More Than The Sum Of Its Parts – Part 3.5a


Did I tell you how much I love to screen print? There’s something of an alchemy in screen printing I never knew til I began to experiment. If you enjoy an unpredictable path to imagery I urge you to give this a try if the opportunity comes your way. It’s the most magical thing!

For instance: painting the screen with Procion (fabric) dye at letting it dry, then printing with white ink on white paper, you get this kinda effect of a shadow, dimensional kinda thing.

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A similar process is described here by Kerr Grabowski

The photos are poor quality (from phone, wobbling with giddy excitement at the print!) but you get the idea.IMG_3516

Then there’s the masking off areas with torn paper, and going back to doodle in the gaps. Some overprinting and joining the overprints in the same way

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White on black on white; orange and blue on monochrome, semi-opaque, translucent and solid intense blockiness. Go on, let the imagination do the running! Let the ideas fly.

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Oh, but wait a mo, didn’t this have something to do with self portraits? isn’t that where we began?

Did the gecko run off with the wrong end of the conversation and get lost down another rabbit hole?

Maybe, maybe not.

Check back again and we’ll see if these loose ends can be knitted back up into something resembling a thing again. (A real thing? well, maybe, yes)

every last ounce of goodness


I’ve been dying fabric for the quilt lately. I’ve been dying fabric for years. It got me thinking: The only stage I don’t like is towards the end when the residue dye – as it’s no longer active – has to be poured away. Why? it’s mostly water. But something inside me winces, it’s beautifully colored water and I don’t want to waste a drop of color.

In my perpetual quest for ways to wring every last ounce of goodness out of every stage in a process, last week I had one of those why did I never think of this before epiphanies.

rolled paper in a jam jar of dye dregs It’s no good to dye fabric with now, but it will dye paper!

Decanting the dye dregs into jam jars, rolling up scrap paper and standing them in the jar.

Then just let science take over: the water soaks in and climbs up the dry paper bringing the remaining pigment in its wake.

When they’re soaked through, or the water in the jar has dried up, or when I just need to clear some space I empty the lot into a bucket to finish intermingling and eventually dry.


dye dreg paper dying

It’s satisfying on so many levels: using up color, repurposing scrap paper, creating patterns for future collages and art works. It does it’s own thing when left to its own devices. It’s messy and unpredictable (just like me) And it’s effectively better than free!

More variations on the theme:

  • Dry paper, water-splashed paper, soaked paper (hot & cold water)
  • Letting the liquid soak part way up, then up-ending the paper so it runs down and creeps up at the same time
  • Pouring more color down the inside of the paper rolls
  • Using paper that’s been part printed on the inkjet so the colors merge and dribble into each other
  • Coffee dregs instead of / mixed with colored water
  • Just water + inkjet printed paper (but not laser printed – that ink won’t run)
  • Scrumpled paper for a veiny effect
  • Glossy photo paper (make good use of those expensive printer mistakes!)

paper dying – new techniques!


I really thought that stash of dyed papers would last a long time, but supplies are getting low, so last night I began another batch, and in so doing I’ve streamlined the process a bit.

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It’s the same ‘lasagna‘ of paper and ink/dye, but instead of leaving it to marinade for ages, once it had a good soaking (1-2 hrs I guess) I spread the bits out on some more ‘scrap paper’. I used a super-cheap watercolor pad – v low quality and rubbish for painting on – but nice and absorbant, so just the job for this! Given a good squash (I stood on it, then danced about a bit) the colors soak through to the watercolor pad the bonus of more dyed paper than I’d bargained for + far quicker drying time. Result!

They’re drying right now – will show you the pics tomorrow. Meanwhile I’m planning another batch in different colors. I’m torn between blues, greens and purples next… What d’you reckon, folks? 🙂

happy accidents in colors


I’ve been dying threads and fabrics for a project I’ll show you soon, and in turn I’ve had some happy accidents I think you might like.

Here are the dyings…



Having given them a good long soak in procion dye I left them to dry out, and naturally didn’t want any off the delicious color juice go to waste. So back to the fruits of the paper dying project


The cord made especially interesting tigery patterns



Sometimes the pigments react, separate, and make wonderful patterns