I really enjoyed working on the “eye” motif from the previous stage and decided to develop this for the larger sample.
I made the original printing block using some thin foam stuck to cardboard which was fine for the experimental stages but I felt I needed something more durable to continue with. This time I used two layers of foam stuck to a plywood base. I also thought it would be interesting to develop the idea further by making another smaller version of the eye motif to use in the space formed by the position of the prints.
Another version I considered was to make two blocks so that the outer lashes of the eye could be printed separately to the eyelid and pupil section. This would mean I could print them in different colours. Then I realised that I should use the eye section to fill the space in the design, rather than producing another block. So I made two new printing blocks. These worked very well but have not proved as durable as I had hoped.
I wanted to experiment with printing on some more different fabric samples before making a final choice. Here I have printed on some natural cotton canvas type fabric on the first sample and a dense black wool crepe for the second.
I used a pale inky blue for the outer eyelash motif and shades of mauve and a purple for the eyes. With this version I have tessellated the prints which works very well.
Here I have printed an opaque light blue and mauve colour onto a dense black wool fabric that has a very slight natural stretch. The eyelash sections have been printed squarely which leaves a gap between the prints big enough for the eye-ball-only print. This photograph seems to make the prints look quite bold but the colours are actually a little more muted than this and work well together.
I also wanted to see if an overprint, slightly off register would make for more interest. Here I have printed on to some nylon organza. I love the effect of the bright colours with the shear fabric. This looks great when lying in folds. I am not sure about the charcoal overprint of the central eye. It might work better in a different colour.
Next I felt needed to work on the background for more texture. In this sample I have used a lustrous organza scrap. I sponged on background colour in white and red with a scrunched up plastic carrier bag, the really thin type. This seems to work well but the background colour doesn’t go well with the blue prints.
I experimented further with giving the background some texture and some of the samples are better than others.
These three were made using a pad I made from wrapping a ball of scrunched up carrier bag inside a plastic garlic net. I printed on to scarf silk and, although you can’t see very well from the photographs the subtlety of the colour is good.
These three were all printed on a slightly heavier silk using a block I made from sticking a piece of upholstery hessian on to card. I like the effect given by the hessian as I varied the orientation of the prints. I used a very dilute colour for the first one which gives a varied effect. On the last one I overprinted with some white using a scrunched up carrier bag.
This sample came out well. I made the background with the plastic bag technique and I am not sure whether I prefer the white background or the pink. I then overprinted wth my original cardboard eye block in variations of blue. I really like this effect and need to try it on some different fabrics to see how it works on lighter or shearer, as well as some lumpier and hairer fabrics I have assembled.
At the same time as trying out printing in different colours and fabrics I have been combining this will different arrangements of the blocks. I do keep coming back to the two same arrangements in the end.
In this one I tried turning the block around but I felt it wasn’t a comfortable shape. Also the yellow, although complementary to the blue, did not work well here. This sample was printed on to a rather uncomfortable looking wool-mix suiting fabric.
This arrangement on a beige cotton canvas worked better and I love the combination of diagonal lines in the rainbow colours, it really sings. At the same time as liking it a lot I felt other versions were better.
Final Larger Sample
I finally came back to the original 4 square positioning of the block with the eyeball-only in the space left by the design. This larger sample is the result of all my experimentation in this stage and is a repeating print of the whole eye interlaced with the eyeball. I didn’t feel this design really needed anything in the background in the end, especially since I was printing on to a fabric with some natural texture.
To me the blue colour is important for this final piece because it echoes the design’s origin in the delftware dish. It also reminds me of blue ink on school shirts! In this version I printed using the fabric paints onto a natural cotton canvas that I had not scoured beforehand. As I was pressed for time I had not washed any of my samples after printing to see if this changed them in any way, although most of my fabrics had been pre-washed. I thought it would be interesting to wash the fabric after printing to see what effect that might add to the piece. That is why you can see the gridlines I made with tailors chalk to guide my prints. In the prints with lashes I have printed the eyeball in a mauve colour and the eyeball only prints are in a very dark blue/black. I like the way all the colours harmonise in this final piece.
This is the final piece after hand washing in very hot water. I tried to press it with a hot iron but, being cotton, it is not co-operating and I should have left it a little more damp before ironing. The colours seem to have faded very slightly but I like this effect. The whole piece has shrunk by about 10 percent.
I think this design works well for several reasons. The original design is unusual and captures the attention immediately. The curves of the eyeball are in contrast with the straight lines of the eyelashes and I think this is what gives the design a lot of movement. I have kept the printing block the same size as my original samples but I like the idea of developing the design further and think it would also be very successful as a very large print, say 20 cm or more across.