Saturday, July 30, 2011

A bit of applique.

Lasy year, I was diagnosed with diabetes.  Now what has that got to do with Applique, I hear you ask, well, I love needleturn applique.  I know it is very different to to my contemporary fibre art work but, early last year I started a block of the month called "Springtime in the garden" with Alice Wilhoit and The quilting School.  It is a gorgeous quilt and Alice designed it to teach lots of different applique methods, which I found really great.
However, when I was diagnosed, my eye began to play up and I had to lay the applique aside, even with magnifiers, I found it a strain to see the stitches and what I was doing.
But recently, I have found that my eyes have improved and I have returned to my applique!
This is my centre block.  It is not quite finished, needing a few more ribbon flowers and a lot of embroidery.  The vines were done using backbasting and the birds were done using freezer paper on top off the block, then appliqued down.
This block is mostly embroidery (which I usually do last, when all the blocks are appliqued), but the applique is with ultra suede, so the edges will not fray and it is very easy to stitch.
This block was done using the freezer paper and starch method and I know I don't like using it for shapes like the flower in the middle.  My results speak for themselves.  However, there is still a lot of embroidery to go on and I have not done the applique yet.
You might notice my lines.  I use a frixxion pen to mark on my backgrounds.  It irons off easily.  However, it does sometimes leave a waxy mark, so I don't use it on black fabric for that reason.

These last two blocks have been assembled, not sewn.  I generally do this first so, I can just grab a block  from the box and some thread and sew when I have time.
I also have several back basted blocks ready to go in the same box and of all the techniques, I enjoy backbasting the most.

A while ago, I began compiling  a list of applique techniques and do you know, I found more than a hundred?

Happy sewing

Friday, July 29, 2011

sketchbook studies

I have been watching videos by Linda and Laura Kemshall on Design Matters TV (It is subscription based but well worth it!). Last night, I watched "Pencilled in" and today I decided that my sketchbook needed an airing.
Linda did her sketches in the video using water colour pencils, so I did a little sketch of Helleborus from my garden, which is flowering extremely well this year.  I love the colour of it every day as I walk past.  I might turn this into a small quilt as Linda did...perhaps.  Now to more pressing stuff.
I started this sketch of mossy rocks with my Derwent watercolour pencils, and the rocks, which were grey and white came out well but I had to mix my media to get the moss colours strong enough, and used thick watercolour (not much water, only enough to spread it) and used it like acrylic paint.  Finally, I really mixed my media and went over the crevices, which were really quite dramatic with a fine point black marker.

This second sketch is actually a study for two pieces I am working on.  Now I will go into the thinking mode, puzzling out how I will translate it into fibre.  In the video, Linda discussed, (I already knew this but it had escaped my mind) that the actual process of drawing a more detailed study like this sometimes helps you to work out how to translate it.  Drawing is mark and line making, and so is stitch, so if I find myself using little crosshatches when drawing, I know I will probably use weave stitch or if I am scribbling, I will use multidirectional zig zag.  If an area has even tone or not much texture, then I would use a fabric in that area.  Drawing also gets you close up and personal with your subject, so you are familiar with every little bit of it.  It also helps gear your brain up to stitch it.

In Linda's video, she talks about how she uses her sketchbook as a jumping point for her textile art.  I have discussed this before; that ideas are important to capture when you get them, but that not all have to be translated into media, and perhaps not all should.  I often look back through my older journals when I am looking for inspiration and sometimes I find some in old sketches and plans that have not yet gone further.

I was just discussing with a friend today that I try not to use brand names in my blog, however there is a reason for it in this case.  "Normal" Derwent water colours pencils don't give very intense colour.  I suppose you could equate them to "Student grade" paints or pencils in any brand.  Derwent "inktense" do give more intense colour (but I only have one at present) just like artist quality paint or pencils.  What this is all about is that you get what you pay for.  Student quality have less pigment than artist's quality, that is why they cost more.

Now that I have preached at you about spending your money, remember, experiment, and use what you have at hand. You can always find a way to get an effect ....eventually.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Leaves in the mist

Another of the samples I have been working on is creating leaves receding into the mist.  The actual sample is not entirely finished, but the misty part of it is.
In my fist sample, I started by  glueing down my leaves on a background fabric.
Then I stitched them down.
I added a layer of frost net (which is a non woven fabric, like very fine interfacing, It is made from recycled bottles and I got it at the hardware ) and then added more leaves over the top.
I stitched these leaves down.  You can already see the leaves from the layer below receding.
Another layer of frost net and more leaves.
More leaves and then some scribbling on the background.
I like this sample, but wondered if other sheers might give a better effect, so I tried a few.
First I tried tulle, which gave only a little misting and was not as dramatic as the frost net.
Next I tried organza, and although it layered down the colour, the shine of the fabric interfered with the effect.  Now that I think of it, chiffon may have worked here.
And last, the frost net, to compare with the other two and it still wins, hands down.
So now to the next stage of my sample, which is some 3d bits on top.

