I don't have a stash of printed fabrics.
Really, I don't. I have small strips and squares left over from other projects. I have some experimental pieces that are left from when I was learning or practicing a new technique. But in terms of fabric that is ready to be used in projects?
Not so much.
Its something I consciously began doing about a year ago.
Before that, here's how it went: when I learned a new surface technique I churned out yards and yards of fabric. Enthusiasm grabbed hold and I just couldn't help myself. Then I'd fold all that fabric up, put it in a neat little pile and admire it. The next time I'd be pulling fabrics for a new project, I'd grab them, admire them, and decide that they didn't work.
I did this often. I'd try to force these pieces to do my bidding, to make them fit in with my vision. I'd attack them with other techniques or dump dye on them or have a discussion with them that they needed to learn to cooperate. But they never did and soon I found myself looking at stacks of fabric I just wasn't feeling the love for.
In the end, they stayed practice pieces. The only time I would pull them out was to torture them when some obscure idea would float through my mind. But they rarely (meaning pretty much never) made it into my artwork.
I decided that I needed a different kind of relationship with my printed fabrics. We needed to find a place where they were happy to be around and I was happy to have them sucking up space in my studio. And to be used. No sense making them if they don't get used.
I even gave it a name: intentional printing
The concept is pretty self explanatory. I doubt I'm the first one to think of it. But its become integral to how I work. Its a combination of control and serendipity, of knowing where I want the fabric to head and making decisions that will help get it there without completely strangling out the idea of "happy accidents".
I don't plan every single detail down to the letter. That would destroy the flow of working, that's not what I want to do. For me, its about getting a piece of fabric that I will love and will work in my new piece - without compromise.
Does it work every time? Of course not. I'd be lying if I said every single thing I did in the studio was stellar. In fact, this quote sums up my attitude about art making perfectly:
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
- Scott Adams
- Scott Adams
I'm going to talk more about intentional printing. I like the focus of it, the idea of creating an intentional relationship with printing from the beginning to the end.
But for now I'd love to know - how do you approach printing? Do you leave every single thing to chance?