celtic sarong

after putting in the central figure and finishing it as much as i knew how at the time, i found stretchers at 80″ and 50″, which would just barely work. so  i built them and put them aside. then i put the design paper on the floor and taped and pinned the silk to it, and then as quickly as i could, outlined the lines with karo sugar syrup. then as quickly as i could, while it was still wet, so it wouldn’t dry onto the paper,  i lay the stretchers down around it and transferred the silk (removing pins) to the stretcher frame. this all went without a hitch until i tried to put the frame back up on the table. at that point, i missed, and the frame fell to the floor, and the wet design came off the clips and hit the table, and folded up into itself and left huge sugar syrup resist marks in places where they shouldn’t. this is why i end up with water all over these designs, because i’m so bad with detail, and just can’t ever achieve perfection.

after getting it all back on the stretcher, i went around and painted in the brown trunks and branches and roots, and the purple snake. it looked pretty sparse, so i took up the karo syrup and put in some extra leaves on the top, and some grass and worms and ants on the bottom. then i painted them in with my dyes. it wasn’t enough, so i drew another syrup line across the top and bottom for a border, and put in blue on top and dark brown on bottom. sky and dirt.

you’ll notice a bulge in the middle of the picture. that’s because i put a tub underneath to raise the level of the central figure, because i didn’t want the water i was about to put on the edges of the silk to run right down and get on the central figure, which i wanted to remain clean and crisp, just as it was.

 the sarong before messing with ithe design

then i got a clean glass of water and took my trush and very quickly ran a brushload of clean water from the edge of the leaves to the edge of the silk. i did this very rapidly, around the entire sarong. i continued the clear water right up to the edge of the central figure, and noticed along the way that there were lots of little dots of dye on the white part of the silk, which looked horrible now that there was water to bring them out.

i thought about this for awhile. obviously i needed to do something to cover or distract from the spoiled parts. i certainly was not going to scrap it and start again. but there’s imperfection, and there’s crap. it’s a fine line sometimes.

i took a brushful of yellow and made a halo around the central figure. the silk was still wet, but starting to dry, so i went around and added a little more water to the edges of the yellow, and the edges of the top and bottom and sides where the dye was moving just fine, but i thought it could go a little more.

  after messing with it

this photo is not very clear, so here are a few details.

 before adding water to the bottom

you can see how clean the lines are, somewhat stark and artless. way too clear for my taste. because it was sugar syrup resist instead of water-based gutta, i wasn’t concerned with the fact that some of the colors bled right thru the lines. when i put on karo syrup, it tends to bead up anyway, which means the lines aren’t entirely connected, and so this is something you can expect. the reason i wasn’t worried was because i was about to ruin the whole thing with clear water anyway.

 after adding water to the bottom

you can see how the dyes flowed into each other. what happens is that the sugar syrup just dissolves into the water, and no longer keeps the dyed areas separate from each other. and they dyes, now wet, run all over the place. which is something i like.

something that i do to hide my mistakes.

 before adding water to the top

likewise on the top, it looked okay, but i wasn’t going to stop with just okay, so i took clear water and brushed it quickly from the tips of the leaves to the edge of the silk, and worked around. 

 after adding water to the top

 this is much better, to my eye. the dyes flowed all over the place, invading the lines, changing the colors, giving the scene texture and depth.

one more thing. i was standing looking at the finished work, and the white part of the central figure looked out of place. now that i had a yellow line around the whole figure, the white part didn’t flow from the outside in anymore, so i needed to do something. so i took some red, and filled it in. i’d already taken my photo, so you won’t see it here. but it looks finished now.

so now it has to sit and cure for awhile without interference from cats, dogs, rain, or houseguests, and tomorrow i can steam it. then it’ll be ready for giving away, and then i have to think about what i’ll do next.

jim has to find two 10′ lengths of wood so i can make makeshift stretchers for my 4′ x 3 yd. veil for asha. and while he’s doing that, perhaps i can work thru a few more nebula handkercheifs. i must show you what i’ve got so far. maybe tomorrow.


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