Take time to create.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Scale sample

I have been working on samples for s few projects over the last week or two and today I have finished one.

It is moth scales on a leaft background.  I had been thinking a lot about fabrics to use and how to do it and finally settled on simple shapes.  I wanted to create depth between the leaves which were the background and the scales which were the moth's wings, so I tried out a few different ways to construct the two.
In this first sample, I covered the leaves and scales with netting and free motion stitched over the top.  Although the leaves are about how I wanted them, the net dulled and flattened the wing scales on the right too much.  Even with the couched line between them, there is not much difference in value between the two sides and certainly no difference in texture.
 In the sample above, the leaves and scales have been both free motion stitched.  Whilst I waspleased with the dimensionality of the wing scales using this method, again the value and texture of both sides is too similar.
This is my final sample.  Again the leaves have been covered in net and free motioned, whilst the wing scales on this sample were hand stitched, using fly stitch. The value difference between the two sides is quite striking and the texture is very different. This is very close to what I want to do.  Now, I just have to decide whether I want to stitch several hundred wing scales on by hand or by machine. 
Another difference I will make in the final piece will be to make the leaves more random and perhaps use tulle instead of net (and of course be a little more careful with my stitching, mmmm)

Have fun creating

Monday, July 25, 2011

Water samples using plastic

I have been working on two pieces which have a river or creek in them. 
I got the idea of using recycled plastic bags for this, taking advantage of how the bags break up under heat when there is only one or two layers.
Above shows what happens when you iron one or two bags (top) and several bags (bottom).  When I did these experiments a while ago, I really liked this texture, especially when you ironed only one layer onto fusible.
Above are a black, blue and grey sample of plastic bags layered on fusible.
This sample, with several blue and grey layers, added one by one reminded me of running water, so I made up a sample using a photo to get some colours into it.
 You can't see the colours very clearly in the photo, but I have exaggerated the hints of colour I could see on my original.
This is what I came up with.  In this sample, I added fusible to a piece of blue cotton, then ironed different coloured pieces on top until I got something that looked like water if I squinted.  There was a large problem with this sample - because I didn't use a stabiliser, it puckered as the layers of plastic shrank.  You can see the puckers at the top.
 So I repeated it again with some stabiliser and above are the results.  On the left is the first stage, but I was unhappy with this and added some more white.  I was happier with the one on the right.
Another thing I learnt, is that if plastic is layered over the top of plastic (one by one) as I was doing in the last layers of the first sample, you get more defined holes.  In the second sample, I used pre fused films which I peeled off and added layer by layer, so all the plastic had fusible on it.
I was pretty happy with these samples, but there was still a lot of stitch needed to bring it all together.  I only used a simple free motion straight stitch, and the stitching could probably be done without free motion since I basically sewed back and forth in straight lines.
Above are the finished samples, with quite a bit of stitching, however there is nowhere near as much as it seems, because the plastic colours give the stitching depth.
I will be using this technique for one of my pieces, but will be trying out some painted fusible before deciding on the other piece.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Scrap journal - inside front and back pages

At present I am overloaded with samples!  I have several projects on the go, so my scrap journal is providing me with a bit of play to alternate with all the work I am doing!
In order to construct the journal, I wanted two half size pages for the front and back.
After a little opportunity shopping, I put together these two similar pages.
Basically, they are the same.  From the top, the fabrics are:
Blue cotton
brown, orange and yellow chiffon

a piece of open weave straw (much used in fascinators) over the top of the chiffon
bright orange homespun
a piece of fabric cut from an apricot jumper
Dark orange brushed cotton
yellow fleece - fleece side up

This time, I did not use tulle, but simply stuck the pieces down with a glue stick.
Here are the pieces after embroidering
This time there are a few slight differences.
In the sky, I stitched a linear pattern on the left and a shell type cloud pattern on the right.
On the chiffon, I used granite stitch to define and stabilise the edge and to highlight some of the darker areas.
I simply stitched down the  the woven straw at the edges.
On the orange cotton, I used stem stitch in a sideways zig zag motion to represent trees or grass.
On the apricot knitted fabric, I stitched contour lines.
On the dark orange brushed cotton, I drew lines irregularly with a multicoloured thread and did some weave stitch at the top.
On the yellow fleece, I stitched alternating shells.
I am quite happy with this piece and I can notice a theme starting here, there are two desert type themes (and one watery)  I wonder what I will do next?
Here is a little video of how my journal will look at this stage.  It's not my best effort so far, but next time will be better!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creating silk paper and other fibre films Method 2 - Glue method Part 6

Making Fabric Paper.

