Looking back: apart from painting vintage furniture, the mainstay of my Canadian art studio in the 1990s was fabric design. I dyed T-shirts and cotton tops by hand and decorated the garments using stamps, stencils, foam rollers, metal tipped applicator bottles… It was fortunate that my supplier had her shop in the same village where I used to live, in Deep Cove, North Vancouver, British Columbia. If I ever ran out of something, I just had to walk up the road to Sheryl at Opulence Silks and Dyes Ltd. Gallery and stock up.
I don’t just upcycle furniture, I’ve started upcycling garments too. I learned how to dye and paint fabric in my studio for functional art in Canada, back in the 1990s. Here you see the back panel of a dress in burgundy red, printed using handcut stamps and embellished with hand embroidery (still a bit shaky). My next goal: freehand machine embroidery.
I like this kind of garment because it’s so versatile. So I bought a bolt of sturdy unbleached linen fabric and asked a friend to sew tunics for me. I dyed them in different colours and decorated them with my own stamps, cut in Speedball Speedy Cut. The tunics of this series are all shown on one of the mannequins I designed to display my fabric art.
Linen, Procion fabric dye, Setacolor fabric paint, hand made stamps. 1999. Length: 82 cm
Katazome is a technique of decorating fabric where areas of fabric which are not to be dyed or painted are blocked out. There are many different ways of blocking out; a well-known one is batik, where wax keeps dye or fabric paint from bonding with the fabric. Katazome is a Japanese technique, using rice flour paste as a resist or mask. I tried this on coarse cotton, and it did work, even though finer fabric would have given more detailed results. If following the traditional method, I would have used a stencil, but I preferred to do my geometric design freehand.
Cotton fabric, rice paste, Setacolor fabric paint. 2001