Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Blast from the past -- printing on fabric 2

Yesterday I showed you some of my earliest forays into printing on fabric with my printer's type.  Some years later I got into a new phase of printing on fabric, using the letters as abstract designs rather than to spell out words.  Here's an example:  I prepared the background by stitching the large letters into tight bundles and applying fabric paint with a brush; the paint wicked out just enough to make a fat initial.  Then I printed the smaller letters on top.

Green Alphabet (detail below)

I worked for 20 years at a company that was the world's largest employer of actuaries, and much of my work involved translating complicated actuarial concepts into terms understandable by our non-actuary clients.  So I spent many hours hanging out with actuaries, and my son also trained to become an actuary.  I was envious of their ability to think in numbers, and imagined that when they lay down to sleep, they might see numbers floating about.

I made a quilt covered with numbers and called it "The Actuary's Dream."  It wasn't in the roll that I unpacked last week and I don't have a good photo, but the next time I come across it I will take a picture and show you.  Subsequently I made a half dozen or more "actuary quilts" -- here are four of them.

As in the alphabet quilt above, I bound or sewed the fabric into bundles, then applied fabric paint to make the underlying patterns, before printing on top.

The Actuary's Vacation (detail below)

Here I clamped the fabric and dunked it into bleach.  The discharged patterns looked to me like maps.

The Actuary's Map 1 (detail below)

The Actuary's Map 2 (detail below)

I moved on from this style of quiltmaking a long time ago, but these looked fresh, original and exciting when I look at them today.  Maybe it's time to go back to printing on fabric!


  1. I love those maps. It so interesting to see the different series that have engaged you. I have also had the experience of having no recollection of a quilt I obviously made previously. I try to document as I go, but it doesn't always work out.

  2. This is not àpropos of this work necessarily, but your work in general – take a look at the Instagram "sarahjw70". She's vacationing in Menorca and photographed a quarry which reminds me of your work.
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