Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rust dyeing.

I've been reminded that today is 19/6/19 and that I should post.

Yesterday I went to the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria (not to be confused with the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria) to our monthly play day. The demonstration was of rust dyeing.
I took along some old rusted nails, a woodworking clamp, some other bits and pieces and some powdered rust that was in the containers.

We were told to bring a spray bottle with half and half water and vinegar but I only put the vinegar in because I could fill it with water when I got there. However, our demonstrators had done research from various sources and concluded that you could use pure vinegar if you preferred. So I did, just to see what would happen.

We dampened the fabric, put some rusty items on it, rolled it over, put more rusty items on it, rolled it over, etc. Then tied it with string. I sprayed it again to make sure it was damp all over.

The pieces of fabric were natural - cotton and silk, prepared for dye (washed to get the sizing off).

The fabric was then put into ziplock bags and left to do its thing.

It was recommended that we should keep the bag warm and occasionally open it to let air in because rusting happens well with oxygen.

I brought it home and put it on top of the heating vent, the current weather not being conducive to good brewing of the rust.

It was recommended that we leave it for several days but I could see that it was going well - and I was impatient. (After all, it is the 19th of the 19th!)

So here it is.
You can see some of the nail impressions, the screw part of the clamp, etc.

The fabric is actually a little darker than the images show. Some of the dye ran out when I rinsed it but not much.

Not sure what I will use the fabric for as the pieces are only very small. But now I know I can easily make more to go with them. So I'll put them aside for the time being and let ideas brew - a bit like the rust did.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A new way to transfer images - new for me.

I recently was inspired by a friend who had been to a paper workshop in which she used Cirtasolv to dissolve the inks on old National Geographic magazines to produce some lovely new papers.

It only seems to work on National Geographic papers. Well, she did get a bit of movement with an old BOM weather calendar, but it wasn't as good as the National Geographic.

I had a look online when I got home and found that Citrasolv has a link dedicated to using its cleaning product for art!
Having watched a few videos, it seems that National Geographic magazine has clay used in the printing process (or the paper itself?) and that might be what makes the difference.

I had some Orange Power solvent and thought I would give that a try but it didn't seem to work. I didn't have much and it was old, so it might be worth trying again at another time.

Then, as I was reading about these cleaning products, I thought: eucalyptus oil does that cleaning too.It probably came to me as I have been using it recently for my heavy head cold (it clears the sinuses wonderfully, especially if you put a few drops into steaming water, put a towel over your head and inhale - works wonders, keep a hanky nearby).

So, having read the other product information sites, I had a photo printed on a laser printer. The sites say that inkjet won't work.

I washed some cotton, to make sure the sizing was gone, and tried it.
I put the photo face down and taped it with masking tape around the edges, to make sure it would not move around.

Then I gently brushed on the oil. The paper instantly became transparent.
I rubbed it gently with the back of a teaspoon for a little while - not long at all.

Peeking to see if was working. 

The image has transferred. The printout is still not too bad either but I think I got all the transfer I was going to get.

I have rinsed and ironed it and nothing seemed to come off it. As it is only going to be an experimental wall hanging piece, I didn't give it a thorough testing of fastness.

I put cotton batting behind it, into a hoop,  and used free motion sewing to highlight the different areas.

I cut the batting away to the edge of the image and then wrapped the sides around some mount board.

There was a little bit of frayed cotton under the fabric when I did the transfer and it is clearly visible so I will have to be more careful if I do another.

The piece is for my machine embroidery group at the EGV. Our monthly theme this year is Farmyard. This month's topic was farmer or farm worker, neither of which enthused me. Then I was browsing my photos and came across this one of a bee and the sunflower in our backyard.

The bee is doing the pollinating - a worker. What would we do without them??

Friday, May 31, 2019

Another attempt at a teapot

Well, the last teapot wasn't that successful so I decided to try again.
This version is slightly larger than the previous one.

I changed a few things, one being using some stiff interfacing as well as the two layers of soft felt.

It has been moderately successful. I haven't finished the teapot yet so will hold off on judgement, but the sewing has meant that some bends happened where I sewed, rather than a natural curve. This is really obvious in the handle but I will have a go at doing something about that when I have done the rest.

