Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hydro-Printing at Penland

The name of my week-long class at Penland, "Hydro-Printing" sounded technical and intense. But really it ended up being one of those instant gratification projects. While the process is fast and simple the set-up is a horrid flash back to chemistry lab. Any task that requires a particulate dust mask and more than one measuring device frightens me, so I'll leave the scientific bit out of this post and get right to the fun stuff. Hydro-printing is just a fancy name for marbling. Having never been exposed to marbling before I had no idea what to expect. My friend Ana described the whole process as magic and I couldn't agree more. You start with a large tray container fill with what is most appropriately called "slime." It's a thick clear liquid made up of mostly water, methyl cellulose and a few other dabs of magical potion. Paint is dropped lightly onto the surface of the slime with an eye dropper. You can see my friend Liz working on a piece:

Add as many colors as you like, then manipulate the floating image with various tools. The design possibilities are endless, as are the color combinations. When you're satisfied with the liquid design carefully lay your fabric, or paper, onto the surface of the slime. (The fabric or paper you're printing on will need to have been pre-treated with alum). The alum allows for the paint to instantly bond with your piece. Rinse, hang to dry, iron and repeat if you wish to over-marble. I did a lot of marbling on hand-dyed fabrics as well.

My favorite pieces to make were the long scarves. Mostly because I'm impatient and like to get straight to the good stuff. The scarf trays were obviously much longer and I plan on utilizing my bath tub for future marbling projects. The week was intense, up at chilly 8am on my feet non stop until around 2am. The whole process is beautiful and photos rather than words document it best. I'm planing on having a "hydro-printing" party soon after Christmas. Any and all are welcome.