Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rust dyeing.

I've been reminded that today is 19/6/19 and that I should post.

Yesterday I went to the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria (not to be confused with the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria) to our monthly play day. The demonstration was of rust dyeing.
I took along some old rusted nails, a woodworking clamp, some other bits and pieces and some powdered rust that was in the containers.

We were told to bring a spray bottle with half and half water and vinegar but I only put the vinegar in because I could fill it with water when I got there. However, our demonstrators had done research from various sources and concluded that you could use pure vinegar if you preferred. So I did, just to see what would happen.

We dampened the fabric, put some rusty items on it, rolled it over, put more rusty items on it, rolled it over, etc. Then tied it with string. I sprayed it again to make sure it was damp all over.

The pieces of fabric were natural - cotton and silk, prepared for dye (washed to get the sizing off).

The fabric was then put into ziplock bags and left to do its thing.

It was recommended that we should keep the bag warm and occasionally open it to let air in because rusting happens well with oxygen.

I brought it home and put it on top of the heating vent, the current weather not being conducive to good brewing of the rust.

It was recommended that we leave it for several days but I could see that it was going well - and I was impatient. (After all, it is the 19th of the 19th!)

So here it is.
You can see some of the nail impressions, the screw part of the clamp, etc.

The fabric is actually a little darker than the images show. Some of the dye ran out when I rinsed it but not much.

Not sure what I will use the fabric for as the pieces are only very small. But now I know I can easily make more to go with them. So I'll put them aside for the time being and let ideas brew - a bit like the rust did.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A new way to transfer images - new for me.

I recently was inspired by a friend who had been to a paper workshop in which she used Cirtasolv to dissolve the inks on old National Geographic magazines to produce some lovely new papers.

It only seems to work on National Geographic papers. Well, she did get a bit of movement with an old BOM weather calendar, but it wasn't as good as the National Geographic.

I had a look online when I got home and found that Citrasolv has a link dedicated to using its cleaning product for art!
Having watched a few videos, it seems that National Geographic magazine has clay used in the printing process (or the paper itself?) and that might be what makes the difference.

I had some Orange Power solvent and thought I would give that a try but it didn't seem to work. I didn't have much and it was old, so it might be worth trying again at another time.

Then, as I was reading about these cleaning products, I thought: eucalyptus oil does that cleaning too.It probably came to me as I have been using it recently for my heavy head cold (it clears the sinuses wonderfully, especially if you put a few drops into steaming water, put a towel over your head and inhale - works wonders, keep a hanky nearby).

So, having read the other product information sites, I had a photo printed on a laser printer. The sites say that inkjet won't work.

I washed some cotton, to make sure the sizing was gone, and tried it.
I put the photo face down and taped it with masking tape around the edges, to make sure it would not move around.

Then I gently brushed on the oil. The paper instantly became transparent.
I rubbed it gently with the back of a teaspoon for a little while - not long at all.

Peeking to see if was working. 

The image has transferred. The printout is still not too bad either but I think I got all the transfer I was going to get.

I have rinsed and ironed it and nothing seemed to come off it. As it is only going to be an experimental wall hanging piece, I didn't give it a thorough testing of fastness.

I put cotton batting behind it, into a hoop,  and used free motion sewing to highlight the different areas.

I cut the batting away to the edge of the image and then wrapped the sides around some mount board.

There was a little bit of frayed cotton under the fabric when I did the transfer and it is clearly visible so I will have to be more careful if I do another.

The piece is for my machine embroidery group at the EGV. Our monthly theme this year is Farmyard. This month's topic was farmer or farm worker, neither of which enthused me. Then I was browsing my photos and came across this one of a bee and the sunflower in our backyard.

The bee is doing the pollinating - a worker. What would we do without them??

Friday, May 31, 2019

Another attempt at a teapot

Well, the last teapot wasn't that successful so I decided to try again.
This version is slightly larger than the previous one.

I changed a few things, one being using some stiff interfacing as well as the two layers of soft felt.

It has been moderately successful. I haven't finished the teapot yet so will hold off on judgement, but the sewing has meant that some bends happened where I sewed, rather than a natural curve. This is really obvious in the handle but I will have a go at doing something about that when I have done the rest.

I also cut off the interfacing where the bends were going to be which worked well - so far.

I decided to try putting it together in a different order also.
I put the handle, the spout and the lid on the central piece before doing anything else.

I have sewn one side on. That is enough for tonight.

So far, it is less twisted than the previous attempt although it is not perfect - but who wants perfection??

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Marathon effort for a prototype

I have been trying to work on a fabric teapot. Stonehouse Gallery is having an exhibition and called for expressions of interest.
That should be interesting, I thought.
Yes, it has been interesting, challenging, time-consuming, frustrating and generally hard to do!

However, I have been extremely (!) patient and made my teapot, pulled it apart, remade parts of it, pulled it apart, remade parts of it, pulled it apart - at least 4 times.

