December 26 (detail)

December 26 (detail)

A Grandmother Spins Yarns


Fay Stanford is an artist in suburban Philadelphia who prints small editions of woodcuts on cotton fabrics and sews them into banners. Woodcut, an ancient craft, makes a powerful visual statement — bold, vivid and clean.

Stanford started printing on cloth when the demands of framing paper prints for a show became oppressive and expensive. She is a story teller using the events in her own life as a template. They run the gamut from hanging laundry on a sunny day to watching her parents age and die. She volunteers in a wildlife rehab clinic and swims in the local public pool. These everyday adventures are all grist for her mill.



The process is low tech at its finest. Stanford cuts away the surface of the block so that those parts of the surface do not print. The parts left will be printed. The  press is her feet and an old wooden spoon. 

The last step is sewing the image onto carefully chosen fabric which provides a setting, structure, and a mechanism for hanging. A year may pass between the inception and the completion of a project because Stanford may work on as many as eight blocks at a time.



Monotypes are improvisational sketches lifted off the inking plate onto a sheet of paper — a quick scribble that picks up ink which has been rolled onto a piece of glass. Each  is unique. Some have watercolor added when they dry. Monotypes use a different part of the brain than the slow, meditative processes embedded in woodcut making. The balance between these two printmaking techniques provides a satisfying way to work.