Monday, December 28, 2015

Quiet Day

I took the dog for a walk this morning. It is the Monday after Christmas but we are having a Boxing Day holiday, even though we seem to have also had a Boxing Day holiday on Saturday. Maybe today is so people can recover from the shopping frenzy.

I took this photo of the freeway into the city at what is usually peak hour.
We should have clean air at present anyway, with the recent rain and so little traffic.

I could tell my interests have changed. I walked past lots of beautiful bark lying on the ground and wasn't tempted to pick it up for dyeing experiments. I am even walking past the hollyhock flowers in our own backyard. I don't actually want to play around with it at the moment, I don't have any use for the fabric and it seems a huge waste of water to be playing around with the dyeing and rinsing.

But I couldn't resist this textured tree trunk.
Maybe my interests will revive or maybe I am moving on to other ideas. I am playing around with my sunset pictures from last year - still. 
It is much the same time of year as when I took them and I can tell that we are having some spectacular ones again, from looking at the tree that reflects the gorgeous colours. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

How Strange

After celebrating Christmas with some family and friends, I went out the the glass house and looked at my jars of cool water dyeing - it did not feel particularly cool! And the colour of the fabric was no longer purple, it had started to look grey, like the fabric I had boiled up in the pot. I suspect I should have taken it out of the jars yesterday or the day before. But I didn't, so that is that.

I threw out the flowers that were steeping in the jars and washed out the fabric. It is more green than grey, very strange. I don't know why I have this lovely shade of green, but I was quite happy to see it, it is very pretty, it is just unlike any other colours I have previously obtained from the hollyhock dyeing.

It looks rather grey in the photo but is much greener in real life.  I suppose it is a greenish grey, or a greyish green.

I still have some fabric scraps in the weak dye bath, I will have to rinse them out tomorrow. I have been amazingly unscientific about all this, even for me, so I have no idea what it will look like. A surprise in the making.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I think this happened last year.

I got the silk pieces out of the pot today and washed them out.
They started out a lovely purplish colour. The water continued to have some dye come out so I put it in the washing machine (on a very low and short setting) and let it finish rinsing. I did let warm water go in. Maybe that was the problem.
All the pieces are now grey!  A lovely warm grey, with tinges of purple, but definitely grey.

Once it happened, I remembered something similar happening previously. Obviously, the warm water had something to do with it - or not.
But it is good to know that the pink and blue colours wash out - it would be dreadful to make something and sell it and then have the colours change when the buyer washed it. (If I ever get around to making something, let alone selling it.)

I still have the fabric in the cold water jars. They are still purple and the dry flowers seem to be as strong as the frozen ones now.

Time will tell, I will have to leave them for a couple more days (or just one, if I am impatient) and then wash them out and see what eventuates.

There was still a dye bath, so I put in some odds and ends from previous works to see what would happen. The dye is much less intense, so the colour will be fainter. And I used wool and cotton batting, cotton fabric and some fabric that was polycotton mix. So it will be interesting to see what comes out of it all. I did boil it again, for a short time. Now I am thinking that the heat was probably not a great idea - too late, I did it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Just Couldn't Resist!

It was too much for me, all those lovely hollyhock flowers fallen on the ground. I just had to pick them up.

I also had to clear out the freezer so I can make the Geraldine Dillon frozen chocolate cheesecake - I only make it once a year and the time is upon us. Christmas lunch, on a hot day, purportedly.

So out came the frozen hollyhocks which have been there for who knows how long.

I had obviously been thinking about this for a few days because I had some silk soaking in alum, since Saturday. I began to think that it probably isn't good for the silk to be soaking for days in a mordant, so I had to get to today and do something with it all.

Then I dissolved some alum in a pot of water. As usual, I didn't have any great plan or any good, scientific method. I just looked through old posts and tried to remember what I did last year.

I found an interesting site on natural dyeing.

I came across a recipe for using hollyhock flowers in cooking too. Apparently, it is related to the hibiscus, which can be substituted in the recipe. So I suppose hibiscus might dye fabric also. But our flowers are pink and not as dark as the hollyhocks, so I might leave that experimentation till much later.

So now I have two jars with various silk fabrics. They are doing the cold water, slow dyeing thing (but in the hothouse in summer and some days are forecast to be hot soon, so not that cold). One jar has frozen hollyhock flowers and the other has ones I picked up off the ground today. As it rained yesterday, the colour may not be as good as it would have been if I had done it yesterday, but yesterday was too hot to do much.
The frozen flowers are in the right-hand jar. I think the colour is more intense, it certainly came out more quickly. I will have to wait a few days to see if the dried flowers develop more intensity. 

Then I decided to make a dye bath. I dissolved some alum in the water, heated it up and then put in the rest of the frozen flowers. The colour comes out immediately, it is wonderful to see.

