I am still doing too much, but not as much as before. I have gotten many things done in the meantime.
One of these things is part of a monumental fabric printing project.
I had been reading the documentation that Lakshmi Amman (from the SCA_India list) had been doing about her wax-resist block printing experience, and then wandered from there to the Al-Fustat textiles, and thought (in that crazy part of my brain), “I can do that!” Only not wax. I am nervous about how many things I can set on fire with wax.
No, I am going to attempt mordant-stamped dyeing. Originally I had intended just to buy paint and do a pigment stamp, but I’m a perfectionist. It won’t be *right* if I do that. So, I looked up sources for madder and some tips on technique, and as soon as I can order it I’m so there (this saves my red fabric for zari embroidery, which is also awesome).
In preparation, I chose a pattern:
Simple, no? Granted, I am not a total beginner with this; I’m just inexperienced with printing on fabric.
On Sunday evening, instead of doing a dozen other things I ought to have done, I made a stamp. Earlier in the week I’d drawn up the pattern, and then transferred it to the block via carbon paper and a burnisher. Here it is, plus a little beginning carving:
It looks complicated, but it really just requires a delicate touch. I’m carving away less than 30% of the block’s surface.
Then I proceeded to carve the rest. The little rows of dots around each medallion were a pain until we looked at the extant textile and discovered that they were probably painted in after the pattern was printed. This makes sense. You get a clearer dot that way (carved dots tend to fill in with ink/mordant/wax). So I carved out the entire medallion border and finally I had this:
Then I took a break for the night. Whew. I also gave myself a blister that I’m quite proud of.
This evening I did some work on another project and afterward pulled out the block printing ink and some scrap paper to pull a few test prints of the block (this is the best one):
The flourishes need more fribbets, which I can add, and I need to carve deeper channels in a few places, to prevent fill-in. However, my calculations on how to cut the block to achieve a seamless design have been accurate:
The top and bottom edges are seamless enough, with a few minor adjustments. I’ve asked the husband to cut away the excess, though, since it makes it hard to register the block side-to-side. However, once I have some white fabric, madder, and alum, I’m ready to test. I have no idea if this will work on fabric, but I’m optimistic.
And I’ve got a few nice prints I may frame.