From my experiencing of heat transfer printing, previous ink jet printing and tutor feedback I was able to increasingly distil down what it was I liked and did not like from these forms of printing onto dyed polycotton fabrics and different weights and weave constructions of muslin. From the heat transfer printing I did not feel sufficiently connected to the print process as I was used to screen printing and the physicality of that, it was altogether a more in-depth and immersive process as I felt in relationship with the materials in use. I recognised the need for a closer connection with the materials, of a form of reciprocation…toing and froing with every layer of print otherwise there was a strong sense of disconnect with what I was doing. Alongside this I needed the materials in use to mean something and represent something of the context in which I work, of having environmental relevance through their repurposing and reclaiming as well as creating a textile narrative concerning environmental fragility and brittleness. While conscious of the statements made by reusing natural fibres and fabrics given their production costs to the environment, I immediately related to the cotton muslin with its texture-looser weave and light, delicate-sheer construction…I liked the feel and touch of muslin. Cotton muslin has a lower thread count and fewer warp threads with increased spacing which has the capacity to exemplify both beauty and fragility through print and weave.
While I really wanted to capitalise upon the qualities of the material on reflection I felt that my first series of inkjet print sampling with cotton muslin drowned out such qualities through the layering processes and the heaviness of the imagery. I started to rethink the inkjet printing processes and in doing so I developed my artwork to encapsulate more A4 collage work in and out of the sketchbook. I experimented more with colour, shape, texture and line with scale, the mark making was altogether more dynamic and increased contrasts were realised. With this I played around with mark making including the use of black marker pens, ink, acrylic paints, and acrylic painted cut card. The mark making continued to be influenced by natural forms and surface qualities. I also developed my line drawings to create texture with line and colour through acrylic paint. I refrained from using more literal imagery from old black and white photography from my personal history and instead used text from old birth, death and marriage certificates and census information to integrate the environmental context with my own related personal family history in text and artwork.
Through this process I was interested in promoting the properties of the cotton muslin, so I simplified some of the colour and monochrome collage and line work alongside acrylic sketches of natural forms and surface qualities to produce contrasting textural marks.
Through an increasingly immersive and involved printmaking process I was able to create a closer connection to the material. In understanding the muslin more and being more responsive to each layer of printing I was able to produce increasingly subtle but more impactful outcomes. In being better prepared with my artwork and text, and trialling the layering in advance of the printmaking processes I achieved improved visual qualities of brittleness and softness which complimented the sheerness of the muslin, and amplified the overall context of fragility both in the print and the material. I felt excited about the results as the created effects did not represent an end to this printing process but the beginning as so much more was possible. From this process I started to reflect upon the next stage of printing which will involve screen printing and how this will be influenced by what I have achieved to date to affect what will come next. The excitement also stems from eliciting feedback from others regarding my most recent inkjet printing sampling as many wished to purchase sampling pieces to frame for their own homes.
For me however I liked the feel of the muslin with print as the use of the textural elements along with inkjet printing gave the muslin an aged and worn presence as if the muslin had lived through a lifetime of experience and hardship as so often muslin does given its history, functionality, purpose and everyday use. The acrylic sketches in monochrome created added depth and substance.
The increased focus upon texture within the layering processes with acrylic paint and black ink has worked well with the colour palette used as the multiple layers can be readily distinguished from each other and merge seamlessly to create a sense of experiencing and wear. This sense of age, fragmentation, being broken and disintegration was sought.
Through continued sampling processes I increasingly recognised what worked better, what felt better, and I produced the effects that I wished to develop further with screen printing. Although I prefer working in larger scale with screen printing, I felt that through the inkjet printing sampling processes I had developed my printmaking skills, technique and understanding which would inform and enhance my screen printing outcomes including my closer connection with muslin and increased capacity to understand the cloth. Once lockdown has been loosened, I will be able to access the studio once more for larger scale screen printing and such inkjet print sampling will be used with cotton muslin to develop my final printed textiles.