Sunday, 29 March 2020


My main focus this week has been thinking about what to do with my ever growing stash of eco printed papers and fabrics.
I find it hard to do anything to these printed treasures, but I am determined to get over that. 
The best way of course, is to have a project in mind before starting the boiling process.
I tried and I will be trying harder as I get a bit frustrated when the pieces are not quite the right size or shape! Also if a piece comes up with little on it, I reboil with new leaves. 
Remember, for sure fired results look at the list of leaves that work and add small amounts of wire wool to the wraps as mentioned in the previous post. 
But if like me, addiction to making these papers and fabrics starts to get out of hand, have a go at working into the prints.
Get your pile of eco printing. Hunt out that collection of stencils, some sponges, acrylic paint and acrylic ink.
If you don't have stencils have a look around the house for fruit netting, sequin waste, old
sticky tape or toilet rolls (yes, rare as hens teeth) its surprising what comes to hand when you have an idea in mind or 
make your own stencils with cereal box card. Here I have just ripped card to create a thin jagged line.
I am nervous to mention using a craft knife to make bespoke stencils as I believe A&E are busy enough... if you are confident have a go, please make sure the blade is new and hold the card away from your cutting direction!!!
Responding to the natural patterns on the substrates, stencil some marks onto the surfaces. 
With a spare amount of paint on the sponge, evened out by tapping it on newspaper first, bounce the paint sponge over the stencil. Go gently avoiding over loading the sponge as the paint will seep under the stencil.
I like to use white or black acrylic paint, but don't hold back, try colours too. Be sympathetic to your eco print colours...but that is up to you. 
Remember if you make a mess of your eco print, spring has sprung and you can always make more. Or draw over it?
When the paint is dry, using candle wax or
acrylic wax, draw or paint out areas you want to protect from the next stage.
I did find the white paint a bit startling, so after waxing areas I washed the white surfaces with Paynes Grey acrylic ink to knock back the whiteness. Again, if you like a bit of colour, go for it. Anything you want to protect, 'wax'.
This acrylic stenciling process works really well on the fabrics. 
Although I do not recommend inking onto fabric, but do experiment, remember the fabric will absorb and spread the ink. Try water colour products like Koh-In-Or dye based water colour inks, they are softer.
Still keep the paint thin on the sponge so that the paint does not creep underneath the stencil, you can always add more, but once its blobbed too much you will have to cover it up with stitching or collage.
I like to just add stenciled marks here and there, less is definitely more. 
These techniques work equally well for those keen to try a figurative approach.
I like drawing on surfaces that have been interfered with. Once I have plotted out my image,
I will draw with white acrylic paint, popping in all the highlights. I use the paint neat and quite thickly to create texture. Where you want darks, don't put paint!
When the paint is dry, I flush the image with acrylic ink. Diluted to begin with, then I get bolder and add neater ink. White acrylic resists the ink running off the white, this works with with Indian ink too. Just add more white if it gets too dark, let everything dry between each layer or it will all go a bit grey!
 Beware that if you use pen ink such as Quink or any other water soluble ink it will sink into the paint, not shed off it. This is another creative opportunity.
I have been softening  my drawings recently by spraying them gently with water while the ink is wet,
this makes the ink run in a very satisfying way, softening lines. If it goes horribly wrong at this stage, just quickly wash and blot it off and try again.
I really like drawings with eco printed backgrounds, but you may have a few stand alone pieces of eco print. Hang on to those until the right moment arises.

Next Sunday I will be adding to these samples. At the moment it is all just experimentation, giving me ideas for bigger projects. You can try this starting point on plain paper. Acrylic resit with ink washes are a good way to start a drawings.
 Be bold and experiment, abstract or figurative, there are no rules, just guidelines.

Check out these Instagram's for further inspiration and more techniques:-
Suppliers who I believe are still posting if you need to add to your materials stash:-

Please post your results on Instagram if you can, but mention me @sb.brown21 and I will get to see what you have done. Thank you to everyone who has.

Have the best creative week you can under the circumstances. Best wishes, Sue

Saturday, 21 March 2020


What can I do with myself when I am feeling anxious and not the least bit creative? This is a question I am asking myself a great deal at the moment. So strangely this is one of the things I like to do when I am not feeling creative, design creative prompts for others to have a go at.

So Sunday Prompts will pop up each Sunday until we no longer need them or I run out of steam. Hoping the former rather than the later. 
It will be a series of processes that you can dip into during the week as creatively or practically as you like. There will be things for a variety of adult abilities. The Prompts will progress from week to week, either connecting each process to make an on going project, or starting new items each week, however you want to make use of them. 
These processes can be done on paper or fabric, its up to you. 
We all like to work differently, it is not a test!!

I would love to see what you make of this, so please post on Instagram and #theyardartspace or @sb.brown21 so I will get to see what you are up to. Or leave a comment on this page.

