Friday, October 31, 2014

Going away

I have been away for a couple of days, into the hills. It was beautiful weather, there was no working tv, no radio and no newspaper (actually, I did buy one but when I start to read it I decided I didn't need to pollute my mind anymore). It was a wonderful time away.

I had been with some friends the day before and we had been going to do some sun dyeing but the sun didn't shine!! So we did paper eco dyeing. However, the sun shone while I was away and I had the makings still with me. I got out the dyes, found plenty of leaves, flowers and grass seeds and decided to try it anyway.
I had three different sorts of fabric. As I wasn't sure what I was doing, or why, I only did small pieces for sampling.
The information for the sun dyes I had, from KraftKolour, said that it was for cotton and silk, so I put away the polyester fabrics and just used the cotton and silk - at least, I hoped it was just cotton and silk. I haven't actually washed them yet as I had to iron them and then wait for 24 hours, so that is a task for tomorrow. Here's hoping the colour doesn't wash out.

I used a piece of quilting fabric that had been screen printed. It was interesting to see that the screen printed part didn't really dye - I had found that out previously with some procion dyeing. But it didn't really do much with the sun printing either, maybe because I didn't use strong resists, I only used some grass seeds and a few leaves. So that piece was a bit of a dead loss - but it might be useful in some patchwork and I will keep it in case. I also used a variety of colours and it might have been better to have used less colours.

Another piece I used was gauze cotton. It worked well. I actually ended up with two pieces as I had dye left over after my first experiment. The second gauze piece was there, the left-over dyes were there and I was getting tired. So I just scrunched up the second piece, dipped it into the various dyes and ended up with a rather green piece of fabric. It had also wrinkled, so that affected the dyeing too. But it actually has some of the most interesting designs. It was the last piece I did, so I probably had been learning as I went along. I am going to do some machine sewing and see if I can develop some of the images further.

I can see a blue wren here, just waiting for me to develop the image further.
The grass seeds came up ok on the gauze too. I do like grass seeds!
Another couple of pieces were of homespun cotton, also suitable for quilting. They have given me some interesting parts that I many use, or I may just put them in my ever-increasing stash.

However, I enjoyed the exercise and will try some new ideas in the near future. Summer is coming after all. I have to find some positives in all that sunshine and warm weather.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eco dyeing paper

Today two of my friends and I got together to do some eco dyeing on paper. I have not done this before and don't usually work with paper, so it was a great learning day.
As it is spring and the mulberries are in fruit again, I took some with me. The turned out ok on the paper (you can see them on the final images).
The beauty of using paper is that there was no need to be using mordant. However, we did put eucalyptus leaves in the pot of water and I didn't ask why, so maybe it was to act as some sort of mordant.
We laid out paper, leaves and flowers, paper, leaves and flowers, etc. We then put them between tiles or pieces of wood. I used water colour drawing paper, 160gsm.

Then we tied them up tightly and put them into a pot of simmering water.
We left them for over an hour and then got to see the beautiful results.

The blue pattern at the top is from the purple flower in the second photo. The nasturtium flower is a pinkish image on the right. Gorgeous colour, just nothing like the actual flower. 

I am not sure what I will use the paper for but it was fun to do. Maybe I will prepare some fabric for dyeing and try it on cotton or silk too. Most of the plants we used are not substantive dyes, so I assume I will have to prepare the fabrics.
We had been going to try some sun dyeing but the sun was too unreliable today, after all that wonderful sunny weather last week. Oh well, summer is coming and there will be many more chances to try that.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Where did that come from?

As I have been posting, I have been working on a design based on the railway bridge at Darebin Parklands. 
For our homework, we are supposed to come up with a small textile sample. So I took one of my computer designs and decided to make an A4 piece.
I hadn't made any colour decisions and just got out a bag of fabric scraps. Suddenly the colours had chosen themselves - with no relation to the original image at all.

I traced the design onto some Vliesofix, cut out the pieces, ironed them onto the different fabrics, cut them out and then laid them out on the base fabric. Thank goodness for light boxes. It was relatively easy because it was symmetrical and I didn't need to think about reversing the design.

Then I sewed them on. I also did a little bit of random quilting patterns on various parts of the piece.  I used cotton batting to give me some extra texture.

It has a totem look, nothing like a railway bridge!

