Summer school

I spent last week in London doing a Summer School course with June Fish at Central St Martins.  Aside from the fun of getting to work in CSM's fully equipped dye and print studio for a week, this was an opportunity to explore different types of dye and application techniques.  We covered lots of ground.  Not everything will make its way into my practice but there were two techniques that really appealed to me and have potential for development.  

The first was painting directly onto the silkscreen with thin dyes - a technique I knew about but hadn't tried before.  It's a form of monoprinting I suppose.  Now I have done this with thickened dyes ("breakdown printing") but those need much longer to dry and the effect is quite different.  I really liked this and could see this being a way to interpret some of my ink drawings.  

The second technique involved wax.  June demonstrated basic wax resist using batik wax, which I found frustrating to iron out of my samples.  However I knew I had some soy wax and began to wonder about combining this with clamp resist (itajime) or pole wrap (arashi) techniques.  I know other people have had success with this.  

Now, because soy wax has such a low melting point I had to iron out the wax before the dye could be steam-fixed.  When I removed the clamps and pulled the cloth out flat, the effect of the wax against the (damp) dyed cloth was just stunning:  

After processing (removing the wax, steam-fixing, washing out) the effect is more subdued - the inevitable difference between damp versus dry cloth - but still interesting.  Clamp resist is ideal for workshop conditions because it can be done quickly - but I'm not sure how I feel about the geometric patterns.   

So much to explore, so little time.  The whole point of doing workshops like this is to expand the range of techniques and knowledge I can draw upon but I also need to keep focused on the things that will really help my work and not get too distracted.  When I consider all the different things I want to explore, I am quite daunted, given the time I have available.  However making time for this developmental work alongside simply making more work is important - otherwise I'll end up just making "more of the same".   So I need to select the most promising ideas and set aside some time to experiment intensively with them.