Since I finished my 100 days project I’ve been editing together some of the time lapse process videos to look back at the evolution of these pages. Here is part 5.
Ink over gesso never fails to make me happy.
In this spread I began by gessoing over a page of scribbled color. Then came pebeo colorex inks running through the gesso texture, then ecoline brush pens for their juicy transparent colors that layer like nothing else.
If I’d left this page there, I would have been happy, but this challenge involved pushing through a few ‘finished already’ stages into new territory, in this case it was with water-soluble graphite and watercolor pencils, then lastly a white chalk marker.
The methods for ink dying paper are as simple or complex as you want to make them.
When I started out I used a shallow plastic tray and layered pieces of of paper. Each layer had splashes and squirts of ink between. Then I left them to absorb the liquid. I experimented with scraps of paper, envelopes, book pages…
Essentially that hasn’t changed much, only now I’m devouring entire books and working on a glass topped table so I can heap the inky pages directly on there. I just scaled the process up!
Trial & Error.
I cannot overstate how much it’s trial and error process. It’s the only way I work: unscientific, intuitive, learning as I make it up as I go along.
For every gloriously bespeckled rainbow I make there are blurry messes, torn pieces (wet paper is so fragile) and muddy overworked colors. But that’s how we learn, right?
Five Top Tips to Paper Dying.
These are the five main things I’m learning through my paper dying experiments:
Ink can be brushed on, dripped on, poured on, splashed, sprayed, squirted or flicked onto paper (wet or dry) with any manner of implements. It’s all A LOT of fun.There are NO wrong ways.
Different types of paper will take up ink differently. Right now I’m using almost exclusively old book pages and sheet music (ranging from circa 1920’s to 1970’s), the paper from each book has it’s own distinctive foibles.
The type and dilution of the ink both make a difference. It’s not just the intensity of the color, but how much it soaks in. Quicker or slower drying time effects the tide marks it leaves, the surface finish too (less water can dry with ink with dusty pigment traces, or a sheeny finish, or a distinctive layer of shape as well as color). All of these permutations have a beauty of their own.
Sometimes the pages stick to each other as they dry, especially at the edges. Gently brushing the stuck bits with water then leaving them a while usually resolves this. I found some inks are stickier than others – they work just fine but need diluting more – which leads me to…
More layers with more diluted ink work best of all. It’s the soaking of the water that creates the best patterns as it carries the pigment through the paper fibres. It’s the layers that make for the most intricate effects. Already dyed paper, left to dry then splashed, dripped and dunked in water or ink, can come to life in all manner of ways. Sometimes pigments reactivate or react. Things like this can happen…
I’ve been leaving batches of papers to soak together, letting more magic happen as color seeps through the pages to the layers below. By arranging them haphazardly so one piece part covers the next it encourages the seepage patterns to happen more.
‘Unplanned‘ is the overarching theme.
After some hours of marinading, sometimes I’ll turn the whole pile upside down after a while so the moisture seeps back (carrying the color) back the other way. Peeling apart the layers and adding more pigment, or just turning them so the pieces in the middle get some air to dry.
Wet paper wrinkles and the lines that form become channels for the color to settle. Stripes and fabulous organic patterns like an animal print appear.
Lately I’ve taken to layering in stencils and texture plates between the papers to pick up extra patterning. plastic and bubble wrap works well, as does fabric, yarns and fibres (which of course soak up some of the color, transferring their own distinctive prints)
Next time: what becomes of these papers?
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Week 10 began on a full moon. It was a big full week.
Tidal changes of hope and spirit, plans formed and crashed with barely time to get a good grip on them.
It’s the first week I’ve really found difficult to ‘make’ – in terms of the page, but also I guess in terms of making sense of myself as well. Massive overwhelms kept colliding – giddy highs and their plummeting opposites. It was minimal in comparison with the other weeks in terms of word-spew. Just summed it up in a big fat EVERYTHING.
Again with all the eyes peering out at me. Even they are looking a bit more deranged than usual this week.
I can’t tell you how many layers of mismatched colours and unhappy paint coated these pages. It was a nothing’s looking right covered with another no that’s still not it under a coat of wtf really? And then some.
Then the Wednesday came to a close, and that was that, turn over and start again Thursday. Glad to report, this week’s looking more harmonious!
Last week was such a wild week, full speed ahead into the future. …. Big mental adventures, idea exploration, culmination and loose end tying. And then the massive full moon on Tuesday. Maybe that’s why it’s taken until now to post last night week’s page.
This is where it started out: a splurge of words came tumbling… so many they needed watering down. (Literally)
Edit/note to self: a daemon from a daemon (transformed)
I’d spent the weekend at Jamie Catto’s Transforming Shadows workshop. I’ll post more about that separately once it’s settled more in my head – suffice to say for now, transformation occurred! And it led me back to a bit of face drawing, I haven’t done this in a while…
The theme of the workshop was centred around befriending inner demons. As each day the page evolved the faces developed, coming more into their own. And the big full moon started to dominate.
Something tribal feeling began to show. I’ve had an increasing sense I need to find my Tribe. And the page seems to be reinforcing that. (Gotta love the way art unfolds answers to questions you didn’t know you were asking)
As a marker of time and achievement, the final additions: collaged left over bits of the project I completed this week, oh and a big ole FIFTY. Cos guess how many kilos I lifted at the gym this week? 😉 Gotta love a round number milestone!
For quite a shiny page, the close up shots don’t do the colors real justice, but I’ve included them to show you the lumpy bumpy textures. I really like the way paper goes into ripples when it gets wet (glue-y), and on this page I’ve highlighted the waves – although not sure it came out in the pics.