Monday, March 16, 2020

Oswald Home Laundry

(Above: Oswald Home Laundry. 44" x 61".  Digital image transfer and paint on antique Irish chain crib/lap quilt with buttons and a hand-stitched outline.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Quite a few of my pieces go through an "ugly phase", a time during which I question my original idea and intended action plan. I bite my lip, make changes, and hope for the best. When things work out, I'm especially happy ... and today I'm very happy!  Oswald Home Laundry almost didn't happen.  Something went wrong ... but something else saved the day.

 (Above:  Oswald Home Laundry, detail.)

It all starts with Linnie Rose Oswald. She was my Great-Grandmother, the eighth of Elnore Rose's nine children.  (All but one were girls.)  During the 1920s she operated her own business and posed for a photo beside the laundry's vehicle.

 (Above:  Linnie Rose Oswald and her laundry truck, circa 1924.)

Family stories tell of a feisty red-headed woman with a will of iron, a temper, and a very strong work ethic who drove down the middle of Huntington, West Virginia's city streets as if she owned them.  In all likelihood, Linnie needed these qualities.  Being a female business woman in this era had to be hard! She would have gotten the right to vote around then.  Later, Linnie owned almost a block of town and rented apartments.  I remember her from the days when managing her apartments was problematic.  Linnie lived to be ninety-six years old but dementia took her years beforehand.  I was in college when she died in a nursing home in Kentucky. The last time I saw her, she wasn't aware of the visit.  Her mind was elsewhere ... talking about the clothes she was making and the quilts she would stitch.  What a woman!

 (Above:  The first print for the art quilt.)

In order to get the very small original image onto the crib/lap quilt, I did a lot of work in Photoshop.  The scan was first enlarged and slightly cropped to dimensions suitable for the quilt.  Then I increased the contrast ... both overall and also in the isolated area that was my great grandmother.  Finally, I flipped the image ... backwards.  This mirror image is needed in order to have the orientation correct in the final product.

(Above:  The crib/lap quilt being prepared for fabric stiffener.)

At 44" x 61", this vintage quilt might have been a large crib quilt or a small lap quilt.  I'm not really sure ... and as an ART quilt, it doesn't matter at all.  First, I applied GAC 400 fabric stiffener to the entire surface.  It dried overnight. It was flipped over and the back was also stiffened.  The fabric stiffener dried perfectly clear. 

(Above:  The stiffened quilt in my small Seal dry mount press.)

I press the quilt in sections in my dry mount press.  This was done to flatten the quilt as much as possible.  Peaks and valleys are problematic to any image transfer method.

(Above:  The black-and-white, oversized print ready for a coating of matte medium.)

The digital image was printed at FedEx Office on their oversized machine.  This is just the basic, thin paper, nothing fancy.

I coated the entire print with matte medium and allowed it to dry.

(Above:  The print ... ink side down ... gelled to the quilt.)

The next morning, I applied another coat of matte medium to the surface of the quilt.  Onto this wet surface, I placed the print ... ink side down, toward the quilt.  This was allowed to dry.  Then, I flattened the entire thing, section by section, in the dry mount press.

Acrylic media complete adhere/fuse to one another, wet or dry.  Each piece had a dry layer.  They were put together with a wet layer.  Once dry, the dry mount press assured no air bubbles and a very, very strong adhesion between the layers.  Then comes the "fun"!  

Using a semi-wet wash cloth, I started to scrub off the paper, exposing the ink which is embedded into the acrylic.  Everything seemed to be going very, very well.

It is much harder than one would expect to completely rub off all the paper.  Even though I had flattened the quilt twice, there was still an uneven, textural surface.  Tiny indentations, itty-bitty dents and dimples seemed to catch the nearly microscopic paper's lint.  I kept scrubbing ... until too much of the ink was also gone.  I hated the results.  I thought the whole thing was ruined and almost quit.

Finally, I returned to my digital image.  More contrast, added lines, and several filters later, I had asecond image.  I printed it at FedEx Office, coated it with matte medium, let it dry, and then brushed the quilt's surface with another layer of matte medium.  I carefully lined up the second print right on the first one, let it dry, flattened it, and started scrubbing the paper away for the second time.

The results were better but not what I wanted. There's too much paper left on the surface.  It's caught in the crevices and the textural surface.  If I scrubbed more, I knew I'd also lose the ink.  What's an artist to do?

With nothing to more to lose, I grabbed some black acrylic paint thinned with matte medium.  I started to paint and liked what I saw.

Later, I added charcoal paint.  Finally, I mixed a very, very small amount of blue acrylic with a lot of matte medium.  The solution was quite transparent.  It covered the blue squares but allowed the ink and the original fabric to show through.  Finally, I liked the results.

Of course, I wasn't finish.  Assorted vintage buttons were stitched on the white border.  Getting a needle through all these layers of fabric and acrylics isn't easy but was worth the effort.  I used a royal blue #3 perle cotton to add a running stitch along the edge of the photo transfer.

Yesterday I made a hanging sleeve from unprimed canvas.  I stitched it to the upper edge of the back ... going right through the button's holes and the upper line of running stitches.

Today I hung the work on the garage and took pictures.  From a near disaster, acrylic paint saved the day!  I'm quite pleased with the results and I think my Great-Grandmother would be too!


Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

dedication paid off...looks fabulous and story about the laundry business owner, even more so...

Margaret said...

What an undertaking! Yet, it was worth it not just to get the result you wanted, but also to pay tribute to a fiesty ancestor. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, did it? :-)