Thursday, October 27, 2011

Experimenting with Free Motion Sewing Machine Lace

I have been playing around with free motion sewing machine lace.  I tried some different weight threads and even used a fabric base for part of it.  That turned out to be interesting, the sewing and washing out of the soluble stabiliser caused some shrinkage and the silk puckered. I quite liked this result.

I also used some left-over hat making stuff that I bought last year (I just cannot think of its name).  It was good for a base for the sewing and gives some added texture, something that I love.

I also used some knitting wool and couched it.

I did this as a test for some thread I thought I would like to use but it turned out to be a bit too thick, even though it seems to have been ok in the sample.  I didn't write down the things I was doing immediately and, by the time I had washed it out and dried it, I couldn't remember exactly what I had done.  Very frustrating.  Of course, I can look carefully and see and it is close enough to me doing it that I can remember the sorts of things I did.  Still, it is a lesson on writing down what you are doing as you are doing it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October meeting of our new tapestry group

We had our second meeting this weekend and we have a new member!!  Very exciting.  Marion was looking after her, showing her how to start basic tapestry weaving, on a rigid heddle loom.  I have no idea how that is going to go but Marion is confident.

We had two other new attendees also - at a time when students are busy finishing off their assignments and some of us are getting ready to graduate, so we are pleased with the attendance.

We looked at some ideas for the Circles and Squares theme and generally had a good catch-up again.
Someone is working
Sharing ideas

Weaving on a rigid heddle loom

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kate Derum tapestry award

I have just come home from the Kate Derum tapestry awards at the Australian Tapestry Workshop.  It was an especially exciting night as Joy Smith was announced as the winner.  Joy was my teacher at RMIT in my first year of tapestry.  Saffron Gordon won the emerging artist section and she was a classmate of mine in second year tapestry.  Very exciting!
It was also good to see work by other people I know, Sally Harvey and Julie Paul (also past students from RMIT).  Congratulations on being accepted into the exhibition.
All the work was great, as you would expect.  There was interesting variety in interpretations and materials used. The exhibition is on for several weeks, well worth a visit.  I may have to go back when I can actually have a slow look at the works, not distracted by catching up with people and trying to see around the crowds.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pictures from my phone

Well, I have some more attractive photos on my phone now.  I was not sure what the quality and size of the pictures would be but I got some full, A4 sized prints from them.  They are gorgeous.  I haven't quite conquered focus but they are still good.  More practice, and more reading of instructions (actually, first reading of instructions) needed.
These are yet more trees from the park along the rail line in Rosanna.  I had been sewing for a few hours and Penny and I needed the walk.

Penny liked this one! 
Such beautiful trees make it hard for me to move on from my current obsession with eucalyptus bark.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Semi-successful day

Well, if I am a half-glass full person, I could say I had a semi- successful day.  Not sure if I feel that positive.
It started with me deciding to play with some tyvek that I had, so I tried to remember what we did at the workshop with Neroli Henderson a few weeks ago.  I am glad that I haven't left it too long, as I often do.  I could actually remember most of what she told us.  And I cheated a little and looked it up in Hot Textiles by Kim Thittichai.
I painted the tyvek on both sides with Lumiere paint.  Then I ironed them all to see what would happen.
One piece had some small slits.

Another had some Angelina Fibre. 
The Angelina Fibre stopped a lot of the distortion (as the book had said it would).

One was was only painted.
One was sewn by machine before heating.
After that, I decided that I would like to continue playing with some of the Hot Stuff ideas.  The next thing I tried was to paint bonding web with silk painting dye.  I have had this dye for YEARS and am not game to try it for actual dyeing.  The book said I could use water soluble inks or dyes, so I decided to give these old dyes a go.
I had an old roll of Vleisofix that had started coming off the backing paper.  I thought that I could use this and it wouldn't be too much of a waste if it didn't work.  Old dye, old bonding web.

I painted several pieces and allowed them to dry.  The book said it would take ages, so I took the dog for her daily walk.  I took some more pictures of bark - I may have the world's best collection of bark pictures.  Perhaps I will post some of them later.

