Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kerr Grabowski workshop

Last week I attended the Ballarat Fibre Forum and was lucky enough to attend the Kerr Grabowski workshop.
Kerr showed us her Deconstructed Screen Print technique and I had fun with it.  I have done two semesters of screen print in my course and really loved the last part best, printing on silk with dye, so expected to enjoy this process too.
Basically, we used alginate and procion dyes to put images onto silk and cotton.  I must admit, I used silk mostly as I LOVE silk.  We had to prepare for the workshop by soaking our silk and cotton in soda ash, which surprised me as it is not recommended for silk. Kerr told us we should have it washed out within two weeks.  It gets washed out in the rinsing process after dyeing but I have some still unused, so must get that done tomorrow.
Kerr deliberately didn't talk about colour and we just made up two reds, two blues, a yellow and black. As we were learning a new technique, we didn't need to fuss about colour theory at the same time.  The dyes were mixed into a paste and added to alginate.

We started by laying low profile objects under our screen to give texture to it. Then we put coloured alginate over our screen, picking up detail from the objects lying under the screen.  We could mix the colours on the screen if we wanted to.  The screen had to dry before we could use it again - typical of screen print, always waiting for things to dry!
There are labels identifying the various textures.  Click image to see bigger.

Then we put clear alginate on the screen and pulled.  As the alginate wets the previous laying of texture on the screen, the colour starts to come through to the fabric.  It starts off relatively lightly, gets darker as it gets wetter and then starts to lose the colour.
Circles areas are bubble wrap, must be popped to get good texture. Corrugated cardboard gave most of the texture.

If there is still texture on the screen, you can put in other coloured alginate and get yet another change.
There was still texture but the colour had run out of the screen, so I added more coloured alginate.

It is a very free medium, difficult to plan, especially at my novice level.  I loved it, there are no mistakes. If you don't like what you did, you can just wait for it to dry (yes, more waiting) and then overprint.  Wonderful.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tapestry exhibition

Last week I visited the tapestry exhibition at Hawthorn Studio and Gallery.  The work being exhibited is by Joy Smith (my first tapestry teacher) and Gerda van Hamond.  They based their work on monthly visits to sites along the Yarra River but they have produced very different works.  Joy and Gerda spoke at the gallery and it was very interesting to hear about their beginning inspirations and processes.

Joy said she works more from photographs these days and is interested in people in the environment.  Her work clearly reflects this.  It was great to see scenes that I instantly recognised as places we have taken our dog for walks in, especially Yarra Bend Park.

Gerda tends to look at very small aspects of the scene, possibly fungus, bark or some very small element of the site. She also exhibited some of her drawings that she works on before weaving.  She does them with oil sticks and may combine several sketches from the day to make her cartoon.
Based on the river in flood.

Despite concentrating on such small images, her works can be quite large.

This one is based on a piece of bark but is quite large, over a metre square.

It was great to catch up with other students with whom I learnt tapestry over the last couple of years.  We will have to keep meeting at tapestry exhibitions, maybe even put on one ourselves.  I have not done any weaving this year but do have three images I would like to work on soon.  Maybe when this semester is over and I have less assignments due.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Phyllis' blog

I found Phyllis' blog today, more information on the vest book as well as some detail about her doll making using needle felting techniques.

I am playing around with ideas for our Play assignment, not settled on anything yet.  I have had fun going through an old Golden Hands Encyclopaedia of Craft magazines that I collected many years ago.  I still remember the enjoyment of going to the newsagent's to get the latest one.
There are some amazingly ghastly things in it but there are also quite a few articles that I have found of interest during the years of doing this course. I am currently highlighting articles about making soft toys as that is a direction I could go with the assignment.
The magazine had a huge array of crafts you could try.  I have seen some of them then collected into books, mainly patchwork, knitting and weaving.
I found a link to someone's blog while searching for Golden Hands craft magazines, with some knitted dolls on it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Our new assignment for Design Concepts and Applications (taught by Ilka White) is based on Play.  One of the things for us to research is dolls and I have found that Phyllis does felted dolls.  She told us that they all tend to look like her. She says her latest one looks very like her but I haven't seen it, so I can't comment.

As a primary teacher (in my former life), we often did a theme based on toys, leisure or play.  So I will have to see if I have any notes or references from then to help me in my work now.

I still have my bride doll that I was given for my 8th birthday - I learnt to knit by making her clothes.  They involved different stitches and patterns but were of a size that was achievable.  
I am pretty sure that they were all Patons patterns.
Most of the clothes are lost now but, as you can see, she still has some of them.
She used to have an overcoat to match the hat and I distinctly remember making a little singlet, maybe underpants too.
She still has her veil but it is starting to shred.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Phyllis Hoffman's book

I have tried to link to Phyllis' book but it is not on her website yet.  She kindly sent me a picture of the cover, so you can keep an eye out for it (that is an expression that used to cause great hilarity in our childhood). I think it will be available through the Victorian Feltermakers' Association

I really did like her vests and her explanation of what is important in making a felted vest fit - the neck measurement.  As I have already said, I will have to keep an eye out for her workshops as clothes making has never been a strength of mine.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nuno Felting workshop - day two

Well, this is a bit late, a week late really, but I have been without the computer while they tried to find my photos and then I was doing other things and didn't post.  So, back to the Nuno Felting workshop.

On the second day of the workshop, I was going to make another few samples but ended up making them in one piece that could be worn as a scarf.  I will have to decide whether I want to wear it or just keep it as a sample.  It has various ways of laying out on it - some worked well and others did not do what I had expected.  That is the point of doing classes, I suppose.  To have an expert on hand to give advice but to also make mistakes and get surprises.

There is a LOT of rolling necessary to make the felt.  It was slightly different for the cotton muslin and silk but both required lots of rolling.

The ladies who had done other classes with Phyllis had obviously enjoyed them enormously and had learnt different techniques.  I will have to go to her website and see what other classes she is going to teach.  She teaches a wide range of felting techniques and is very knowledgeable about wools and what sorts suit different felting techniques better.

Yet another textile area for me to learn!  I had better start focusing on what it is I actually want to develop, stop being a serial class-goer, after I go to the Fibre Forum at Ballarat, in April.

If you look closely, you will see one of Phyllis' beautiful vests, she wore a different one each day.
Phyllis wore some gorgeous vests that she has made.  They were beautiful.  She is bringing out a book about making felted vests at the end of April.  She warned us that the book is only about making vests, not about any other type of felting.

I am not absolutely sure that I like felted clothing and homeware, I think I am more fascinated by the process than by the product.  But Phyllis' vests were beautiful.  You could see her dressmaking background has had a huge influence on her work.

I know it is strange to say that I am not sure I like felted fabric, considering I have done 4 workshops now, all on different techniques of felting.  I have enjoyed the workshops greatly, I am just not convinced that I want to use felted fabric - yet.