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After reading "Intentional Printing", Lynn Krawczyk's new book from Interweave, I was delighted to get an opportunity to interview Lynn about her thoughts related to Surface Design. Before we get to that I want to show you a little project that was inspired by Lynn's book. I frequently play with small remnants of my hand-printed (with either dye or paint) cloth. The petite stacked collage tutorial is a lovely way to play to use small "leftovers". It is a nice way to have some small projects that allow for hand stitching!
For my project I am using this piece of silk crepe that was screen-printed with thickened dye,
cotton-linen blend that was screen-printed with dye, wool-blend felt, Mistyfuse fusible, embroidery thread, and buttons.
First, I fused the piece of silk to a 6x6 inch felt
then I took this piece of linen cotton blend and fused it over the silk.
I looked at a variety of threads and buttons to use as embellishments...
and opted for this black thread.
I added another fused piece of silk/felt (a 3x3 inch square) over the 6 inch piece
and these red buttons.
After stitching using a running (Kantha-style) stitch and french knots
I secured the edges with monofilament thread on the sewing machine.
Finally, I attached two charms from an old necklace below the two buttons.
I'm pretty happy with my little stacked collage!
LTJ-You begin the book by sharing the dilemma of trying to meld two loves: fiber art with surface design.
I have two questions for you about that:
1) How do YOU describe surface design? What does surface design mean to you?
LK-Good question! Surface design is pretty open to personal interpretation. I go pretty general with my definition of it – adding pattern to a surface. (SUPER general, right?)
What I’ve learned from being a surface design artist is that there are countless ways to add pattern to whatever medium you work in. Since I’m a fabric geek, for me that means painting, dyeing, stitching and all of the sub categories within those three. It’s a pretty broad field and that’s what keeps me so enthralled with it!
2) After you answer that, I would like to ask you what initially attracted you to surface design?
I’m drawn to it because I love the extra connection that I gain when I have an active hand in creating the fabric. That’s not to say I don’t like/use commercial fabric. I do. But even then, I’m likely to sneak some paint on it. J
3) Are you strictly focused on surface design on cloth or have you ventured to other media?
I wander! J Surface design is my main focus and I always come back to it but I love other techniques too. I make assemblages and sometimes experiment with book making. I also knit and crochet. I don’t know if it’s possible to be an artist and only do one thing!
4) How do you organize your mark-making tools in your studio? I am especially interested in how you organize your thermofax screens.
That’s kind of an ongoing battle. But right now I use kid’s organizing systems from IKEA. They have drawers in different sizes so I can contain the little tools into a tidy space and they pull out of the tracks completely so I can haul the whole thing over to my print table.
I use these for my Thermofax screens as well. I store them flat so I don’t get any creases in the screens. My collection has grown over the years to a pretty high amount so this works well, you can fit a lot of screens into one of those drawers.
5) How long have you been interested in this art form?
I’ve been a fiber artist for fourteen years now. I started out with crazy quilting which gave me an appreciation for hand work and working slowly. Then I moved to art quilting and then to surface design. The nice thing about fiber art is that there are so many facets to it that there is always something new to discover – it’s hard to get bored!
6) Intentional work, and I do love your book title for including the word intentional, may "throw" some artists who are still in the discovery stages of working with surface design. What would you say to them?
I’d say that being intentional is simply about knowing yourself and what you like. It’s not a big elephant in the room that you need to conquer, it’s about slowing down and finding the connection with your work. It’s nothing scary, I promise. J
7) Do you typically work on numerous pieces at one time, or a single piece? Do you regard each piece as a separate composition or do you regard them as components to a separate composition, or both?
I’ve always got multiple projects going at one time. Often it’s because they require time to rest or I’m prepping multiple projects to stitch on during the week after work.
Each one is it’s own entity. They are rarely connected. When I’m working on series work, it’s a different story, of course. But I pretty much only print fabric when I’m putting together a project. So they are being created with the intent of being used right away.
Of course, I have tons of little scraps left over. Those are another story!
8) How do you determine when a piece of work is "finished"? What does it need to satisfy you?
The majority of the fabric I print is what I call “parts”. They will be heavily stitched or taken apart to put into a collage or used somehow in a project that has many more steps. So to answer that question is a little tough. I always leave them in a partial state of being unfinished because I know that they will have more added to them and I need to leave the space to do that.
When I print art cloth, it’s a different story, right? Because that’s when you’re creating a complete artwork with the fabric. I have elements to art cloth that I always put in, and I discuss this in the book, and then I tweak and work around those. It’s hard to explain how you know, it’s kind of like dating. You just know if you want to go on a second date or if you’d prefer to stay home and eat ice cream while watching a movie. It’s a gut feeling.
9) I see you work in sketchbooks of all sorts. Do you generally have a planned design before you begin the work, or do you work more spontaneously, or both?
