Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes: Part I

The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes: Part I
30" x 50"

This is my lovely entry for Dinner@Eight Artists exhibit this year.  This is the final exhibit after a 10 year run and the theme was to choose something from the past 9 years.  They were: Edges, The Space Between, Beneath the Surface, Rituals, Exquisite Moments, Reflections, Affinity, Patterns, and Personal Iconography. I think this piece was best represented by Affinity.

Artistic Statement: I have a strong affinity for kayaking. Gliding across calm clear water connects me with nature in a way that soothes my soul. In this view, I intentionally place the birds closer than they actually are because it represents the closeness of my emotional connection to this water world.

And, as an extra challenge, I decided to try my hand at writing my artistic statement about my quilt using ALL the past themes of Dinner@Eight.  That was not an option on the entry form, but here goes:
My affinity for kayaking is an exquisite moment, one that has become a rejuvenating ritual.
I see reflections of the edges of the city on the water and think about the space between nature and urban development. As I row, I observe things beneath the surface, the patterns of the waves, and I contemplate the personal iconography of the heron and what it means to me.

Yaassss! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time and the work I have done for this exhibit over the years.  I think some of my best work has been expressed because of the challenges offered by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison.  It has been an honor and a privilege and I am so happy to have been juried into this last round of exhibits!  Thank you Jamie and Leslie!

I have also been overwhelmed by the response to my quilt on Facebook.  I appreciate each and every comment, so thank you for that!  

For those of you who have wondered about the process of creating a whole cloth batik quilt, I have included some process photos.  The main idea is to build up the layers of colors and wax.  It requires a specific sequence and lots of thought.

First I make a full scale drawing of my idea on paper.  I tape the paper to my sliding glass door, and then overlay a piece of white cotton fabric.  The fabric is held to the door with scotch tape as well and I trace, in pencil, the design lines onto the fabric.

This is the first time that I decided to make the entire piece, start to finish, by leaving the fabric attached to a wooden frame.  And since I did not have a frame large enough, I headed to Home Depot for some wood.  I cut the wood, used screws and cross bars to hold it together, and then painted it in several coats of polyurethane, sanding between coats.  In this photo I have pinned the white fabric to the frame with push pins.  This step is repetitive and a bit painful for my fingers.  Once I get them just a little in, I tap gently with a hammer.
In batik, the wax can be used in two different ways.  You can paint the liquid wax on the fabric in any place where you want to keep that color. Below, I have carefully painted wax on the white of the heron's neck feathers. I want those feathers to remain white. A different function for the batik wax is to build a "damn" or a "wall" in which I will apply the dye color I want and it will run right up to the edge of the wax (provided that there are no cracks in the wax).  For example, I drew a liquid wax line on the heron's neck to separate it from the white background.  I am planning to add layers of light grey, medium grey, dark grey, and blue dyes in this area, one layer at a time.

In this photo, I have added wax around the kayak and yellow dye for the kayak and the bird beaks. Then I added a lot more wax outlining the grebes, the heron head feathers in order to fill in with black dye.  After the yellow dye has dried, I applied more wax to protect that section of the kayak to remain yellow.  In this photo it looks like a wet yellow.  The section that looks like a dry yellow will have layers of orange added later. I have also added wax on the oar handle to keep it white.

This shot is after many layers of orange dyes for the kayak, blue dye for the heron wing, grey dyes for the heron neck and body, and brown dyes for the herons legs.

Here is a shot of the heron head when I added the blue dye to the neck area.  The background is a bit wet still, and it's not looking very good.  I am not at all worried, because of my experience in batik, I know that it is proceeding as planned and in my mind's eye I actually see it as the photo below, with all the quilting added.

The finished head, with the wax boiled out and all the quilting completed.

Several examples of the layering of wax and dye.  The heron's legs are outlined in a wax wall and filled with brown dye. The brown looks darker than it will be because the dye is still wet.

In the next stage, I put wax "stripes" on the first coat of brown on the legs and then overdyed a darker brown. The wax is applied with a tjanting tool, and can be a bit drippy.  Here is the shot of the completed legs with quilting.

The oar was super fun! I dyed a light colored blue for the entire oar tip.  It looks much darker in this photo because the dye is wet. After it dried, I added the wavy texture lines in wax.

Then I over dyed the oar with several shades of darker blue.  I enhanced the shape of the oar with different colored blue threads to highlight the center and darken the edges.

However, before the quilting can start, the quilt top is rinsed and dried between every dye application. At the end, it is unpinned from the frame and boiled in a giant pot on the stove.  I then wash it and fix the dyes. After drying, it is ready for basting with batting and a quilt backing.  Then the quilting begins. Here's a shot showing some of the threads I used.  I am driven by color!

The dense quilting lines were a bit tiresome.  I used free motion machine quilting for this project. And, I use a lot of starts and stops.  And, this is the stage where I was burying the loose threads with a needle.

I love the way the quilting lines look on the back!

A close up of one of the grebes for you!


Heidi said...

absolutely gorgeous....

Rachel Parris said...

Amazing! I have a question. You said “However, before the quilting can start, the quilt top is rinsed and dried between every dye application.”. How do you do that without unpinnimg it from the frame?

Unknown said...

Yes, yes, yes! Your thoughtful planning in how to execute this is incredible. I am also interested in your answer to Rachel's question above. Also - do you ever get the totaly hand of the fabric back to "normal"? I cannot seem to ever lose all the wax when I do batik. It's just fabulous Kathy!

Unknown said...

I obviously didn't do that comment
right - I'm not unknown! It's me - Susan Fletcher King.

Robbie said...

Just a fantastic piece of art work! Thanks for the posting showing your process!!

Kathy York said...

Ahhhh! thank you!

Kathy York said...

To Rachel, and the Unknown (aka, Susan Fletcher King),
I leave it pinned to the frame which turns out to be an essential step. I just drag the frame, with the fabric pinned to it, out of the garage and turn the hose on. I run the water until it is clear, then I leave it to dry in the sun.
As for the hand of the fabric, yes, I am good at that! I boil the wax out! I can private message you with a few tips Susan!

Kathy York said...

Thank you so much, and you're welcome!