Catching Up with the Queen Bees

by Judy Gula

Catching Up with the Queen Bees

by Judy Gula

As per last week’s blog posting, I have been running around the country, and to even write this meant sitting down for a break from packing for the Empire Guild show in New York City this weekend! With all that travel, keeping up with the monthly assignments from Printed Fabric Bee (a collaboration of professional textiles artists printing fabric collections for each other) has been difficult at best. Each month a member of the “Hive” chooses a theme, making her the “Queen Bee,” and we all create a piece of fabric based on her choices.

I’m so fortunate that the other members of the Bee have been so understanding. While I was at Art and Soul in Portland, Oregon, Liz Kettle taught a mono printing class using Gelli Plates as one of the tools. Ruth Chandler was kind enough to mind the store for me during lunch so that I could print while the students were out of the classroom. Included here are two of the fabrics that I owe the bee.

The February theme was Petroglyphs, selected by Queen Bee Lynda Heines. She first fell in love with this type of art a few years ago when she vacationed with her husband in the Southwest. She requested fabrics in turquoise and orange.

Petroglyph theme fabric by Judy Gula

This Petroglyph theme was the most difficult for me...someone purchased the last of the skeleton fish wooden printing block I had had my eye on, so then I felt I could not come up with anything. Finally I picked up our Primitive Horse. I used a brayer to mix several brown shades of textile paint to coverthe Gelli Arts™ Gel Printing Plate, then I stamped on the paint with the horse block, which removed most of the paint and left a negative image. I repeated this several times to create a large cloth.

That alone was pretty boring, so I added scribbles of blue paint with a syringe. I need some more pratice with that method, as I kept ending up with too much paint. The orangey-red is a Nautilus shell stamp.

detail, Petroglyph theme fabric by Judy Gula

Close up (above) it looks a little better. I am not 100% happy with this fabric, but sometimes, you just have to call a project done. I do think the horse evokes Petroglyph carvings, and the varying texture of the browns seems like a cave or cliff wall.

Printed Fabric Bee member Carol R. Eaton has a few days left in her reign as the Queen Bee for March, and noted that it was easy for her to decide on a theme. “Nature is my biggest influence when dyeing fabrics and designing wall art,” she writes. “The colors, textures, smells and sounds are unique and endless. I was imagining what a view of the forest floor would be from the vantage point of a bird or maybe a squirrel leaping from branch to branch in the tall trees.” Carol did not offer color suggestions gave each of us free range to interpret her Forest Floor theme.

Forest Floor theme fabric by Judy Gula

This one came easier to me, and I’m happier with the final result too (complete fabric above). The background was created by brayering on several shades of green textile paint to a Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plate. I pressed a swatch of textured wallpaper to create the gridded background, which is visible in the below view.

Forest Floor theme fabric by Judy Gula

The next layer was created using the 4 Ferns (TCW414) stencil from The Crafters Workshop two ways. First, I placed it onto the Gelli Plate and brayered paint over it. The stencil was then lifted off, and I rubbed the excess paint coating the stencil onto the fabric. Then the fabric was placed onto the gelli plate and brayered to pick up the fern images left by the stencil. So the stencil was used both positively and you don't waste paint! This photo shows those options.

Fern stencil used as a positive and negative image

The extra pops of color and bit of brown added with a brayer. Another detail shot is below; all together I love how the layers look like the plant and leaf strewn ground you find underneath trees.

Detail, Forest Floor fabric by Judy Gula

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