Saturday, November 29, 2014

Trying different dragonfly designs

I was reminded of an activity I used to do with my primary students. We used to fold out paper in half, pit in some paint, along the middle if the paper, fold the paper and then spread the paint out with our fingers. It gives a symmetrical,image. 
I have tried that again, using gouache paint, which didn't work as well as I had thought it might. I probably should have used acrylic paint but that is somewhere in a box (we are having renovations done and many of my supplies are in boxes).
One ia age has turned out looking rather like an insect - which is the theme of our homework for the design class as. 

I haven't decided what to do with this one, so it remains as is for the time being.

I had two other pieces that I have cut out using the dragonfly stencil. So far I have only cut them out, I will think about using my black pens and may do some more doodling patterns. The quality of the paint  may affect this so I need to consider it some more before launching into it.



They haven't come out perfectly symmetrically but I don't think that matters too much. I think acrylic paint may have given me a better result but will have to wait till I find the paint before I can trial it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not Trusting the Weather

Yesterday was the day for our get-together - three of us are getting together on a regular basis. We have been talking about sun dyeing but I didn't trust the weather and didn't prepare for it. It was raining most of the previous day, off and on, heavily when on! Just ask me and my dog about that.

Anyway, I didn't take any things suitable for sun dyeing. But one of our group did; it was her first time, so we were happy to give lots of helpful advice when it turned out to be sunny after all.

Since I wasn't going to do the dyeing and didn't have anything specific to do, I decided to do the homework from my Design for Stitch course - the only thing I got done was to come up with an outline drawing of a dragonfly.
Our task was to fold a piece of paper in half and draw half an insect shape, then cut it out so we would have a symmetrical shape.
Then we are to fill in a pattern, cut out parts of it and, hopefully, have an interesting design. Our current topic is tone, so I presume I should try filling in parts of the drawing with different tones.

I looked online at beetle shapes and patterns - lots of lovely images. Then I tried dragonfly images and came across a site that gives instructions on drawing a dragonfly. I folded my paper and drew half the image, then unfolded it and cut it out.

The person doing the sun dyeing asked, in an interested tone of voice, what I intended doing with that stencil. How could I say no? So she used it in one of her sun dyeing pieces. It worked rather well.
The paper stencil absorbed some of the dye. The image below shows the fabric after the removal of the stencil. The sunshine was not consistent but obviously there was enought to do the job.

I copied my stencil so that I now have a cutout. I then found an image that had used an outline and filled in the pattern with Zen doodling.

I thought about how I might fill in the pattern on my cutout and realised that making it symmetrical may be a challenge. That's when I ran out of time and had to leave. However, I did have a chance to try some doodling last night. It reminds me that I haven't done much lately and I need to take it up again. It was very restful.

Ideas are slowly percolating - maybe a free motion piece, maybe a quilted piece. We are expected to come up with textile samples between (fortnightly) classes, so I hope to be able to play around with the idea in the next few days.                                                                                                        

Friday, November 21, 2014

Trying collage as a design technique

The online tapestry group that I belong to has a new theme for the 2015 exhibition. My Place. I want to try a new, less literal, design but have found myself using photos once again. I downloaded a couple of images from 123RF and also had a look at some books of roadmaps and Google Maps. Once again, I found myself doing some rather literal designing.
Then I picked up a book I bought a while ago, art quilt maps. It is uses collage (of fabric) in the design process, and the actual making, and I loved many of the quilts in the book.
I remembered our weekend at Tarndie where I used collage for my designing, so decided to try that process again. I haven't done collage much. I found it quite freeing in that little tapestry and hope it will be so again. So the elements have given me clues to follow - collage!
I used thrums for the Tarndie tapestry and might try that again, if I have suitable colours. If not, I will make up the colours I need using what other yarns I already have.

