Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Natural dyeing with olives

We have an olive tree but don't usually harvest the olives.  This year my sister has been collecting the olives that have survived the birds (the Indian minahs seem to love them) and has been salting them.  She collected some that fell on our drive to use as compost.  But we seem to be in a very good area for olive trees to grow, so she decided to boil them to they stop them propagating.
I had the brainwave of seeing if I could do some natural dyeing with them while they boiled.

I looked on the internet and couldn't find any information - maybe I'm just not a good researcher.

I tried what I had done previously with the eucalyptus bark, just plonk some fabric in and see what happens. Very scientific.

I put in a small bit of polyester which I did not expect to dye.  I also put in a small piece of habutai silk and some silk velvet (that I was not sure was 100% silk but knew that some of it is silk).  I let them boil in with the olives for about an hour.  Then I let them cool down in the water overnight.

After about 24 hours - I was busy doing other things - I drained the olives out, collected the dye bath in case I can do something else with it, and rinsed out the fabric.

As I suspected, the polyester did not colour very much at all, it is now a pinkish white.
The two pictures are with flash and without flash, showing the different intensities of the colours on different fabrics.
The silk took the colour quite well and the velvet has two different colours, so part is silk and the other part may be viscose.  Strangely enough, there is a slight greenish tint to the nap of the velvet - olive green perhaps?

I have washed them with detergent and they seem to have retained the colour.  I am not sure if it will be colourfast though.  I will have to do more research.
I am hoping to use the dyebath and see if using mordants will make much difference.
Ahh, holidays, time to play.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Petite Miniature Textiles Exhibition

Last Friday my friend and I travelled to the Wangaratta Exhibitions Gallery to see the Petite, Miniature Textiles Exhibition in which I had a piece showing.  It was my first acceptance into an exhibition, so I was very excited.
I have tried to take pictures of the work before but they always seem to show the hand stitching too strongly.  It was good to see the work from a distance so that I could get a view of the complete work without being drawn into the detail.  

The piece, Fern Walk, was done on commercial felt.  I used foil in the background and then used a needle felting machine to put on wool and silk roving and then I hand stitched it.

I had not realised how far away Wangaratta is!  It rained all the way there and all the way back. I am usually happy to see the rain but not all the time I am driving. The journey was not too bad as it is straight up the Hume Freeway and very straightforward.  Overall, we travelled about 550km for the complete trip.  I was very pleased that my 15 year old car did it all on one tank of petrol.

The work in the show was well worth the trip.  There was a large variety of techniques - art quilts, art books, embroideries, jewellery, weaving, tapestry (quite a few by people I know through my course), machine embroidery, sculpture and 3D textiles, miniature knitting, crochet, wire knitting, prints and manipulated fabrics to name a few.  It was inspiring to see such a range of work.

The exhibition pieces all had to be within the 30cm x 30cm x 30cm restriction.  There was some very fine work, especially in the tapestry category.

We also were able to see Flourish, an exhibition celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria.  The work done especially for the golden anniversary was beautiful, all set out on emerald green backings to go with the theme of different branches doing different colours for the Celebrating Colour theme.

There was also a small exhibition of work selected from the Textile Collection that was next to the Petite exhibition, so we got to see that also.  There was some beautiful work there too!

All in all, a good day was had by all (two of us).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Adding to the jackets

I am still working away, slowly, on my jacket.  I have now sewn up the seams and have to decide whether or not to cut the edges and then sew a blanket stitch around them all.  That is what Raewyn recommended. She said to sew it from the back so that the stitching is not too obvious but still gives an attractive edging.  It will work as a sort of embellishment.
Some of the embellishments that are on the jackets were added as the felting process happened but some were added on at the very end.
You could even add a collar after the jacket was finished, if you wanted to.  I haven't made a collar but may end up making one (I still have enough wool roving to do this) as I think it will look better with one.
Crochet could be added as a further enhancement along the edges but I don't think I have the patience for that.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Still working on the felted jacket

Since I've been home from the workshop I have not done the finishing off.  I don't have that much to do to finish it but I don't have the inspiration of the other ladies to egg me on.  Plus, I am finding plenty of other things that need doing.  I suppose that is one of the huge advantages of going on a 4 day workshop - you are away from all the usual distractions and are with some very focussed people.
I will get to it this week-end - I hope.

