Activity 2.3.1 (writing words or phrases with glue) ran into 2.3.1 (making rubbings from glue drawings) and 2.3.3 (putting colour washes over the rubbings, then they morphed into the Extra Activities (using the glue as a resist, and using inks, Procion dyes and silk paints as colour washes.
Look what I’ve done! Lots of new techniques and bold colours… Blue Markal oilstick rubbing over lettering with Hobbycraft Tacky PVA (on a transparent sheet). Brushed over with green Brusho ink and Procion yellow dye (while uncured). Then I stitched over it on the machine with shiny machine embroidery thread (it’s thicker than normal thread, and slightly twisted, and variegated in shades of blue, yellow and green). Wish I’d stitched to the edges and left cut threads hanging, instead of going up and down.
Markal stick rubbing on nappy liner, with yellow and green ink and dye. I let it dry and added some blue ink. (It’s pictured over a bit of the old patterned pillowcase.
Then I ironed it over the stitched Vilene, because I wanted to try something different. But even though I did some samples first, I couldn’t get the temperature right (I’m using my old iron, and the heat control is dodgy, which is why I bought a new one). If you get the temperature right the nappy liner fuses to the Vilene and goes into holes. If it’s too hot the nappy liner melts away, which is what happened here. But there is some left, so it’s not a total failure, and I’m going to do some more machine stitching in the gaps, and hand stitching round the edges, and I’ll post a picture later. At least I tried!
I’ve tried to separate out the activities, using notes and photos I took as went along, but really this chapter was tackled as a whole. I experimented with a lot of bits and pieces, and seem to have ended up with a great many sheets of decorated paper and fabric, as well as the transparent surfaces I used for glue writing, so I haven’t used the sketchbook for this chapter, and I’ve stored everything in a box file – the work itself, and the notes and photographs. There’s too much to include everything here! Some of it needs more colour on, but I wanted to get my work posted.
This chapter didn’t start well, and was quite frustrating in some ways. There was a lot of waiting – waiting for glue to dry, waiting for paint to dry, waiting for more layers of paint to dry… And things didn’t always react the way I expected. But despite the problems I really enjoyed myself!
I found glue tricky to write with. My PVA seemed to be very thick, but when I watered it down it was too runny to hold a pattern. In the end I persevered with it thick, but I couldn’t do small writing, and it made printer paper crinkle and buckle.
So I resorted my little hot glue gun, and was going to work on transparent sheets which I recycled from covers and dividers on books/instructions made and supplied by the local college for a computer course I did when I was first made redundant. They feel like perspex or acetate rather than plastic, but they’re not as stiff as perspex usually is, yet not as flexible as plastic folders. However, I was a bit wary of using hot glue on them without knowing what they’re made of, so I used stiffish black cartridge paper. The letters dried and hardened almost instantaneously, so I rubbed over them with a wax crayon, sloshed on some runny water colour, and left it to dry, still rather unimpressed with things at this stage. But when I looked at it the next morning I thought oooh, nice, maybe this isn’t so bad after all!
Oil pastel (some of it rubbed with my fingers) rubbings. Then I damped the paper and sprinkled it with Brusho powders. A little goes a long way.
I got to work experimenting with my transparent sheets trying out different sorts of glues I found around the house and shed. The transparent sheets were brilliant, nice and smooth to work on, and din’t soak up glue like the printer paper did, but the glues took a long time to dry – more than overnight in most cases. And my writing technique needs a lot of practice – it’s difficult to squeeze glue out evenly, so I got lumps. bumps and gaps, but I think that adds to the effect.
Additionally, I should say that my paints didn’t really pool and move away from the rubbings as I expected. In fact, mostly the paint seemed to cover the letters, but you could still see them. Something not quite right there perhaps, but I’m not sure what – paint too thick or too thin? Rubbing not thick enough? Wrong sort of paper?
Some of the papers I used were spectacularly unsuccessful – some of the tissue paper disintegrated because I had the wash way too watery. Others were too thick to get ecent rubbings – like the heavier quality khadi paper or more upmarket magazines (I got a stash of old magazines, maps and dressmaking patterns in charity shop).
Tissue from dressmaking pattern. I liked working on this – it was tougher than it looked. Wax crayon rubbing, mix of ink,water colour and dye.
Anyway, as I said, I enjoyed this chapter immensely, and was pleased with the results, even though a lot of my work was very messy. I was better organised than I am sometimes, and gathered my materials together beforehand, and planned out my work sessions properly. I even set myself a timetable (which I more or less stuck to) and kept better notes, and wrote the blog a little at a time, as I went along.
