02 July 2007

Thickened Discharge

I can imagine the Google hits I'm going to get on this one. But this is not about sinus (or worse) infections. If you're surfing for symptoms, try WebMD. And good luck.

"Thickened discharge" is another method that fiber artists have developed to manipulate and alter fabric. "Discharge" is the opposite of dyeing; you're removing color rather than adding it. Simply put, discharge is selective bleaching.

I've played a bit with plain ol' chlorine bleach and gotten some interesting results, but in Jeannette Meyer's workshop at OCAC last weekend, we used thiox (smellier but less toxic), mixed with sodium alginate to add body. Hence thickened discharge. Here's a shot of me, masked but healthy, courtesy of Gerrie's blog.

Dealing with a gel or paste, as opposed to a liquid, gives you more control over the discharge medium and the end results. That's the theory, anyway. Instead of just dipping or spraying the fabric, you can paint, draw, stamp, or silkscreen, using all sorts of creative tools -- leaves, potato mashers, construction fencing, plastic crates and supermarket trays, circuit boards, bubble wrap, newspaper, foam rubber, masking tape, combs, brushes, meat tenderizers, syringes, squeeze bottles, fingers. Now, when I open a kitchen drawer, I think "hmmm, interesting..."

Here's some of my output on my design wall. China Rose wasn't particularly impressed with the art show in her napping territory, but I was happy with the results of my first attempts at silk screening. The purply vertical piece on the far left was done with masking tape, and the branching design on the three different fabrics toward the middle was stencil-cut out of freezer paper.

In preparation for the workshop, I'd overdyed some printed commercial fabrics, including some real uglies, that have been in my stash forever. Discharging definitely redeemed some of them. The others are still ugly, but in a much more interesting way.

Sunday afternoon, when the workshop ended, Jer got a ride over to OCAC from Gerrie's husband Steve. After a stop across the road at Cornell Farm to buy toad lilies for the backyard (they proved scarce and elusive, but after a protracted hunt I managed to bag two), we headed way up Skyline for a Slow Food potluck. The hosts have a couple of acres with a beautiful garden as well as dogs, chickens, and half a dozen llamas. The llamas are crazy about broccoli leaves; I almost lost a finger. Also, we were told, they show their affection by blowing in your face. Here's Jerry getting intimate with a llama. He'll try anything once.

Oh yes, my hair is shorter. I'll bury down here a full facial self-portrait, which I took by pointing the camera toward myself (duh) while aiming the viewfinder via its reflection in the mirror. I don't recommend this technique, flattering results-wise.

1 comment:

Gerrie said...

I love the photo of Jer with the llama! Your work looks great on the design wall.