It was good to see the felted jackets change from bulky-looking objects - despite the softer than usual drape of the felt - to well fitted garments.

Friday, June 25, 2010

making felt pieces

As we were to sew our pieces together, rather than make a one-piece garment, we made a back, two fronts and some of us made sleeves (some people had to make two back pieces and sew them together as there was not quite enough space for 12 of us to make complete backs) .  Some also made collars that were added on later. The felting was the usual method, rolling and throwing the felt till it 'turned' - Raewyn described it as feeling like a wet chamois.  I gradually got better at recognising this stage.

Raewyn helped us with the pattern making and then the actual fitting.  She also knew instinctively when a cut was not quite the right angle and corrected these for us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Laying out the felt

Raewyn brought wool from New Zealand for us. She prefers this wool as she says it is carded differently from the wool we get in Australia and it is easier to pull apart.  As I have so little experience in felting, I didn't notice, but the experienced felters in the group were definitely impressed.  I must say, it was definitely easy to lay out.
I can't find any information about the source of the wool at the moment, I will post any information I find.
The laying out took up a lot of room (as felting reduces the size so much) and tended to look like those shaggy carpets that I remember from years ago.  As you can see, there was a wide variety of colours chosen.  We had emailed our colour choices to Raewyn before she left New Zealand.  She also provided a range of materials for us to play with to get different textures.
It was amusing to see the colour choices people had made and how they were wearing similar colours most days.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Raewyn Penrose felting workshop

I have just returned home from a four day workshop with Raewyn Penrose at Crockett Cottage, Mansfield, working on making a felted jacket.  I posted about this event earlier and have been looking forward to it since she visited previously.
Raewyn demonstrated various techniques to use with the felt that give some beautiful effects.  We made a sampler and then worked hard on making our felted pieces, using the techniques that suited our garments.

This was a very busy few days and we were quite tired by the end.
Some people managed to make complete garments while a few of us have some sewing to do when we get home.
We were all very pleased with the workshop and some very happy campers made their weary ways home at the end of the last day.
I will post a few more pictures of works in progress over the next day or so.

I am not an experienced felter and found that there was a lot to learn. Raewyn was very patient and gave a lot of individual help, so I have come home with lots of knowledge and a garment mostly completed.
She has a tailoring background and was able to assist us greatly with getting our garments to fit well.  She made sure that I know what I have to do and that everything is pinned as it should be so I can complete the garment in the next day or so - if I apply myself.

She also has a different technique for felting, from what I have seen, in that we cut our felt fabric to fit a pattern (and she showed us how to make that pattern) and then she fits it to us and we sew it together, without bulky seams.  Wonderful.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Miniature laser etched and cut screens

Parlance has mentioned different sizes that can be used for miniature making.  I am sticking to the 1/12th size.  Here is a photo of the screen I mentioned earlier, hinged.  I have included a tennis ball to give some perspective.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Miniature Tapestry

I have mounted my three miniature tapestry pieces onto the screen I made in our laser cutting sessions.  I am not all that happy with it as the frames are a little chunky for a doll's house and the weaving is not that exciting - the colours are not great and the geometric design I chose was not ideal for the medium although the angle of the different screens can disguise some of the differences.
I used DMC 6 strand embroidery thread on a seine twine of 6, 4wpc.  The cotton slides around on the warp a little, allowing me to make the geometric stripes match a little better.  The screens are the same proportion as the largest of the screens I posted about previously.
However, I have learnt from my mistakes, I hope.  If I do another small set like this I will try for a more forgiving design.

I have been looking around at what are called miniature tapestries and have found that mine are really quite small, they are approximately 6cm x 3.75 cm each.  I will think about doing future ones for the doll's house sizes again, I like that they have that 1/12th size restriction.
Some of the other miniatures I have seen are 20cm x 10cm, so I think my case moth might also fit into the category, not that I need to be categorising my pieces.  I am going on to do more tapestry weaving next semester and am inspired by some of the blogs I am finding around the place.  I get quite a few links from my life is but a tapestry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What a difference a monitor makes!

