October 15, 2018

Low Pressure, New Work in Progress, Part 2

Sue Reno_Low Pressure_Work in Progress Image 6
As I was working on designing and constructing Low Pressure, I took some time to make a custom painted back for the quilt. The back is not normally displayed, but I enjoying making them unique, and like looking at it as I spend many hours quilting the work. I followed my usual procedure of swirling textile paint on cotton sateen, misting it with the hose, then letting it dry on my cracked driveway. There is wet, above, and finished, below.
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I added leaf vein details to the prints with stitching, then worked to the edges of the blocks with echo quilting, repeating and merging the shapes of the leaves.
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The connecting strips for the blocks were all pieced out of silks, many of them with plaids or floral designs. I felt that the prints were low key enough that they would be balanced by some intricacy in the sashing. I quilted the sashing with swirling designs representing turbulence.
Sue Reno_Low Pressure_Work in Progress Image 9
Up next, the reveal.

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October 13, 2018

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 31

Wet cyanotype -Sue Reno_Image 498
Conditions were not ideal, but when are they ever? I had been away from the studio for a time and was itching to do some wet cyan work. The weather was partly cloudy, humid, and warm for October. The main difficulty was my lack of treated fabric, so I put the wet back in wet cyan and used cotton that I treated with the cyanotype chemicals on the spot. This method doesn't give the fabric time to absorb the solution as deeply, so the image tends to be more on the surface, but that's a difference I can live with in limited quantities. I started with a print of two calla lily leaves.
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I am also, after a summer of frenzied printmaking and quiltmaking, running out of my preferred cotton sateen prepared-for-dying fabric, so I experimented with wet treating sateen that I had previously painted with textile paints. I made two prints with this, a hosta and plume poppy arrangement, and one with Japanese anemone leaves and flowers. The white anemones are among the last perennials to flower in my garden, and their pure color and form is always most welcome.
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I proceeded on my last scraps of sateen with an ornamental sweet potato vine,
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more plume poppy leaves,
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and a painted fern frond. Everything was covered with glass and set out in the intermittent sun for about six hours.
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Here are the prints after exposure and before rinsing.
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That bit of pink around the edges of the calla print are from some highly diluted textile paint I sprayed on before exposure. Usually it migrates under the leaves, but not this time. Wet cyan prints are highly unpredictable.
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The ones on previously painted fabric are looking very promising.
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Again, when working with freshly treated fabric, I know there's going to be a lot of washout, so I let these dry overnight in the dark to help mitigate that a bit.
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And it's always good to appreciated them at this transitory stage.
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Here are the finished prints. You can never go wrong with calla lily leaves.
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I'm very happy with this one! The grid pattern in the leaves is from drying the peach painted fabric on my lawn furniture.
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Oh, this one's a beauty too. Stitching will bring out the leaf veining and petal shapes.
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A very solid sweet potato vine print here. Not a lot of wild coloration but great graphic impact.
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Same batch of chemicals, same exposure conditions, but this plume poppy print has a much softer feel and speckled surface texture.
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And the batch is rounded out with this soft fern print.
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All in all, a good experiment and pleasing results.

With this post, I am at 515 wet cyan images and process photos that I've posted here on my blog. I hope you are enjoying viewing them as much as I enjoy making and sharing them.

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October 9, 2018

Low Pressure - New Work in Progress

Sue Reno_Low Pressure_Work in Progress Image 1
Last year, after the initial discovery of wet process cyanotype and subsequent frenzy of printing had passed, I became interested in pushing the process into the cooler months.
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I made several batches of prints as autumn wound down, using plants that were still untouched by frost, along with some sweetgum leaves that I had preserved in glycerin.
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I followed my usual wet cyan process of adding moisture as I assembled the print, and leaving it outside for an extended exposure. But with the cooler temperatures, and the weaker sunlight, the chemicals did not break down as extensively as in the hot humid summer. The effects were more subtle, but still very different than with traditional cyanotype.
Sue Reno_Low Pressure_Work in Progress Image 4
I really pushed the process by leaving prints out to expose overnight when they were subject to freezing temperatures and a light snowfall. At that point, the weather changed dramatically, due to a low pressure system pushing through, and I paused my printing experiments for the year.

I kept thinking about the delicate beauty of this set of prints, so this summer I picked out a group of them and starting arranging and re-arranging them on a design wall, looking for a pleasing configuration.
Sue Reno_Low Pressure_Work in Progress Image 5
Up next, Part 2

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October 6, 2018

New Work - Heat Index

Sue Reno_Heat Index
Heat Index
I am pleased to share my latest work, Heat Index. It's constructed using four of the prints I made in this past summer's wet cyanotype frenzy, combined with silk patchwork. The size is 54" high x 51" wide.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_detail 1
Heat Index, detail 1
I talked about the basic construction of this work in blog posts Part 1 and Part 2. The plants used are (clockwise) Queen Anne's lace flowers, tulip poplar leaves, red maple leaves, and tall blue lettuce leaves. Tall blue lettuce is an elegant wild plant, Lactuca biennis, typically found in disturbed landscapes.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_detail 2
Heat Index, detail 2
The leaf prints are heavily stitched, to add detail and texture. The silk patchwork is also heavily stitched, and reflects light in beautiful and subtle ways.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_detail 3
Heat Index, detail 3
I made this work in response to the abnormal/new normal weather patterns I experienced in Pennsylvania this summer, with torrential downpours, soupy humidity, and high temperatures contributing to an almost daily high heat index warning.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_detail 4
Heat Index, detail 4
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October 5, 2018

