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Experiments with fabric etching

Now that I have some initial research done I feel I can start to explore what process to use for the final pillowcases. The casting and subsequent prints that I have already made gave me time to think and consider how I want the pillowcases to look. Whether to print on them, embroider them, add lace etc. The way that I printed the castings (and yes I will be posting how to ink and print these soon) became a challenge to make them appear as if a memory, a fleeting recollection of something and I think it is this aspect that I want to explore further.

The pillowcases I want to make will not be printed onto.  I want to make something that is part of the very fabric that the pillowcases are made from. Very much in the same way that the information on the War Graves headstones are carved in to the stone. They are not adorned or embellished in any way. This has led me to research actually etching the fabric. This technique, also known as Devore, is used in the textile design industry to ‘burn’ designs into a fabric.

With the help of Textile designer James Bosley at London Printworks Trust I spent a fantastic afternoon learning how to do Devore and beginning this aspect of my research.

Prior to my visit I prepared some hand cut stencils using detail from one of Clarice’s photographs and also an enlarged section from a piece of text lace from my previous project ‘Reading Between the Lines’

Hand cut stencil

Hand cut stencil

Hand cut stencil

I also wanted to try doing a photographic etch. For this I added a half-tone to the image in Photoshop and then enlarged it and printed it onto translucent paper to make a photographic screen. Very excited  by the results.

Fabric etch using cut stencil on polycotton

Fabric etch from handcut stencil on polycotton

Fabric etch from using hand cut stencil on silk/polyester

Fabric etch using hand cut stencil on silk/polyester

The silk/polyester is a fabric specially made for Devore so gave excellent results. However, the shiny finish to the fabric is not whaty I am looking for.

Combination using fabric etch and white opaque binder to act as resist

Photographic fabric etch on polycotton

The polycotton I used was a 50/50 mix and was just some new pillocases that I bought. I am now going to source some polycotton made specifically for Devore and compare the results.The brown staining is caused by the actual ‘burning process’. This fades when the fabric is washed out and can be removed completely by using stain remover. However, I really like the faded staining and will explore this some more.

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