I’ve tried lots of new things, and I loved working with the Markal oilsticks on Vilene, and horticultural fleece and things like that, and using inks and dyes instead of paints. And because they are thin you can see through them to some extent, so I got tremendously excited about layering them over each other, or on top of other fabric or paper. I’m still not sure about the best method of sandwiching them together. I tried Bondaweb and machine stitching, but I dare say a glue stick might work.
I didn’t make any effort to brush proper patterns on my paper and fabric – I just sloshed the washes on and let them dry. Overall, I felt I learned a lot about working with colours, because I discovered fairly quickly that bright, contrasting colours looked better for these activities, but if you go too dark or too thick you lose the rubbings.
Brown paper, wax crayon, water colour. Needs taking further.
Findings (2.3.1, Writing with Glue)
Health and Safety: I worked in a well ventilated area, and to start with tried little blobs of glue, because I don’t know what the transparent sheets are made of, and didn’t know if they would react badly with any of the glues.
Hot Glue Gun: I liked working with this, probably because I’m not very patient, and it’s very immediate. It takes a while to get the hang of working with it, and it’s not the easiest thing to control, but as well as lettering you can get long, long, thin, stringy bits and blobs and stuff, which would add interest to rubbings if I could control it better.
Hot glue gun on black cartridge paper, photographed when dry.
Rubbing on khadi paper from hot glue gun writing. I started using red oil pastel, but paper is too thick & I made a mess. So I changed to wax crayon, which worked beautifully. There’s a pale lemon water colour wash, but it doesn’t show well. It looks messy, but I like the textured effect of wax crayon on khadi paper – I might go over it with a stronger colour (ink or dye perhaps) to make more of it..
PVA: Much more difficult to use than I expected. I couldn’t get the consistency right – it was either too thick, or too thin, very uneven, and took hours to dry. And the rubbings weren’t wonderful. Perhaps I just need more practice with it!
PVA glue on transparent sheet (possibly perspex or acrylic). Photographed against black card, while wet. There is a lot of reflection. The white square at the top right is a label stuck on the back, to say which glue I used. I put one on all my home-made rubbing plates.
Dried PVA photographed against part of a pink plastic carrier bag. It seems to shrink and lose definition as it dries.
Fat wax crayon rubbing, sponged over with Koh-I-Noor water-based dyes – lovely little solid blocks of colour in a container, which look quite dull until you apply water on a brush or sponge and start painting, then they suddenly zing and pop right out at you.
Oil pastel rubbing with very watery water colours.
Tea light with more Koh-I-Noor water-based dyes. Too many colours. And some black got mixed up there which is not a good look
Hobbycraft Tacky PVA: This, apparently, is PVA that stays tacky for longer than ordinary PVA. It looked the same as ordinary PVA, but was slightly easier to squeeze out, not as unwieldy to work with, and gave smoother rubbings. I preferred it to the normal stuff.
Hobbycraft Tacky PVA on transparent sheet, photographed against black card while wet.
Dried Tacky PVA against the pink plastic (it’s more cheerful than black). Photographed in my little shed, where there’s less reflection!
Wood Glue: This was very thick, but it was easy to work with because it came out of the container so smoothly. It took the better part of 24 hours to dry and, surprisingly, it dried almost completely flat. Even more surprisingly, I got quite good rubbings from it, as long as the paper or fabric was fairly thin. I enjoyed working with this.
Wood glue on transparent sheet, photographed against black paper while wet. Lot of reflection again – you can see my hands and the little ‘point and shoot’ camera!
Wood glue, dried, on a transparent sheet, photographed against the pink plastic bag.You can see how much volume the glue lost, but it was good to work with.
And I got a rubbing like this! Wax crayon over wood glue and water colour. Love it!
General Purpose Bostik: As it dried this made the transparent sheet look as if it had been warped by heat – part of it was all wavy and 3D and part of it looked as if it had been slightly melted or shrunk or something, all kind of drawn up, like skin round a scar. And it smelt very, very peculiar while I was using the glue. It dried quickly, but it was really, really difficult to get a decent rubbing from it, partly because the surface of the transparent sheet was so uneven, and partly because it dried very flat and didn’t provide enough definition. And I was a bit concerned about health and safety issues – I assume the glue reacted with whatever the transparent sheets are made of, so it’s a good job I was in a well ventilated area. On reflection paper or card might have been better.
General Purpose Bostik, on transparent sheet, photographed wet against black card. As it dried the surface got more and more warped.
Part of the surface of the transparent sheet after the General Purpose Bostik dried. It’s difficult to get a clear photo, and there is a degree of reflection, but the shiny bits are distortion. All that area is kind of bubbly and wavy and puckered, and crinkled.
Green wax crayon Bostik rubbing, with some watered down murky-looking remnants of yellow ink, where I’d accidently used a dirty paint brush/ Photographed when wet.