I don’t have a very specific plan. Meaning I don’t drawing out the shapes that will be in the piece or know exactly where I will put everything. And this is mostly because I am an abstract artist, it’s a little hard to pre-plan every aspect of the piece.
So instead I start with a general concept and a color scheme and a mood I want to convey and I go from there. For example, I made a piece for a SAQA exhibit, “Earth Stories”, about disposable coffee cups. I knew I wanted a collage that reflected the color of coffee and I knew I wanted to get the message across about the waste it produces in landfills. I also wanted to celebrate reusable cups. Three elements and I started. The resulting collage grew organically from that.
10) Any rituals in your studio when working?
I like a clean print table. I do pretty much everything on that little table so when I first go into my studio, I put away everything that is on it from the last work session.
Just seeing that empty space makes me want to work – it’s begging for some paint and chaos!
11) You have a "day job" outside of your studio, correct? How do you meld these two parts of your life in order to have time for your art?
Having a non-art day job is a little bit of a challenge. But at the same time it’s kind of nice too. It gives my artist mind a chance to rest a bit and gain some distance from what I was working on. And since I know that I have a set amount of time to make artwork, I think it makes me more efficient when I’m in the studio. No time to waste so have to get to work! J
Even though it’s sometimes a struggle to balance the two sides, it works well for me.
12) I must say that I read, with some amusement, your description of the artist personalities who do surface design. I'm certainly a blend of all three to some degree. I'm not a phD except to the extent that I want to know the materials I am working with to understand what I can, and should, be able to expect from them. Also, I believe it is our responsibility as artists working with materials that are potentially hazardous (depending on what we are working with) and we need to be mindful of those things. I admit that I struggle with a balance between allowing myself to be playful and open to some happy discoveries and maintaining a focus on a specific piece of work. Lastly, I was happy to see your point about perfectionism in the work. I admit that I do, on occasion, struggle with how to work through a particular design challenge. Please discuss how you find a balance between these things.
For me, I found my happy place when I took some control over my creative process. It’s not always something artists like to hear but I mean, really, you can’t leave everything to chance, can you?
I’m happiest in the studio when I’m producing work that I like. I may not always hit the mark on the first try but mistakes are excellent teachers and more often then not, they lead me toward something much better.
So I guess the way I balance it is that I always have one specific thing that I want to accomplish with whatever I’m working on. It creates the foundation for the happy accidents to grow up around so that there isn’t this grudging feeling of “Oh great, I have to go work on this. Blah.”
It’s kind of like holding hands with your creative muse rather then letting it run crazy like a toddler hopped up on pixie sticks. Don’t be afraid to take hold of the reigns, you have just as much of a voice as anything else and making sure that it comes through in your work will make you a happy artist.
LTJ-Run crazy like a toddler hopped up on pixie sticks?! Wow, do I ever love that "visual"! LOL
13) Finally, where do you see your work taking you in the future? Do you set artistic goals, and, if so, are they related to a timeline or specific achievement?
I always have goals. Always. I think they are really important as an artist. The don’t have to be grand like starting a business, they can be more personal like setting a goal to learn a technique or take a class or enter a show.
I think goals help propel us forward and keep us motivated when we go into the studio to work.
For me, I have a lot of professional goals. I have a lot of places I would like to take my artwork and what I do is choose one or two really big ones each year and then three or four small ones. The smaller ones are generally easier to accomplish and it always feels good to get things done, doesn’t it?
The larger ones are kind of a toss up, they are the big pie-in-the-sky goals that will take a lot of work and a little bit of good luck to get them done. But I love the challenge of it and I always figure the worst thing that can happen is that someone just says no. World doesn’t stop turning and I’ll still be an artist so you just keep on chugging and try again until someone says yes. I don’t have a specific timeline for what I do. I can’t say that in five years, I’d like to be in this place or that. But I can say that I try to build every year, grow and just see where it takes me. It’s been interesting so far and I’m excited to see where it can still go!
LTJ-Lynn, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Congratulations on the publication of your beautiful book. I wish you the very best!
Please be sure to stop by the following blogs (note some dates are in the future!) for more information about Lynn's book, including projects inspired by the book:
- SueBleiweiss.com 4/1
- Virginia Spiegel.com 4/2
- Twisted Sister 4/2
- Muppin.com 4/3
- Lesley Riley 4-3
- KristinLaFlamme.com 4/3
- Bloom Bake Create 4/4
- LyricKinard.com 4/4
- JaneLaFazio.com 4/8
- CraftyPod 4/8
- My Clothes Line 4/9
- MelanieTesta.com 4/9
- LeslieTuckerJenison.com 4/11
- Bonkers Handmade Originals 4/11
- Smudged Textiles Studios 4/14
- Sew Mama Sew 4/20
- Lisa Call.com