Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stiffening Fabric

While I have been mounting a lot of my new work on cradled boards, I've also been thinking about stiffening some of the new large fabric pieces I've been painting and printing, to give them a paper-like appearance, since I'm not quilting my work anymore.

I experimented with various stiffening options, and I posted some of my research, in November. Even though the Golden Paint GAC 400: Fabric Stiffener was a bit more stiff, I've decided to coat the fabric with 50% watered down matt medium, because it's more economical than the Golden Fabric Stiffener. I also have a bottle of Paverpol Fabric Stiffener, but I'm very nervous about using it in my house because the directions warn users not to let any of it of it go down drains because it will ruin them. Since my tiny little studio is a small room in my house, and my "studio sink" is my bathroom sink, I don't want to risk using the Paverpol, and accidentally cleaning up in the sink and possibly take a chance of destroying my plumbing.

For many weeks, I've had a number of pieces of fabric ready to stiffen, but I've been hesitant to do it because I didn't know exactly how I would paint the stiffening agent it, and how I would let it dry once it was on it. Thursday night I went to sleep problem solving it, and I woke up Friday morning still thinking about it, so I decided to give it a try on Friday.

Here's what I did:

- I stitched a channel at the top of the fabric so I could put a stick through it to keep the wet fabric reasonably straight as it dried.
- I put a piece of plastic that was bigger than the fabric on my table, and I put the fabric on top of the plastic.
- Then I poured some 50% watered down matt medium on the fabric and spread it around the fabric with a large brayer. I kept pouring more matt medium on the fabric and rolled it all over the fabric, so it was wet enough on both sides of the fabric but not dripping wet.
- When I felt the fabric was wet enough, I used to pants hangers to hold the stick that was in the channel at the top of the fabric, and I hung them on my shower curtain rod in my bathroom.
- I also hung two more pants hangers at the bottom of the fabric to give it some weight. I should have thought ahead and sewed a channel at the bottom of the fabric so I could have put a stick at the bottom, but I didn't think of it in time.
- I also put a piece of plastic down on my shower/bathroom floor, so if the matt medium dripped, it wouldn't get on the floor. It turns out there was no dripping, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Many hours later, the fabric is dry and pretty stiff, and is almost paper-like. I don't think I need to do another coat. My next step it to cut it down to size and see if it has the effect I was trying to achieve. I will also need to make some sort of a channel behind the piece, so I can hang the work to exhibit it.

I have three more in this (un-named at the moment) series, and at least three to stiffen in my "Weathered Fence" series, which will have a lot holes cut in the fabric after it's stiffened.