When I got home I was all excited about trying this technique.  I have some small pieces of kunin felt and the web just had to be ironed on and then I could use the heat gun to distress it all.  I carefully laid the sandwich paper over it all and ironed away.
The paper was firmly stuck to the felt!!  Obviously, we use the paper as a last protection, not the first.  I might have to invest in some teflon sheeting to do this.  I soaked the felt in water and managed to scrape off the paper.  The dye works.  The felt is now multicoloured.
I will have to try this another time.
Then I will have to decide what I am going to use these new techniques for, how I will use the new fabrics that I make. If I make any that I like.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Phone

I dropped my mobile phone recently and tried to manage with it for a week or so but finally had to admit that it was inconvenient to only be able to send and receive texts.  Actual calls dropped out almost instantly.
So off I went to get a new phone, as much like my previous one as possible so I wouldn't have to learn too much new stuff.  I didn't want it to do anything other than make calls and send text messages.
I did use it to take some photos on my first walk out with it.  What wonderful, beauteous thing did I photograph? Sawfly caterpillars of course.
They had fallen to the ground, presumably to dig underground where they metamorphose.

These caterpillars bunch together and look disgusting, probably so we won't touch them.  They do irritate the skin if you touch them, so the warning it good to take heed of.  One of the things they do is wiggle their bottoms in the air to warn you away and I tried to get a movie of that. That is the unfocussed picture.  I couldn't get the movie part to work but the next time I tried to use the camera I could only get movies!  Ah, new technology.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trying different techniques

I'm still playing around with techniques.  This time I have done a mixture of quilting, machine embroidery, especially making 'lace', and a tiny bit of hand sewing.  I am trying to layer the fabric and get texture.

First I sewed pieces onto satin that had a wool batting.  I didn't use any support, vilene or hoop, so that it is quite bumpy and textured.

Then I did some machine sewing 'lace' and added that.

As I said, it has quite a bit of texture.

Isn't it amazing, how different it looks when the camera is set for different times of day and lighting.

It is a sample in that I keep trying new things to make it different.  I hope I know when to stop.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back to Dyeing

In pursuit of a design, I have used some of my old naturally dyed silk to play around with some machine embroidery.  I only had relatively small pieces left but that was fine for the design I have been working on in the last few days.
However, I decided that I might want some larger pieces and, as I had some undyed silk that I bought about a year ago, and some pieces I got on the remnant table at an expensive silk shop recently, I decided to do some natural dyeing.
I had also picked up some bark while walking at Yarra Bend recently, so the dyeing has been in the back of my mind for a while, obviously. I don't know what the trees were that I got the bark from, they had thick, stringy bark that looked like it would give good colour.

This weekend I decided to do something about it - finally.  I found some old bark that I must have collected about a year ago, lemon scented eucalyptus. I wasn't sure if having had it lie around for so long would be good or bad - I'm still not sure as it worked well but, who knows, it may have worked better if I had used it closer to the time I collected it.  Or, it may have worked well as it has been dry all that time and perhaps it was getting more intense.
Using very old lemon scented bark.  
I then used the bark that I collected recently, not knowing if the rain we have been having much more consistently this year would affect it, make it less strong.  That worked well too.  So I am a happy little vegemite at present.

As you can see, one of the fabrics was obviously not 100% silk, the weft stayed white.

It is amazing how different sorts of silk fabric take the colour up, some were very dark while others were more muted.

Being a not very precise dyer, I just put the bark in some water, boiled it up with the silk in it and let it simmer for an hour or so.  Then I let it all cool down overnight and washed the silk out in the morning.

There was quite a lot of good looking dye bath left.  I couldn't just throw it out, so in went some more silk, some mordant and I heated it up for another hour.  There is still more dye bath left, lots more dyeing to do soon.

The recent bark dye with ferrous sulphate added.

All of these were from the recent bark, some with mordant, some with none.

This one had copper sulphate added.
To top it all off, I still had a piece of tissue silk not used and some leftover dyebath with the ferrous sulphate, so I did a cold soak for an hour.  

Now all I have to do is come up with a design that will use a lot of these fabrics, otherwise I have been having a very expensive play for no good reason.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

About the felting

I had to post today, the date is 9/10/11.  Love those dates.

The theme I am working on - still - is based on Darebin Parklands/Rockbeare Park.  I keep trying new techniques based on the theme.  The two ideas that I work on are the rock formations and the tree trunks.
I spent a day last week working on the tree trunk idea, using felting.  I tried to incorporate two workshops I have attended.
Both methods use a prefelt as a base and then you design on top of that.
The first one I tried was based on the LeeAnne Davis method of sewing fabrics that will not felt well, using wool or some other thread and then felting it onto another layer of prefelt, then embroidering further.
I have blogged about her before, here and here.
Here I have used a silk loom end, scrim and some synthetic fabric.

