Sunday, January 31, 2010

Art Quilt Challenge

For our upcoming guild show, there's a challenge to design an original work inspired by a piece in an art museum at a size of 24x28 (+/- 2 inches).  My art quilt group visited the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum and decided that we'd choose one of Warhol's works as our inspiration.

I decided that I wanted to choose some of his work that probably isn't as well known (i.e. not his pop art).  I liked the oxidation paintings that were included in the exhibit, which Warhol created using metallic paint (which oxidized when urine was applied).  Now I have no plans to use any of the latter substance in my quilting, but I did really like the effect.

Here's an example of one of Warhol's works (Oxidation, 1978, Urine on copper metallic painted canvas):

I wasn't quite sure how to approach this type of work, but the Warhol Museum had a great resource for teachers to use in discussing these particular works of art and the science behind them.  The activity sheet suggested using Modern Masters Copper paint on a canvas and then applying a variety of acids and bases to see how they might react.  I thought this seemed like a reasonable enough place to begin, although I wasn't certain how I might quilt through fabric that had thick paint applied.

Local art supply store Artist & Display unfortunately does not keep the paint in stock and the very helpful salesman was worried that the oxidation process would not stop and that my quilted piece would simply fall apart.  He's still trying to talk to the vendor for me to see if they know of any uses of the paint on regular cotton fabric.  So I had to abandon that avenue for the time being.

One of my art quilt books had some information on gold leafing, and I discovered that Artist & Display sold copper leaf.  I purchased a packet of this and sprayed some lemon juice on it, just to see whether it would have any effect and whether any oxidation might occur.  Unfortunately, the lemon juice dried and one really could not see any effect, although if you did get up really close to the sheet of copper leaf, you could see tiny bits of color change in a few places.  But you'd never notice unless you practically studied it under a microscope.  I was also uncertain how this would look once I'd actually ironed it on to fabric - would the wonder-under or adhesive product eventually show through the copper leaf?  That couldn't possibly be appealing.

So on to another plan.  Could I get some sort of similar effect by bleaching some black fabric, recognizing that you don't know what color might be revealed in the process?  I'd not done any bleaching before, so decided to opt for Soft Scrub with Bleach and a bleach pen as two alternatives.  I wasn't certain how best to apply the bleach, but played around and in the end I don't think this process will work either. Unless I use straight bleach (diluted, of course), I don't really know how I'll get the splatter/spray/random effect I'm looking for.  I was also shocked at how long I had to leave these products on the fabric to achieve much of any effect - close to 5 hours or so, I think. Of course this fabric discharged to a ever lovely brown color.

All but the one on the right were done with Soft Scrub with Bleach; the one at right in the photo was done with the bleach pen.


It also occurred to me that maybe I could get a decent effect by simply dying my own fabric.  About a year ago, I purchased supplies to dye some fabric in the microwave using RIT, based on an article in Quilting Arts magazine.  So I figured, what the heck.  I ended up trying a few different color combinations and while I have some nice fabrics, they're still not quite what I was hoping for.

Here are photos of the fabric I did dye.

Color combo #1 (violets, blues, teals; the third from left is a combo of the two to its left):

Color combo #2 (green and red on either end with a combo in the middle):

Color combo #3 (orange and blue with the combo in the middle):

My art group met last week and Karen suggested that it might be worth an attempt at rusting one or more of the pieces. I think this has promise, but I need to dig up the articles I've seen on rusting to refresh my memory on the process.  And I'm not certain what I'll actually use for the oxidation process.  If I lived closer to my parents, I'm sure there would be all kinds of wonderful things I could steal from the barn.  But I don't really keep around a stash of random metal objects.  I think steel wool might work...

Hopefully all of this experimentation leads somewhere.  I'm running out of time and ideas, however.  And I don't know if I have the energy to resort to a completely different project.  I probably could do something inspired by his Pop Art works, but most others in the group are doing the same, and I'm not sure what every day item I'd want to elevate to quilt status.  Anyone have any brilliant insights into how I might achieve the effect I'm looking for?

1 comment:

Staci said...

It needs to be inspired by the art, correct?

How do you think he applied the urine? If he really did just pee on the copper, then think of something urinating-ish (perhaps a squirt gun?) to apply your bleach or dye.

What if you put bleach in a spray bottle and spritzed away.

Iranian rug makers and American Indians used urine to create turquoise dye - they controlled the acidity of the urine (and thus the color of the dye) by eating specific foods. I think that's fascinating.

I'm looking forward to seeing your results...