waterproof and does not buckle. You can soak the paste off and forget about it (as is my normal routine) when finished pasting. If you want to paste the stencil both from the back and the front, i.e., flipping the design, you may do so, though you’ll have to wash the paste from the stencil before flipping it. I think using this technique with a registering repeat design will be more challenging; something to look into later.

Back into the studio

Gardeners & art lovers enjoyed good weather for last Saturday’s Art and Garden tour. I was situatgarden1ed in a garden in front of an historic (1910) St. Paul home, one of several Peace Garden sites  in the Twin Cities. The gardens and plants were the stars of the tour. This garden was all about the rich textures and colors of leaves, and the structures of plants and shrubs. Here is just one example.

I displayed my runners and hangings on trellises, and placed my pillows on the brick stairs leading to the massive front porch. Textiles as garden art and decoration!

I have a couple of weeks left to prepare for the Loring Park Art Festival. This morning I discovered that I accidentally recycled one of my smallest stencils along with the newsprint used to blot and flatten it after use. This is something John Marshall warned us about, and now I have learned the lesson!

Stencils are soaked before and after using, blotted with newspaper, and flattened under books before storing them away for the next use. So if you layer a bunch of stencils  between newsprint under a pile of books, tossing one away accidentally is easy if you are not mindful when putting them away.


Blue Moons and dots

It’s nearly full moon. I will savor three full moons this month — the two touchable blue moons I bought from Shibori Girl’s shop (one moon, one bookmark) plus the one bright moon in the sky. Along with my moons, Glennis gave me 3 design stencils for kanoko shibori” that she brought back from Japan. They are pictured below, on top of the pasted cloth.


The stencils are not made from shibugami (Japanese stencil paper), so I didn’t soak them before pasting, which is my usual routine. I think they are made from another type of heavy paper and treated with shellac to make them water resistant. Since the margins are missing, I masked the fabric and used some newsprint to protect the fabric outside the designs from smears of rice paste. I intend to make an “instant indigo” vat this week, and dip these pieces. I wonder if the white dots will show, since the paste is only on one side. I will post the results later in the week.  I’ve used linen/cotton scraps and vintage cotton napkins I found at a local estate sale. The fabric has not been treated with soybean milk. This would prevent the indigo from penetrating to some extent.

The triangle pattern reminds me a little of this.