So onto the first Prompt, no drawing or special skills required.
  Eco Printing. 
I want you to start by going for a country walk or getting out into the garden. Collect a few leaves, for the best results collect, rose, bramble, oak, cranes bill geranium. Do you have an Acer or Japanese Maple coming into leaf? You don't need many, we are not ravaging the country side or stripping bare the garden. Onion skins are good too.
Once you have a collection of vegetation, you will also need the following. 
Rusty metal items, fairly flat ones, old washers, tacks, steel wool  are really good (use gloves when handling all this stuff)
Natural fabrics, cotton, silk, perhaps an old cotton sheet or shirt, it does not work on man made fabrics.
Paper, thick cartridge, water colour or pages from a sketchbook. If you only have thin cheaper paper just handle it with more care when its wet.
The size of these substrates should be the same as the tile or tube, folding is allowed.
Couple of ceramic tiles or wooden doweling or old rolling pin. I use plastic drain pipe too.
Strong rubber bands or sturdy thread or string.
Lay out your natural and man made finds on the paper 
and the fabric
Make a flat pile with sandwiched layers of finds so that the whole thing will be flat when pushed down. This can be separate squares of paper/fabric or a stripe folded with materials between each layer.The important factor is the contact of each item to the paper or fabric.
Now make a tile pack and clamp it firmly by wrapping tightly with string or elastic bands.
Or if you are making a roll, bind your paper or fabric tightly around a cylindrical thing or 
snuggly around itself to make a tight bundle.
Pop your package into a pan (do not cook in this pan again) it must fit and be submerged, slug a splosh of white vinegar in...although I often forget to. Boil for an hour. Keep it topped up, you really don't want to let it boil dry and have a timer on, you do not want to forget you have put it on either.
Trust me the smell is terrible if that happens!!
After an hour turn off and drain. Use gloves and be aware that the water will stain things. 
Allow the package to go cold (never managed to do that to date) before unwrapping.
This is what I achieved... the above examples on fabric and Khadi paper
Paper, you can really see the onion skins.

Over to you, if you have a piece that is less than successful re bundle with leaves and boil again. Remember not to over load your bundles, you need space around leaves to see the edges print. It is all about contact, if your materials can't touch the substrate you won't get clear prints. 
If you get leaves floating at the top of the pan, you have done something a bit differently to the above instructions.

Its the walk in the fresh air that is the key to this activity.
I now have a week to work out what we could do with these delicious papers and fabrics...
watch this space.

Look up the following artists for more information about Eco Printing,


Wednesday, 15 January 2020


It has been traditional for me to leave partly finished work on my studio bench just before the festive mayhem sets in. This helps me start again after Christmas. We often have to deal with post festive blues in the dark days of January and February. After all the jolliness it can often be difficult to get back into the swing of things. 
So I blocked out some diary dates mid December and made some Corvid drawings. Here is a raven found in the middle of Tenby while on holiday.
This is Bran, a tame crow I met earlier in the Autumn at Bobby Britnell's. I have been itching to do homage to this gorgeous creature.
This leaves me with a series of drawings that I can make collagraph plates from when the glitter has settled.
Using grey board, plaster, wood glue and carborundum, between Christmas and New Year I set about making
these two plates.
I press feathers into polyfilla areas,
cutting into the card and applying layers of carborundum to give velvety blacks.
The contrast with wood glue and the bare surface of the card creates tonal differences. Then everything is shellaced.
Then after the New Year celebrations are over, off to the yard:ARTspace to print, print, print.
I am pleased with Helpful Bran and have experimented with mono printing the red thread tangling off the reel.
Dig Deep is a homage to the lovely Mr B who is taking up an allotment this year
So instead of falling down the post Christmas hole, trying to get myself going on something new, what I have set myself up with is work to finish off. There are now new crow images I am itching to draw and get on with and other projects bubbling up in the background. The more I make the more I want to make...!!
So watch this space.

Saturday, 16 November 2019


I have spent the past few months experimenting and expanding my use of Gum Arabic transfer printing beyond my sketchbook.
I have documented these moth experiments from my sketchbooks and have been determined to combine
my eco printing with my figurative work on paper.
So here is my first larger experiment. Putting together my sewing, printmaking and eco printing activities.
Inspired by museum collections of entomological exhibits, I have created this 'Moth Eaten Shirt' 
Adding shishsa elements using watch glass in
place of mirrors.
Ghostly moths appear on the shirt made of silk organza and attached with entomological pins.
Eco printed, gum arabic transfer print and acrylic paint on vintage fabric has all been added to this deconstructed shirt.

See this piece of experimental work in the Artists in Action Area at the Knit and Stitch Show Harrogate. I will be there Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December recreating my studio and making more pieces using a variety of mixed media processes. 
Come and say hello.