Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thread painting for spring

I decided that we will continue with these little thread paintings, and cover a few techniques with each one.
I have got a few ideas for different types of landscapes, but since it is spring over in the northern hemisphere, I thought we might begin with a daffodil.
Above is my pattern, which you can find here.The pattern size is 6x4 inches or A6 size.

 Obviously, with this pattern, it is important to trace the pattern backwards because when we fuse it it will be a mirror image, This is because the picture is not symmetrical.  Above you see my paper backed fused fabrics.  What I do is take the paper off, trace the pattern pieces and re-fuse the paper BACKWARDS, in other words I place the pencil next to the fabric.
And here they are cut apart.  I remove the papers and rearrange them in the backing.  Using my own judgement.
Above, the pieces are arranged in a pleasing way, so
I fuse them down inside the line marked from the pattern.

Here is a close up, showing the colours more clearly.  There are two colours for the petals and trumpet.  The two back petals and the underneath part of the trumpet are a  darket colour.

We will start defining the flower next week, so get your green and yellow threads ready!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Today some friends and I did what all quilters do - went SHOPPING!

 We went to a local quilting shop that is now located on a farm.  It was a lovely drive and the fabrics are lovely.  We all spent way too much, but I think I might be going to have something soon which will use up some of this - I'll tell you about it in a little while.

 First up are two water/sky fabrics and two foliage fabrics.  I will lie awake tonight dreaming of landscapes.
Next a sunset sky and a red sky that I thought would be great in a desert scene.  The fabric on the right has rocks, and bubbles and water and sky and the colours are so gorgeous, I had to have it.
I have a thing for teacups and teapots, so I couldnt go past this one.  I have so many teacup/pot fabrics now, I think it will be a series of quilts.

And last but not least, I fell in love with this Kona bay panel which is quite large.  I could just see it thread painted, especially the flowers and the pine needles and bark.  This one is aching to be done.

So I've had my shopping fix for a bit... although  the Australian quilt Convention is a few weeks away....and I said I'd go....well, maybe just look at the displays?......LOL.

Very short post today.  Not much work done, but a fair amount of inspiration.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
-- Aristotle

To dye another day

Today was dyeing day.  This is a day when I play with colour.

Someone asked me, why do I do these experiments with different techniques.  I do them as part of the art process.  I might not see the relevance of a particular texture or colour now, but the samples become a reference so that when I am working on a project, I can choose the technique that fits in with my theme or which makes most sense.  I suppose Icould go trawling the net for ideas, but this interrupts the creative process and nothing beats actually doing, seeing and feeling the end product myself.
Sometimes, an experiment with a technique will actually suggest a piece of work to me, so for me experimentation is the key.
Above are my basic tools.  Dye, Gloves, protective surface and dye.  I use Rit Dye because It is freely available and I loosely follow their low water immersion technique.
Here are a variety of fabrics, soaking in warm water prior to dyeing. They include hessian (the aqua fabric, also called burlap), scrim, cheesecloth, cotton and batting scraps (cotton and bamboo).
I use glass jars for my dyeing, these are around 500ml or 2 cups.  I use glass, because I find the microwave step tends to melt plastic, and glass washes clean after dyeing.
I am accurate in my measurements in that I only use a teaspoon of the dye powder in these jars.
I also usually start with the three primary colours, red, blue and yellow.  This is firstly, cheaper and secondly allows for more experimentation with blending. I have added about 200ml of boiling water to the jars above.
Here I have split each dye between two jars, so I have some left to mix together later.
Here I am adding scraps of batting to the three dye baths.  You can see that the colour is being taken up already.  I microwave on high for 1 to two minutes depending on how many jars I put in the microwave.  After microwaving, I use the tongs you see (the fabric is very hot and so is the jar) to squeeze excess dye out of the fabric, rinse under cold water till the water runs clear, then dry the fabric.
Here I am mixing up orange, green and purple.  Orange is 1 part red to at least three parts yellow.  Green is 1 part blue and two yellow and purple is 1 part red to three parts blue.  What I have found, is that the red is very strong, whilst the yellow is very weak, so be prepared for this.

