Saturday, January 30, 2010

More Experiments: Painting Lace

A selection of paints on hand to try: Jacquard Dyna-Flow, two Pearlescent liquid acrylics, Deka Perm-Air paint, and a pearlized Createx airbrush paint.

My daughter is getting married in late spring. This is a joyous occasion, of course, and has presented me with some new opportunities to experiment in the studio. How are my studio experiments connected to a wedding, you ask? It started when my friend Susanne Gregg agreed to make my daughter's wedding dress.

My daughter is not a traditional woman, and this will not be a traditional wedding dress. It will be blue, and it will be in a sumptuous knit fabric. This is where Susanne comes in: she is not only a terrific fiber artist, she is also a fabulous seamstress who has way more experience than I do in working with knit fabrics. (Plus, she has a serger!)

The wedding dress design is floor length, and sleeveless. Over the sleeveless dress will be a fabulous sheer and lace jacket that curves its way from front to back, and has long, bell-shaped sleeves. Susanne has already measured, done a fitting, and created the patterns. Because my forte is combining multiple fabrics, I will be designing the jacket once the dress is sewn.

At $28 a yard, this gorgeous silk is worth every penny.

The dress design we came up with utilizes a gorgeous puckered silk in the bodice. The challenge presented is that the silk is a creamy white, and provides too much contrast against the blue body of the dress. It could be, and may well be, covered by an overlay of some of the laces from the jacket. It could also be dyed, but I don't have a large selection of dyes around the house. This is where paint comes in to the "what if" discussion.

I pulled out a selection of paints I had on hand in the right color-way, and decided to experiment to see how the colors looked, and how the body of the paint worked with the fabrics and trims selected. Along with a snippet of the puckered silk, I cut small pieces of pre-washed laces and trims for a test. These are samples of fabrics that will be used in conjunction with the main jacket fabrics, shown below.

I laid out the snippets, stapled to a foundation paper, and grabbed my paint brushes. Across the top, I wrote the brand and color name of each of the paints I wanted to try.

I worked with dry fabrics, because I wanted to see the intensity (and body) of the applied colors. Within those parameters, I experimented with both dabbing and brushing the paint. On the silk, after brushing the paint on the left, I used a sea sponge to dab it on the right side of the swatch.

I had expected the Dyna-Flow paints to give the best results, but that was not the case. Maybe it was the color I chose, but it was a bit "clumpy" on the multiple textures of the lace. My favorite turned out to be the Pearlescent acrylic inks, with the "waterfall green" (shown in the center of the paint swatches) seeming to offer the perfect way to pick up the light aqua color my daughter wanted to include.

Again, stay tuned. I will show you the dress and jacket as they develop. Oh, and I will be adding pictures of my Galway Circus Poster piece as I get them uploaded.


  1. Very cool!!!! I love colored wedding dresses---so much more personality and creativity than white-white-white. And more white. Ugh.
    Wil be anxious to see this progress!!! :)


  2. Thanks, Anne. The colored wedding dress in knit seems to be very hip, according to a non-scientific survey among friends. I can't wait to get started on the jacket. Now, just have to wait for the fabrics to arrive!

  3. This dress sounds so delightfully huggable...the wedding will invite all the love in the ceremony and reception room to reach out and touch this promising couple. I will anticipate the final silk dress to be a work of art for a sacred ritual union. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  4. Thanks for that, Mary Helen. Like any work in fiber, the dress and jacket will be filled with the thoughts, intentions and stitching that make it so unique. It is the touching, the handling, of fiber that is so very appealing. In this case, too, the transformation of the bride, a day to be and feel beautiful, is so special. I am glad I get to participate in it.

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