This scarf depicts the high-energy Painted Redstart, a small bird found in southeast Arizona. While on a hike in Madera Canyon with my husband, we found ourselves suddenly surrounded by a flock of active birds. The chipping and twittering filled the air. Among the flock of birds were several redstarts feeding recently fledged young. They landed on branches within just a few feet of us, flashing their scarlet bellies and fanning their white edged tails. This magical experience in particular inspired this scarf.
The scarf chosen for this piece is a 15"x60" stone wash crepe de chine, which is heavier and slightly textured. To prepare for painting, the scarf is first stretched out, in this case using foam board and pearl head pins. Then resist is applied. Resist can be used to define spaces where the artist wishes to keep colors separate, but it also can be used to "draw". In this case, black resist lines served to outline the shapes of the redstarts, and white/red resist used to detail fanciful leaves and branches.
Black dye is applied to the redstarts first, and then to the background.
The next step is perhaps the most important! Without it, all the dyes would bleed out when washed. Steaming is a process by which the dyes are fixed to the fabric. To steam, I use a tamale cooker with a shelf. The scarves are wrapped in an old sheet surrounded by aluminum foil. I like to call these "scarf burritos" and they hang around the house for a few days until I have enough collected for a steaming session. When the time comes, I put the scarf burritos in the tamale cooker, which is covered with a towel and lid, and allow it to steam 3-4 hours. After this, the scarves are washed, ironed, and ready to go.