Water-soluble inks: a laundress’ friend, an artist’s enemy

Last year when I named this blog I had no idea I’d be pursuing an art form other than one that uses needles. Luckily I had the foresight to add a subtitle that said “’mostly’ using fabric”, because now I’m playing an a fabric-free world: mixed media.  

I’m in the exploratory stages of this art form, which incorporates a variety of media, such as paint, ink, paper, and embellishments, in a single piece. (This is different from multimedia, which uses more than one form of communication at a time.)  And over the past few weeks I’ve learned the importance of permanent inks.

Layers of colour and pattern produce wonderful effects. Here I had layered paint, tissue paper, a copy of a photograph, and some spray ink when I decided to add some stamps. Little did I know the stamp ink would run when gel medium was applied over top. Lesson #1: use permanent ink if you’re going to layer over it with something wet. (This is a WIP.)

Learning from my mistakes, or so I thought, I decided to  use the stamp ink toward the end of the next piece. Floral stamps and images of insects were applied over paint, spray ink, gesso, and more paint. As I was outlining the upper moth with marker I realised my arm was decorated with almost as much ink as the page. Lesson #2: use permanent ink if you’re going to layer it over a non-porous surface (created by the gesso). This, too, is a work in progress because I have to get some fixative before anything more touches the page.

This last page (below) I really like. It should also be a work in progress but I don’t know what would be a safe next step; something that wouldn’t mess it up. Maybe it needs a photograph and border in the large open space. With a bit more experience perhaps I’ll have more ideas. The Thank-you note was a failed experiment, and rather than throw it away I decided to use it. Starting Tuesday I’ll have the pleasure of indulging this pastime with a weekly, 3-hour class in mixed media. I can hardly wait!


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