35 years of textile samples, part 5: weaving, intaglio & miscellaneous

And how about all of those other areas of experimentation? I was once a weaver and a spinner, and I first learned to print and dye textiles because  as a student, I was printing large etching plates on canvas. From there, I wanted to alter the surfaces on which I printed, and I started weaving. I was living in a geodesic dome in the lovely countryside surrounding Bloomington, Indiana, where I went to school. We hoisted the 300 pound Kessenich loom up a ladder and into the dome. We were crazy kids. In one of my first dye baths there, the water turned clear. That’s never happened since. It was a good thing, too, because we didn’t have running water. The pump froze and cracked during a wickedly cold winter. I was discovering how in love I was with the world of fiber.

two samples of handwoven fabrics, tie dyed and screen printed/handpainted, by Astrid Hilger Bennett


Handwoven, screenprinted fabric using Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Printing on wool, samples from a workshop, very nice, thin wool, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Intaglio (etching) samples printed on different fabrics, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Intaglio (etching) plates printed on silk, cotton, in a “book” by Astrid Hilger Bennett
stitched, woven bands, no dyeing, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
More stitched, woven bands, no dyeing, assembled by Astrid Hilger Bennett



35 years of textile samples, part 4: non-stitched resists

Resists have always fascinated me. A resist is a substance or a mechanism used to prevent dye or colorant from acting upon a surface. My very first experiments with resist were done in high school art class. My teacher was more interested in discussing politics, so I taught myself how to do batik using paraffin. Although batik was a favorite, I found removing the wax to be a  tedious and expensive process when a dry cleaner was used. This post shows samples of other resists: dextrin, potato starch, cassava, and Japanese Tsutsugaki with rice paste, as well as discharge.

Batik on silk, samples
Batik (beeswax and paraffin) on silk by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Cassava resist on cotton, fiber reactive dyes
“Presist” resist or cassava resist on rayon, Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Tsutsugaki sample using rice paste resist on cotton and Japanese dyes, from a Tsutsugaki workshop at the Surface Design Conference in Seattle, 1991. Tsutsugaki is a class of very ordinary Japanese textiles, often decorated with auspicious symbols, used in ordinary households. 
Discharge samples on rayon by Astrid Hilger Bennett. Not one of my favorite techniques due to products that are not considered nontoxic.

Potato dextrin used as a resist, Procion MX dyes, workshop samples by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Potato dextrin resist on cotton
More potato dextrin resist
Potato dextrin on silk

35 years of textile samples, part 2: stitched & clamped resists

In the previous post, I described needing a storage container and finding myself immersed in sorting through a career’s worth of textile samples and explorations. Here is Part 2 of this archive, stitched and clamped resists on cotton and silk, using Procion MX dyes. This is a tradition more popularly known as tie dye, but it stems from a rich textile heritage that is very considered and carefully made.

Bound resist cotton, Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Bound resist cotton, Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Clamp resist cotton, Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Bound resist silk, Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Clamp resist on silk, Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Clamp resist and silk resist on silk, Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett
Stitch resist, silk



35 years of textile samples, part 1: early screen prints

Sample Mix

The day began with a search for a larger container to store fabric teaching samples. It ended with a journey through 35 years of creating fabrics.  I had already edited through these samples in previous years. It’s  a convenient time to do more. Consolidation and simplicity are freeing.

So many studio directions I’d forgotten about! Pathways through handwoven and warp painted textiles. Through silk screened, handpainted pears that I was quilting for a commission on the day I delivered my first child. Playing with cassava resists. Discharge. Silk painting.  Clamp resists and shibori. Odd little paintings and stitched, painted canvas. Pigment-printed cottons, and a few fabrics stiff with residual sodium alginate (not good.)

In recent years, more a mastery of layered fabric images and color, which you can see in the pieces on my website. Glad for that. In the several posts that follow, I describe a selection of samples and their techniques.

Early pear screen prints
My first official screen print (1975, top image), using two screens and Lacquer film stencils. One labored to carefully cut only one layer from the stencil, which was then adhered to the screen using awful, smelly, toxic solvents. Use too much solvent, and your screen would dissolve. This was my first introduction to modular design. Britex fabric paints on whatever fabric was available. The Pear screens were used to create a public art piece, Pears at Play, then purchased for Indiana University-Gary Library. The last image shows screen printed interpretations of drawings made while traveling around the United States for 6 weeks in 1976.
First screen prints
First screen prints
Sample book of early screenprints
Eraser print studies, 1975. These were used to explore the concept of modular design and registration for screen printing. We HATED this assignment, but now I value the knowledge I gained.
Fish screen based on minnow drawings while supervising a 3 year old,  1988. Screenprinted using ProFab fabric paints by ProChemical & Dye. Background colors applied as thickened Procion MX Dyes.
Screen prints for table cloths, 1991, with Pro-Fab fabric paints and thickened Procion MX dyes
Pear screen prints on linen
Crow screen print, used on canvas bags, 1992. Heat setting these Pro-Fab Fabric paints is vital. At left, a properly heat set sample. At right, one that was not heat set.

35 years of textile samples, part 3: stitch resist (shibori, tritik)

This is the third in a series of posts revisiting a treasure trove of textile samples made while learning new techniques. In search of a storage box, I found myself delving into forgotten experiments and exciting processes of learning. The other posts involved early screen prints and bound and clamp resists. These techniques have many names and fall under shibori and tritik.

So much fun! Stitch resist on silk dipped in an indigo vat, by Astrid Hilger Bennett. Unlike chemical dyes, which tend to wick up into the fiber, indigo stops the minute it perceives a barrier, such as a fold. The result is a clean, crisp pattern.
Indigo stitch resist on silk by Astrid Hilger Bennett, detail
Shibori stitch resist on silk using Procion MX dyes, by Astrid Hilger Bennett