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It’s hard to believe it today with all the rain being dumped from the sky but we have enjoyed some lovely sunny weather lately here in the UK and I have made the most of it with a spot of mud printing in our back garden.

Printing with a mud paste can get a little messy so it’s great to be able to do it outdoors. In addition it’s very helpful when it then rains and washes all that mess away – easy clean-up 🙂

However the sunshine means that the paste can get dried out fairly quickly so you can go on with the next step in the process.

You may have seen block printing done with mud (Dabu) in India and of course not only do they have the heritage and skills but also the climate. Dabu printing is a traditional mud-resist hand-block printing art usually done with a wooden block (the metal blocks are more often used for batik printing as the wax can be melted off)

My receipe for the mud paste was little hit and miss – water, clay and lime powder which I tried to avoid using because it can burn your skin badly, but hb helped me out and we mixed it carefully with masks on – another good reason to be outside if you try this.

Make Mud Prints while the sun shines is my new saying!

It’s possible to print with anything pretty much. I own quite a few wooden blocks some of which were excellent and some too fine to cope with the build up of mud after multiple layers had been applied. I also used foam shapes and cardboard rolls with good effect. And one of my favourites was simply a big brush applied in broad strokes.

The mud acts as a resist to the dye and sometimes cracks during the drying process which can cause veining, which in my opinion adds to the final effect.

Once the paste has dried, you can apply colour.

I used a Dylon hand dye so that it would be fixable and washable but I didn’t chance the dip-dye technique preferring to apply the dye with a brush and layer up the colour to make a good dark ‘indigo’ blue. It’s worth mentioning that a pre-wash really helps prime the fabric to receiving the dye.

Finally it’s dried again and then you can hand wash out the mud and admire the beautiful fabric. Where the mud was will have repelled the dye leaving a white (or in some of my cases a much paler blue) print. It will probably be years before I dare to cut into these 😉High on my wish list is a holiday in India with some authentic Dabu printing but until then the back yard will have to do.

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Our trip to Southern Asia earlier this year (here, here, here and here) was rich in visual and cultural inspiration.

I’ve honestly felt a little overwhelmed by how deep and far I could go into this vibrant feast of creative stimulus and output – whether to start with painting or stitch or print. And all the while I’m spinning the other plates of my self-employment as an artist: delivery/teaching and all the admin that it takes to run a small business. It can be distracting and actually difficult to get time to be creative some weeks.

So I just began. One day unceremoniously. Just where I was. No fanfare or special time set aside. I just started. I took off simply by doing a little each day – whatever I had time for.

As I teach screen-printing and mixed media textiles twice a week at MAC, I kicked off this intention by focusing my preparation for these classes on my Asia photos – and I have a lot to choose from as I took nearly 7000! inc duplicates for a better shot – you know? So to make that task less anxiety inducing, I split those into files: Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I currently haven’t got to the end of the 2.243 photos taken in Malaysia!

So if I was demonstrating cutting a screen-print stencil I based it on a motif from of a beautiful textile in the National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur or if I was making an example of free-machine embroidery for my Mixed Media Textiles class I referenced a drawing I’d done from a beautiful silk kimono.

Sometimes that was a basic quick line drawing, other times I had paints out to use. On some evenings I have doodled in front of the TV on my ipad pro – not that I’m especially proficient but it’s a great way to easily draw and digitalise your handwork.

It’s true what they say about ‘a little and often’ –  gradually my pile of Asia work is coming to life.

The Tutors Exhibition at macbirmingham is in it’s last week closing on

On Saturday 18th May 2019 The Tutors Exhibition  – at macbirmingham opens and in it will be one of my pattern design pieces and products – would you like to hear the story of how it came about?

I recently watched The Creative Brain on Netflix, which advocated the importance of open-ended play for creativity to blossom and this, is very much a story of that process too.

It all began with a painting I did one afternoon where I textured up a piece of watercolour paper with a lovely deckled edge and then overlaid white paint leaving the negative space to describe birds flying. And that was it – that piece of creativity sparked something else and off I went down that rabbit hole leaving this painting in the plan-chest drawer for a few months.

Then by a series of serendipitous events I found myself a member of the wonderful SteamhouseUK community where I get to play about with the most amazing array of machines and learn techniques and processes that have been invented since I was last in college.