Now I have finished, not because it is perfect but because it is as good as I can make it. It is still skewiff but I simply cannot face trying to fix it anymore.
It is ok - not great but ok.

I will put it aside and consider what I have learnt from it and, maybe, try to make another.

I used some stiffener that you buy to put into handbags. I can't remember what it is called but it is felt-like. I had some fabric that I sewed onto it. Then I looked online and found a Claris Cliffe teapot that I thought I should be able to adapt to make stand up. It has a flat bottom, is not round and 'should' be easy to make a template for.

Well, it sort of worked. But I hadn't realised how differently cardboard templates would behave from fabric and felt - the dimensions are different, for starters. And the thickness is different. But fabric is a bit forgiving and can be stretched and pulled, to a degree.

So I have learnt that my original design was ok but needed adaptation. Now I just have to hope I can remember what was adapted and how. I didn't take notes, there was too much changing going on. I have taken photos, so they may be of use. I hope so - if I decide to try again.

Part of the problem with it is that I went away for 4 days and took a few things to use. I did't take much, I didn't have access to all my bits and pieces and I had to make do with what I had. It hasn't actually mattered in the long run but it did limit some choices. However, I had 4 days of nothing else to do, so I got the majority of it made in one go. I have worked on it since but in a more desultory manner, home life being what it is, with all the distractions and demands.

I think that I have spent approximately 30 hours on it. It stands about 15cm high. At $15 an hour (not the basic wage), it is currently worth $450! Not counting materials, which might be about $10. Hmm, not going to make a living at this.

Friday, April 19, 2019

April already!

I have been busy the last week or so.
I managed to get to the first day of the AQC and saw some lovely works.

One of my favourites was in the Korean Style Quilt section. I love the design, reminding me of looking down at a city from a height.
Kayoing Ahn.

Once again, the ladies who develop their quilts from collages were there. Collage to Stitch. I am very interested in this technique but find that you can't just sit down and make good collages - more practice needed, therefore more organisation and space needed.

I made a small piece for the Self Portrait exhibition. The quilts had to be 25cm x 25cm, not very big.

I had a piece mostly made from years ago.
I have been doing some blind contour drawing of faces.
I also saw some lovely blind contour wire portraits while I was overseas. Both mentioned in this post.

So I did a blind drawing of myself, including torso. I sewed it onto soluble fabric and attached it to the base. Then I put the borders on and entered it. I was very chuffed to be accepted and see it on display in person.

It is titled Hollowed Out.
The statement is: Sometimes following the rules is too exhausting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


I must be on a roll, doing yet another post this month.

I have visited two exhibitions recently.
Once is the Escher x Nendo at the National Gallery Victoria.
I loved it! The woodcuts were amazing - so detailed, apart from the wonderful images.
I just felt myself smiling as I walked around. I think it was the setup, the Nendo part, I assume, and the buzz of people having a lovely time. And taking the time to just be there, not doing anything in particular, not being there because I had to, etc.

I kept thinking how the tessellating images would make a quilter sooo happy!

I also got the the Shaun Tan exhibition, Untold Tales. I also loved that. It was really well named, each piece told a story. I told myself stories quite different from the ones my friends were telling themselves.
I loved this one, I had my own story, which did not quite match the title (fortunately, I read it after I had made up my own story). The title was quite amusing too.

This one was used for the publicity. Seeing it in situ, with the wonderful lighting, was amazing, it just glowed!

I don't think it is on for very long, so I was lucky to get there.
I love Shaun Tan's work. His picture story books are great, even though I did think about reading them to some younger grades as they are 'picture story books' but when I actually read them I decided that they were much more suitable for older children. Some of the themes are quite challenging.

And the art is amazing.

Still March

Another slightly interesting date: 19/3/19, hence the post. Two in a few days!

I have been doing a little bit of sewing as well as my tapestry weaving.
Our machine embroidery group, at the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria, has a theme for this year: Farmyard.
I have done a rooster. I used a picture from 123RF, an online site that lets you download images and use them. I have adapted it, of course.

I have continued to use the fabric collage technique that I have been playing around with lately.

Once again, I have not used any product that sticks the fabric. But ... I have discovered a lovely free motion foot for my sewing machine.
I have been using the darning foot, a generic free motion foot and a specialised free motion foot (that I later discovered, after three broken ones (at great expense, let me tell you!!) was not for my iteration of the machine) that you can buy one that sits on the fabric, doesn't go up and down with the needle. It has a round part that means the fabric doesn't get caught on the little metal circle.

I proudly announced this to my group and was met with: I have always used that sort of foot, what else is there?; to great excitement about my discovery.

Anyway ... it has been wonderful for the free motion work, it doesn't catch on the little pieces of fabric and it is much easier to do the work without using any glues or Vliesofix, etc. And the little pieces of fabric don't bounce up and down, so don't move around so much.

As I have been working on 12' square pieces for my online group, I continued with that for the rooster too.
Not sure what I will do with these pieces but the challenge is good because it keeps me thinking and doing.