I put the fabric in after the flowers had been simmering for about 40 minutes - I remember reading that reds and yellows don't do so well if you heat them for too long.

After draining out the flowers, I put in some untreated silk and let it simmer for about another half hour. It is currently cooling down. I will leave it overnight and rinse it out tomorrow.

Once again, I have no ideas for using the silk pieces. None of them is very large, it will have to be some sort of collage or patchwork.

But I just couldn't let the flowers go to waste! Once again, I have only used the flowers that have dried up and fallen off the plant.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mercy Street book launch

Tess Evans has a new book out - well, it is available in Eltham and Echuca. Apparently it won't be available till the new year in other bookshops.

The book launch was at the Eltham Library. I have not been there before, it is in a lovely setting.
There was a good crowd there, standing room only by the time the speakers got going.

The speeches were very interesting and I can't wait to start the book. I noticed, as I read the first page while waiting for the book to be signed, that it is set in Fairfield, a local suburb. That should give it extra interest.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas is coming.

It is that time of year again.
The hydrangeas are out and looking lovely.

 We saw some much more ornate ones at the house we stayed at in Wangaratta last week.

And there is a Lego Christmas tree in Fed Square. I heard that it has half a million pieces in it.
It was very Australian with the surfing Santa, a cricket-playing elf and a kookaburra.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Starting a small tapestry - finally!

I am currently trying to start a small tapestry. I went to the Australian Tapestry Workshop yesterday to buy some colours for my latest idea. The inspiration from the workshop last week is still there, I just have to get organised and actually start weaving. But it is closer, I have warped up the loom and now have the yarns.

I hope I have all the colours I will need, I am more doubtful about that now that I have done the colour workshop and learnt about putting in colours that seem unrelated - I will have to experiment and hope that I can get an approximation of the inspirational image.

One good thing was that the ATW has yarns the weavers use, ready mixed, and I can use them as a guide. You can buy small bits quite cheaply, they are the ends cut off from the back of the tapestry. They are very good for seeing how the weavers mix colours and use different yarns.
We used these thrums at the workshop last week and I was surprised to see other yarns, silk and cottons, in the mix.

I am using one of my sunset pictures. I seem to be obsessed with them. It is almost a year since I took them, I had better start looking out at sunset to see if there are more spectacular sights this year.

I have had one printed at a print shop and then realised that I had it in the wrong proportions for my small tapestry, which is only supposed to be 20cm x 20cm, or less. So I printed it out on the home printer. Of course, the colours look different! And the actual photograph that I had printed out is different again. So I will have to be careful not to use all three sources and get the colours all wrong. I'll have to pick the one I like best - and for which I have bought the correct colours, hopefully - and stick to that. Be decisive.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Michelle Mischkulnig exhibition

I went to Yering Station the other day to see Michelle's exhibition.
It was very inspiring!
I loved the colours, the motifs, the different techniques she uses.

In fact, it has made me think of trying some silk painting again. I haven't done that in AGES!! I have some fabric left over from the 80s (I don't throw out much) and now I might be able to practise some sewing on it, making it useful. I have dabbled since but now I have a use for it - if I get around to it.

She uses a variety of techniques and her work is very interesting to see. I took a few photos but they didn't turn out that well. You can see better images on her website and Facebook page.
I loved the layers in this.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Out and About in Wangaratta

Having been to North America so recently, I was interested to be looking around in Wangaratta with my tourist's eye.
One of the things I noticed in every small town on my overseas trip was a tattoo parlour, no matter how small the town. Lo and behold, there was one in Wangaratta too.

I took LOTS of pictures of bridges while I was away, so I had to take this one.

And the railway station had to be included, it is so lonely looking.

The tapestry in the cathedral also demanded to be photographed.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weaving at Wang

I have just returned from a 3 day tapestry weaving workshop with Joy Smith.
It was a small group, 3 beginners and 2 continuers - if I can call ourselves that.

The focus was on colour and different ways to blend colours, or to use them to good advantage.
We were at the Wangaratta Art Gallery and surrounded by beautiful tapestries from the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

Not only were they wonderful to be sitting with, they were inspirational and educational. We could wander off to see how colours were blended, how different shades were made and to look at different techniques.

We worked in the actual gallery space where the light was the same all day. Once we had made some progress, we took the looms out into the bright sunshine to see the difference in colours. Some of the differences were quite startling!

I have practised with a few techniques and have an idea for a small tapestry. All I have to do now is get the colours. I decided to challenge myself and go outside my usual colour range, so I might not have them in my stash. Oh dear, I will have to make myself go to the Tapestry Workshop itself and look at all those gorgeous colours.

First I need to go through my own yarns to check if I have any that will do. I am also intending to use some embroidery thread or silk thread, so I will have to check them too.