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Surface charms 

  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Artist and author Cheryl Rezendes has used a whole fish — purchased from Foster’s Super Market and daubed with peach and lime paint — to demonstrate the traditional Japanese art of Gyotaku, or “fish rubbing,” for her new book, “Fabric Surface Design.”

    John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing
    Artist and author Cheryl Rezendes has used a whole fish — purchased from Foster’s Super Market and daubed with peach and lime paint — to demonstrate the traditional Japanese art of Gyotaku, or “fish rubbing,” for her new book, “Fabric Surface Design.”

  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Roll a paint-laden brayer over the fabric, while trying to avoid landing the brayer too suddenly on the fabric as this results in a sharp line where you make contact.

    John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing
    Roll a paint-laden brayer over the fabric, while trying to avoid landing the brayer too suddenly on the fabric as this results in a sharp line where you make contact.

  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>You can place an assortment of rubber bands on your work surface and lay <br/>your fabric on top of it. Remember to tape down the fabric.<br/>

    John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing
    You can place an assortment of rubber bands on your work surface and lay
    your fabric on top of it. Remember to tape down the fabric.

  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Shaving cream can be used as a marbling base for printing on fabric.

    John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing
    Shaving cream can be used as a marbling base for printing on fabric.

  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Rezendes shows readers how to use the techniques of making a gelatin print.

    John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing
    Rezendes shows readers how to use the techniques of making a gelatin print.

  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Rezendes’ book also explores how to do digital image transfers onto fabric.

    John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing
    Rezendes’ book also explores how to do digital image transfers onto fabric.

  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Artist and author Cheryl Rezendes has used a whole fish — purchased from Foster’s Super Market and daubed with peach and lime paint — to demonstrate the traditional Japanese art of Gyotaku, or “fish rubbing,” for her new book, “Fabric Surface Design.”
  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Roll a paint-laden brayer over the fabric, while trying to avoid landing the brayer too suddenly on the fabric as this results in a sharp line where you make contact.
  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>You can place an assortment of rubber bands on your work surface and lay <br/>your fabric on top of it. Remember to tape down the fabric.<br/>
  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Shaving cream can be used as a marbling base for printing on fabric.
  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Rezendes shows readers how to use the techniques of making a gelatin print.
  • John Polak photo courtesy of Storey Publishing<br/>Rezendes’ book also explores how to do digital image transfers onto fabric.

There is no object too lowly for use as a tool in the textile design artwork of Cheryl Rezendes.

Flower petals and leaves, potato mashers and bent forks, molded plastic cookie packaging and bubble wrap — all have their place alongside the paint brushes, linoleum stamps and paint sticks that Rezendes uses to create one-of-a-kind garments and fabric design.

Rezendes has even used a whole fish — purchased from Foster’s Super Market and daubed with peach and lime paint — to demonstrate the traditional Japanese art of Gyotaku or “fish rubbing” for her new book, “Fabric Surface Design” (Storey Publishing, $29.95).

According to Rezendes, Gyotaku was originally developed by Japanese fishermen to record the size of trophy catches. Later, it was used as an educational tool, for marine biology, before becoming an art in its own right.

“Fabric Surface Design” lays out fabric-painting techniques that are doable for people with no textile design experience as well as for seasoned fiber artists.

Produced by Storey Publishing in North Adams, and color-coded by chapter, the book also features profiles and examples of the work of many fiber artists from around the country.

“The book was a three-year project, from start to finish,” says Rezendes, who lives in Bernardston. “One of the fun things of the book was to work with other people. ... I invited all these other artists to be in it. I wanted to show that it wasn’t all about me and my work.”

Rezendes, who teaches textile dyeing and painting techniques throughout the Pioneer Valley and beyond, focuses just on fabric painting in this book. She says that using paint on textiles rather than dyes is easier to work with.

