Post Ringling Syndrome – struggling with processes

While I poked around Ringling Museum last November, all I really wanted was to transport myself back in time. What was it like to live when high craftsmanship was part of our daily value system? How would the gender portraits be received if they were hanging in Ca d’Zan? Everywhere I turned, there was beauty! I wanted to be able to make everything! So here back in Philly, in the 21st Century, I struggle. First off, the materials are different, safer, low VOCs, etc. and often inferior. I can’t actually work with high fume chemicals; I feel sick and get migraines.  So I searched and experimented….


I first began thinking I would decoupage furniture. Kind of like the baroque decoupage and painted furniture.

Here is my first attempt.

Although I am not really feeling the decoupage thing, I did find some interesting materials.  One was a digital media coating by Golden.  I painted it on foil paper and rice paper so i could run them through my printer.  Another was Mod Podge and interestingly, you can add pigment and create a non-toxic paint that is wet-paper sandable.  Nice!  Also can use as a glaze over milk painted surfaces.


Now I am back to printing – silkscreen fiber reactive dye paste on fabric:

Drawing reproductions of some of the photographs I gathered from the archives.  This was drawn using Lascaux screen-printing drawing fluid and the screen filler is Speedball.  I only got three prints out of this screen, as the soda ash on the fabric disolved the filler.  Welp!… back to the drawing board.  I do need more practice drawing, not one of my strengths.  I am such a nervous drawer and am really trying to loosen up a little more.  I am learning to love drawing…  oh yeah and next screen I will use Lascaux filler, although it takes days to remove when I want to reuse the screen.


Next, I am finding ways to add multicolored prints to my work.  Stenciling – this is fiber reactive dye paste stenciled onto velvet.  I love the potential for bringing in more color.  One of Mable Ringlings love was color.  She had colored glass windows installed in Ca d’Zan – I think six different colored panes in all.  This set the color scheme for the entire house – also trompe l’oeil, painted furniture, murals, patterns, and decorative motifs painted on the walls and ceilings in various rooms.  So I am madly trying my stencil making.  One thing is, stencils are easy to cut from polyester sheet, like Duralar film by Grafix. I cut using a fine tipped wood burning tool.