Monday, May 31, 2010

What to Wear to a Nautically Themed Birthday Party?

A fish print t-shirt, of course! One for every member of the family!

Thanks to cousin Julie for outfitting her entire family in some of our fish print t-shirts while attending a nautically themed birthday party in France. You never know when a fish print shirt will be just the garment to complete your wardrobe. Don't they all look great? They're their own school of fish. What's neat is that they're all fish that you might find hanging out together in the aquatic realm: A bluegill on Julie, a rockbass on Thomas, and a yellow perch and pumpkinseed on the kids. The pumpkinseed was caught in Shadow lake in Glover, VT, the yellow perch in Mills Riverside park in Jericho, and the larger fish were some that lived out their lives at the ECHO aquarium in Burlington, VT. Nice to know there's a little piece of all of those places represented in France.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gyotaku Batik - Try #2!

I finally had a chance to retry some Gyotaku batik. This time, I used cold water dyes and batik wax ( beeswax-paraffin mixture), and am much happier with the results. Like last time, I started by printing some fish on muslin. I then dyed the fabric yellow and waxed over the fish and made some splatters for visual interest. I then put the fabric pieces in either a magenta dye-bath or a turquoise dye bath. The dyes behave much like watercolor, and so colors build on eachother. So, the cloth in the magenta dye-bath came out a rich red, and the cloth in the turquoise dye bath came out a springy green (much greener than I had anticipated, but I like it just the same).
This time I tried boiling out the wax in a water bath instead of ironing, and this did a good job of preventing a hardened halo in the waxed areas. I primarily dyed handkerchief sized squares and sewed of the edges for a finished look. I think they would make nice small tablecloths, napkins, wall hangings, or could even be sewed into pillows. Brian and I are thinking of making napkins and place-mats and selling them in sets. I also made a long table-runner printed with large Tangs:

Most of the prints in this round were done with saltwater fish that were saved for us at a local pet store:


Butterfly fish:
But I also printed a few Bluegill:

I batiked one shirt I had printed previously with small yellow perch. I think the shirt came out pretty funky, and I think our customers will dig them - I know I do. I plan to make more of these in the future.

We also printed and batiked a few baby onesies, although I didn't get any pictures of them before carting them over to the gallery for sale. We've already sold a few after just one week, so they seem like they'll be a hit.

I plan to have some of the finished cloths up on my Etsy site for sale soon. Looking forward to trying more color combinations and making different finished products with the cloths. More ideas for other cool things to make out of fish printed batik cloth are welcome and appreciated!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Art on a Rain Barrel

To commemorate "Clean Water Day", the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) is holding an Art on a Rain Barrel Festival on May 15th. As part of this event, I volunteered to paint a rain barrel that will be auctioned off later this summer for a VINS fundraiser. You can find out more information about the event by clicking here.

When my Aunt first told me about this event, I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to mesh some natural science with art. I contacted VINS about participating and went to go pick up a barrel to paint. Then just a few days later, I was contacted through my work about presenting a river model flume that we use as an educational tool to demonstrate river processes. So, turns out I will be at the event as both an artist and a scientist.
I decided to paint my barrel with a fish theme, and feature some of the Vermont fish associated with a healthy cold water cobble bottom stream ecosystem. Below is a composite photo with a key to each of the fish species. I was originally planning to include invertebrates and different types of algae, but then decided to just keep it simple.
I took some liberties with the colors I used for some of the fish, and made the fish a bit larger than real life, sort of mimicking the way everything looks magnified when snorkeling under water. I wanted to make sure to include some of the habitat features that are critical for cold water fish species, such as cobbles and gravels free of excess sediment and large woody debris for cover.