melissa matson
artisan-dyed fabrics and garments

melissa in the studio

Photographer Adam Fenster (University of Rochester) visited my Honeoye Falls studio in the fall of 2016 to capture some images for use in an article about the Memorial Art Gallery's "Hidden Passions" lecture series, on which I appeared in November 2016. He was able to document the various stages of creating a fabric: I start with plain, white fabrics (silk, linen, rayon, tencel) and discover a path through various techniques - letting the fabric's personality unfold as we go. These photos show my print table (4'x8' sheet of plexiglass atop a large table), which is my favorite tool for creating the improvisational monoprints used in most of my fabrics. I also use screen-printing techniques; painting with the dye; small plexiglass monoprints; over-dyeing; wax and flour-paste resists. 
Preparing for a monoprint: Applying thickened dye, in spooned blobs, to the plexiglass surface. First crimson blobs, which are spread with my palm or fingers; then applying gold blobs in the same manner.
Creating script / handwriting in the spread dyes - large gestures. Also I use a grout-spreader to make comb-like lines.
Flipping the fabric onto the plexiglass - the silk already has been relief-printed with pine needles (pine needles scattered on the plexiglass; fabric laid gently on top; thickened dye rolled over the top via paint roller - one layer of black, one layer of brown).
Smoothing the fabric into the dye, to capture as much color and pattern as possible.
A close-up of the fabric, with the pine-needle marks and the crimson and gold monoprint.
Filling in some "blank" areas with partial screen printing - this particular screen creates a script image (created by writing with glue on the back of the screen - which dries and acts as a resist to the dye). I use an expired plastic gift card to apply different colors of dye in smaller areas, turning the screen frequently to avoid a discernible repeat in the pattern.
Adding a layer of dye-painting, where streaks of blue thickened dye (thrown from a spoon) are spread across the fabric with a plastic gift card (expired!).
Filling the fabric with more dye-painting, using all three of my colors (red, gold, blue) - allowing the colors to overlap and mix in some places, staying independent in others.
Holding the fabric up to the light as it approaches completion.