I was at campus in Brunswick today and had a look at my blog, looking for a link to one of my favourite blogs (my life is but a tapestry, K Spoering), and was amazed at how bright the tree in my previous post came up.  It was much more like the real thing than my monitor is showing at home.
This is indicative of one of the problems we have been having in our course, the difference between the colours we paint with, what it scans like, what it looks like on different computers and then how it prints out.  It has been an exercise in patience and just learning to be a little bit relaxed about our designs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

sunset colours on tree

Yesterday the lemon scented gum that is next door had the most amazing colours on it as the sun was setting.  The pictures don't quite do it justice, the colour was quite strong and orangey.  If you were to see a painting of it you would say it was a ridiculous colour to paint.  Amazing to see the colours tinting the pale bark.

The forecast high winds seem to be just arriving and I am not looking forward to trying to sleep under the tree.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rings around the moon

Recently a friend and I went to Warburton for a weekend of tapestry weaving.  We were trying to catch up with the work required by our course.  We had a lovely time, we could probably have done more if we had not been together but we certainly enjoyed ourselves.
One night we saw a magnificent ringed moon.  We were also practising with her borrowed camera and were able to take this photo.
She is thinking of buying a similar camera and we were impressed with it - it is not an SLR but takes good photos anyway.  We had to put it on a very slow shutter speed, so used a 2 second delay so we wouldn't be touching the camera when it actually opened the lens.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Case Moth Tapestry Finally Mounted

Is it almost time to hand in our tapestry work as we are fast approaching the end of the first semester.  I have finally mounted my case moth.  I decided to keep it simple and have used foam core board with a photo I took of some bark stuck to it.  The foam core board is A4 size.
I may decide to remount it later but this is how I am going to hand it in.  I am quite happy with it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

36 covers for one book!

I am reading The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracey Chavelier, and decided to put it on my LibraryThing - which I have never really engaged with properly.  But I was amazed to see that it has thirty-six covers!!!  Here is a link to see them all.
I am reading it because one of the ladies in my tapestry class has lent it to me.  I am struggling with it a bit as I am finding all the different points of view hard to read.  Each chapter is written in the first person but  is from the viewpoint of a different character.  However, there is some fascinating information about tapestry weaving in the story.
I remember reading a book by Roberta Gellis that had a main character who was a tapestry weaver.  I will have to read it again and see how my newfound knowledge of tapestry weaving affects my reading of it.
It is a very long time since I have read it and I seem to remember that it had some element of fantasy in it as the weaving had some relation to the future in it.  All very vague, I know.  But it is a long time since I have read it.  The book is called A Tapestry of Dreams and was published in 1985.  I think I may have read it that long ago!
I know I loved some of Roberta Gellis' books but this was not one of my favourites.  My favourites were the Roselynd chronicles which had lots of historical research and gave a fascinating view of England in the time of King Stephen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rainbow Lorikeets

I have just been for a walk at Yarra Bend park and we got quite close to some rainbow lorikeets  (there are some beautiful pictures at this link).  They just sat in the branch above our heads and I was able to take a picture despite having to mess around with camera settings in the gathering dark. They were totally unfazed by two humans and a dog looking up at them.

I am considering doing another tapestry weaving of bark or a tree trunk, so I was pleased to get the picture of the tree they were in also.  I really love some of the eucalyptus barks, their colours can be amazing, not at all what you expect to see in tree bark.
I have finished the pieces I am going to hand in and have them sewn up, ready for mounting.  Now I have to work out how I want to do that.  Decisions, decisions.

Screen Print has been dominating my thinking this past week - we have to print a repeat length of the design we have come up with, as well as 4 colourways.  Those people who think tapestry weaving is slow and frustrating should take a good look at screen print!!  There is so much waiting around - and so much that can go wrong.  I will be very glad when I have printed the length and can relax again.