Saturday, April 25, 2009

Carpet Makers

Today I am showing my new printing pad which I needed to sort so as to take the bigger printing blocks more successfully. When finished I can wash and change the top towelling layer and wipe down the plastic underneath. It works very well. Also I am nearly at the last of my Syrian/Egyptian photos; next week I will show a couple of my very favourites....

Basis of printing pad. A plastic tray (with pen to show size) and two pieces of thick foam trimmed to size.

All is covered with two layers of strong plastic which is taped securely underneath.

Covered with old towelling which has been secured underneath with safety pins.

Ready to start. Finished pad with printing block on top. Note that I have written 'horizontal' and 'vertical' on the top of the block; this may be obvious but it is easy to mis-print when doing a big piece.

Not a very good photo but shows used printing pad with sponge roller on top.

Printing using my two blocks shown in the previous blog, plus the sponge roller. Circles of freezer paper added to create resisted circles. These are part of a full circular skirt, printed as quarters using Procion MX dye and Manutex (sodium alginate).

We visited a carpet making workshop in Egypt. Young people start working here and usually continue for life. The carpets are all handwoven or hooked, and are quite spectacular.

At last, a clean and tidy workspace. Young apprentice in the foreground who will have attended morning school and then spend a few hours each afternoon in the workshop. He has a future.

This chappie has been in the carpet workshop since his early teens and has reached such an expertise that he is now entitled (by the Govt) to sign his carpets with his own name.

Next Blog: Favourite Photos

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tassel Makers

My piece on the The Three Brother Tombs has reached that point where it is almost finished, except I can't help feeling it needs zapping. I have several ideas but need to keep it out of sight for awhile and then re-visit. This is not unusual. I consider it to be a healthy part of the process and usually find that when I do do whatever I think needs to happen next, the result has been very much worth the 'time-out'.

There is always something else to move on to and I have been experimenting with a couple of my printing blocks. These are made from wooden blocks (expertly supplied and cut by wood joiner son). The yellow is a very dense foam which has been carefully cut into strips. These have been stuck on to the block with double-sided carpet tape, obtainable from carpet shops. The block surface is first covered with the tape, then (in this case) the strips accurately placed. The carpet tape is so strong that it is impossible to re-claim a piece of foam wrongly placed as it will be damaged while removing. In fact one has to be careful not to inadvertently touch the tape as it will become a permanent fixture. The whole thing certainly stands the printing processes and washes.

The two blocks I have been using. Next week I will show you how I have made my printing pad.

Two experiments using the blocks and left-over dye and pigment. The left side has had circles of freezer paper ironed on to the cloth to act as a resist. Some sponge rolling on the right and below a carved wooden block. I hope to show you more about this particular block later.

Left over bits of Procion MX dye activated (with soda ash)and Manutex (sodium alginate), all colours combined. More useful than discarding the dye...

Same thing with textile pigment

More photos, this time of the tassel makers. They will make any size, colour tassel, for any decor. I have been asked about the smells in both Syria and Egypt, and I am pleased to say there was no evidence of any. The weather in Syria was surprisingly cold, but not wet; it was very early spring. Egypt was warmer.

Making tassels. Once again the cleanliness of this work area left alot to be desired, but the men seemed happy.

Display of tassels in the shop. Note the very large green one, next to Jackie

Plying gold threads on to spools, just in the photo at the lower edge, ready for including in tassels

Next Blog: Carpet Makers

Monday, April 20, 2009

Syrian Dye Workshop

Last week I visited my local TheNewDowse gallery here in Lower Hutt. I hadn't been for awhile what with being away etc. I wasn't even sure whether exhibitions had changed since I last visited and didn't find out before I went, prefering to discover with an open mind. There had been changes, and one exhibition was about graffiti and skateboard art. Neither of these two would have enthused me beforehand, but I was enthralled and toured that gallery twice. I left feeling very excited about all the creativity I had experienced. Great stuff! No you won't see me applying graffiti or skating down the footpath.... or will you....?

My Three Brother Tomb piece is progressing. Now that the background areas have been dyed I am focusing on the details, starting with the Enternal Life symbol, Ankh. The central area which has been giving me some grief has now also resolved itself. More details next week.

This is the start of the symbol for Eternal Life, Ankh. I have masked it off with freezer paper

The background colours have been removed with discharge paste

And here it is, finished after several processes to get it right

In Damascus, Syria, we visited a dye workshop accessible by a narrow, crowded alleyway. They dyed yarns and everything looked like it needed some TLC but hey, it is Syria, and it all works for them. I hope you are enjoying these snippets from my travels.

Yarn skeins being lifted from the dye bath. This batch obviously variegated.

Overhead view of the dye area. It all looks as if it could do with a jolly good clean up!

Another view from the top. Note man removing washed skeins from the machine. I presume that the skeins must be secured in the machine otherwise they would come out all tangled.

Dyed skeins drying in the sun

Next Blog: The Tassel Makers