And here is my basic colour wheel in batting.  I like to dye batting to use in machine embellishing.  It does not always take the dye evenly and this gives it depth.
Now, I am adding cotton fabric, scrunched up.
I don't mix the fabric around, but just let the dye soak up from the bottom, then microwave.  This leaves undyed areas that can be dyed over later.
In this picture, I am doing the same with scrim, which is very useful in embellished and stitched collages.  It has some transparency, but takes up dye well.
So that is the basic technique, except of course for rinsing, drying and pressing.
So let's have the eye candy.
 Cotton, loosely bunched, dyed with red.  You will find that even though the red is stronger, it is not as colour fast.  If you know anything about quilt history, you will know also that the fastness of red has always been an issue.
 A selection of batting scraps dyed with straight colours, except for the taupe one in the bottom left, which was spotted with many colours of dye, then microwaved.
 A selection of batting scraps dyed several times with green, yellow, and a mixture of red, blue and yellow which makes brown (diluted).  In the bottom right corner are lots of tiny scraps, I use these in landscapes as grass, and tree trunks etc.
 Cotton, dyed with blue, loosely scrunched.
 Scrim, double dyed with blue and purple
 Scrim, double dyed with blue and red.
 Synthietic curtain lace and binding strip, dyed with diluted orange.  Synthetics do not take up the dye well.  I treated this sample with alum when the dye was washed out.
 Batting scraps dyed with blue.  compare them with the original dark blue batting scrap at the bottom.  The dyebecome more dilute as you use it.
 Scrim, dyed with purple and green.
 Hessian, or burlap dyed with blue and red.
 Cotton dyed with purple and green (my favourite mixture) Theone on the right used a more dilute purple mixture.

 Cotton dyed with red and yellow.  Sometimes, when dyes mix together, the dye can precipitate out, creating specks on the fabric.  This is what made the brown spots.  They make a nice texture and make it look rusted.
The final, pastel sample is using leftover green, red and yellow, now very diluted.  It is not spectacular, but I can see it in some needleturn applique roses in the near future.

I hope you enjoyed my little dyeing escapade.  As usual, this experiment simply gave me more ideas for further experiment down the track and provided a large stash of fabrics to use in collage. 
My actual dyeing time was only a few hours, but all the photography took a long time and as usual I am late posting.  But it was worth it.

The creation of art is in our own hands.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Felting and Lutradur

Today's project is a mini quilt collage which will be in two parts.  The project will use painted Lutradur or Rainbow spun, wool rovings or tops (these are unspun wool, dyed in a variety of colours, for use in felting and other fibre art), silk scraps and heavy interfacing to create the scene, then the scene will be added to with free motion embroidery and machine beading. The scene will be mounted on a framing fabric and then on a mini quilt.  The project is loosely based on a project in the book Fabulous Fabric art with Lutradur by Lesley Riley, which also has instructions for many other techniques with lutradur, including painting
 The picture above is the one I based the quilt on.
Above you can see a mock up using the photo, of how the quilt will be arranged.
Above is a tracing of the photo, and below are my patterns, which you can download here.
 The top picture is a simplified outline for the main pattern pieces, sky, water, foam and sand.  The coloured diagram below has the rocks marked in red, approximate placement for waves in green, and some grey under the foam, marked in blue.

I started with a piece of interfacing at least 2 inches larger than the pattern all 'round. and marked the dimensions of the scene.
I marked in the horizon line and painted in a blue sky, a little paler to the bottom.

Above I have traced the sand and sea on Rainbow spun (or you could use painted lutradur-technique is in Lesley's book).
Above I have pinned the sand and sea in place (you can use a glue stick for this step, but only a little glue)

Here I have traced the rock shapes and pinned them to scraps of silk.
Then arranged the rocks.  Glue them lightly when you are happy with the arrangement. 
The next step is felting.  I used an embellisher to felt in the horizon with grey wool tops, then filled in around the rocks with white tops and a bit of grey in the centre.  Finally I added some wisps of white for the wave in the midview.
Basically, all you are doing is using barbed needles to push the fibres of the wool into the backing fabric.  The silk pieces will also felt into the backing, so go over them as well.  The rainbow spun will not, so the more the silk and wool overlap the rainbow spun, the more stable you will make the rainbow spun.  I use only tiny bits of wool at a time, and hold it in place where I want it with a bamboo skewer, which I remove once I have lowered the needles into the wool.  I am no expert at felting, so if you need help, you will find some excellent tutorials here.
This is the first stage of our project.  Next time we will be doing some simple free motion embroidery to define the felting, which will look a little blurry at this stage, and some machine beading to further define the sand and rocks.  When the scene is finished, we will do the final mounting on the quilt.
In fibre art, every scrap is the threshold of a new discovery.