I tried doing some curved pieces for the part of the design that is the curving creek and park and I just cut straighter pieces for the built-up area. 
We have been doing work on line in our Design for Stitch course, the book reminded me of this also. I made a little template of the streets and roads, cut them out, then used oil pastel to rough them in. 
Here is the design so far. I haven't thought too much about how I will weave it, I will tackle that problem tomorrow, maybe.  It isn't all that big, about 20cm wide. I am going to use this design as my cartoon but only loosely - I will try to make decisions as I go, I think I find that more freeing. Seeing that the collage is not much like my original image, it won't matter that much. I hope.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Upper Yarra Valley outings

I have been to the Upper Yarra Valley a few times lately and have seen some interesting sights.
At Warburton there was a woven basket sitting on a fallen tree, right in the middle of the river. Lovely.

There were also many little families of ducks around. These ducklings were quite grown up but we had to stop on the road for some very little ones one day.

Then, on another day, we visited Mont de Lancey to see the wonderful exhibition by the Papermakers of Victoria, titled Mapping Common Ground.
There were quite a few papermakers represented in the exhibition and the range of techniques was interesting. The gallery space is wonderful.
So, too, it the restaurant!  Lovely lunch. Perfect day.
I especially enjoyed looking at the works and not thinking how I might adapt an idea, or use a technique. I have no intention of taking up paper making, so it was just a day to look and enjoy.

Mont de Lancey in an old house with a working smithy, which has classes for those interested. There is also a woodturning area that holds classes.
We met some men in the very large shed that houses restored (or partially restored) old engines. And there was a lovely Clydesdale horse there, getting ready for the festival being held there this coming weekend.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sun dyeing with glass

A bracken plant was cut down in the garden, it was a hot and sunny day. I just couldn't resist trying some more sun dyeing using the leaves.
I painted the fabric with just three colours this time, green, orange and a mustard yellow. As I was trying to water them down, I mixed the colours a bit. I started to paint it, then I decided that I would see what happened if I used slightly dampened fabric. So I wet it, scrunched it up and painted the dyes onto it. Where the previous painting had dried, the edges are quite visible but the dye moved over the fabric quite satisfactorily.

I placed the leaf upside down as that seemed to keep the relevant parts closer to the fabric.

It was a windy day (high fire danger) so I used random bits of wood I found lying around to keep the fabric flat, you can see the resists around the edges.

I also had a small pane of glass and thought I would lay that down over one part of the fabric to see if I could get a clearer image, my thinking was that the leaf would be kept quite flat to the fabric and should give a clear image.
Not so …

The water in the fabric condensed onto the glass and caused some travelling of the dye. It was still damp despite the hot day and the rest of the fabric being quite dry. The effect is quite interesting but not what I was aiming for - and it would be hard to control. Not that that would be an issue for me, I rarely try to duplicate an image. I just like experimenting. It may have been different if I had not dampened the fabric, just painted the dye on. I suppose I could experiment further on that - later.
But it was an interesting insight as to why I haven't come across other people recommending using glass in the sun dyeing process.

One thing I have noticed with the sun dyeing is that I don't have to rinse the fabric very much, very little dye runs out after the process. Always good in these water-conscious days.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Playing around with the sun dyed fabric

I was minding the shop at The Alcove yesterday and didn't have much with me in the way of things to do between customers. But I did have my iPad and some photos I had taken of the sun dyeing. I decided to have a play around with the Brushes app and see if I could come up with some ideas for sewing. They haven't turned out the same but they did give me some direction.  I rarely use the app and didn't feel the need to be too precise, I just played around with colours and lines.

Today I decided to have a go at making some ATCs (Artists Trading Cards), using my sun dyed fabric. We are currently having some rooms renovated and I have packed up my studio.
Where had I put all my bits and pieces???

I have made two ATCs, after lots of rummaging around in boxes, trying to find what I needed in piles of stuff and even going to the shop to buy some things that I KNOW I have but can't find in the mountains of boxes. Very frustrating.

However, I have come up with two samples. They are not particularly good but it has been an interesting exercise in finding what items I actually want to use, then getting them out and finding where to put them for the time being, so that they will be accessible but not in the way.

As I don't often do ATCs, there was some research needed on how to make them, then some decisions on how to adapt the ideas to what I could actually find to use.