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What I’m Into Now

March 1, 2008
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Digital animation is amazing. I remember back in the day when Star Wars was the coolest film… evah. But now? Quaint, precious even. I love what the studios are producing today, even if the target audience is several decades behind me. Sitting down with a dvd and my laptop, hand poised over the pause button to catch those moments of sheer artistry, is something I relish.

But it’s not today’s topic. Sure, I enjoy taking in digital art, but creating it is not my bag, baby. I like making a mess. If it doesn’t require the play-clothes or threaten to stain my fingernails (or nefariously attack my liver or nervous system), it’s just not satisfying.

So, the Silk Painting interest group convened through the International Women’s Club (yeah, I know, it might be the Stepford Wives) caught my attention. For the first meeting of the club year, in the fall, Isabelle drove me to the woman’s house where we usually gather. It was over the river and waaay up the hill. Someplace I’d never be able to find on my own. But her studio was so inspiring, just filled with her work in many media. The silk pieces they showed me were stunning. I even thought I could fall in love with the process, as opposed to (just) falling in love with the product. This concept was instilled in me by the potter George Dymesich in Santa Cruz. He is as an excellent potter and a dedicated instructor, but he sets high standards for success, and students pay at the wheel for their future excellence. I tried back then, but the early parts of process gave me much trouble, a disappointing student. Gabriella’s help in this was more gentle, and encouraging, than George’s. She simply suggested that I look at my early work as experimental and not expect too much from it. So, with a plain piece of silk in my purse and ideas swarming my brain, I went home to sketch. In four weeks, I would return for the next meeting with a suitable design drawn in pencil on my fabric, and maybe a color scheme in mind.

So I did. But my ride was unavailable! GPS to the rescue. Our talking, planning, course correcting (marriage saving! absolute necessity for driving in Italy) little palm pilot led me there like a dream. It was just Gabriella and me, so she was exceptionally helpful with each step: silk tacked onto frame, outlining completed in latex-based gutta resist, each section tested with clean water for proper isolation ~any break in the gutta and dye will escape into the adjoining section, thus altering (not ruining! but giving opportunity for further creativity) the design~ and enough time to begin the coloring. Then home with a care package of several colors of dye.

At home, Craig and I built spare IKEA shelving into a serviceable and adjustable frame for my new tartaruga and future projects, too. Per Gabriella’s suggestion, I basted scrap fabric to the sides of the silk piece to avoid pinning the silk directly. Then she was ready to go under the brush. Note to self: do not paint in direct sunlight or strong heat. By good fortune, the speed drying, and resultant boundary definitions, created a reasonable facsimile of turtle shell ridginess. She’s beautiful and looks almost three-dimensional. At our next meeting, I filled in the background and fiddled with some other texturizing techniques. There is one more step to go before it’s finished and ready to wear or hang, a steaming/boiling/cooking process, with which Isabelle, who lives nearby, will help me. But in case it fades dramatically, or ~gasp~ scorches, I’m posting this while I’m still ecstatic. The photo is the piece still stretched on the frame, easier to see this way, too.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Renata permalink
    March 24, 2008 09:08

    Molly! your turtle is so great! 🙂 yay!

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