What's a frisket, you ask? It's a physical barrier to printing, used to selectively create blank areas in a print by blocking parts of the image to be printed from the thing you're printing on. You can make friskets in any shape you want using a special plastic film available from art stores, or use any readily available objects that's suitable.
Using friskets in marbling is a little tricky. You have to place them on the surface of the marbling bath after the pattern is created, prevent them from sinking, and avoid disturbing the design.
And the very nature of the gooey liquid you marble on, which facilitates the formation of soft, organic shapes, makes it hard to get a crisp outline around a frisket, I've learned that the best friskets have the simplest shapes. I experimented last year with Autumn leaves, and was disappointed with the results because I couldn't get the proper level of detail.
This Spring, with thoughts of the beach in my head, I tried something else, and created a couple of porpoise scarves. The porpoise shape is much simpler and more streamlined than the leaves, and worked much better. I look forward to trying other shapes and effects!
I am EXTREMELY excited to be doing the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit on Memorial Day Weekend in Greenwich Village!
The show is a Village institution with a very impressive 85 year track record, started in 1931 by two giants of the 20th century abstract expressionism movement. It was a nice Spring day, and Jackson Pollock, a Village resident, was broke. He decided to set out some of his work on the sidewalk outside his home and see if he could make some money. Soon he was joined by his friend, an equally broke Willem DeKooning. Little did they know that day what brilliant careers lay ahead of them, or that their small act of entrepreneurial initiative would grow into a major biannual event still being held all these years later!
And I am doubly excited to be returning to Greenwich Village, where I grew up in the era of Olaf Daughters, McNulty Coffee Roasters and Azuma on 8th Street. I attended P.S. 41, played in Washington Square Park, and savored my weekly trips to the Jefferson Market Library. It will be great fun to be back in the old neighborhood!
Full details of all my upcoming shows can be found here.
The past few months I have been experimenting with different weights and finishes of silk, and have decided to use 12 mm satin almost exclusively.
I loved the weight and feel of 19.5 mm charmeuse, but it's too weighty for some buyers, especially in the price department. Crepe de chine was a dream to handle during the alum stage (so much easier to untangle and hang for drying than the satin) but very difficult to iron well. And 8mm habotai was lovely to work with and took the color beautifully, but its crisp, papery hand just doesn't feel like silk. So silk satin it is!
I've been very busy this past week preparing for Spring shows. Marbled a bunch of scarves, inspired by the pale, fresh colors of forsythia and tree buds that will hopefully make an appearance soon here in the Northeast. Happy Spring, everybody!
Sometimes the best craft hacks are the simplest! As any marbler can tell you, an abundant supply of rags convenient to the work space is essential. So is the ability to clean one's hands between prints.
I like to have a clean, dry rag available to dry my hands with, but it always seemed to wind up getting mixed in with the increasingly soggy and paint saturated ones at my work station.
Then I took some old t-shirts and cut them up, leaving the collar intact. I hang one on a hook in the bathroom where I rinse and hang just-printed scarves. When I rinse and dry my hands between prints, I no longer have the frustration of fishing around for a rag that's not going to redeposit paint back on my hands just as I'm getting ready to handle the next pristine white scarf.
It's such a small thing, but this improvement has had a surprisingly large payoff in terms of convenience and efficiency!
Happy Spring - the snow has been falling fast and furious all day long here in New York, but it's Spring nonetheless, and that means show season! I'm excited to have just been accepted to the Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association Fine Arts & Fine Crafts Show on May 16th in Greenwich Village in NYC. And I've just added a Show Calendar page to the website, so you can keep tabs on where I'll be. I'll be updating it with more dates soon!
If there's anything I love it's a good equipment hack. I devised this one to help with a problem I was having when drying scarves. The weight of the water draining from the scarves pulled them down on the rack's narrow rods, created stretched areas in the silk.
A quick trip to Home Depot for some pipe insulation, and I created a new and improved drying rack. The large, softly padded rods don't abuse the silk as it dries. Problem solved!
Before and After:
In the Spring of 2014 I became totally entranced with the art of marbling, and began to learn all I could about it through the internet and books. It wasn't long before I was hopelessly hooked!
Now most of my tiny apartment has been taken over by marbling equipment and supplies. The furniture, floor, curtains and even the cat are splashed with paint. I'll probably never be able to have company again.
Marbling's endless fascination for me is the opportunity it provides to explore color. There are countless shades to try, innumerable combinations to create!
Another of its draws is its unpredictability: you never really know how a print will turn out until it's done, and it's always exciting to lift a piece off the marbling bath and see the results.
Another thing I love about marbling is that it requires constant learning. First and foremost, of course, comes technique. So many factors come into play in marbling, and there are endless tips and tweaks to explore. No two marblers do things quite the same way, and I've learned a great deal from the generous input of my fellow marblers. Endless experimentation is also part of the process.
I also study color theory, learning how colors interact so I can use and combine them to greatest effect. I'm very fond of colors that are not readily available from the commercial paint lines, so I've taught myself to mix and blend to get the ones I want.
And last but not least, I've been brushing up my limited carpentry skills as I build my own tools, trays and display fixtures. Proficiency with hammer and nails is a definite plus when it comes to marbling!
Size is the gelatinous medium on which marbling designs are created, a thickened water base onto which the marbler drops paints. The surface tension of this viscous fluid causes the paints to take on a life of their own, spreading and interacting with each other in marvelous ways. When all the colors have been applied to the size, the marbler coaxes them into a pleasing design, then transfers that onto paper or fabric.
Size matters enormously. Its condition is crucial to the outcome of the design. Successful prints depend on healthy size.
Size that's too thin lets the colors spread too far and too fast. Size that's too thick doesn't allow them to spread enough. Dust on the size causes prints flecked with unattractive blank spots. Size contaminated with too much alum makes the paint clump into angular clots instead of spreading smoothly.
And perhaps saddest of all is tired size, size that has lost its spring, its will to support and spread color. Tired size drains the life out of paints, which lie lumpy and listless where they fall, refusing to blossom into the organic shapes that are the beginning of any marbling design.
How sad it is when this scenario signals the end of a marbling session! Like a carousel slowing to a halt with its music running down, the exhilarating ride is over and it's time to step off. All that remains is the clean up.
So, yes, as any marbler knows, size matters.