QSDS Glorious Prints

As mentioned in the last post, I spent a week in Columbus, Ohio at QSDS. This event,  held every year includes two 5-days sessions and two weekend sessions. I chose Glorious Prints (printing with thickened dyes) with Pat Pauly in the first 5-day session.

This symposium has been going on for 30 years!!! I was surprised that I had never heard about it. Luckily, a Facebook artist friend casually mentioned it on her wall last year, and I immediately checked out the website. I asked Connie if she’d like to join me. After spending some time with the schedule, we both decided on the same class. Not that the other classes didn’t sound good, but this one just jumped out at me. The Glorious Prints class would be fun, and I’ve always wanted to take a class from Pat.

As the conference dates grew closer I again looked at the classes, and wondered if I had signed up for the wrong one. It’s funny. When I initially looked at the classes I thought the other ones would be too much work. Several of them really sounded interesting now.  I  started questioning why I was taking a printing class. I’ve been there, done that. What could I learn? but then I decided that if I learned just one thing, it was well worth the time and expense.

Before showing you pictures of the class, I have to say QSDS puts on a great conference. Tracy Rieger organizes this huge event. She also writes a blog about the upcoming QSDS teachers. They aren’t listed yet, but if you are at all interested in taking a class from Pat Pauly, she’ll be teaching again next year. Check out Tracy’s blog here.

As for the lodging, the dorms were great although cold and no way to control individual rooms or suites. I was fine though since I always take a sweater with me.

You can eat at several places downtown, but nothing beats eating close by. (You can bring your own food and cook it in the microwave in the community room on your floor.) The dining hall located just a short walk from the dorm, offered a variety of food, buffet style every meal. Also they listed the calorie count on almost every meal item. In addition to regular fast food (hamburgers, french fries, etc.) which I don’t eat, they always had a nice salad bar and then a hot bar which changed every day. I loved the variety of their food and also the staples. It was nice that I could eat healthy or not.  Buying a meal ticket made the meals more affordable. Food is pretty important to me since I need to watch what I eat, and that problem was eliminated. Also, many of the teachers and students eat in the diningroom, so it gives you a chance to meet the other artists.

Our class was the only class located in a different building. We were located about a block away from the dorm in the wet studios building where most of the rooms have large tables and a sink with concrete floors.

There were activities every evening or we could go back to the classroom and print until the wee hours (not us!).

Security is very important on campus. When we checked into our rooms we were given a room key and a card which gave us access to all of the buildings that were always locked. This gave us the option too that if we chose to work late at night, we could get into the classroom. They stressed that we needed to make sure there were always two of us in a classroom at night, and if we wanted an escort back to the dorm to just call Security. Everyone on campus from the students who checked us in the dorm to maintenance staff and food service, were all friendly and helpful. What a wonderful place to stay and create! So if you are looking for a week or weekend away, check out QSDS website for next years’ classes.

Back to the class. This class was all about printing on fabric with thickened dyes. My major complaint with the class was that there were 20 students in three classrooms. Because of this it was hard for Pat to spend much time in every room. It was also hard to really get to know the other students and to see their work. I would recommend fewer students, even just having 16 with two rooms next to each other would have been better.

Here is how the day went. Every morning we’d break at 10 am to watch Pat demo something new.


We’d then go back to our rooms, print until lunch. When we returned from lunch we’d again meet around 1:30 for another lesson or discussion before resuming our printing.

After we would finish a print, we’d lay it on the floor, or hang it up in the “drying” room.

The next day, a group of us would wash them out and they’d be ready to be ironed and taken home. If we have a few that we were not finished with, or when it got closer to the end of the week, in the morning we’d hang the previous day’s work on our boards.

As I mentioned, Pat showed us a variety of techniques. Here I am creating a monoprint. To make this piece, you spread the thickened dye on the plastic table surface. Using a scraper or any tool or even your gloved hand, (I used a cake decorating tool and a stencil), draw a design. Once you’re happy with the design, lay the fabric on top of the design, and smooth it down to transfer the dye to the cloth. I let this piece dry. On the next day I covered the fabric with green dye.


Here are the artists in our classroom. (Back row: Lisa Heller, Connie Walts, Susan Stevenson, Me, Sheila Lynch, and Jackie Stoaks. Front row: Eleanor Levie and Ellen Wong)

On Friday we walked around the classrooms, and Pat talked about some of our finished work. Eleanor shot this photo of me with Pat talking to the group about one of my pieces.

I printed 15 yards. Here are pictures of a few of them. If you want to take a closer look, click on a picture.

When we were cleaning up, the sink was so pretty that I had to take a picture.

Just a few things about this week’s creative venture. I found that it took me until Thursday to really feel good about my printing. Prior to that day I felt like I was just slinging dye on the fabric and hoping for something worthwhile. Several of us wondered when we’d see  a “glorious print!” For some reason, on that day, all of a sudden I started to loosen up and really felt good about my work. Did I like everything I printed? No, but I felt I was making progress. However, this week as I was finally getting around to ironing the fabric, I found that several of the pieces I created early on are some of my best! And the one I kept saying was my favorite, really isn’t!

Pat pushed us to  “go big”  – not just the size of the fabric – but the design. I’m not sure I accomplished that, but I made a start. When we moved from printing half yard pieces to full yards, I found it much easier and less confining.

It was a good class. It was work, but it also was fun. Standing on a concrete floor all day for five-days was tiring, but with wearing my walking shoes, my back didn’t bother me until the end. If I did this again I’d take one of my mats to stand on.

In the class I did stretch myself. I was uncomfortable at times. Unlike some classes I’ve taken in the past where I might get intimidated because of all of the other artists’ beautiful pieces, I was happy just to create and work on my own. My interpretation of Pat’s goal for us was to get out of our comfort zone and think big. I went into this class without high expectations, only wanting to have a week of creative fun, and to be more comfortable with layering. I accomplished that and much, much more.

What will I do with all of this fabric? I don’t know. Of course, it can be cut up. I’d love to use a couple of the pieces as whole cloth quilts, but just not sure. I do see myself working more with thickened dyes and I absolutely loved the monoprinting. I had tried that at home before, but not that large. I also loved that screen printed piece with the flowers and want to try that again. I plan to enlarge several of my stencils. I had brought with me two of my mandala stencils to use, and when Pat came around the last day and I showed her my stencils, she said they needed to be bigger and I agreed!!!

It was fun and a great way to re-energize my art. Where I take it from here, we’ll see!! Have a great week. I’m linking this post with Off The Wall Friday. Check out other inspiration there.