The pink bit here is an old piece of 'silk paper' that I made last year.  The other bits are scrim and more synthetic fabric.

More scrim, silk ripped into strips and synthetic organza.

I used left-over bits of tapestry wool for the sewing down as I thought that would felt well into the prefelt.

Here are some pictures after the final felting.  I have not embroidered them again as they did not please me that much and they are only samples anyway. I may get enthused and do some embroidery but it will depend on how much spare time I have - not a lot at present, I am trying to work on my graduation piece.
The silk strips looked ok.

The silk paper did well and I don't mind some parts of this, it has possibilities. 

The silk loom end lost a lot of its lustre when the felting came through.  The synthetic gives good texture.
I actually remembered to measure the pieces before and after felting and it did shrink about a third, in one direction.  I'm not sure if I rolled it more in one direction than the other or if the sewing caused some of this differentiation.

I have just looked at the preview of the blog and think they are not that bad after all.  Maybe I will try again, see if I can get some good effects and use embroidery to enhance the pieces.  That's the problem with me at the moment, I can't come up with a final technique or design!!  I'm still experimenting - which is fun and interesting usually but causing some anxiety at the moment as I have to come up with some work.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some errors

I have just tried the link from my post about Angers, and the Apocalypse Tapestries, and discovered that the link was wrong.  I have fixed it now - here.
You  may also have noticed that I had felting in the title of my last blog but there was no mention of felting in the text.  That is because I decided to delete that part but forgot to fix the header.  Accolades (clap, clap) to those who noticed!
I actually tried to mark the correction in the header (as I had done with the misspelling of Apocalypse in another header) but ended up striking through all the text in all my blogs, so I quickly deleted that.  I have no idea why it happened and am not going to try that again in a hurry.
I will blog about the felting soon. Perhaps.  It was not a great success but I did get some interesting tiny parts.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

TAG meeting,felting and other stuff

I finally attending one of the TAG meetings at the Embroiderers' Guild in Melbourne last Monday.  Unfortunately, the ladies who have been organising these talks are not going to be able to do so in the future.  This might mean that the talks will cease for the time being although some volunteers may take up the challenge.

The artist presenting was Jan Irvine-Nealie and she was very interesting. Her work is beautiful and she  explained the underlying meaning of most of the pieces.  She said she needs to have the thought process going as the running stitch takes a long time and she needs to be thinking while doing it, otherwise it would all be a bit boring. The small examples she brought were wonderful - I feel quite inspired to attempt some of her technique.  She airbrushes her designs onto the fabric and then enhances it with running stitch.  I will not do the airbrushing but I would like to try the running stitch as such an important part of the design.

I am getting a bit anxious about the final work we have to do for our graduation show.  It is due to be handed in in the first week of November and I haven't got a design or technique nailed down yet! Maybe I should stick to a technique I am familiar with and leave the experimenting till after the show.  But the subject IS called Experimental Textiles, I just think that maybe I should not be still experimenting at this stage.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I have just read about the word apocalypse on Words All Around and it reminded me that I haven't posted my pictures of the Apocalypse Tapestries that we saw in France.  I have mentioned them but didn't know how to post pictures from an iPad (still don't).  So here is my chance to revisit the wonderful trip we had.

I remember I had to put my camera on the floor and take the pictures on 2 second delay so the camera wouldn't shake when I pressed the button, hence the odd perspective.

One story we heard was that many of the tapestries were found being used for such things as horse blankets and keeping the frost off the vegetable gardens!
Each tapestry had a description of what part of the apocalypse story they represented, so it took quite a while to take them all in. There was a book about it all, with wonderful pictures, but I decided that it was too heavy to travel with. I will just have to trust in my memories, the pictures and the internet.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Opening of Moreart and Artland

Yesterday was the official opening of Moreart and its associated RMIT exhibition, Artland. The weather was favourable and there was a good attendance.  Congratulations, and many thanks, to Jodie Lawson for organising the event on campus.

I was quite excited to see that my piece had changed, people had been playing with it.

There was work all around the campus, of all different sorts. Here are a few shots of some.  They were all very interesting and innovative.  Congratulations to all the award winners. I didn't note down the names but do know the RMIT award winners:

Beka Hannah, Tricia Page, Michael Carolan, Minyoung Williams, and Hilary Rossignulo.

Here are some shots I took around the campus, I will try to post some more during the week.

I must admit that I have yet to take to the bike track between the stations to see the off-campus works but there is a tour on Wednesday that I might make an effort to attend - if I am up to date with my work.