The Spiral Path of Words & Color continued

The methods for ink dying paper are as simple or complex as you want to make them. Here are my 5 top tips to paper dying.

Ink Dyed Paper: 5 Top Tips

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…

early ink dying: recycled envelopes, printer paper, tissue paper, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…
  5. 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…

Happy Accidents.

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.

organic patterns in ink and water

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)

paper dyed with stencil layers

Next time: what becomes of these papers?

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Collections

I love sets of things, I love arrangements & collections.

When I hear a song I love, I have to scurry off as soon as I can to find the album it’s from, find the artist, track down the other tracks. Fall in love again.

When my eyes are magnetised by a piece of art, I race to seek out the artist and soak in everything else they’ve created.

I’ve done this with authors and poets, actors, directors, blogs and my current jam: podcasts. I get hooked. I have to absorb all I can until my attention is hooked someplace else. 

This energy directs me, and now I’ve identified it, I can see how it plays out in all kinds of ways.

I’ve had attachment to all sorts of obsession, with habits and ritual, with a certain style of living or eating or being, with a form of minutiae that maybe only I notice, but it’s place in my days has been critical. For the moment. Then gone.

Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes a few years, or anywhere in between. The more life I live the more context for this observation and the more patterns I can see.

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Right now I’m channelling this obsessive method into making. I’m filling every moment, pouring every ounce of energy into making, and will do so until the next hook catches me. That maybe tomorrow – maybe next year – I’ll show you when.

It’s manifesting itself right now as a collection of paper and fabric collages, I’m calling the Peacock & Mermaid collection. This is part two. I don’t know if there will be a part three – I might get called away by another muse.

All of the pieces shown here are available in my Etsy shop. The first part of the collection sold out the first day – so hop over quick if you’d like one of them in your home!


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Mermaids & Peacocks

colorwheelI’ve just spent a month dwelling in a color I love so much: blue-green, and I have to admit it wasn’t easy to move on!

In this year full of color, as I journey around the color wheel, I’m devoting each month to a single color, and April was all about teal, turquoise and sea-shades of aquamarine. These are the colors of a magical world inhabited by peacocks & mermaids. And me!

At the end of each month I add the fruits of my makings to my Etsy Shop — there are only three of these in existence, so catch ’em while you can!

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Mounted on 8 inch square canvas board, these are layered collages of hand dyed paper and cotton & silk fabric intricately detailed with little weeny glass beads and stitching. 

They are ready to hang as soon as they arrive in their new homes. 
Welcome to the underwater realms of my imagination … 

Thought forms

This is one where I’m beginning in the middle. I’ll catch you up on the beginning next, but let’s start off here, just coz I feel like it.

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Thoughtforms are a series of relief collages I’m making from the dyed paper (way back… remember the dyed paper?) IMG_3421a

and the don’t-know-why-but-compelled-to-keep-making-them funny little colored rectangle things.

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So these loose ends are also finding each other and forming into slightly more coherent entities.

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Thoughtforms are continuing that recurring theme: trains of consciousness & patterns of thought. More on that later.

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I’ve made 6 of a series that will total 9, 3 are still in progress. These 6 are on display (and for sale – if you’re quick before they get snapped up!) at the Upstairs Gallery

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Each one is named after a fragment of text found somewhere in the piece, serendipity giving them eclectic names such as: Spacecraft, Puddings cakes etc, Fortitude and Adversity amongst others.

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The next series will include more textile elements, but the overall feel will be similar.

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Still with that one theme leads to another, one thought folds round a corner and opens out into a coiled up spring, some buttons and a rivet, stitched onto the overarching idea of something else.

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Or something. Y’know, like it does. The beauty is they can represent whatever you want them to. Or nothing at all if you .

obsessions de jour

Hey folks – Happy Holidays to you all!

We’ve had a lot of dark, gloomy, rainful days here. Not a big grumble, weather happens, but the half-arsed grey wet daylight has severely hampered my ability to any good photos lately. This week, finally I got a few pics of my latest adventures and obsessions!

When time and people permit, I like to pretty much hibernate from around 21 December straight through to a couple of days into January. Not so much a big sleep, but a big re-charge. I spend most of these days actively pursuing colors and shapes in some fashion or another 😉

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Recently I’ve found myself making a whole load of these. Srsly, like dozens of them. Ranging in size from about 1/2 inch upwards to 2 inches, they really satisfy the no scrap is too small to keep mentality!

To what end I can’t be certain, but I mounted a few up on some dyed paper and framed a few in little Ikea box frames.
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Some of them have a very dimensional quality – consisting layers of paper and some with corrugated card – so they work well in a deep box frame. (pics to follow…)

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Hang on… like a deja vu thing going on here… these things remind me of something…
Yes! these things
Curious… I’d totally forgotten about them til typing this post… But do feel encouraged, at least I’m consistent with my obsessions, even if I’ve no idea what they’re for (yet).

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So, dear friends and visitors, whether you’re getting ready to party the new year in, or already have done, I wish you all the very best for 2013.
May it bring you what you wish for, and more 😀

Eph X

some P, M, bits of N and oddments from G

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Remember the dictionary I dyed? Pages are evolving!

Apologies for the poor photo quality. Better to follow when me, camera, art & daylight are in same place @ the same time!! 😉

Seeing through new eyes

Over the last couple of years, my perspective has shifted. Like after an epiphany, I began to see differently. Expectations and assumptions either altered or vanished.

I’ve always enjoyed the process, creating, painting, etc-ing…. but inevitably it would go wrong and be set aside (that paper/fabric/material etc was expensive/so nice before I ruined it… for these reasons I can’t through it away. Haunted by a residual value… It must remain as a warning not to repeat this mistake. It must fester. It can sit there stewing in guilt, shame, regret). Weeks, months, years would pass. These ghosts of ideas would move house with me. Boxed up past failures.

Art school taught me to question these feelings, the judgemnents I made. Finally I found out why I’d kept so many of these past attempts: they weren’t wrong, they just weren’t finished!. They took a detour from the path I’d imagined for them, but that didn’t mean their journey was over.

Through these ‘new eyes’, I see possibility in so many places. This week I’ve been playing with water – as bits of dyed paper lie about my work space, often splashed and used to dry wet brushes, I came to notice how the dried watermarks disrupted the pigments of the dye/ink. This had to be investigated further…..!

Water brushes are the perfect tool for this!


The moral to this story? Keep playing! Keep on swimming! 😀

Quality time…

It’s August Holiday weekend, just about 24 hours into my holiday.

From finishing work on Friday through to Tuesday morning, I am off duty from day-to-day doings and beings.

I’m staying home, and I’m having some quality time with someone very dear to my heart: my Inner Kid.

We are both very excited about this.

Beginning last night, we sat down and surveyed the chaos. What to do first? Barely time to catch my thoughts and IK yells “Paper! Paper! Tearing and folding, snipping, concertina-ing, gluing, stitching, snippetty snippetty….” and then we suddenly had a little heap of these
We stay up late, we listen to the radio…
and the papery things get more intricate and fiddly

We stay up later still, eating biscuits and reading. Listen to the ideas bubble away in the background. We sleep and dream.

In the morning we go back to play. IK: Let’s make holes! Find the stabby-awl-thing and make holes to stitch the things with!! Now!

Yes! Like this! no idea why or what for but gotta make this new thing bigger and more thing-ful!!

And more directions! It needs to go in more directions!!

Yay! Now it needs a button!

………………….to be continued………………… 😉