“There are no complicated recipes to follow and no toxic chemicals or fumes to worry about,” Rezendes writes in her book. “Paints are quick and easy to set up. Cleanup is also a breeze, becaue it can be done simply with soap and water. If your studio is the family kitchen table, and your time frame is the length of your youngest child’s afternoon nap ... then paint is the way to go.”

Rezendes recommends using undyed natural fibers that can be tacked to a handmade, foam-backed plywood frame — much the way an artist’s canvas is mounted on a frame. She shows how to make a frame in the book.

When asked if laying that first brush of paint onto that framed white fabric is intimidating, Rezendes says the way to get over fear of ruining the cloth is to have a plentiful supply.

“I tell my students you learn an awful lot more from your mistakes than you do from your sucesses,” she said.

Rezendes was born in Connecticut and was trained as a painter at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

“I always thought of myself as an artist — even when I was little,” she said. “There was never any question, in my mind, of ‘what did I want to be’ when I grew up.”

Rezendes also loved to sew, from childhood on, and these two loves — painting and sewing — have often been intertwined in her career.

After graduating from the museum school, Rezendes made her living from her sewing, she said.

“For a long time, in the (Pioneer Valley), I was known for restoring antique wedding gowns,” said Rezendes. “I worked with Rosemary Caine, making and designing weddings gowns. I had my own clients. Most women wanting to wear their mothers’ wedding gowns were bigger (than the gowns), so it was a matter of matching fabrics and laces with what was on the original gown,” she explained.

Then Rezendes decided to leave alterations and wedding dresses behind to produce paintings and collage art.

”I had a number of gallery shows,” she said. “But — much to my surprise, I missed fiber.”

When the now-defunct Fiber Arts Center of Amherst opened in 2001, to showcase textile arts, Rezendes was re-inspired to return to fabric. She said she started making her own clothing out of hand-dyed or hand-printed fabrics.

“I’m still a painter, it’s just that I’m painting on fabric instead of canvas,” she said.

Rezendes went on to open her own Fiber Arts Studio, called CherScapes, in Greenfield, which offered many textile arts courses before it closed.

Textile artist and “Kangaroo Dyer” yarn producer Gail Callahan of Greenfield taught there, and introduced Rezendes to Callahan’s publisher, Gwen Steege of Storey Publishing.

Rezendes said the book features at least 80 design techniques and is being used as a reference book by some. “It’s in the Chicago Art Institute, so it’s making its way into some very important places,” she said.

Techniques covered in this book include batik, marbeling, how to prepare a newspaper or freezer-paper “mask” for silk-screen printing, and printing with plants. There is also “sun printing” — in which a sheet of damp, painted fabric is placed in direct sunlight, with stencils and other objects on top of the fabric. As the fabric dries out, the sun-exposed part of the fabric will have a deeper, brighter level of color than the covered fabric has.

The book also talks about working with “resists,” which are substances that block absorption of paint — much the way masking tape keeps paint off certain surfaces when you paint a room in your home.

Rezendes also talks about image transfer techniques, which makes it possible to print photographic images onto cloth with an inkjet or laser printer.

Rezendes says she would like to write a sequel, although she hasn’t yet decided what to write about.

Meanwhile, Rezendes, who wrote an arts column for The Recorder for several years, is now writing for “Stitch it Today” and “Paint it Today” magazines.

This summer, Rezendes taught fabric-printing for quilt-makers at Notion to Quilt in Shelburne. She will be teaching “batik basics with soy wax and textile paints” at Harrisville Designs in Harrisville, N.H. Oct. 19 through 20. Also, Rezendes offers semi-private study group sessions at her home-based studio, with the area of study based on what the students want to learn. If interested, call her at 413-522-3100, or email her at:

rezendescheryl@gmail.com

She is also creating new fiber art and “wearable-art” clothing, which she sells online, through the Etsy website. She continues to teach classes throughout New England and locally at Notion to Quilt in Shelburne.

Her book is available at Notion to Quilt and at World Eye Bookshop.

Rezendes also blogs about fiber art from her website:

www.cherylrezendes.com

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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