Composing artwork at the Chinese American Service League, in a Woman Made Gallery/20 Neighborhoods Project Class.

Composing artwork at the Chinese American Service League, in a Woman Made Gallery/20 Neighborhoods Project Class.

Here’s a picture from today’s workshop at CASL (Chinese American Service League). We’ve been meeting for three weeks and today all the pieces came together.

We started with a photo walk through Chicago’s Chinatown, where we took photos to discover the colors of Chinatown, to inspire our project. We looked at my recent place-based color study of Ox-Bow. You can click through to see the post on that here, but here’s a mini of it so you can do that later.

Color Study 1, Ox-Bow, by Elaine Luther

Color Study 1, Ox-Bow, by Elaine Luther

Then the ladies made collages using their photos — they made three poster sized ones! Next we began doing batik. We painted on the wax with paintbrushes and the next class session, painted on the dye. And, we did flower pounding! So much fun! Try it if you haven’t, and pre-soak your fabric in alum for better results.

Then today, the elements came together on a 4 foot x 4 foot canvas, as the ladies came to an agreement on a composition. Then we used gel medium to attach all the fabric elements to the canvas. How much gel medium does it take to cover a 4 foot square canvas? Almost 16 ounces, it turns out!

When it seemed done, the group wasn’t happy. Something wasn’t right about it, but since I don’t speak Cantonese, I didn’t know what that was. I asked the interpreter to come over. She explained that “it isn’t colorful enough.”

Well, no problem there, I pulled out the red fabric and gold lamé fabric that I’d selected just for this class, from the fabric stash at Woman Made Gallery. AH! Their eyes lit up, now we’re getting somewhere! Using terrific team work and fabric skills, they cut the fabric into perfectly straight strips, all the same width, in the air, without using a table. Not something I could do.

They gelled down strips of red fabric across the top and bottom, and gold on the sides. There! Now it looks Chinese! and more colorful! Now everyone was happy!

My hands were too covered with gel medium to use my camera, but the Woman Made Gallery photographer was on hand. Her pictures of the finished piece will probably be up soon here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.516310108456262&type=3&l=b5dfc2dc6c

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