Monday, August 16, 2010

Discovering Art Cloth

A review by Eloise Collison

Art cloth cover There is a eureka moment that occurs when you dye your first piece of fabric. Out of the dye bath comes a piece of cloth, transformed from white to a vibrant colour. Suddenly, as the light falls on your work, the possibilities are spread before you. Wanting to embellish and add to the colour is the next logical step.

To hone your skills as you practice your craft, you might want to take a course, learn from a fellow artist, and practice your techniques.

In Jane Dunnewold’s book Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric, you can do all three. This book is an encyclopedic summary of Dunnewold’s knowledge, gleaned from her seminars, and her years of work in the art form. She generously shares her techniques and tips, allowing you to interpret them in your own idiom.

Dunnewold describes her approach to making art cloth as a process of layering; of embellishing and adding to a piece of fabric to create a harmonious new composition.

She describes dyeing, overdyeing and the use of discharge methods and resists. Step-by-step descriptions of these and many other processes are included, as well as trouble-shooting information. All of this is vital if you are starting out with a new technique.

While some of the materials used are specialized (thiox and thermofax screens), most are accessible to the beginner, such as acrylic paints, white glue, flour paste and soy wax.

Dunnewold covers the use of safety equipment, proper ventilation, and separation of toxic materials. More could be said about safe disposal practices, including the importance of familiarizing yourself with the hazards of the products you’re using and contacting your supplier or local municipality about safe disposal.

The recipes and resources included in Art Cloth are indispensable references that you will dip into again and again. Dunnewold suggests dyers keep detailed notes and samples of their work, and make colour wheel swatches as a personal reference tool.

In her introduction Dunnewold talks about discovering yourself through making. She offers her knowledge to the reader as an invitation to personal and creative growth. Her book is a valuable addition to a crafter’s library; one that you will read first for inspiration, and then refer to again and again as you make your journey of discovery in creating art cloth.

Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric
by Jane Dunnewold
published by Interweave Press
paperback, 26.95