ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Week of Experimentation

I am happy to share that over the past week I've had an opportunity to experiment with some ideas. During our vacation on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick I got inspired by raindrops on leaves. I set a goal to learn about how to create the look of raindrops on fabric. Turns out that it is quite easy. I simply googled "drawing and painting water drops". There are numerous art sites that explain how to look at a waterdrop. No wonder I love them. It is all about the hi-lights and shadows! My first experiment involves fusing raindrop shapes to a piece of fabric to make the drops look "raised". Then I went at them with Prismacolor Artist Pencils to add hi-lights and shadows. I must say I'm very pleased so far. I'd also like to try a few different techniques and see what else I can come up with.

I've also been enamored with boats and reflections on water of late. My idea was to dye some pole-wrapped shibori in a marine sort of colour, experimenting with different widths of stripes. I tried different strings and tried varying the space between each round about the pole. So far so good, but I think the next step is going to be to paint in some of the white areas with whatever colours are reflected in the water, probably using thickened dyes to paint with.

On the beach in New Brunswick I picked up the most beautifully-coloured mussel shell. Silly me, I did not keep it. That is OK because this is how I remember it. Part of it was purple and purple-blues, and part of it seemed a butterscotch colour. So I spent a fair bit of time choosing a palette like this and cutting out squares in various sizes to make another quilt with free-hand curves. The blocks will be in various sizes and have lots of movement

Finally, I also experimented a bit with screen printing. You may recall that back in July I took a class on Screen Monoprinting on paper. This past week I applied the same principles to fabric. While we used silk paints on paper, I used fibre reactive dyes on fabric. I painted the liquid dyes on the screen and left them to dry. Note, the liquid dyes do not seep through the fine mesh of the screen. I should have taken photos of the painted screens but I forgot.

I was really just playing with colour. This was just a rough start to my experiments. With paper we used wall paper glue to screen the dried silk dyes. With fibre reactive dyes on fabric I used thickened print paste (sodium alginate). I pulled the dyes through the screen with my squeegee using water thickened with print paste.

I was able to get two prints from each screen. Still a few glitches to iron out, like how to keep the screen from slipping or moving while I'm "pulling" the squeegee. I need to work on my setup. I need to pull out a proper table to do this on, and not just on the edge of my washing machine. I also need to determine just how much thickened print paste is needed to "pull" each screen.
I find my screens a little too small. By the time I tape them to make sure I have a clean crisp edge, I'm only left with a design space of about 8" x 10". Think I'll invest in a larger screen, but first I better figure out what I want to use this method for. Reflections is one idea.
It's been a long time since I've had the chance to do this much experimenting in a single week. I'm pretty excited about it! Stay tuned!


  1. Experimenting is the best fun! I've been doing a little myself lately. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do.

  2. What a great week of experimenting. Love the raindrops!

  3. I've always been fascinated with water and the reflections you can see on the surface. I love the results of your drops.

  4. Your raindrops are wonderful! Clearly they need a good eye and a steady hand with the shading...and a willingness to take one's time!


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