Sunday, July 25, 2010

ATASDA in Victoria

I think it was early 2009 that I saw an exhibition of textile art by a group belonging to the Australian Textile Arts and Surface Design Association.  I loved the work that I saw and was keen to put my name on a list of interested Victorians.  There was talk of starting up a group here. There are groups in Queensland and New South Wales.  The work showed lots of techniques that I would love to learn about and experiment with.  There is so much to learn and play with.
I did not hear anything for over a year.  It occurred to me occasionally that I had not heard anything but I had not taken down the full name of the group and so did not follow up on the web at all.
Today I received an email, announcing the inaugural meeting on August 8th, at Box Hill.  How exciting!!
If you are interested, here is a link to the group's website.
I hope the group is a go-er.  The meeting is at Box Hill.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Finished the bark piece

I have finished my bark tapestry.  I did a little experimenting with texture, just a few techniques.  The main effect I got was by including some textured yarns, some wrapping the weft around a cable knitting needle, rya knots and some soumak.
still on the loom, needs to be rotated when I eventually hitch off.
I decided, after discussing it with friends and my teacher, to leave one edge slightly shaped, to simulate the uneven edges of tree trunks.  I have used the small tapestry hitching off technique again, so I couldn't have a very uneven edge.

I found this tapestry much quicker than previous ones for several reasons:

  • I used a larger warp (seine twine 18)
  • the weft was thicker, 6 strands of Tapestry Workshop (now known as the Australian Tapestry Workshop) yarns
  • I did not follow a strict cartoon, I used my inspiration photo as a guide and did approximations
  • because of the last point, I did much less unpicking, I could let things go even when they were not quite how I had envisaged them.
I am considering using this image again, or one similar, in the (not immediate) future as I would like to try for some different effects, more 3 dimensional where the sap sticks out from the tree, but did not feel confident enough in my weaving to be trying that yet.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Doing my homework

I was doing my homework, browsing the net for information about tapestry weavers and came across some work by a fellow student.  Her work is in the very interesting slide show of the American Tapestry Alliance Land exhibition.
Here is the link to her work (hi Glennis).
Actually, the whole exhibition is worth looking at.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I won an award!!

I am extremely excited and pleased to have won an award for my design work.  Students from the RMIT Textile Design and Development course were invited to participate in the inaugural Basford Brands Maurice Kain award.
The brief was to select from one of three categories:

  • Abstract Stripe
  • Children's Home furnishing - 2 Co-ordinates
  • Open Design Clear grounds - Contemporary
The designs could be rendered by hand or digitally and had to be in repeat suitable for drapery.  They had to be made 32cm x 35cm, ready to be developed to a repeat in 64cm x 70cm.  The maximum  number of colours was 10 but the majority of us used 3 or 4, probably because of our screen print class experiences that required 2,3 or 4 colour prints.  I know I was definitely influenced by this.

As Maurice Kain has a market mainly in Australia and New Zealand, we were advised to try to appeal to that market.  I decided to develop my designs in the Abstract Stripe category and to use local grasses as my inspiration.

I went to Rockbeare Park/Darebin Parklands and took quite a few shots of the grasses and used them as my inspiration.

I love grass - we used to do quite a lot of work around the topic when I was a primary teacher.  It is a fabulous topic for science, art, language, maths - the list goes on.  It is also beautiful in its own right, especially when it has its seeds.

I feel very privileged (amazed and excited also!) to have won, considering the wonderful designs that were submitted.  Congratulations to Rachel and Leah on their award winning designs also.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New tapestry

I have started on a new piece of tapestry weaving, based on a picture I took of some bark.  I am having fun working out colours.  I also want to experiment with texture and am playing around with some different techniques as well as different yarns that have some texture in them.
I got some of the yarns at the Ballarat Fibre Forum, intending to use them in embroidery but they seem to be suitable for what I am attempting.  I got them from Rae of Rae's Rags, she has some beautiful yarns and now I have found a reason to play with them.
Once again, the piece will be about the size of an A4 piece of paper.  I am using 6 strands of Victorian Tapestry Workshop wool, so I expect it to grow more quickly than my previous work.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Information on dyeing with olives

I am still looking around for information.  Today I realised that I could download books from the RMIT library and read them on my computer.
My first book (Handbook of Natural Colorants. Bechtold, Thomas, Mussak, Rita) has a little information.  (I have to admit to not reading the whole book, not even the blurb - I couldn't find it.  I'll have to get used to this new format.)  I found one mention of olives, in the Carotenoid Dyes - Production chapter.  On page 237, olives are mentioned as being part of this group, along with kale, cabbage, carrots, etc.  But then it goes on to say
In fruits where the color at the ripe stage is due to pigments other than carotenoids, e.g. anthocyanins such as yellow cherry, red currant strawberry and olive fruits, the carotenoid content decreases during ripening.
So now I am confused; even though they must contain carotenoids, it seems that pigments are what colours olives and, presumably, the fabric.  I am not sure what the pigments are or how stable they are.
I will have to keep looking.  It is all getting a bit too scientific though.

I did have another little play though.  I used the dyebath that we produced last week and dyed some tissue silk and satin for an hour with a small teaspoon of alum.  The colour came out browner than the previous dyeing. I have rinsed the pieces but not washed them further yet.
The photo is not great, it is winter and gets dark before I think to take the pictures, so it is with flash again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Article about LeeAnne Davis

There is a new felting magazine out here in Australia.  It is imaginatively called Felt.
I was especially interested in the latest issue (3) as it had an article by LeeAnne Davis, whose workshop I attended earlier in the year at the Ballarat Fibre Forum.  I posted about it here and here.
It is good to see some local magazines coming out.  There are two other magazines that are 'sister' magazines: Yarn and Embellish.
The article goes through the process we used in the workshop.  LeeAnne showed us a variety of techniques and it was a good way to attach fabrics that do not felt.  She pointed out that the pieces were not to be worn, that they might not stand up to vigorous wear, but we could still think of uses for the pieces.
She added embroidery at two stages of the felting process, once when we had made the prefelt and then again when it had been felted.  Depending on what yarns we used at the prefelt stage, the embroidery might have been felted also.
Here is a photo of some of the work produced by our group.  You can see the white on white work at the end of the table and then the coloured felted pieces that we produced.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finding information about dyeing with olives

I have been looking around on the net to try to find some information and have been surprised to  discover that many of the dark olives in the shops are really green and have been coloured.  As we do not pick our olives and let them ripen on the tree, they turn purple and I am hoping that they will be good for dyeing.  Of course, that will entail picking them and the tree is high.  So far we have been using windfall olives. There are still quite a few olives up high so maybe I should be hoping for some wind.

However, back to the topic.  I did find one site that had a little information.  It said
Maroon and purple dyes are obtained from the whole fresh ripe fruits[168]. Blue and black dyes are obtained from the skins of fresh ripe fruits[168]. A yellow/green dye is obtained from the leaves[168].
The [168] refers to Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. 1974 ISBN 0-02-544950-8
 It sounds as if I can do some playing if I can be bothered skinning the olives to see if I get different colours from the pulp and the skins.  Might have to wear gloves to do this.