December 6th, 2016
June 11th, 2014
As guest speaker for the Edisto Island Preservation Alliance Annual Meeting, I put up a one-day exhibit for my talk “Mary Edna Fraser, Artist, Environmentalist” on November 6th, 2016. Cecelia Dailey helped hang the batiks in their beautiful old barn. What a wonderful group of environmentally-minded folks gathered to continue conservation of the ACE Basin!
August 22nd, 2011
Silk & Glass
Mendocino Art Center
45200 Little Lake Street, Mendocino, CA
June 4 – July 9, 2014
Saturday Reception: June 14, 5-8 pm
Homage to Hokusai II, batik on silk, 53″ x 43″ and L.A. Flight, batik on silk, 48″ x 52″, are two of five pieces selected for this invitational exhibition.
Celie and I are working on a book titled “The Batik Art of Mary Edna Fraser” with University of South Carolina Press. We hope to give a workshop in Mendocino when the book is published. I wish I could attend the opening this Saturday.
L.A. Flight, batik on silk, 48″ x 52″
Homage to Hokusai II, batik on silk, 53″ x 43″
June 3rd, 2011
Architect Glenn Keyes and his wife Cyndy commissioned a diptych batik of kimono silk for the home. Glenn designed the lovely space. The batik was requested to be rendered in blues, greys, tans, greens, some yellow, red, purple, and copper with no pinks or oranges to accommodate the space. I took lots of photographs of their natural surroundings and was able to perceive the way this landscape would look as if from the air. The photographs led me in both color way and design. I had full freedom to create beautiful art as the clients trusted me. We were both totally happy with the installation. I waxed out a moon behind a dense rainfall, inspired by the batik “Rainy Night” that the Keyes saw hanging in my studio.
Rainy Night Whispering Marsh
May 6th, 2011
Here a few shots of the elegant new Kimono Silks up at 214 King Street (The Real Estate Studio) through June 21st. Thank you to all who came out to the opening. We had a great crowd of folks actively observing and talking about the art. You can attend the show Monday-Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 12-5.
March 18th, 2011
Contemporary master Mary Edna Fraser works in the ancient medium of batik, a wax resist method of dyeing cloth. Her new series on narrow vintage kimono silk is intimate in scale. Drawing from the visual memory of her aerial perspective, the art depicts a unique floating world.
Granted by the South Carolina Arts Commission & National Endowment for the Arts
February 1st, 2011
Mary Edna just completed her depiction of Hokusai’s great oceanic wave. She will be installing this work and other large-scale batiks on silk at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC as a preview for the upcoming comprehensive exhibition, Our Expanding Oceans. In collaboration with geologist Orrin H. Pilkey, the show will examine the content of their book, Global Climate Change: A Primer, Duke University Press, to be published in June.
Our Expanding Oceans
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
June 25 – November 6, 2011
Preview beginning March 23, 2011
Homage to Hokusai II, batik on silk, 53 x 43 inches
“Many of my batiks are prayer flags and Homage to Hokusai II is dedicated to those in the wake of the Japanese tsunami.” -Mary Edna Fraser
January 27th, 2011
Dana Downs’ The Howling Moon is a favorite at the Fraser studio–always an album that beacons a repeat. Mary Edna completes the final waxing and dyeing of her moonscape reflected on water while listening to Dana’s unreleased southern folk opera. We can’t help but sing along as Dana’s sweet somber tone fills us with the kind of joy only found on a stormy day.
January 25th, 2011
To achieve the feeling of floating on water, Mary Edna needs to capture the ripples created in the movement of water. Horizontal lines across the work will save streaks of the lighter gray and a darker background will be added during the final dye bath.
Mary Edna carefully holds her natural fiber brush at a precise angle to achieve a desired width and quality of line. Many of her brushes are so old that she has had to cut the bristles to create a point on them again.
Working steadily with the brush, Mary Edna moves quickly with the hot wax, but slowly enough to control the medium. She often braces her body, putting all of her focus on a single movement of the brush.
The hot wax must be placed close to the batik in progress, but far enough away to avoid splatters and drips.
Seen from the bottom, the waxed colors are luminous, appearing closer to how they will look on the finished work when the wax is removed.
Mary Edna finishes dyeing this work with a final bath of dark, moonlit water. The center of the pink flowers are differentiated with a lemon yellow.
The fine detail of this work and its variation of color within a selected palette will be clear once the wax is removed.
January 24th, 2011
Mary Edna’s studio is built specifically for batik production. Protective gloves, mask, and a well-ventilated dye room are essential, because when the dyes are still in powder form, they create tiny airborne particles that are carcinogenic. Mary Edna uses state-of-the-art, fiber-reactive Proceon dyes, which react chemically with the silk to become part of the cloth. The dyes come in powder form and must be mixed with exact proportions of water, urea, calgon, baking soda, and washing soda. Any mistake in the chemistry will cause the dyes to bleed, ruining the batik.
Testing on paper towels or scraps of fabric, Mary Edna diligently works out a satisfactory color harmony, often comparing her dyes to colors in nature. A grid of test colors serves as a record of each layer of dyes used in the batik.
Mary Edna applies the liquid dyes with a brush or sponge. Details require careful control of a fine tip.
The wet dye appears very dark, almost black, but when it dries, the color will be a bright blue-green. Another dye bath will be required to achieve the contast seen here.
In general, Mary Edna works from lightest to darkest hues when dyeing a batik. Here, she applies another layer of green to sections of a leaf.
Large areas require broad strokes worked into the fabric to keep the transitions smooth. Mary Edna works quickly to fill up any area that is continuous with the section she dyes. If the dye is allowed to dry along an edge that isn’t waxed, strange lines or a mottled background may likely occur. Mary Edna expertly avoids this effect.
There are still hours of work ahead in order to bring this dye bath to a close.
After Mary Edna’s floral batik has dried, she is ready to apply the third layer of wax. The dried silk shows color as it will appear in the finished piece. By waxing them in, those hues will be saved. Darker tones that will be added during the final dyebath will dramatically change the art when complete, giving it depth and detail not yet visible.
Waxing a single, small batik can take all day to finish or even longer, depending on the intricacies of the design.
Not only are the pinks waxed over, but fine details of the chrysanthemums and leaves will be saved too.
A single drop of wax causes a dramatic change in the appearance of the work, although it does not change the color that will appear once the wax is removed. Because the wax makes color appear darker, Mary Edna holds the memory of the dried colors in her mind as she works.
After waxing in all the pink flowers, Mary Edna flips the batik and works from the backside to make sure all the wax has fully penetrated the fabric.
A little wax is added to a flower from the backside of the art so that no dye can access the fuchsia design.
Mary Edna creates a moonlit edge out of the negative space formed by a flower stem. Gray tones will be added to mute the yellow-green background in the next step of the process.