An overview of designing and printing book cloth for New River Breakdown, Terry Kennedy‘s poetry collection from Unicorn Press . You can see the finished book covers from this project at Unicorn Press. Recap Part one is here.
The Creation Process: Step 1 – Grabbing the bull by the horns
Armed with a concept to create riverbed patina, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and start the actual making. First the canvas for this creation–the 13 yards of linen–needs to be tamed. Meaning: washed, cut into smaller pieces, and hemmed to reduce fray during the process.
Step 2 – Layer cake
It’s time to make some marks! The first layer of the patina process is ink. I drew flowing lines across the cloth, inspired by dried nasturtium vines and other collected organic materials.
The 2nd layer of the patina is a freehand painted pattern (inspired by dead lilies) screen-printed onto the cloth.
Layer 3 and 4 are screen-printed layers of collected organic material in neon oranges and magentas.
Patina layer #5 is another organic layer, this time printed in greed. I wanted some shapes to cover larger areas of the cloth so this layer includes larger fern and cucumber vine leaves.
Step 3 – Letting nature take course
Now that I’ve built up several layers lines and shapes, it’s time to see what washes away and what stays. Linen is a naturally resilient fabric, it resists marks, meaning everything I’ve built up so far could all wash away completely. Hopefully, it won’t and I’ll be left with a pleasantly faded version of the color layers I have now. First I iron all the cloth between sheets of paper to set the ink into the cloth, then it’s time to wash up.
After washing, the texture of the linen comes through the layers adding an additional element to the composition, making it even richer. The bright inks are still very stark on the white fabric, but the dye process will take the edge off of this, hopefully. The next step is the scariest. I never know exactly what’s gonna come out of the dye bath. It’s time to hold my breath and dive in.