Practical Exercise 2 – Clothing with Liquids


  •  Everyday foodstuffs including tea, coffee, soup, fruit juices and chocolate
  •  Daler Rowney canvas panel
  •  White cotton t-short
  •  Golden Mediums GAC – 400 fabric glue
  •  Beakers
  •  Size: 25.4 x 20.3 cm (10” x 8”)


What I wanted to explore with this exercise is the sense of lack of control and vulnerability that comes with old age. Some of this arises from being increasing frailty and ill health or from feeling dependent on others. My aim was to focus on the difficulty of feeding yourself, simple things like not being able to grip a cup or lift food to your mouth and having to depend on family or carers to help to feed you and clean your hands and clothes.

Session 1

This exercise was developed after working for several days exploring the stains produced by particular foodstuffs. This approach was influenced by the work of Ed Ruscha particularly his experimentation with everyday liquids and foodstuffs and the use of different materials as supports.

For this exercise I decided to focus on using liquids only, rather than other foodstuffs, and to use those which had created the best effects from my initial exploration of stains on canvas, watercolour paper and material. These were liquids such as tea, coffee and fruit juices which tended to show depth of colour, crisp edges or create watermarks if applied wet-on-wet.

Cotton t-shirt stiffened with fabric glue

In keeping with the focus on ageing I wanted to try and replicate the idea of food spilling onto clothes so I decided to use a white t-shirt as the ‘canvas’ and to try and have this looking rumpled, like clothing that is being worn. To do this I soaked the material using textile glue and fixed this to a canvas panel for support. Before the glue dried I created creases in the fabric to try and recreate the idea of clothing been worn. Once dried the material had a sculptural quality making it look different depending on the level and angle of light upon it.

Session 2

Cotton t-shirt with tea and coffee stains

In the second session I used plastic beakers, similar to those used in care homes which have handles to help with gripping the cup, and used a spilling movement to splash coffee onto material. The coffee dried well leaving crisp edges. The tea dried to a subtler shade, soaking more into the material at the edges.

Session 3

At this point I felt I my idea was going adrift. I added additional layers of juice, coffee and tea but the material was too absorbent and the stains just got darker without creating any additional texture or interest.

On Reflection

  • This exercise has worked to a point. I would like to experiment more with the sculptural quality of the cloth/glue mix as this changes appearance when viewed in different lights.
  • Consider using unstretched canvas with textile glue to mimic clothing. In initial exploration the stains on canvas had been stronger and crisper and had created interesting shapes.
  • Explore how this type of work would look on a larger scale and under different light conditions.


Related Posts

Practical Exercise 1 – Stains  – Initial Exploration –

Practical Exercise 3 – Clothing with Foodstuffs  –

Ed Ruscha – Research Notes –