In this interview, Rayna Gillman, mixed media artist and author of Create Your Own Hand Printed Fabric talks to Kate at About.com Rubber Stamping about her work and inspiration. Take a look at the Review of Create Your Own Hand Printed Cloth for more information about Rayna's excellent book.
Kate Pullen: What inspired you to start working with textiles?
I don't draw but always loved color and texture. I started as a traditional quilter because I could work with color and texture without having to draw - and eventually, I needed to expand the limits of traditional patterns and fabrics, so I started cutting stamps and creating my own cloth. It was an evolution, but I was hooked!
KP: As a mixed media artist, you can work with almost anything! What materials are your favorite to work with and why?
It depends on what day it is, Kate. I love working with thickened dyes because they don't change the hand of the fabric when I print, and I can create transparent layers. On the other hand, textile paints are quick and easy and I especially love screen printing with them.
KP: How did the inspiration for your book Create Your Own Hand Printed Fabric come about?
In 2003, after the Simply Quilts show I was on aired, I got lots of e-mails asking whether I had a book. Then, my students kept asking whether I had a book and when I was going to write one so they didn't have to take notes - LOL. So finally, I realized there was no other book like it out there and it was time to start writing!
KP: You also teach – how did your experiences of teaching affect the way you wrote your book?
I wrote my book exactly the way I teach: that surface design is not brain surgery, that there is no one "right" way to do anything, that you can't make a mistake - and if you don't like it, print another layer. In class, I encourage students to loosen up and experiment and when they do, I hear "wow! I can DO this!!!" I hoped to generate the same sense of excitement and experimentation in the book and from the feedback, I think I succeeded. That makes me so happy!
Improvisation is important to you - what benefits do you find in working this way rather than carefully planning every detail?
When people work this way, they learn that there are no mistakes. If they plan and the piece doesn't turn out as they expected it to, they are often disappointed and feel like failures. Also, when they work intuitively, they always make discoveries that lead them in directions they would never thought about. I always tell my students "stop thinking! Just do it!"
How do you use stamps on fabric and also on paper – both improvised and bought?
I have stamps I've bought but I don't use them as often as I used to - and when I do, I combine them with my own hand-carved stamps. When you carve your own, you are really putting your own personal mark-making into your work and that makes your artwork unique. I love using "found" objects as stamps, too. Anything around the house with texture makes a good stamp: bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, shelf liner - you'd be surprised what works as a stamp!
What tips do you have for beginners who are looking to explore stamping or printing onto fabric?
First, anything you can do on paper you can do on fabric: they are both fiber. Use textile paint, not acrylic. Acrylic paint changes the hand of the cloth, leaving a plastic feel.You don't need to use a lot of paint - start with less and add more if you need to. For a more interesting cloth, stamp another layer of something else on top of the first layer. Once the paint dries, iron for several minutes with a dry iron to heat-set and it will be permanent.
What do you have planned for 2009?
Lots and lots of teaching - and I hope, time in my studio to play.
Thank you to Rayna for taking the time out to talk to About.com Rubber Stamping!