I started my first quarter challenge back at the beginning of February. I made a piece of nuno felt using black wool prefelt and white silk to make a canvas.
Finally the other day I decided to try out my idea on how to paint the canvas. I thickened some die with arrowroot powder. I was aiming for a paint like texture. I had never thickened dye before and I didn’t want to spend any money ordering something special. I looked up thickeners and arrowroot was the one recommended for acidic things. It is a very fine powder.
I added a little to each small batch of acid dye and heated it a little. The first one I heated too much and it was like vulcanised rubber in the bottom of the cup. lesson learned less powder and less heat.
I started with yellow.It wasn’t dribbling how I wanted so I thinned it down. I didn’t like that either it spread out too much. For the next 3 colours I poured it from the cups and moved them across the canvas quickly. That worked really well. Then I heated it in the microwave.
While I was doing this I realised I had not put any vinegar in the dye. I heated up some water and put it in a basin and when the canvas come out of the microwave I put it into the acidified water and heated it in the microwave a bit and let it cool. having to put it in the water bath blurred the lines a bit but the arrowroot made it stay put for the most part. as you can see the thickened yellow is what moved in to the water the most.
When I rinsed it and it felt really slimy. I thought I rinsed it well but it was harsh and stiff feeling when dry so I gave it a good wash with some shampoo. This is the finished piece. I think its very Pollock like.
I haven’t ironed it yet but I think I will and use the heat and steam to square it up.
When I first announced the 1st quarter challenge, I knew which Jackson Pollock painting would be my inspiration – The Deep. I don’t particularly like his multi-colored paintings as I find it difficult to put all those different colors together and come up with a coherent design. So I was drawn to the neutral colors and nearly monotone color scheme in The Deep.
I had originally planned on doing the felted piece in multiple layers, felting each layer separately and then putting the piece together after felting. But when I got out my supplies and saw the cut up pieces of white prefelt, I changed my mind.
I had a black prefelt scarf length piece that I folded so there were four layers of background prefelt. I then had bunches of scraps where I had cut up a white prefelt scarf for a sample for when I was writing my book. Of course, I saved them as I knew at some point, I would use them. I also had some crimped nylon fiber that Zed had sent me ages ago but I had never tried. I thought it would be perfect to put along the center black section and add some bright white. I also used a bit of white banana fiber as well.
Next I laid out all the prefelt pieces. I hoped that all the different sizes of white prefelt over the black would end up looking like brush strokes. Some areas had more prefelt pieces than others to give the mottled grey appearance on the edges of the original painting. I added just a little bit of yellow-orange prefelt in torn pieces.
I added the banana fiber and the crimped nylon along the edges of the center black section. In hindsight, I should have added more nylon. I also added some merino fiber around the edges as I was afraid that the outside would not be white enough with just the prefelt.
Here is the finished piece. You can click on the photo to see it enlarged. I liked the results and the process was really speedy since I started with prefelt.
Here’s a closer view of the center section. I’m not sure I got the depth that the painting has but I do like the results. I also see that the original has much more blue and green tones around the edges, but I wasn’t trying to do an exact rendition.
This photo shows the banana fiber running from top left to top center. You can see some of the crimped nylon just right of the center of the photo.
I hope that you’ll try the challenge even if you aren’t really inspired by Jackson Pollock. Perhaps you could just take a small portion of one of his paintings and enlarge it and use that as an inspiration. Or look for one of his less well-known paintings or something from his earlier work. It is fun to try working from a different point of view. We’d love to see what you create.