I quite liked the back too, despite putting the backing fabric on back to front - it is too long since I have made a quilt, obviously. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Designing using Photoshop

Our task was to draw and come up with some patterns and designs. I did some playing around but kept thinking that it would be much easier to do if I used Photoshop. I had asked at our last session if that was ok, rather than drawing.
So here is what I have come up with. I had fun and found the possibilities rather interesting. I have only done a few examples but think I might be - finally - generating some ideas for a textile application. Not that I have a use for the textile piece, I just have some ideas about how I might produce a textile sample. 

I cropped the picture (and it looks like I have flipped it too) and then traced the lines. Then I hid the original image and just copied the lines I had drawn and pasted them into a new document. 

I pasted it twice, rotating and flipping the second pasting. 

I pasted several copies of the image, rotating and flipping again. 

Then I copied that image and reduced it, pasting it repeatedly in a block print. 

Then I reduced it some more and pasted it several times more in a block print. 

Once again, it looks a bit like it could be used as a print for a length of fabric, not what I was aiming for. So I think I will have a play with the second line drawing, see what I can come up with. I haven't decided on a technique yet - will play around with that some more in the next couple of days. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Playing around, coming up with some ideas - I hope

Today I actually did some work. I finally decided not to worry about what I might come up with, I just needed to do some designing.
So I took one of my drawings, traced it and made it into a print block.
Then I printed it on paper - I decided not to waste any fabric until I had an actual idea for its development.
I'm not sure why I chose purple, I think I was just over black and white.
I then played around with various repeat prints. Still no idea what I might develop from it but at least I was DOING something.
Flipped and rotated prints.
Block repeat.
Block repeat on a much bigger piece of paper, rotated blocks.
Half drop block print - not measured or registered, just done by eye, trying out the design.
Maybe I can use it to print some fabric for patchwork. Not going to worry about it at this stage. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Not inspired but persevering

I am finding it hard to get going with my design exercises lately. We are supposed to find a photo that we like and then use it as an inspiration to draw. And then, eventually, to come up with a textile idea base on it.
I had trouble finding a photo I liked that I also wanted to try drawing. Not that I don't like a lot of my photos, I just didn't feel much like drawing them.

Finally, I found one that I thought I could play around with.

I did a few little drawings that seemed to all turn out the same, even though I did some 'cropping' to try to make it more interesting.

Part of my problem was that I printed out the photo using my rather cheap printer that seems to print in blocks so that there were lots of lines across the page. It also came out quite dark - in fact, the image above has been lightened considerably due to the problem.
I was going to be away all day and took the picture with me to work from. That's my excuse anyway.

When I got home and had another look at the picture on my computer, I realised that there were things in the image that I just had not seen at all. So I decided to play around with the image using Photoshop.

I have been visiting a blog of someone I have not met but am determined to catch up with, we live in the same city and belong to the same Embroiderers Guild. So far we haven't caught up but I am sure it will happen.
She has been playing around with photo manipulation recently and inspired me to have another go at my task, using the computer rather than my reluctant drawing.

So here are some of the results. I am not sure how I would turn them into textile pieces, tapestry weaving is definitely coming to mind. I have some past ones developed from the same location, Darebin Parklands, so I could see myself weaving another and calling it a series. One day.
At the moment I am just playing around with ideas, not working towards any particular outcome, or using any particular technique. I am not sure if this is freeing or if it is what is holding me back, making me struggle to be interested. I'll just have to persevere and see what develops.
This gave me a clearer idea of areas to work on. One of the tasks was to put in some texture, so this was a start for that too.  Then I cropped it to see if that was more interesting.

 Another task was to get a pattern from our drawing or photo. I couldn't see myself drawing one, so I played around with the pattern-making capabilities of Photoshop. The following images are all just little bits of the photo repeated, some are also flipped and turned.
I have NO idea how I would develop them in textiles but I had fun doing it and maybe someone at the class will be able to suggest something. The value of being in a group, sharing ideas.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Missed it

There was another total eclipse of the moon last night, and it was going to be another blood moon too.
I went to the opening of an exhibition and rushed home to see the lunar event.
The full moon was lovely in the sky - then it went behind he clouds and stayed there. Oh well, I saw one recently, suppose I can't be too greedy.

And I did enjoy the earlier event - the opening of Cresside Collette's tapestry weaving exhibition.
We weren't' allowed to take photos inside, so here is a picture of the outside of the venue - the Manningham Gallery has moved!

There has been building going on for ages and I obviously didn't take much notice of why - the gallery has moved from one building to the new one. Lovely space, right beside the library too, and a cafe if you are feeling peckish.

