Project 2: Textile Museum Project–Digital Printing on a Large Scale (2000-2002)

Textile Museum Project: Digital Printing on a Large Scale (2000-2002)
Project Statement

This project was undertaken as a response to the invitation to show work at in an exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC in 2002. I had already begun to experiment with digital printing, but after the invitation worked from clear guidelines to produce samples and a body of subsequent work. The work I had done with hand weaving and printing was also incorporated into the works produced. Here were the guidelines in original text:

Goals in Research: Experiment with digital technology:

  • to make more complex images more easily achievable
  • to gain greater complexity in color, pattern and image
  • to achieve complex color movement
  • to scale up textures and images
  • to gain speed in production of printed fabrics
  • to print without stress on and damage to my wrists
  • to continue to develop the images and compositions that interest me and allow the technology to contribute “invisibly”

Specific digital printing trials:

  •  scan hand drawn or painted images and patterns (watercolors, colored pencils)
  • manipulate color, especially in gradations that would be hard to hand print or dye
  • layer several images and patterns, especially with color gradations of different kinds overlaid
  • Manipulate level of transparency of layers, as well as hue, value, and intensity of color
  • layer my own photographs with hand drawn patterns and textures
  • manipulate the color in my photographs
  • isolate parts of photographs to blow up and manipulate and/or re-color, especially textures

After printing try:

  • fabric manipulation experiments—piecing, plaiting, appliqué, 3-D effects like tucking and pleating
  • hand printing, discharging and dyeing on top
  • layering opaque and transparent prints
  • print on hand woven fabrics, textured fabrics

Short statement on results:

Much of this research is ongoing, although the initial body of work can be viewed in the artwork section of this site in the pieces: Quintessence, Traces, Tectonic Plait, Messages from the Past, and Discovered Secrets.

My experimentations led me first to incorporate my own photography, a consistent source of inspiration in my work, directly into the artworks. This allowed a new kind of literal imagery that I had not had available before. I printed the images with large-scale Stork/Mimachi printers housed at the College of Textiles here at NC State University. We printed most of my photos at 48” x 60” at 72 dpi. Most of the images were printed on cotton or linen, some on silk that was pre-treated in our model manufacturing facility. The linen was donated, pre-treated. Prints were steamed in an industrial autoclave and washed in industrial washers.

The results of my experimentation were delivered as a presentation to the Technology as Catalyst Symposium held at the Textile Museum in March 2002. The materials was then expanded and presented as a paper to the 2003 Surface Design Association conference in Kansas City. Finally, the text was condensed and published as: “Post Digital Textiles: Rediscovering the Hand” by Susan Brandeis, Surface Design Journal, summer, 2004 (pp. 44-51).

If you have an interest in this area and are conducting research of your own, I would love to hear from you (by email) and discuss results.