In our last project in Textile Cultures, we printed our own fabric. It was a challenging yet rewarding process, and I learned a lot. Below is a short explanation of my experience.
Growing from Each Other
Screen Printing on Cotton/Spandex blend
2 yds x 45 in.
My Grandmother turned 89 last week. We took her out to tea, and I watched her, in a long skirt and tights, climb up a large staircase with nothing but a railing to steady her. She is no longer as tall as she was, but she used to be 6 feet tall, and I don’t think she was ever very comfortable in her height. My pattern is a message to her. As one tall girl (I’m 5’10”) to another, I think she is beautiful, and the more she grows, the more beautiful she is. My pattern has four separate motifs, the flowers, the clouds, the grass, and the eyes.
The flower starts out small- budding, but alone- no other flowers to keep it company. As it grows, it is still alone, but every step it stands straighter and taller, no longer looking for others to validate it. The grass connects the ground to the ground of the repeated pattern, showing how the flowers really do grow from one another’s strengths. The clouds are there to show our dreams, that they are never unreachable, we just have to reach a little higher to get to them. And the eyes, the eyes are the most important. With the eyes, you see them blinking and becoming older. I love my grandmother’s eyes, and I think they are one of her most beautiful features.
I used three colors for my pattern, green, blue and yellow. The green fabric represents a base of growth and youthfulness, even in old age. The blue is all about calmness and clarity, and the yellow is a symbol of energy and light.
My creative process was pretty simple. I just thought about what I think my grandma would appreciate, and what I wanted to tell her. I designed the eyes first, and they were going to be the main part of the design, but it was hard to incorporate them into a pattern if they were so big, so I used the flowers to get my point across without being too disarming.
I chose my fabric because of its structure and its stretch. It is a cotton/lycra mix and I like it a lot. My pattern is laid out so the flowers grow out from one another, the floor connecting the two sets of prints. It was hard to do this without making the pattern look disconnected, but I am pretty proud of the final product.
I made my pattern through three main steps. First, I printed the stems by taping up the flower petals and just printing the stems in blue. Second, I printed the opposite part of the pattern, with the yellow flowers. This was a difficult task to line up the stems with the petals, and it took a little time to do. My last part was to print the outline. Like with the petals, it had to line up with the stems and the flowers. It was mostly just a time consuming process, but it wasn’t terribly difficult. I loved doing this project and I would love to continue working with this medium.