New Thermofax Fabric

Below is a not-very-good photo of my first thermofax screen; the smaller, bottom screen is the first screen, and the one above it has the same image but is larger–and, more importantly–has a blank space on the very left before the design starts, and this space is necessary so you have somewhere to put a pile of thickened dye before you scrape it over the screen. I didn’t put this blank space–kind of an improvised “well”–on my first screen, which is why it was so hard and frustrating to print.

Here are a couple of new screens I made of saguaro cactus shapes; you can see the black and white photocopies I used to make the screen on the right.

This is what I jokingly refer to as my “wet studio”: my patio table and a bunch of buckets, old towels, yogurt containers and thickened dye; here I have the screen with some dye on the left, ready to be squeegeed:

This is what the print looked like:

And here I’m starting the next run…

…which looks like this:

Below, the fabric after multiple runs:

I also did yet another layer of mountain-shapes after I was done printing the saguaros, here are all four panels getting a bit of late afternoon sun before they go in the washer:

This is a part of the mountain fabric, as it looks now…

…and here is the saguaro fabric:

Not bad, I think. I’m slowly getting the hang of printing with these screens.

Lovely Irish Music House Concert

Kevin Crawford (left) and Cillian Vallely were in Tucson tonight for a small, intimate house concert; they are both very well known and well respected Irish musicians.  Really great tunes. Kevin is famous for his ability to recollect Irish  tunes and tune names and all kinds of Irish music esoterica. This is some of the most lovely live acoustic Irish music I’ve heard in Tucson in a while.  Great selection of tunes, with many recent compositions played. Fantastic.

Thermofax Fabric

Still working on getting the hang of screen printing with thickened dye and a home-made, duct-tape framed thermofax screen: today I took the Catalina Mountain fabric I’ve been working on, and screen-printed more mountains on top. Here’s one layer, drying:

And another:

I let the fabric sit in the sun for an hour or so, washed it, and then went through the whole process again. Here’s the fabric drying (again):

This is what I have so far, 2 pieces of fabric; the thickened  dye is always way lighter dry than it appears wet:

Here’s a close up; I’m happy with the results, it’s cool how you really can see the multiple layers of screen-printed dye:

A Surface Design Staycation

What happens when I take some time off from work to stay home and work on art projects? Sadly, I go a bit nuts. As it turns out, mixing and stirring up a good dye bath for fabric involves the same set of skills as mixing up a good pot of soup.

This is some fabric I dyed the other day.

I’m making a big saguaro cactus applique for my next art quilt project.  Yesterday, I put together my 3 chosen, recently dyed fabrics, kind of in the shape I plan the cactus to be, and it took me a while to figure out what was wrong:

That photo above is blurry. The fabric where the saguaro “arms” will be looks really nice, a good dark green; but the saguaro “trunk” in the middle is too purple. I thought I’d followed the same dye recipe for all 3 pieces of fabric. And I had. Except I used turquoise blue for the middle piece and sky blue for the 2 other pieces….and that’s what makes the difference.

So I scrunched up the middle piece and re-dyed it, and dyeing any yardage involves quart yogurt containers out on my patio:

And then the weather started to crap out; really no rain, sadly, just a squall blown in with a cold front, obscuring my view of the mountains:

It suddenly became soup weather. I don’t think there’s been soup weather in Tucson since last March.

So, time for soup in between dyeing; here’s the beginning of a good brocolli/havarti/cheddar soup: onions and garlic and butter….

…the broccoli, looking a bit boiled….

…the cheese, a mix of danish havarti and new zealand cheddar…

…on the right, the “roux”, the onion/butter mixture with flour and cheese….so what you really see on the right is a glob of saturated fat–YUM–and the pureed broccoli is on the left. I just added the brocolli, slowly, along with a quart of chicken broth and the water from cooking the brocolli, and I had a very delightful and not terribly rich–just rich enough–soup.

It turned out great. I have 8 cups left. Some will go in the freezer. I tell you, a bit of vermouth and lemon in brocolli/cheddarish soup is all you need for a fantastic soup outcome.

When the weather cleared a bit, I was able to do a bit of screen printing with my thermofax screen. My technique is improving. I did a run of colors in yellow and fuschia and orange:

Once dry, I tossed it in the washer, dried it and did another run of blue on top: the clouds cleared out mid-afternoon, but it got cold (i.e. 55 degrees, not cold for many of you out there) and I let the blue dye set inside for a few hours, where it was warmer.

Tomorrow I plan on more screen printing; the weather is supposed to be really nice, in the 70s. I’ll post more tomorrow. This fabric isn’t done yet! Needs more mountain layers.

Yummy Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday today to my mom and my sister, both of whom share the same birthday! They got to spend a lovely day together. Roberta and her husband and son came from Portland, OR to spend some birthday time with mom.

The only decent restaurant (now that the Grasslands is closed) near Sonoita is a pizza place in nearby Patagonia; but they are closed Monday, today, so we had dinner there yesterday. Here we are at the Velvet Elvis Pizza restaurant in Patagonia, AZ:

And afterwards at home we ate the cake I made, my favorite chocolate cake recipe which I got from the Vancouver Sun in 1986:

It’s simply called Fudgy Layer Cake. Next time I make it I’ll post the recipe. There simply is no better chocolate cake!

Remedial Thermofax 101A

Yes, well, it takes a while to get the hang of using a “new” technology in your art, even if that new things is from circa 1956 (I’m talking about my thermofax machine).

Today I make a quick drawing/shape of the local mountains–the Catalina Mountains–and I used pencil, because the more carbon in the drawing, the better the image transfer…and there’s nothing more carbon than graphite!

Then I put the drawing with the blue, sheer thermofax screen film on top into the double-sided transparency film carrier and fed the sandwich into the thermal copier. Unlike my previous attempts using photocopied images with toner, a drawing transfers really well to the mesh fabric.

Here’s a quick sample of how the screen printed fabric looks (really, this took me just minutes). Please bear in mind I was using runny print paste, and I used only a slim amount of dye and dye fixer….so the results are faint, but sufficient for me: at least I know with thicker print paste and few other precautions, I could probably use this screen to make the kind of fabric I want for my upcoming art quilt project.