Long winding six-lane expressways, gigantic cars hats and houses, planes and sunsets extending into the endless horizon make everything seem larger than life in Dallas, Texas.
I recently spent two weeks in Dallas working on a wonderful (and challenging) project: silk-screening over 200 meters of fabric that will become the costumes for Nacho Duato’s Duende choreography in Basel (Switzerland) and Saint Petersburg (Russia).
The project was to reproduce the look and feel that my mother, Susan, had given the costumes when she originally designed and produced them over ten years ago. Based on her print design, we were to individually silkscreen with four different colors the silks and knits.
The process of hand silkscreening is long and tedious — especially if different screens and colors are used — and yet very mechanical. First, a wooden frame is assembled and mesh fabric stretched and stapled onto it. The second step is to draw the design with and emulsion/activator in its negative form (you leave blank where you want the ink to transfer onto the fabric). There are other ways to make a homemade silkscreen, here I found a useful website.
Once the screens were ready — we made two identical in case of any mishaps — we prepared and tested all the colors on each fabric.
Each silk and knit was to have the same screen printed in four different colors. The base screen for all of them was black, which was also the messiest. The inks were mixed with a polymer that made the inks resistant to the washing and wearing they are ultimately designed for.
Shezi was my invaluable and indispensable aide in this project, without whom this would not have been possible — or as much fun.
We hung the fabrics to dry on the porch of my mother’s apartment. The patient neighbours were deprived of a clear stairway for a week.
After the periwinkle, bronze, silver and/or antique gold were screened on all the fabrics, it was time to dry and wash them all. Since we had over 200 meters of fabrics, we took them to the local Wash’n Dry — for the complete Dallas experience. It took four dryers and three industrial sized washing machines to completely set and dry the inks.
The finished fabrics are now finally ready to ship to Basel and St. Petersburg. Susan, Jacopo and I look forward to attending the Russian début of the Duende ballet in March!
Keep posted to see how the costumes look.