Natalie Stopka

June 10, 2015

new suminagashi scarves

Filed under: goings-on,marbling,textiles — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 12.23 pm

suminagashi marbled scarf xxiv

A number of new suminagashi marbled scarves are now available in the shop! Many of these received experimental techniques in their creation, resulting in an unusual array of form and line quality. The scarves are printed on a diaphanous silk/cotton blend, and some have been naturally dyed in subtle base tones. Each is a unique, permanent monoprint created by hand. Find them all here.

suminagashi marbled scarf xxiv

suminagashi marbled scarf xvii

suminagashi marbled scarf xv

May 20, 2015

rebound: The Plant-Lore and Garden-Craft of Shakespeare

Filed under: binding,goings-on,textiles — Tags: , , , , , — Natalie @ 8.47 am

rebinding: the plant-lore and graden-craft of shakespeare

I found this second edition of the Rev. Henry N. Ellacombe’s The Plant-Lore and Garden-Craft of Shakespeare, published in 1884, fallen to pieces at Mercer Street Books & Records. I took it home with me, immediately determined to design a new binding for it. Something to save it from further damage and do justice to this wonderful tome.

rebinding: the plant-lore and graden-craft of shakespeare

Admirers of Shakespeare may already be familiar with the Reverend Ellacombe’s work, as well as the many other books on Shakespeare’s use of gardens and wildflowers in his writing. The text can be read in its entirety here, and the beautifully illustrated third edition can be viewed here – as well as Ellacombe’s argument for Shakespeare as an Angler.

rebinding: the plant-lore and graden-craft of shakespeare

The book was in lousy but not terrible shape when I acquired it. I purchased a french edition of Madame Bovary along with it, which is also destined for rebinding but turned out to be in somewhat poorer condition and is still awaiting my attention. I simply disassembled and re-sewed Ellacombe’s work, and replaced the tattered pasted-on headbands with hand sewn silk ones. The very vast majority of my work went into the embroidered cover.

rebinding: the plant-lore and graden-craft of shakespeare

I laid out the cover in formal symmetry as a nod to the embroidered books gaining popularity during Shakespeare’s time, as well as Elizabethan era garden design with its symmetric ‘thick-pleached alleys.’ Each quadrant depicts a plant prominent in Shakespeare’s writing (and thus Ellacombe’s) of particular symbolic meaning: honeysuckle, calendula, burdock, and rose, as well as a pansy on the spine.

The linen book cloth as well as embroidery threads and headbanding silk were each naturally dyed with plants foraged in upstate New York. These include oak and birch leaves, apple and cherry barks, and willow fronds.

rebinding: the plant-lore and graden-craft of shakespeare

rebinding: the plant-lore and graden-craft of shakespeare

A labor of love -  especially the needle weaving.

April 27, 2015


Filed under: goings-on — Tags: , , — Natalie @ 9.20 am

Erin Fletcher of Herringbone Bindery was kind enough to interview me as April’s Book Artist of the Month on her blog, Flash of the Hand. You can read the interview series here to learn more about the process behind my work, and check out the other artists and bookbinders featured in her wonderful ongoing series. Thanks Erin!

book artist of the month

April 10, 2015

natural dye workshop

Filed under: natural dyes,workshops — Tags: , , , — Natalie @ 9.46 am

Join me on May 2-3 at the Center for Book Arts for an Introduction to Natural Dyes, a weekend-long workshop for book artists and crafters to learn the fundamentals of botanical dyeing. Bring the beautiful and subtle colors of the natural world into your work with techniques for mark- and pattern-making on both paper and fabric. The questions of materials choice, mordants, and permanence will the addressed. This workshop runs just once a year, so register now!

introduction to natural dyes

April 2, 2015

suminagashi prints

Filed under: goings-on,marbling,paper — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 9.17 am

Continuing my exploratory suminagashi series, I have some new prints on paper. Like the recent fabric pieces (and don’t worry, there are more of those to come – I know some of you have been waiting), these are an experimental melding of traditional technique with some heterodox contemporary additives. The process is very unpredictable, but also freeing. It’s just what I need after a 4-month stint of intense freelancing. I am so happy to get back in my studio, with renewed focus and an ambitious list of projects.

suminagashi print: floe

suminagashi print: floe

Some of these suminagashi prints will be on view at the upcoming CBA exhibition Then & Now: Ten Years of Residencies at the Center for Book Arts, opening April 17. The show includes an impressive roster of past residents exhibiting contemporary work alongside pieces from the CBA archive created during their time in residence. It’s going to be a jam-packed show and quite the reunion!

Then & Now: Ten Years of Residencies at the Center for Book Arts

Center for Book Arts, 28 West 27th Street, 3rd floor

Opening Reception Friday, April 17th, 6-8pm

Roundtable discussions with the artists will follow on May 1, June 5, and June 19

suminagashi print: ablate

suminagashi print: vesiculate

March 21, 2015

spring workshops

Filed under: goings-on,workshops — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 11.28 am

The long list of spring workshops is now posted and open for registration! In addition, the Sewing Seeds program at TAC is now accepting applications to its summer residency. The residency is a fantastic 6-week opportunity to access local natural dyes, use the studio, and engage the community by creating site-specific work in the natural dye garden in Bushwick. What could be better?

sewing seeds: bundle dyeingimage courtesy of Sewing Seeds

March 16, 2015

marbling patterns: feather

Filed under: how-to,marbling — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 9.52 am

Now we come to some exciting compound patterns in our series of marbling pattern tutorials. These rely on a series of basic patterns repeated one after another. For the most uniform results, use a set of marbling combs and keep your hand steady, with your eyes focused on the movement of just one tine through the pattern in the vat. Of course, you can achieve similar but more organic results by drawing with a stylus. Remember, the diameter of the stylus will impact the line quality, and the spacing of the pattern at each step will influence the outcome, so feel free to play with the scale along the way. And, lastly, remember to take your paper grain into account when planning out the pattern.