Another way to use Method 2 (Glue method) is to use fabric as a base and add to it.  In these samples, I used different foundations and added paper scraps to them.  This creates a useful foundation for stitch, but also a firm, durable paper for collage.
For all the samples, I used torn and scrunched papers.  Torn edges will bond better and look better.  I scrunch up my papers to put texture in them and to make them more pliable and allow the medium to absorb easier.  The papers range from wrapping paper, to rice paper, to coloured scraps of printer paper, to handmade papers, and all will give different effects.
For the first sample I used a heavy weight scrim, or cheessecloth.
I painted it with medium.  You can iron the fabric prior to using it, but I find that when you paint the medium on, you can brush the creases out.
Start adding the paper scraps.  I painted each scrap individually with a 1 to 1 dilution of medium.  You will know when you have painted them properly, because they will sit flat on the base, instead of wrinkled.  This is important.  Each scrap needs to be wet all the way through with medium in order to bond properly.  After a while, you will gain experience with this, but some papers, such as wrapping paper have a cellulose gloss added to them, which takes a lot of wetting and manipulating with the brush before it is soaked right through.  Generally the colour of a scrap will be darker when it is soaked through.
Here all the scraps have been added.  I like to overlap them and not leave spaces, but you can if you want to.
At this stage, I lay on another layer of medium, to make sure the surface is wet for the next step.
Add ripped up pieces of tissue paper (the wrapping type, not the blowing type).  You can add different colours or not, depending on your taste.  You can also use pieces of sheer fabric - organza, chiffon and scrim, dyed or not here, but you will need to take care that the medium binds them down properly.  Another variation is to entrap pieces of foil, fibres, leaves, flowers etc by adding them before the tissue layer.
After adding the tissue and any other additions you might like, sponge on some diluted paint.  I used a metallic purple setacolour fabric paint - but use whatever you have got.
I also added some gold setacolor which I dabbed on with a brush.
 The fabric paper now needs to be dried.  Above is this piece after drying and a light press (on the fabric side) with the iron.  This paper has a lovely raised texture on the surface from the wrinkles in the tissue, which is highlighted by the gold paint.  It is firm, but easily manipulated and very easily stitched.

The next sample used thin cotton as a base.  I used the same technique, so I will not repeat the steps again.
Here is the cotton ready to start.  This fabric was from my scrap bag and has marks on it.  I chose it because of the imperfections, which will add to it's charm.
Adding the papers as I did previously.
After adding the tissue.  I added some pink tissue to this one.
And the final piece after drying and ironing.  This piece is slightly stiffer due to the cotton, but is still flexible and stitchable.  The cloloured tissue tended to blend the colours in the papers more than straight white, which was a nice effect.

In my final sample, I used a very lightweight scrim as the base.
Here is the scrim laid out.  This fabric will crinkle as you paint it with medium, and is very easily stretched, so take care at this step.
Above is the finished piece before drying and pressing.
And the finished piece.  This paper is extremely lightweight, but still has some stiffness. With this one, I liked the way some of the papers bled colour as it dried.  The other samples did not do this and I will have to experiment to find out how I did this, lol.

These fabric papers are a preliminary to making book covers.  The final papers will be stitched and embellished for this purpose. 
In order to remove some of the stiffness of these papers and use them in fabric collages, all that is needed is to scrunch them up and open them out flat several times - until you are happy with the texture.  You will find that they take on a more fabric-like feel as you do this.  The fabric and paper should not come apart.  If this happens, then I would guess that you did not totally saturate the scraps with medium in adding them to the base.  This is a very important step, and is why I add the pieces one by one.

Happy scrapping!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Scrap Journal - Page 1

Here is page 1 for my landscape scrap journal
I used a dark blue piece for the background and randomly put curvy bits of other blues over the top.  The foreground is some unravelled yarn from a jumper and a little bit of green yarn.  I put a few wisps of merino tops over the water.
I added tulle over the top and Stabilised with some wavy watery free motion stitiching.
In the final piece, above, I have done a little more free motion stitching over the foreground.  Just this tiny bit was all that was required to define it.
All together, this page took a total of about a half an hour.  So, it's not really a hard job.  I don't do anything complicated and get these finsihed quick.