I also cut off the interfacing where the bends were going to be which worked well - so far.

I decided to try putting it together in a different order also.
I put the handle, the spout and the lid on the central piece before doing anything else.

I have sewn one side on. That is enough for tonight.

So far, it is less twisted than the previous attempt although it is not perfect - but who wants perfection??

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Marathon effort for a prototype

I have been trying to work on a fabric teapot. Stonehouse Gallery is having an exhibition and called for expressions of interest.
That should be interesting, I thought.
Yes, it has been interesting, challenging, time-consuming, frustrating and generally hard to do!

However, I have been extremely (!) patient and made my teapot, pulled it apart, remade parts of it, pulled it apart, remade parts of it, pulled it apart - at least 4 times.

Now I have finished, not because it is perfect but because it is as good as I can make it. It is still skewiff but I simply cannot face trying to fix it anymore.
It is ok - not great but ok.

I will put it aside and consider what I have learnt from it and, maybe, try to make another.

I used some stiffener that you buy to put into handbags. I can't remember what it is called but it is felt-like. I had some fabric that I sewed onto it. Then I looked online and found a Claris Cliffe teapot that I thought I should be able to adapt to make stand up. It has a flat bottom, is not round and 'should' be easy to make a template for.

Well, it sort of worked. But I hadn't realised how differently cardboard templates would behave from fabric and felt - the dimensions are different, for starters. And the thickness is different. But fabric is a bit forgiving and can be stretched and pulled, to a degree.

So I have learnt that my original design was ok but needed adaptation. Now I just have to hope I can remember what was adapted and how. I didn't take notes, there was too much changing going on. I have taken photos, so they may be of use. I hope so - if I decide to try again.

Part of the problem with it is that I went away for 4 days and took a few things to use. I did't take much, I didn't have access to all my bits and pieces and I had to make do with what I had. It hasn't actually mattered in the long run but it did limit some choices. However, I had 4 days of nothing else to do, so I got the majority of it made in one go. I have worked on it since but in a more desultory manner, home life being what it is, with all the distractions and demands.

I think that I have spent approximately 30 hours on it. It stands about 15cm high. At $15 an hour (not the basic wage), it is currently worth $450! Not counting materials, which might be about $10. Hmm, not going to make a living at this.

Friday, April 19, 2019

April already!

I have been busy the last week or so.
I managed to get to the first day of the AQC and saw some lovely works.

One of my favourites was in the Korean Style Quilt section. I love the design, reminding me of looking down at a city from a height.
Kayoing Ahn.

Once again, the ladies who develop their quilts from collages were there. Collage to Stitch. I am very interested in this technique but find that you can't just sit down and make good collages - more practice needed, therefore more organisation and space needed.

I made a small piece for the Self Portrait exhibition. The quilts had to be 25cm x 25cm, not very big.

I had a piece mostly made from years ago.
I have been doing some blind contour drawing of faces.
I also saw some lovely blind contour wire portraits while I was overseas. Both mentioned in this post.

So I did a blind drawing of myself, including torso. I sewed it onto soluble fabric and attached it to the base. Then I put the borders on and entered it. I was very chuffed to be accepted and see it on display in person.

It is titled Hollowed Out.
The statement is: Sometimes following the rules is too exhausting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


I must be on a roll, doing yet another post this month.

I have visited two exhibitions recently.
Once is the Escher x Nendo at the National Gallery Victoria.
I loved it! The woodcuts were amazing - so detailed, apart from the wonderful images.
I just felt myself smiling as I walked around. I think it was the setup, the Nendo part, I assume, and the buzz of people having a lovely time. And taking the time to just be there, not doing anything in particular, not being there because I had to, etc.

I kept thinking how the tessellating images would make a quilter sooo happy!

I also got the the Shaun Tan exhibition, Untold Tales. I also loved that. It was really well named, each piece told a story. I told myself stories quite different from the ones my friends were telling themselves.
I loved this one, I had my own story, which did not quite match the title (fortunately, I read it after I had made up my own story). The title was quite amusing too.

This one was used for the publicity. Seeing it in situ, with the wonderful lighting, was amazing, it just glowed!

I don't think it is on for very long, so I was lucky to get there.
I love Shaun Tan's work. His picture story books are great, even though I did think about reading them to some younger grades as they are 'picture story books' but when I actually read them I decided that they were much more suitable for older children. Some of the themes are quite challenging.

