This Summer we spent a lot of time at the pool in our back yard. One weekend my family was here visiting celebrating the birth of two new babies. April, my step sister had just had a baby boy 8 days before Edla was born. She's also an incredible printmaker and we've talked about collaborating for years. While we sat around the pool, she was trimming some prints for an upcoming show that totally blew my mind. They had been made using a technique called Tusche Wash and I was instantly smitten. The idea of a collaboration on fabric came up, and I ran into the studio to grab my swatch books. Moments later, this project was born. As I learn more about this process, I have a new found respect for how technical printmaking is. Each piece of fabric in our collaboration is a true work of art.
Lithography is a process based on the fact that oil and water don't mix. For this project, April used tusche wash, which is basically pigment and grease suspended in water. When it dries, it creates an amazing reticulation on the surface of the stone which, after some chemical processing, is printed using oil based ink. April collected leaves from the oriental bittersweet vine, a nasty invasive species, but ironically one that is absolutely gorgeous this time of year. She painted the leaves with tusche wash and placed them on the stone, allowing them to dry overnight. Next, she coated the stone with powdered rosin, then talcum (yep - baby powder). Finally, she etched the stone using a combination of gum arabic and nitric acid. This combination informs the non-drawn areas that they must remain water-loving, and reinforces the greasy areas to be oil-loving. Once the stone is etched, April and her assistants rolled up the stone with ink and printed the fabric over 5 different printing sessions. And the last step was when the fabric was mailed to the STATE studio in Georgia and sewn.