Sublimation printing (or dye sublimation printing as it is sometimes also known) is the process of transferring images onto a fabric (or other substrate) using a heat-press to print the image. At macbirmingham we have a heat-press and we use disperse dyes to paint and print onto paper which can then be heat-pressed onto fabric (if you think that sounds fun come along to my Tues afternoon class and have a go!)

But I had never hoped to ever have access to using an actual Sublimation printer until now! In this case the disperse dyes are in the printer ink cartridges and the computer sends your image to print onto heat resistant paper in wide format.

At Steamhouse the heat-press can print onto fabric up to 175cm in width. The heat-press technique is also great for capturing textures in designs onto fabric. The Tutors show was coming up. All this got me thinking what could I make with the size of fabric that I could print to exhibit for the show?

One morning I woke up with the answer ringing clearly in my mind and it didn’t take long to make it a reality – I’m single-minded like that sometimes – use the Swifts painting to make a pattern and construct a kimono!

The pattern had to be cut down the back and re-seamed in order for all the pieces to fit one at a time into the heat-press for printing and the Swifts pattern was easy enough to put into technical repeat using Photoshop so that I could use the sublimation printer to print an all over repeating pattern.

After that it was a steady job to sew it all together nicely including a partial lining so it looked good hanging up for exhibition.

If you’re local and can make it to MAC to see the show ( – Tues – Sun, 11am – 5pm, First Floor Gallery) you’ll see that kimono hanging on the wall and who knows, after the exhibition is over I may even wear it 😉

Still catching up my blog – back in January I re-introduced myself on Instagram after realising that even my old friends weren’t really sure what I do day-to-day. So here it is for any of you who’d like to know too 😉

Hi friends, family and followers HNY! 🍾
I met an old friend who’d I’d lost touch with and it made me realise that these pictures here don’t fully describe my Work Life and so I’m starting a fresh year with one of those little Insta intro’s people do….
28 years ago I graduated in Textile Design specialising in Printed Textiles.
26 years ago I got my teaching qualification and began teaching Primary-aged kids with a specialism in kids with Additional Needs.
7 years ago I stepped out of the school classroom and into other places and spaces where I can teach people, work with kids and develop my own art practice.
👩🏻‍🎨 I’m an artist at heart and I love to paint. And print. And add colour to things. And meet people and share art and creativity and the good it brings.
📆I hardly have a typical week (which I love) but it might look like this:
🖼 I spend some of my time painting pictures to sell and until May 2020 I have the whole of Winterbourne House and Gardens @winterbournehg to inspire me as I am Artist in Residence there @artist_winterbournehg come and follow that account too if you like!
🌳🏢I work regularly @macbirmingham teaching Mixed Media Textiles on a Thurs night, Pattern-design/Screen-printing and Heat Transfer-printing on a Tues afternoon, running a Baby Creative class (messy/sensory play) and also the cutest Toddler Art Group. 👬👭
Then there’s work that comes in blocks such as delivering a whole range of multi-disciplinary workshops locally at places like @birmingham_mag and @winterbournehg for adults and children, working with local and national social enterprise groups developing skills with a group of refugees and offering paint-therapy for ShelterUK and I also take workshops and demonstrations on the road to art groups as far as my travelling time can take me.
🤫I design patterns commercially using any number of ways; print methods, stitch and all sorts of paint techniques and a local print agent takes them out to the textile fairs to sell them on my behalf. It’s secret work (copyright issues) and not often seen here.
📺 And of a night I still knit, weave, stitch and crochet in front of the telly because I love to.

Thank you for reading if you got this far x

One of my favourite ways to work is with a gelatin plate for mono-printing.

The process itself is messy-fun and the result, although not always what you expected to get, is always something interesting and useable.

When we’d been to Amsterdam a few years back, I did a lots of gelatin plate printing of the cute houses found there.

You can make effective stencils by cutting photographs directly – the gloss coated paper is great for this kind of printing.

I like to sew and applique into these prints to add details, further colour and visual texture and interest. But you can print effectively onto paper or fabric and they are a great source for any printmaker, scrapbooker or artist who might like to print and use texture, pattern or imagery to paint with, collage with or work further into with textile treatments.

If that’s got your interest and you’re within reach of MAC Birmingham then I am running a gelatin plate printing class on Thursday June 21st – tickets here.

If not then have a ‘google’ and give it a go – it’s a lot of fun 🙂

 

 

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