I was asked to do an unpaid commission:
“What we would like are single layer fine art banners in cotton. I’d like to have 8 banners in total, 3’4″ wide by 5′ long, on a theme which will evoke the feeling of tropical islands.
I don’t want anything quilted. The sound absorption is secondary to me. We can always back them up with poly batting if we need to.
We might very well take the banners down to the trade show to hang them above our booth to reinforce that feeling of island sourced coconuts.
Perhaps you could do a miniature mockup on artboard with the colour pallet you would choose, and an idea of what the panels might look like.” emailed the prospective client.
I had never tackled anything this big before. After much research, listening to words of wisdom from my family and friends and having a lengthy debate with myself, I have taken the baton in hand and am running towards a goal of completion.
My decision to go forward was based on my belief that the rewards (of receiving practical experience by going through the steps and processes of working with a client, researching and developing the concept, making samples for the client to confirm that we are on the same idea page thus allowing me to practice the processes and play in the textile disciplines I have been learning about and dabbling in, finding the space to tackle such an opportunity, designing and sewing, waxing, and dyeing the pieces for the client approved project, and finishing the pieces for the final installation, making mistakes along the way and learning from them, figuring out how long all this takes, fighting the fear of failure and rejoicing in the feeling of accomplishment for a job well done), far exceed monetary compensation.
Still not really sure what the client wanted, I went ahead and with my mom at my side to help with all the processes, made samples for myself and the client. I combined all the knowledge for resist and dyes from courses I have taken in the past, teaching my mom the ropes along the way. As one teaches, two learn. I used soy wax as a resist, dye painting with thin and thickened dyes, sea sponging with dye, thin dye spraying and mono printing to bring in light, movement and depth.
Samples of Asian Stamps and Bamboo fabric – Soy wax stamped with plum and butterfly cookie cutters, Indian brass fish stamp, and painted with assorted brushes as a resist. Thin or thickened Procion MX dye painted with brushes.
Samples of Colours – Violet to Purple, Yellow to Orange and two shades of Intense Green. Soy wax stamped with assorted utensils and painted by brush as a resist. Thin or thickened Procion MX dye painted with brushes.
Samples of Colours – Blues & Browns with Greens. Soy wax painted with assorted brushes as a resist. Thin or thickened Procion MX dyes painted with assorted brushes.
Samples of Soy Wax Resist – Tjanting Tools & Assorted Brushes. Soy wax painted as a resist with assorted tools. Thin or thickened Proxion MX dyes painted with assorted brushes.
Samples of loose interpretations with additional artistic input based on tropical feel images found on the Internet.
To my relief the client said, “that is exactly what I had in mind.” With the exception of this piece where the client would like to have more white space or water of sorts.
Samples of monoprinting – thickened Procion MX dye is dropped and spread on a board, tools are dragged through the dye to create designs, seaweed sponges are used to create circular marks, the fabric is put on the board and a roller or squeegee is used to press the fabric onto the board and into the dye, and in some cases thin Procion MX dye is sprayed to fill the empty spaces.
The image to the left is Procion MX dye applied to the fabric with assorted sea sponges and the image to the right is a monoprint made from the board after a few more dabs of colour had been added to the board before applying the fabric. These are coral reefs.
Last and not least are the fantastic designs that show up on the clean up cloths:
So ahead I forge.
Fabric drying on the washing line, almost touching the ground, after it has been washed, pre-shrunk in the dryer, cut to approximate size, and soda soaked for the sewing, resist waxing and dye painting process. **Note to self and others: Wooden stirring spoons and clothing pins leave green marks in the soda soaked fabric. Purchase metal spoon for stirring and plastic clothes pins for future projects.