And the art is amazing.

Still March

Another slightly interesting date: 19/3/19, hence the post. Two in a few days!

I have been doing a little bit of sewing as well as my tapestry weaving.
Our machine embroidery group, at the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria, has a theme for this year: Farmyard.
I have done a rooster. I used a picture from 123RF, an online site that lets you download images and use them. I have adapted it, of course.

I have continued to use the fabric collage technique that I have been playing around with lately.

Once again, I have not used any product that sticks the fabric. But ... I have discovered a lovely free motion foot for my sewing machine.
I have been using the darning foot, a generic free motion foot and a specialised free motion foot (that I later discovered, after three broken ones (at great expense, let me tell you!!) was not for my iteration of the machine) that you can buy one that sits on the fabric, doesn't go up and down with the needle. It has a round part that means the fabric doesn't get caught on the little metal circle.

I proudly announced this to my group and was met with: I have always used that sort of foot, what else is there?; to great excitement about my discovery.

Anyway ... it has been wonderful for the free motion work, it doesn't catch on the little pieces of fabric and it is much easier to do the work without using any glues or Vliesofix, etc. And the little pieces of fabric don't bounce up and down, so don't move around so much.

As I have been working on 12' square pieces for my online group, I continued with that for the rooster too.
Not sure what I will do with these pieces but the challenge is good because it keeps me thinking and doing.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Another month gone by!

I had hoped to post yesterday - having this strange thing about dates. It was 16/3/19. But I was too overwhelmed by events.
So here I am, trying to gather some enthusiasm.

My tapestry weaving group has decided to do an Exquisite Corpse thing. We are a bit vague about who is going to participate and how it is going to work. I was the first to give it a go. I think this is a huge advantage as I don't have to respond to anyone else's work.

We are having to adapt the idea a bit as it is rather tricky to hide the previous image. We are asking people to respond to the previous bit but not to be dominated by it.

The idea is to do a 25cm x 15cm bit of weaving, on the theme Witch.

We are going to do a part of the image each - not that I can remember how many people have said they might be interested in participating.

Anyway ... a relative of mine was not offended when I said I would like to use a photo of her foot. It was taken when she had some fungal infection and was very inspiring.

I used the photo, flipped it in Photoshop and then drew (in Photoshop) a very basic design to be the rest of the image.

I didn't do much actual planning of the dress/pants, so the shading has been done on the fly.
It was rather challenging to do the feet - and I was not feeling like being challenged, so there may only be 4 toes on each foot, depending on how you look at it. Not to worry, it is all a bit of fun.

I did decide that I should practise some sort of weaving, hence the hatching in the grass areas.
It is a rolling warp, something I have not used before. Something I had not warped before. Something I still have not warped - a friend did it for me!

The idea is that we do our section, take out the floor when the weaving gets too high on the loom and then roll the warp around the frame. I hope it works!
There were some challenges with this method, it is hard to get your hand behind the warp as all the weaving is done from the front.

I have finished my section and all the problems are passed on!!
My loom will have to travel around, a good excuse to have a rest for a while.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

How Things Develop

The machine embroidery group I belong to has a Farmyard theme this year.
This month's is buildings and fences. Not all that inspiring, I thought. But at least it is a theme and I can think about it.

Having thought about it for several weeks now, and having taken some extremely boring photos, I decided to bite the bullet and start today.

I had looked at some people's work on Pinterest. I especially like Cinde Hoppe, a new to me textile artist.
After browsing her site I thought I might pull out some fabrics I have dyed in the past and see if I had anything suitable.

That was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before. Finally, I got into my, relatively tidy, studio today and was about to start looking at said dyed fabrics.
I don't know what made me look down at the box on the bottom shelf but I did. There were some bits and pieces left over from my Cas Holmes workshop that I did about 10 or 11 months ago.

I pulled them out. I laid them out. I radically changed my mind about what I thought I was going to do!

Now I have a piece that I think is going to be 12" square - just because that is the size I have been working on lately.
I made the image. It is rather more abstract than I had anticipated. I was influenced by a book I borrowed from the library: Art Quilt Collage by Deborah Boschert. I haven't really done what she is teaching in the book, but I was definitely influenced by reading it.