Heat Index - Work in Progress, part 2

Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 6
 The task lighting over the needle on my sewing machine is so nice and bright it washes out photos I try and take at night. But that's a good thing! I can see clearly where I'm going as I freemotion quilt. This is a wet cyanotype/solarfast print of some Queen Anne's lace flowers. I was doing the first round of quilting on them, as I designed and constructed the top for my latest work, Heat Index.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 7
 Above are parts of it pinned up on a design wall. The silks shown in the last post have been strip pieced, cut up, and are being sewn together in sections, framing the panels. The prints are so gorgeous and complex I wanted to keep the sashing relatively simple so as to enhance but not distract.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 8
 While all of this was going on, I prepped a piece of fabric for the backing. The back isn't normally visible when the work is on display, but I consider it part and parcel of the work, and I makes me happy to have something interesting back there as I spend hours and hours quilting it. So I as I often do, I put a big piece of cotton sateen on my driveway and poured textile paints over it in a semi-random fashion.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 9
 I then misted it with the hose, to let the colors move and blend. As the fabric dries in the sun, the paint continues to move about.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 10
That fabulous crackle in the finished backing fabric is the imprint of all the surface cracks in the driveway.

Up next, the big reveal! As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

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October 3, 2018

Heat Index - New Work in Progress

Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 1
 In the latter part of the summer I experimented with combining the wet cyanotype process with SolarFast printing. The experiments were both fun and successful. I documented the process in making the maple leaf print here, and the tall blue lettuce print here.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 2
 I picked two other prints from those two sessions to use in a new work, Heat Index.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 3
 After picking the prints, my next step was to pull fabrics to use in patchwork to frame them. I used silks in three colorways. Included in the blue set were cyanotypes that were extras when working on the Watt and Shand series and the Silk Mill quilts. (See both here.) They were made from my digital photos that I printed on transparencies for exposure.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 4
 The green set and especially the red set include silks that are "shot" (the warp and the weft threads are different colors) and ones with interesting textures. It brings me great joy to work with these fabulous textiles.
Sue Reno_Heat Index_Work in Progress Image 5
As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

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September 6, 2018

New Work - The River Ran Deep

The River Ran Deep, by Sue Reno
The River Ran Deep

I am pleased and excited to share my newest work, The River Ran Deep. It's part of my ongoing series on the Susquehanna River. I was asked to join four other artists--Rob Evans, John David Wissler, Mark Workman, and Ann DeLaurentis-- to contribute work for the "Dine On Harvest Moon Gala" auction for the Lancaster County Conservancy I was happy to make this specifically for the cause. I and my husband are long time supporters of the Conservancy, and benefit greatly from the trail system they have put together and maintain. Many of my works about the river have been inspired by hikes taken on Conservancy properties.

Sue Reno_The River Ran Deep_Detail 1
 For the top portion of this work, I made wet cyanotype prints of leaves from native trees, tulip poplars and chestnut oaks. If you've been following my work, you've seen that wet cyanotype printmaking is an ongoing obsession. It's delightfully unpredictable, and dependent on the time of year and the weather conditions. Making these prints connects me to the natural world and my micro-environment in a direct way.

Sue Reno_The River Ran Deep_Detail 3
For the imagery representing the river, I turned to the same needlefelting technique I've used for In Dreams I Drifted Away and In Dreams I Flew Over the River, among others. Layers of wool and silk fibers are integrated into a wool base, providing great detail, movement,  and texture.

Sue Reno_The River Ran Deep_Detail 2
 The surround of the river panel is made from individually hand-pieced hexagons. This type of work is very slow and meditative.
Sue Reno_The River Ran Deep_Detail 4
 The further surround is made from fabric that I mono-printed to in waves and interlocking geometric/geological patterns. At the base, the whole work is grounded by thick, earthy woolens. The work is 44" high by 42" wide.
Sue Reno_The River Ran Deep_Detail 5
I've lived near the beautiful Susquehanna most of my life and have observed it over the years cycling  through droughts and flood stages. This summer I've watched as potent storms and historically heavy rainfalls have made it run high and run deep. I'm here to chronicle this and future conditions.

You can contact the Conservancy for information about the auction and advance bidding: https://www.lancasterconservancy.org/contact/

September 5, 2018

Experiments in wet cyanotype - part 30

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 Wow, here I am at part 30 of my experiments in wet cyanotype! It's been a fun ride so far, and I remain as fired up about the process as I was when I first started. Big thanks to everyone who has followed along so far.
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 I did a fairly straightforward batch of wet cyan prints, with an eye to the changing of the seasons starting to limit my plant availability. But realistically, the weather is still terrifically hot and humid here in PA, and this batch printed up in a fashion typical of mid summer. I used hosta leaves and a sprig of comfrey for the first three.
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 I then tried some big old dandelion leaves that had made themselves at home in a flowerbed. It's been too beastly out to do much gardening, so this counted as weeding.
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 I rounded out the batch with a wood poppy leaf, and a twig from my ninebark shrub. For some of them I added some washing soda solution, and on others a bit of very dilute red textile paint,
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 The cyanotype colors broke down quickly and beautifully.
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 I let them expose for about 6 hours in the bright sun and high heat.
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 These are the prints after exposure and before rinsing. They are looking beautiful and promising.
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 That red paint moves around in very unpredictable ways. I love what it's done here.
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 And here are the finished prints, keepers and small delights all.
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 I love the much maligned dandelions in general; I've made wine with the blossoms, and eaten the greens in the spring. Now I can add printmaking fodder to their list of laudable qualities.
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 I got some nice eco-prints tones from the sap in the wood poppy leaf.
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 The ninebark print has a lot going on as well.
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As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

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