Green oil pastel, on paper used for mopping up ink in last pic (it got spilt – bit of a disaster all round really!)
As before, with a bit of pink acrylic wash. I liked it better to start with!
Glitter Glue: Hopeless, because it didn’t adhere to the surface. Whole words fell off, and bits of letters, and it was quite brittle, so more bits broke off as I tried rubbing over them.
Glitter Glue on transparent sheet, when first photographed against black card while wet. It had already lost the cross bars on the ‘ts’ in glitter, and it smudged as it dried. The only lettering left is ‘all that glitter’. And the ‘i’ no longer has a dot! The rubbings (when I had enough lettering left to do them) were actually quite nice, and it was super to write with – the only thing where I managed to do ‘joined-up’ writing! Just a shame it didn’t stay stuck.
Wax crayon rubbing over glitter glue, with green paint wash over the top.
Glue that Stays Tacky for Foils: Couldn’t resist a bit of foiling. Sorry. So I’ve done a sample for rubbing and painting as well.
Partly dried foil glue on left-over, failed monoprinting experiment (blue and white paint on black paper).
Transfer foils in gold, pink and silver.
Foil glue on paper, left to dry, and painted to see if it forms a resist. It can, allegedly, be reactivated by heat, so I tried to see if I could get metallic coppery tissue to stick. But I couldn’t. Should have thought of this while it was still tacky. And it’s a bit anaemic looking.
Equally anaemic! Wax crayon rubbing over foil glue. It does work, but I think using brown paper was overly optimistic. And you need to rub quite hard, with a strong colour.
Silcone Sealant (for bathrooms): Very thick indeed – you have to write big! Keeps its three-dimensional shape and white colour when dry – it didn’t seem to have altered at all!.Stays tacky for a long time, and feels slightly soft and rubbery when dry. I achieved the best rubbing by rubbing over the top of each letter very carefully with the side of a fat wax crayon.
Silicone Sealant on a transparent sheet,pictured when completely dry, against the tissue paper I used for a rubbing.
Rubbing of silicone sealant, using side of a blue fat wax crayon on pink textured tissue paper, brushed over with yellow and blue ink. It’s actually quite hard doing a rubbing, because the sealant stands above the surface o the paper, and the tops of the letters are slightly domed, so the area you rub is quite narrow. If I used sealant again I would try and flatten the letters a little, with a piece of stiff perspex. And a darker coloured crayon would have been better.
Findings (2.3.2 Making Rubbings, Paper, Fabric and Other Things)
Paper: I started off just using printer paper, but as my confidence grew I did rubbings on all kinds of paper – deli paper, tissue paper, khadi paper, brown wrapping paper, old maps, decorated printed and painted papers from earlier work (not so good over thick acrylics, but fine with washes and water colours or inks), paper bags, cartridge paper, old magazines and other pages from the recycling box. Anything seems to work, as long as it’s fairly thin.
This is a map of part of the Alps, which I bought in a charity shop, because it is in shades of white, grey and black, and it has all these wonderful contour lines, which I promptly covered up! I tried using a blue gelato to rub over glue gun writing, but it wasn’t successful, so I tried wiping it off with a baby wipe but only smeared it everywhere. So I used a black crayon for the rubbing, then crumpled the paper, and rubbed it with sandpaper, then added silver paint, which was overpowering. So I repeated the crumpling and sandpaper, and rubbed a red crayon sideways over everything. I wanted to do something different.
The paper needs to be well anchored to the rubbing plate though for this exercise I don’t think it matters if it shifts – I did a few samples where I deliberately moved the paper into different positions to try and layer or overlap the words. I used plastic laundry pegs to hold the rubbing plate and the paper together.
Rubbing on deli paper over glue gun writing, using wax crayons, with a water colour wash. I kept moving the paper up.
Fabric: Loved this! I used pieces chopped up from a old pillow case, remnants of unused white cotton, and an oddment of very thin silk. Material was stretchier than paper, so it needs to be pulled taut, and held firm. And a certain amount of colour from whatever you use to do the rubbings with goes through to the glue and the surface beneath (especially anything oil-based), but it cleans off with baby wipes, and in any case, it doesn’t matter if you leave it. And it’s better to build up colours layer by layer.
This was a piece of cotton, with a black wax crayon rubbing, that I used blue and red silk paints on, but they soaked in and looked terrible, so I washed it in cold water, and when it was dry I added a layer of Bondaweb with a red wax crayon rubbing. Iron too hot again I think. It is either maximum heat, or practically cold.
Other Things: At this point I was having such fun I got completely carried away and had a ‘what if’ moment… so I dug out my Vilene (iron-on and stitchable), and the Bondaweb, and I bought some nappy liners, and horticultural fleece from the garden centre (while meeting friends for lunch) and some stuff for suppressing weeds (it looks a bit like black J-cloth). And they were FANTASTIC !!!!!