I also had a bit of sewing I had done on soluble fabric which I had done it for the Secret Garden exhibition in 2016. It was still on the soluble fabric, I had not used it but I had put it on my pinboard so that I wouldn't forget I had it. Today was the day for soaking it and pinning it out to dry.
This is it, drying in the sun.

Then I noticed that the bag of offcuts from doing the Unfinished Business challenge (2017). They went into the mix tool.

After I placed the bits and pieces and sewed them onto the background (a drop sheet from the Cas Holmes workshop), I decided I wanted some quilting-type texture, so put a cotton batting on the back. Then there was some not very planned free motion sewing.

I laid the trees in the foreground and sewed them on. 

I have cut away some of the backing, where the edge of the image is going to be. There was a slightly frayed, raggedy edge that I didn't like as it was too white. 
(I think I am going to sew it over a piece of foam core, as I have done with my other pieces recently.)

Then I remembered that I treated myself when I was overseas visiting friends late last year, by buying some Inktense Pencils. I have coloured the edge of the fabric and will hope that it has done the job. 

I needed some new foam core for the required size and it was too late to go to the shops, so I will have to work on how to present it tomorrow, after I buy the foam core.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

February 2019

I used to aim for a post a week. Now I am for one a month! I want to continue because this really is my visual diary, I often come back to it to find out things. I think that is because the blog is searchable, which my actual, physical, visual diaries are not!
Also, as I change themes in my musing, I find that I will take things from an old visual diary, on a totally different topic, and reuse them. That is definitely not searchable in the hardcopy version.

So I will continue with the occasional post, which is mostly for me.

My tree is finally finished and mounted. I went to my tapestry weaving group today and finished sewing the back on (no relation to tapestry weaving whatsoever, but we do talk tapestry, tapestry exhibitions, themes, etc. while doing knitting, sewing, etc. - looms are a bother to take with you unless you are doing a very small, portable tapestry).

I took a couple of pictures when I got home, in two different locations. The difference in lighting is quite marked.  

This is the tree, after the acorn has sprouted (not really, of course, I couldn't wait the 100 years or so.  It is actually the tree and the acorn grew under it.)
It has been a hottish summer, not as bad as other parts of Victoria, and other parts of Australia, but I have found the weather challenging enough anyway.  So it has been a bit hard to be motivated. But I was with some young relatives recently and one of them remembered that I had taken a book about how to draw with me last year (Drawing for Mixed Media Artists by Carla Sonheim). One of the suggestions was to draw with your eyes closed. Another was to draw with your non-dominant hand. She combined these and drew a picture left-handed and with her eyes closed. Unfortunately it was on a whiteboard and she rubbed it off before I could take a photo. But she did do a couple of others. I managed to get a quick photo of them before she rubbed them out.

This inspired me to have a go myself! This is partly because there is a challenge for the AQC, due at on February 21st. I am not necessarily going to make it for that (it is a short time frame) but it is a theme to get me going. I think I need themes to motivate me, at least at present.

Part of the reason why I am thinking that my drawing is ok is that I was visiting a friend who lives in New York (lucky me) and went to a restaurant at Colombus Circle that had a whole lot of wire art, portraits. So the current thinking is to try to use that idea with the abstract drawing I have done and see what develops.

I haven't worked out quite how I will do it but the idea is giving me something to think about.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

January 2109

Interesting date again: 19/1/19. It only comes once a year, so I feel the need to post. Fortunately, I have been working on something, so I have something to show.

I am working on a companion piece for the acorn work. This time, it is the grown tree. I took several photos at Warringal and have played with the filters in Photoshop to make the image a bit less real and give me some sort of abstract thing to work from. It is not very abstract but is enough to give me light and dark areas.

The trunk wasn't very noticeable. One of the elements of the current challenge, for the 3rd piece in a challenge of 4 pieces, was to have some 3D (or 2 1/2 D, whatever that is) in it. So I have made some little twisted pieces of fabric and then applied them to give some texture. Here's hoping that it will be enough. Not that we are very strict with our challenges and elements, it is just to make us think.

Time to stop now, let it sit overnight and have another look at it tomorrow. Still lots to do on the leaves.