Monday, October 11, 2010

Lynn Krawczyk's Fabric Making Freedom Song

Detail of Virginia Spiegel's Then and Now art quilt using
thermofax technique
Virginia Spiegel first introduced me to the concept of thermofax printing. Other than the difficulty of finding a thermofax machine and its high cost, I fell immediately in love with the technique and freedom and versatility of printing one's own fabric.

Virginia has done a great deal of experimenting with fabric painting and thermofax among other techniques. Here are two examples of her work: "Then and Now" and "Once."

For more information about her two quilts, and her about to begin Birthday Bash where we can buy bundles of her fabric, go to her website. Her Birthday Bash info is available through her blog.

Once art quilt by Virginia Spiegel
Then I saw Claire Fenton's "Demystifying Thermofax Screen Printing" DVD from Quilting Arts Workshop and it came together. She built a piece using headlines from the Hurricane Katrina disaster. I fell in love with making fabric tell a story.

The DVD may not be glitzy but Claire gives the nuts and bolts of making one's own screens as well as does and don'ts and how to save a bit of money and not waste inks, etc. She gives a most informative demonstration. It really got exciting for me when she begins creating her own fabric. I'm a words person and adored the idea of thermofaxing favorite newspaper clippings and articles. my own clippings, onto a fabric that only I could make. My indulgence in thermofax techniques for fabric making continue to ferment.

After hearing Lynn Krawczyk's song of freedom that printing her own fabric gave her -- I'm heading for the garage to make a space for some fabric printing!

I think you'll find inspiration in Lynn's work as well as her words! Here is Lynn Krawczyk in her own words. -- Dawn

Lynn Krawczyk:
I've come to regard my studio as a sort of diary of the ten years I've spent creating fiber art. My decorating sense in that room is not of the variety of plain white walls and no distractions. I pile and layer -- not distractions but inspiration - everywhere, both mine and acquired. I want to be encased in all things creative. My mind slips into proper order the moment I walk through the door.

Photo of Lynn's design board and various creations in all stages of design.

Where I started and where I am now are related but in the way that you stand next to a cousin and think, "I could see where we are from the same family." The studio connection past and present is there along with evidence of the search to find that sweet comfort spot. It is a kind of tilling and combining of elements and finding the ah-ha beauty that draws an unconscious comfortable sigh from me, telling me that I am home.

Lynn's Big Orange Chair with White Background. What a
delight and so original!

It wasn't until I started creating my own fabric about a year ago that I knew I was almost there. I know I'm not the first to do it and I know I won't be the last but what it has given me has changed nearly everything that goes on in that little room at the end of the second floor hallway.

If I said that I didn't own or use any commercial fabric, that would make me a liar. I am, after all, a bona fide fabric addict. But I find myself reaching around the commercial bin in my studio when I'm creating wall art. (The funky batiks and prints make their way into other projects these days. The plushies I create are more then happy to sport colorful stripes and bizarre swirls on their tummies.)

I've tried long and hard to explain the things that I love most about hand printed fabric. I smooshed all the reasons into a Top Ten list that perfectly sums up my affection for the whole bit:

(1) Fast food vs. homemade. I admit that I do love me some fast food but I also admit that it can't really begin to compare to homemade food. I think a big part of it is the difference between who is making it: a hormonal disgruntled teenager vs. your mom. Mom adds love - an ingredient that shows through in the final product. Its the same with printing your own fabric - your emotion becomes embedded in the fibers.

Photo of thermofax screen printing process

(2) Freedom. Freeeeeddddoooommm! Freeeeddddooooommmmm!!! Instead of searching
high and low to find the fabric that I want to use to convey a message, all I need to do is hunker down in my studio for a couple of hours and I've got exactly what I need.

(3) Magic. No matter how many times I use thermofax screens to screen print or slop soy wax on to create batik fabrics, it never gets old. I won't say this for sure but its possible that I shout "Ta-da!" each and every time.

Painting Soy Wax, just one of the options when making your own fabric
 (4) Connection. I love that I can spill my mood out onto something tangible. Its easy to convey whatever I'm thinking since I have control over the whole process from start to finish. Its a sort of fabric journal, a documentation of what I was thinking on that specific day.

(5) Be specific! I tend to print fabric as I need it for a project rather then creating it for my stash. (Although there is a little stash fabric in there as well.) I can bend the fabric to my will rather then the other way around. There is no compromise on the final product.

On the Line, a combination of planning and serendipity
 (6) Pass the soap please. I get to make a mess. A valid, necessary, unapologetic mess. Paint, wax, dye - you name it, I have a reason to involve it all in the mayhem. The day that I realized I required an apron to avoid making my entire wardrobe studio clothing is the day I realized I was right where I needed to be.

(7) Intentional serendipity. I enjoy surprising results when creating something but there comes a point and time where you want more control over how things are coming out. I can assemble my every growing stack of thermofax screens, my paints, my dyes and while I cannot see the results entirely in my mind when I begin, I can guide it along the path I want to get what I need.

(8) One of these things is not like the others. Its impossible to create the same piece of fabric twice. No matter how hard I try (and I normally don't), its wasted effort. Knowing that each one is different and unique
and an only child makes each one my favorite. And that's a happy place to be.

Lynn adds graphic hand stitching to her thermofaxed fabrics
 (9) The star of the show. I like to do graphic hand stitching, simple and to the point. Creating a piece of work in which the hand printed fabric is the star of the show, the stitching is there to compliment the design and add those little tweaks of happiness. The fabric is the star and everything else in the work moves around it to make sure that it stays that way.

Adding layers to create the design
(10) Joy. Printing my own fabric is a joyful process. It makes me happy. Plain and simple and to the point. And sometimes, that's more then enough reason to do something - to put a smile on your face.

Creating art is about finding your joy. There is no right or wrong way to find it, you just have to plod along until that "a-ha!" moment settles over you. It can be dramatic and come out in a shout or be quiet and as simple as drawing paint across a silk screen.

However you define it, move forward. Keep working. Don't question. And never doubt that you are an artist.

Happy creating!

For more of Lynn's beautiful work and inspiring words, please visit her website, her blog, and her Etsy shop.

1 comment:

Jean M. Judd said...

What a great post from Lynn. Her printed fabric is just fantastic and her love of the process comes through in the writing.

Virginia Spiegel's work is also very inspiring and her Boundary Waters series is a wonder to behold.