(paper workbook page 5 – 12)
Materials: Molding paste and Gesso
Inspired by several books, I looked at gesso and molding/modeling paste. Both can be used in similar ways but modeling paste remains more flexible than gesso, which makes it easier for stamping and stencilling and suggests it might be the better choice for capturing texture.
I was drawn to the fine textural surfaces that could be achieved on paper or fabric, the effects of colour media and the potential to enhance with stitch. The possibilities for collagraph printing were also appealing.
Examples of Lynda Monk’s work (aka Purple Missus):
This product has been certified by ACMI (Artists Craft Material Institute, Inc.) to carry the AP (Approved Product) Seal, meaning this product bears no chronic or acute human health hazards. (SAFETY DATA SHEET LIQUITEX MODELLING PASTE According to Appendix D, OSHA Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR §1910.1200)
As this product is not a hazard to human health, normal safety considerations apply.
- Avoid contact with skin and eyes
- keep in original container
- store at moderate temperature in well ventilated area
- wash hands after use
- do not eat, drink or smoke whilst using
My initial experiments were mixed in their success. Pebeo modelling paste was applied to cardboard with a palette knife and textural materials pressed into the surface. It was soon apparent that removing too early when the paste is wet leaves an indistinct impression and leave it too late and it sets hard, making it difficult to remove the object cast.
It was difficult to see the textures but highlighting them with a graphite stick was visually pleasing. When removed, the paper flower in the top right left behind traces of glitter which catches the light and combines effectively with the graphite, the grey area bottom right created with towelling removed when the modeling paste was still quite wet has an appealing mass of little indentations, which responded well to the addition of graphite. Drawing and enlarging areas helped me to explore mark-making and the detail of the texture produced.
I had another go, spreading a thin layer onto watercolour paper and impressing jute scrim, flower lace and towelling into the surface. This wasn’t very effective either:
Without the addition of wax crayon, the texture was barely visible. Not to be deterred I tried Liquitex modeling paste onto tyvek which had been coloured earlier with procion dye ink. The towelling produced a nice texture but mostly I learned that if the medium is too wet the impression is less effective and an interesting aside was the way the molding paste absorbed the colour from the previously inked tyvek.
Having seen much better samples in Linda Monk’s books, Liquitex modeling paste and gesso were spread onto a heat mat, waiting for the paste to partially dry before impressing with an indian block, some cotton lace and crumpled paper.
These samples were sprayed with indigo navy procion dye ink and Brusho charcoal spray ink respectively. The right hand sample was also rubbed with Sennelier silver oil pastel to highlight the texture. The samples were easily removed from the heat mat. The gesso was more prone to cracking than the modeling paste and the sample made with half acrylic soft gel and half modelling paste was the most flexible. The samples below were left to dry and then different shades of oil pastel were applied and rubbed in with the finger tips. Left shows crumpled tissue paper texture and right, cotton lace. These samples of ‘modelling paste fabric’ were more successful at capturing texture but required a guessing game to work out when the paste was dry enough to make a good impression. The detail achieved on the right hand piece was a good contrast of smooth and bumpy and varying the tones of the oil pastels emphasising some areas more than others increased the visual interest.
Impatient with the need to wait for the paste to dry, a much thinner layer of gesso or modeling paste was applied to watercolour paper. Below is a gesso sample which was sprayed whilst wet with Brusho Acrylic Mist Spray in Burnt Sienna. The gesso immediately absorbed the ink and turned a rather nondescript puce. To improve the look and highlight the texture, I added oil pastel, markel paint sticks and a little graphite and rubbed them into the surface. This was effective and rewarding to enhance the surface in this way.
A thin layer of modelling paste was applied to some more Fabriano 5 watercolour paper (the choice of paper was a good one, there was less distortion than with cartridge paper or cardboard). This was coloured with Brusho Acrylic Mist Spray in Charcoal which was absorbed to a lesser degree than the gesso and became a satin (rather than matt) blue. The surface was enhanced with a combination of blues, greys and metallic oil sticks. This too was a pleasure to colour.
Lastly another layer of gesso on watercolour paper sprayed with indigo navy procion dye ink which was absorbed into the gesso to produce a matt paler blue.
Using Tyvek, a very thin layer of both modelling paste and gesso were spread onto tyvek coloured with red brown procion ink and lightly sprayed with other inks when wet. The textured surface was barely noticeable but it was useful to know it could easily be machine stitched into and slightly distorted with an iron.
Pleased to have a better understanding of the effect of sprayed ink onto wet gesso and modelling paste, to see the possibility of creating texture and the delights of adding colour to emphasise that texture, Lynda Monk and d4daisy books have introduced me to a technique I will definitely use in the future.
To push this a little further, calico was primed with gesso and three sample patches of gesso, modelling paste and Unibond Quick Fix and Grout were added and textured. They behaved in similar ways. The Fix and Grout dried quickly, the gesso next and lastly the modelling paste, they all took the ink well but the modelling paste was the easiest to stitch into, although I wouldn’t confidently machine stitch into any of them at this thickness. The gessoed cloth was very receptive to stitch and colour. The wet surface was dripped with black quink ink and sprinkled with fine and coarse salt to create more visual texture. The Quink ink separated into some lovely tones, particularly on the back. With a timely Machine Embroidery Workshop at the end of the same week, the piece was embellished with free machine stitch with careful consideration to top and bottom thread colour to replicate the inked textures. I thoroughly enjoyed this process and was pleased with the outcome, but will admit to being ‘in my comfort zone’. Both front and back views are shown below, the back view showing beautiful contrasts of colour where the Quink ink has separated to reveal a rusty colour. There is something more subtle about the back, with the stitching easier to examine without the texture of the molding material to distract.
Detail from front view:
On hand indigo dipped khadi paper, using a variety of media and blind continuous drawing with the occasional look, the stitched piece was closely examined revealing a multitude of marks and intricate detail.
Hall, Isobel & Grey Maggie (2010) Mixed Media: New Studio Techniques, d4daisy Books Ltd
Monk, Lynda, McFee Carol (2009) Stitching the Textured Surface, d4daisy Books Ltd.
Monk, Lynda (2012) Exploring creative surfaces, d4daisy Books Ltd
Monk, Lynda (2011) Fabulous surfaces, d4daisy Books Ltd