The feather pattern begins with a getgel, continues with the nonpareil, and is completed with a widely-spaced getgel.

nonpareil diagramThe getgel at left is followed by the nonpareil.

feather diagramThen follows a widely-spaced getgel (about 3″), perpendicular to the nonpareil pattern.

marble pattern: feather

Having completed the getgel, the nonpareil is now drawn with a stylus or a nonpareil comb.

marble pattern: feather

Perpendicular to the nonpareil stripes, this is followed by widely spaced parallel lines.

marble pattern: feather

In the spaces between these lines, another series of parallel lines are drawn running in the opposite direction.

marble pattern: feather

And the feather pattern is complete!

March 6, 2015

marbling patterns: nonpareil

Filed under: how-to,marbling — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 8.17 am

Today our series of marbling pattern tutorials brings us to the nonpareil pattern, from the French “without equal”. Though truly the nonpareil is not one of my favorites, it is a step towards some further compound patterns whose elegant line quality depend on it. This pattern requires a nonpareil comb, whose tines have 1/8″ or 1/4″ spacing – but if, like me, you don’t have such a comb you may carefully use a stylus. This gives a looser, less static quality to the pattern.

nonpareil diagramComplete a getgel pattern (at left above), then draw a series of tightly spaced parallel lines perpendicular to it.

marbling patterns: nonpareil

The nonpareil pattern begins with a getgel, which may be repeated once or twice for finer lines. Remember before beginning to make a note of your paper grain direction, and do some strategizing so that the completed pattern will be oriented as you wish.

marbling patterns: nonpareil

Working perpendicular to the existing pattern, pass your nonpareil comb through the pattern once or draw a series of closely spaced lines with a stylus.

I did not pull a print of this pattern, but continued working on it. However, below are some lovely vintage examples of the nonpareil from the digital collection of the libraries of the University of Washington, which also illustrate the effect of pattern orientation.

19th c Nonpareil patterns



February 27, 2015

marbling patterns: waved getgel

Filed under: how-to,marbling — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 10.51 am

marble pattern: waved getgel

Continuing the marbling pattern tutorials, we next come to the waved getgel. This pattern is very similar to and begins with the getgel, only replacing the straight parallel lines with waved ones in the final step.

getgel diagramComplete the getgel pattern

waved getgel diagramRepeat the getgel, ending with a waved line


marble pattern: waved getgel

In the studio, begin by throwing down your chosen colors in a stone pattern.

marble pattern: waved getgel

Complete the getgel pattern once, as above (or twice for very fine lines).

marble pattern: waved getgel

Then, working perpendicular to the existing pattern, draw another series of parallel lines.

marble pattern: waved getgel

Moving the opposite direction, bisect those lines with a series of parallel waved lines.

marble pattern: waved getgel

And the waved getgel is complete!


February 23, 2015

marbling patterns: getgel

Filed under: how-to,marbling — Tags: , , , , , — Natalie @ 1.29 pm

There are a wide variety of formal, often combed, marbled patterns, each with its own history. I thought I’d embark on a series of posts illustrating the process of creating a few of these patterns, which are much simpler to produce than they appear. These are by no means historically accurate examples, nor an exhaustive survey  – for that I can recommend Anne Chamber’s The Practical Guide to Marbling Paper,  Iris Nevins’ Traditional Marbling, or Patty & Mimi Schleicher’s Marbled Designs: A Complete Guide to Fifty-Five Elegant Patterns.

marbling supplies

marbling supplies

A few notes on my materials and process: Many types of pigments, sizes, and surfactants are used by marblers, each according to his or her preference. I work with acrylic paints on caragheenan, using Dawn or Photo-flow as needed. I find that an ice cube tray makes a perfectly-sized palette, and like glass pipettes rather than disposable ones.

Uniformly repeating patterns rely on a variety of rakes or combs with evenly spaced tines, ranging from 1/8″ to 1 1/2″ apart. I often prefer to hand draw the pattern with a stylus, which gives a less static appearance (and is freeing!). The diameter of the stylus does impact the line quality, while the distance between the lines drawn will have a marked impact on the scale of the finished pattern. If you are marbling paper destined for bookbinding, make a note of the grain direction before beginning so you can plan the direction of the pattern accordingly.

getgel pattern

One of the primary marbled patterns is the getgel, from the Turkish ‘go and come’. Pictured above in an example created with a stylus. While fetching in its own right, the getgel is also the foundation for many other combed patterns. It is simply a series of parallel lines, bisected by a series of parallel lines running in the opposite direction. The getgel pattern can then be repeated at right angles to the first pass, which will create finer, more delicate lines of color.

getgel diagramTwo sets of  parallel lines completes the getgel pattern

getgel diagramThe getgel can be repeated perpendicular to the existing pattern

In the studio the getgel pattern begins by throwing down a few colors, each addition driving the prior color into dense veins.

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

Followed by the combing process – a little shaky this morning.

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

The getgel is now complete, but I’d like to repeat it for finer lines and more uniform color dispersal.

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

And there you have it, the getgel pattern!


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