December 1, 2016

James Webb Space Telescope - Artwork in Progress

JWST, Sue Reno, Work in Progress, pieced silk mirror
I've started on the art quilt I am constructing in response to my amazing visit last month to the James Webb Space Telescope at the NASA Goddard Space Center.  If you missed it earlier, you can read all about it in Part 1 and Part 2.

I finished hand stitching the silk hexagons that comprise my "mirror".  It was very satisfying work.

I chose one of the photos I took at the Artist Event, edited it, and switched it to a greyscale, negative image.  I printed it out on an acetate sheet in preparation for printmaking on fabric.
JWST, Sue Reno, Work in Progress, negative image

I often work with the cyanotype process.  It was developed in the mid 1800's as one of the first photographic processes.  Anna Atkins used it for scientific illustration of botanical specimens, a technological marvel of its time.  I liked the idea of using this older technology in my work about  cutting-edge technology, as a way of expressing the continuity of scientific progress.  

Here I began by coating cotton fabric with the cyanotype chemical solution and letting it dry in darkroom conditions.  I masked the fabric with the acetate transparency sheet, then exposed it to sunlight (UV light) for a timed exposure.  After exposure, I rinsed the fabric to develop the Prussian blue color on the print. 
JWST, Sue Reno, Work in Progress, cyanotype printing
 I also used the same image to make prints with a UV developed dye in several different colors.
JWST, Sue Reno, Work in Progress, Solarfast printing
This was a "don't try this at home, kids" type of situation.  Ideally I do my printmaking in the summer months, when the sunshine is reliable and the temperatures are warm.  Working in November with the sun low in the sky and cooler temperatures was challenging, but this was not my first time at this particular rodeo, and I lucked out on some decent weather.  I caught a few sunny hours mid-day to enjoy a frenzy of printmaking:
JWST, Sue Reno, Work in Progress, outdoor printmaking
 And I was happy with the results.  These prints will be individually layered and stitched as a step towards assembling the larger work.
JWST, Sue Reno, Work in Progress, variety of prints

Stay tuned!  And as always, thanks for reading and commenting.

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