Black fabric weed suppressant, with a gold Markal rubbing. It takes a rubbing well, especially with MarkL or oil pastel, but trying to paint over it is tricky, because black always sems to swallow colours. I tried lemon Brush ink, but it’s not very noticeable – a white acrylic wash might be better. And you might get a better surface to work on if you washed the fabric first in soapy water – I think it’s been treated with some kind of water repellent.
EYellow Markal rubbing with green and yellow dye washes over agricultural fleece. Like the weed supressant, it takes the rubbing OK, especially with Markal and oil pastels, but doesn’t take a wash so well. I think this mat also have some kind of water repellent on it, so I’m going to try washing a piece with soapy water.
Markal stick on medium weight iron-on Vilene., with dyes and inks.
Findings (2.3.2 Making Rubbings, Mark Makers)
Wax Crayons: Lovely fat crayons (the kind sold for children) are just brilliant on any kind of paper or fabric (and the Vilene and horticultural fleece and stuff like that – does it all count as fabric I wonder?). And you can use any kind of colour wash over them – paint, ink, dye. Fabulous! And I am in love with those gorgeous Neocolour wax crayons made by Caran d’Ache, so I tried them as well, but had a bit of a disaster because some of the soluble ones had made their way into the box with the water resistant ones, so you can imagine what happened when I added a colour wash! But it looks interesting and I like the effect, so I shall pretend it’s meant to look that way!
Oil Pastels: These also give good rubbings and paper and fabric, and resist any colour wash. The colours are more vibrant than those from wax crayons, but I find them more difficult to work with.
Candle (Well, tealight actually, but it’s the same thing): Good resist qualities – better than anything else I used. But I ended with too much wax on the surface, so I lost the rubbed letters. I’d rather work with colour where I can see what I’m doing!
EFrom the recycling box – I used it under a piece of paper I was doing printing stuff with the Brayer and acrylic paints. The paper and paints were uite thick, but the rubbing was OK, and I put a yellow wash over everything.
Markal Oil Sticks: I bought a few of these at the stitching show at the NEC earlier in the year, to have a play, and wasn’t sure how to use them, but thanks to advice from people on the Distant Stitch Facebook forum I’ve using them on fabric and Vilene and stuff, and I think they are WONDERFUL! I was a bit heavy-handed to start with, and made a horrible mess, because I pressed too hard. I got along much better once I started building up lighter layers of colour (that seems to be a basic rule with everything). The colours are very strong (much stronger than anything else I’ve ever used), and they are lovely with inks and dyes. Initially the fabric smells a bit peculiar, and feels kind of sticky, and apparently you’re supposed to leave them to ‘cure’ for a couple of days, but they were fine to work on immediately.
Page from an old book. The paper was quite porous, and the rubbing, with a wax crayon came out quite well, but I’m not sure trying to do a wash with similar colour water colour was a good idea, especially as it turned out that the crayon was soluble.
Findings (2.3.2 and Extra Activity 2, Colour Washes with Paints, Silk Paints, Dyes and Inks)
Health and Safety: I invested in some cheap disposable masks for protection when mixing Brusho powder inks and Procion dyes, but kept forgetting to use them. And I forgot to wear vinyl gloves, and ended up with multi-coloured hands. It took a couple of days to wash off completely! But I did remember to wear my spare pair of glasses – I tend to wear them for messy/splashy stuff, because the lens are not up to date (though they are fine for close work over short periods) so I don’t mind if I get paint or glue or anything on them, or if they get scratched. Jars with screw-on lids (and labels!) are essential for mixing and storing dye and ink powder.
Water Colours: These are fine, though they dry lighter, so they’ve not always as noticeable as I expected. And they soaked in to fabrics and vanished!
Silk Paints: These were fine on the piece of silk (obviously!), and papers, and Bondaweb and stuff like that, where they spread and flow and look incredibly bright. But they weren’t so good on the old pillowcase, where they didn’t spread, and weren’t as colourful. Next time I use them I’ll sprinkle salt crystals on top, or sugar syrup, because they give interesting effects.
Red Markal oilstick rubbing from hot glue gun writing. Splodges of yellow, pink and purple silk paints dropped over surface with pipettes. Needs something adding to it, just trying to decide what!
Procion Dyes: I didn’t use any kind of mordant, or the thickening stuff you can get because these were just samples. They gave lovely, vibrant colours on fabric or paper, and I loved working with them.
Brusho Powdered Inks: Again, they gave the most fabulous colours, and I loved working with them.
End of wax crayon, cotton, acrylic paint washes. Lettering not very clear.
Shiny magazine page.