August 3, 2009


Tiles, a 17 by 10 inch work, was inspired by a horizontal photograph of an author standing in front of a patterned wall. On the right were beautifully colored octagonal tiles, and on the left, a rough plaster wall of wandering colors. In dyeing the wool for this piece, I tried to come close to the brilliant Islamic-tile-color, but as is true with most dyeing, the color is wonderful but not exactly what I had in mind originally.

In this process from conception to completion, the dyeing of wool fabric reminds me a great deal of printmaking. When making a print, I would never be quite sure how the plate I was working on would translate into ink on paper. Part of the interest of printmaking is that surprise that comes from a lack of total control. This is very different from painting, where you see right away what you've got. So, when I put the wool into a pot of dye, I'm never sure of the precise color and value. And that's fun. Traditional rug hookers use careful measured formulas for each color variation so they can reproduce a desired color at will. With my long years of mixing color for painting, I like to wing it, to put in a little this and that until I get a color that looks right. Sometimes, after the wool is dry, I see that it's really too far from what I needed and I either start again or overdye that piece. Other times I'm just pleasantly surprised.

To get the variegated coloring of the top part of this ruglet, I used a process known as spot dyeing. The fabric is scrunched into a flat pan and different colored dyes are dropped onto the wool; because the wool isn't laid out smoothly the dyes are taken up in differing amounts in the hills and valleys of fabric. In this case, I used the same two colors as for the "tiles"; their mixing and differing values created a fabric that echoed, yet extended, the colors in the lower part of the piece.

No comments:

Post a Comment