Thursday, February 11, 2016

William Morris Revisited

Much of art is about the process. Sometimes you already know the process you will use for a project. Sometimes you have to invent one to accomplish your goal. This was one of those projects. I wanted to create a reproduction of a William Morris tapestry from the early 1900's. I have always loved this style of design, and planned to display it in my own living room.
I started with a large panel, painting it a muddy purple color. After measuring out exactly where my tapestry would be placed, I taped off and applied Proceed Smooth Absorbent Texture and dragged a wallpaper brush through it vertically and horizontally to create the texture.

The trouble was how to transfer the design. There are a lot of ways to do this, but the rough surface complicated things. My solution was to cut a stencil of the darkest dark throughout the whole design. I used a product called QST for my stencil, which is similar to interfacing material available from fabric stores. It can be cut with either an xacto or a stencil burner, which will remove a slight amount of material. Perfect for the fine lines I wanted.

 Did I mention it was large? I wasn't dubbed “The Mad Stencilist” for nothing. It took me about 3 days to cut the stencil. Here you see it layed out on a 3 x 6 foot table.

When it was finished I aligned the design and used my airbrush to apply raw umber paint through the stencil to the tapestry surface. Once that was accomplished, I painted the various elements using a limited palette of Yellow Ochre, Oxide Green, Red Oxide and Raw Umber, all in Proceed Slow Drying Acrylics. These are paints that were formulated to have open time, which allows one the ability to move the paint and pull off some paint before it dries. That was very useful in revealing the texture as needed. The panel was sewn at top and bottom to accommodate rods for hanging and stabilization.

This was an unusual project, and though it was laborious, I have enjoyed the results for a number of years. I hope you enjoyed seeing my process for it, and can use some of the information included for your own projects. Happy painting!

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