The exhibition opening was actually for two people, in two separate spaces. Regeneration, by Enid Ratnam-Keese and Woven Worlds: 10 Years of 'en plein air' tapestries by Cresside Collette.
I concentrated on the tapestries, I had seen some of them before but this was a collection of works done by Cresside 'en plein air' over a period of 10 years. The 'en plein air' aspect is different from painting as the weaving is such a slower process. I have been to two workshops with Cresside where we worked 'en plein air' and one of the challenges was that the light changed - the world continued to spin even though I wanted it to keep the image the same. And the weather changed from one day to the next, very inconsiderate of the weather gods.

Cresside's weaving used very fine yarns and she manages to get so much detail into such tiny images that it is amazing. The lighting really picked out the works beautifully. Cresside is giving a floor talk next Saturday and there are opportunities to do a bit of weaving on a community tapestry she is working on, overlooking the local hills, from inside the gallery building. I must try to get there on one of the days.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Looking a lot like something I have already done

Today I decided that I had better try to get my little textile sample done as it is almost time for the next class. I decided to go with the paper collage for my inspiration - my drawings are very uninspiring so far.

As I have so many little pieces of silk that I experimented with in the past, doing natural dyeing, I decided I should try to use them up. Out they came and I had a lovely time playing with them. The final piece has ended up quite small. If it works, and I can think of an application for this work, I have plenty of fabric to use.

My fabrics tended to be sorted into colour groups and the variation is mainly in tone, rather than colour. So I have produced a work rather like my first one, the black free motion embroidery. Actually, now that I have had a look at it, it is not very different at all! I may have got stuck on the one theme.

If I have time, I might try to do another, using different colours and shapes. One thing that is different with the textile work is that you do have to keep in mind how to keep the piece together when it is fabric based, not something you have to think about when you are sticking pieces onto paper and drawing around them.

I laid out small pieces of fabric onto some soluble fabric. I wondered how I would be able to keep them aligned, even if I pinned them and used a hoop - which looked like being a necessity. Then it came to me, I had seen a sample recently of soluble fabric that is sticky on one side. Off I rushed to buy some. (I'm so glad that I live close to the shop that has interesting products for machine embroidery, it is a machine embroidery specialist place and has loads of cheap products that are amazingly interesting to play with.)

I laid out the fabric again and it stuck beautifully, it lifts easily too so that you can rearrange the design quite easily.  I did wonder how it would sew, would the foot of the sewing machine stick to the fabric? It did stick a tiny bit but not enough to hamper my sewing. I only did a very basic stitch and was using a straight stitch, and the normal sewing foot with normal pressure, so I don't know how it would go with lots of moving around. I didn't need a hoop though, a bonus as far as I am concerned.

The fabric dissolved quite well - I used hot water from the tap, not too hot to put my hand in.
I realised that some of the larger areas of stitching haven't worked well, I will have to go over them again when it dries.
Here it is, drying on some paper towel.  It needs a little bit more work but is basically finished. Now to try something with some colour.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Using paper collage for inspiration

As part of our last design class, we did some small paper collages. We only used two colours and we were encouraged to think of them as based on a cross, placed on one side of the paper, in the centre of the paper or something else that I can't remember at the moment and which isn't obvious from the images.

Then we copied them and played around with them - continuing the line, echoing the shape, changing the size, adding a little, different, colour.
As you can see, the original was done on an A5 piece of paper, quite small, and the extensions are on A4, still not very big.

I haven't done all the additions, I found I was doing similar things over and over and decided to stop and go on to the drawing exercise.
I'm also not sure how I would interpret them in textile format, so have stopped for the moment.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This exercise is hard!

Our current homework contains the task of trying to draw fire, water, steam, clouds, etc, without actually drawing them. They are supposed to be the negative space.
This is doing my head in.
I took the camera out when I took Penny for her daily outing, in the hopes of getting some images that may inspire me.
The only ones that seem at all possible are these and I'm not too sure what I will do with them.
Penny got into this one, unfortunately the water is smelly. Now she is too.

I suppose I could go with an old tried and true image, my cliff face one. I'll give it some thought.

I took a couple of cloud pics recently too, will have to try one of these soon. They only have to be little images, 10cm x 10cm, but when you don't draw much, it is daunting.

Suppose I had better go and get the paper and see if I can come up with something. At least I can have the image up on the computer and keep it in front of me, not try to do it from memory.
I certainly can't be bothered printing them out, they are not fabulous pictures and it is too expensive to be printing them out when I don't think this is going to be a very successful activity, but you never know your luck in a big city, they might work out.