Friday, December 18, 2020

Homage to Emily by Lesley Riley

I’ve been transferring photos to fabric since 1999. I’m particularly in love with early photos, like tintypes, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes. I call my fabric collages, Fragments, and consider them to be color studies and story sketches. I guess I’m a storyteller at heart and fabric is my medium.

This past year, I’ve done several projects using one of my favorite photos of the poet Emily Dickinson. Poets are writers and I have a StencilGirl® stencil with writing instruments on it, so off I went to create yet another homage to Emily.

I chose to do my stenciling on TAP Transfer Artist Paper, an iron-on transfer paper that I brought to the market about 10 years ago. “Why transfer a stencil?” you may be asking? Inks can bleed into fabric, giving the stencil a fuzzy edge. By stenciling onto TAP and ironing that onto fabric, I get a nice sharp edge.

Using the pen with nib from my Pen and Ink stencil, I taped paper over the two adjacent brushes so I wouldn’t have any accidents. But I did in spite of my carefulness! I was about 1/2 way through when I got a phone call. When I picked up the stencil to resume, I laid down the wrong, inky side. Yikes! Looking for the positive in the situation, I decided it made the stenciled image look like a block print. I knew I was going to be layering Emily’s photo on top as well, so I finished up my stenciled background and transferred the page to a vintage textile from my stash.

I transferred my photo of Emily to a pale blue polka dot fabric to give it added interest and spiced up the image background with my 6” Night Sky stencil. The stars looked like daisies to me, so I added dimensional gold paint to the centers to complete the look. Based on her poem, The daisy follows soft the sun, I know Emily would approve of the daisy wallpaper.

The daisy follows soft the sun,
And when his golden walk is done,
Sits shyly at his feet.
He, waking, finds the flower near.
"Wherefore, marauder, art thou here?"
"Because, sir, love is sweet!"
We are the flower, Thou the sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline,
We nearer steal to Thee, —
Enamoured of the parting west,
The peace, the flight, the amethyst,
Night's possibility!

A writer needs her ink, so using the ink bottle stencil from Pen and Ink and my Derwent Inktense blocks, I painted the ink bottle onto a piece of the vintage fabric, wetting the Inktense block with a wet brush to a creamy consistency. After it dried, I applied iron-on fusible, cut it out and fused it onto the fabric collage. Everything was machine-stitched in place. I couldn’t resisted hand-stitching a real pen nib onto the collage.

While I was in stencil mode, I decided to create a couple of small one-off of fabrics with Kate Thompson’s Floral Waterfall stencil. I kept it easy-peasy and applied two of my favorite Golden fluid acrylics (Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold and Alizarin Crimson Hue) directly to the stencil with a brayer and burnished the “inked” stencil onto a sheet of TAP paper. Once it was thoroughly dry, I ironed it onto a pale green print fabric, ending up with a nice sharp pattern on pattern, just perfect for one of my Civil War fabric collage series.

I hope you’ll give my stencil techniques and stenciling on TAP and fabric a try. You can also find TAP and check out more of my favorite tools and more in my Amazon shop. Please let me know if you have any questions. I am always happy to help -  And please be sure to visit Instagram, where I post inspiration daily, and my website for even more inspiration and ideas -

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