Jo Griffith is an extremely talented textile artist with the wealth of a career in scientific illustration.
How do you describe yourself as an artist? I have been creating art since acquiring my first box of crayons and my art has been evolving ever since. The more art I produce, the more my art changes. Because of this, my art has traversed most of the fiber arts, almost all arts involving water media and even some 3-D constructions.
Describe the path you have taken to develop your art. My professional life has taken many paths and after more than 35 years as a Scientific and Technical Illustrator, I am now in partial retirement and able to spend considerably more time on my own art. Surprisingly, science seems to be finding its way back into my art on a regular basis. Thankfully, I do not have to listen to any outside sources advising me that what I have just drawn is not correct. I am firmly rooted in all of the technical aspects of whatever media I use and because of that, I am very much aware that the journey is the objective. I enjoy the process!
Please describe your work with discharging color from fabric and textiles. I am currently very interested in various forms of discharge, sun printing and over printing in an effort to achieve transparency. The discharge I am presently involved in uses straight bleach, Soft Scrub, toilet bowl cleaner, bleach pens, generic cleaner with bleach. My best tidbit of information is that bleach has a shelf life of 6 months. For most home cleaning routines (which I don’t do) this is OK. For art projects, this can be disappointing at best. When beginning a project, I will purchase all new products. Bleach and bleach products DO NOT work on silk! An expensive lesson. All blacks do not discharge the same. Even if you buy the same product, the dye lot will probably yield different results. Always test.
I frequently begin with a sketch of the art work and then piece the entire top with a combination of solid and batik fabrics, keeping in mind the way each piece discharges. I keep a sample of how each of my fabrics discharge safety pinned to the fabric. I cut masks from Freezer Paper for the design I’m developing. I use whatever bleach product would work for the effect I want. There are usually multiple discharge sessions, using different procedures, and rinsing to stop the bleach action (Anti-Chlor can be used). The fabric then needs to be dried and ironed/pressed before the next step. Granted, piecing/sewing before discharging can sometimes be disastrous, but I have been able to turn most into a creative variance.
All processes I have described are for cotton fabric. I have not journeyed into the wonderful world of Thiox, Discharge Paste or Decolourant. I always look for classes using these processes.
What inspires you? There are certain images that almost always inspire me when I see them. Those are shadows, transparencies, reflections and refractions. These usually invoke a response in the form of a question: How can I recreate that in fabric or on paper?
One of the quotes that seem to keep finding its way into my psyche (and my sketchbooks) is by Chuck Close: Inspiration is for amateurs. Professionals show up and do their work.
Do you teach? I do not teach, instead I seem to be a professional student. I enjoy all classes and workshops. Sometimes I am looking for a particular skill but at this point in my creative life, I am mostly looking for different forms of surface design.