Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Collagraph printing on fabric

This is a technique I have been dying to try since I read about it in "Mixed Media - New Studio Techniques".  Recently I saw a different version on Design Matters TV and I also read about it on an art site.
Basically, this technique uses the different properties of surfaces to create different values in the print.
Here's what I did.
 Here is a piece of stiff card, and some tape, masking tape and shiny tape. I have scribbled on the shiny tape so you can see it.
I have drawn a leaf - half on one tape and half on the other.  I then scored the tape with a scalpel, both around the outside and to make veins, which you can just see if you look carefully.
 I removed the tape outside the leaf as I will not be using it.  I did this on the other side too.
Now you can see the leaf.  I have drawn over the scored veins so you can see them.
 I transferred the tape pieces one by one to the piece of card and stuck them down firmly.
Next I painted over the whole thing with fabric paint.
Here it is with a coating of paint.
 Next I wiped off most of the paint.  You can see how the plain cardboard is the darkest, the masking tape is a little bit green and the shiny tape is white.
I covered this with a piece of damp fabric.
And rolled it very hard with my brayer (mostly people use a printing press or a pasta machine, but I don't have one....yet)
The resulting print appears very successful.....

But as you see in these two dried samples, the colour bleeds significantly and fades.  Probably because of the damp fabric with no fixative.
This one was done on dry fabric. It has more texture, which is promising and is sharper, but the contrast is too low.
Next, I added some textile medium to the paint.  This was a bit of a disaster.
Here I tried thickening the paint with Aloe vera gel.  The colour in the paint became too dilute although the image is slightly sharper.  It was more of a disaster.
In these two prints, I used fabric which had been soaked in alum, rather than water (then blotted).  This solved the bleeding problem, and had great texture, but I wanted more!  So I changed media.
This one used a shiva paintstick and the edges had really good definition.  The creamy paintstick stuck well to the edges of the tape, but did not really work on the background and wiped off both tapes evenly which was disappointing.
However, my cardboard was getting a bit damp, since I had been using water based media.  The cardboard was really too thin and needed to be sealed to use fabric paint.  It started to buckle, so I ironed it...and
It got even more buckled and melted some of the clear tape.  It is actually quite pretty and I might use it in a collage, but no good for printing any more....
So I made a new one with really thick card and two layers of the clear tape.   I also increased the size of the cracks between pieces.  You can see the different surfaces and how they hold the media very well in this picture.  The background, which is rough card, holds lots of colour, whilst the masking tape on the right holds a little colour and the clear tape holds no colour at all.  It is these different values of colour that I want to get in my print.
These two prints used soft, dry pastels.  I got both of them from the same plate and they have great line definition, but the fabric was not damp enough to pick up the colour from the open areas.  It was worth a try!
I tried oil pastel, but like the shiva sticks, there was little transfer.  Oil pastels are just too thick.
So, last of all, I used oil paint. This seemed to work better.  I was getting the background and the lines and a little bit of colour on the masking tape.  The darker print is the first and the lighter print is the second from the same plate.
This is my final print and it is getting very close to what I want.  I used my fingers and nails to scratch over the back surface of the fabric (I suppose that's cheating) and I liked the lines that produced.   I could use different things to create textures, the end of a dowel, a spoon, a knitting needle etc.
The masking tape did not retain much paint, but next time I will try some other textured tapes and things.
But before I do any more experimenting with this technique, I will make some sealed plates with lace and dried leaves and bit and pieces....and harass my other half to make the press for me.  (honest, he said he would - we already have the rollers), but failing that I will get a pasta machine.  I am sure the prints would be better with stronger even pressure.
When I make the sealed plates, I will post and I will also report on the fastness of the colours in this experiment.  I think it best to let the oil based media cure for at least a few days.

The more you make mistakes, the more you learn

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Machine Wrapped Cords

Yesterday, I made a batch of machine wrapped cords to use on the journal covers I have been making.  Once I got started, it was very hard to stop, but I have plenty to use now.
Here is how I set up my machine.  Although it is possible to do it free motion and I have done it previously, I found that using the feed dogs up actually helps you in this case.  I have my stitch set on a wide zig zag and the length not too short, ie 1.5 to 2, so the stitches don't build up and jam.
I used metallic thread in the top and bottom and did not put the top spool of thread on the top.  I put it on the bench to the right of the machine.  This is a tip I learned from Beryl Taylor's videos.  She says she got it from a thread manufacturer, who explained that giving the spool more distance to lose it's kinks will help it feed better.  Since I started doing this, I have had few problems with metallic thread.
As you can see above, I am using a rolled hem foot.
In these pictures are my cordmaker (which is like a bias tape maker but round) and the rolled hem foot.  The left picture shows the top and the right, the bottom of these two.
I find, with narrow wrapped cords, the rolled hem foot works really well.  I feed the thread or yarn into the part where the fabric gets rolled and it feeds through the machine.
Some of my cords are wrapped with tulle or nylon knitting tape before going through the machine and in this type of cord, I use the cord maker, which wraps the narrow strip of tulle or nylon around the core yarn before it feeds into the machine.

Now let's get on to the eye candy!
This first cord is just nylon knitting tape.  You can decide how much to wrap the cord.  As you will see, I like to wrap lightly, so the core colour can be seen.
This is one of the cords where I wrapped the yarn first with the cordmaker.  The ladder yarn at the bottom was wrapped in a pale pink nylon, then machine wrapped.  The ladders in the yarn made lovely striped in the cord.  Obviously I like this one as I made a fair bit.
This was a very simple cord, again, made just from a bulky brown yarn, but Iliked the contrast of the gold with the brown.
This cord is a wrapped one again.  This time the wrapper was black tulle.  The core was a black, white and grey variegated eyelash yarn.  As you can see, this makes a quite thick cord, which is about as thick as the rolled hem foot can go.  Also, sometimes the eyelashes poke out a bit in places.
This one was just a simple nylon tape again.
This one was made from a tufted eyelash yarn wrapped in nylon tape and made a very effective colourful cord.
These three cords were made from simple yarns.
This one was made from black and purple yarns twisted together.
These were made from two different narrow ribbons.
This one used two different values of brown yarn and made a lovely cord.
This one used three colours of stranded cotton.
And this one used several strands of pearl 10 cotton.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the cords as much as I enjoyed making them.  Now I just have to sew them down all over the place!  You will see some of these in upcoming blogs of some of my current projects.

Happy sewing.
So, I made quite alot of cord, but as I was writing this post, I remembered that I had intended to do some with strips of fabric, too - ah well another post then.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tool Time

Just a little peek at some of the ideas I am working on for the next Tangled Textiles challenge: Tools.
This first piece might look a long way along, since it is partially quilted, however there is another one or two layers to go on.  This one is about antique tools.
This is the first stage of another idea.  I am making fabric paper with pictures of sewing tools and instead of tissue paper, I am using a dressmaking pattern.  This one has a long way to go.
I'm sure none of you have a problem seing the idea behind this top.  However, it didn't stay like this very long.
I cut it all up in little pieces and put them together again.  This one will get a bit of reverse applique, some stencilling, some brads and eyelets and some found objects as well.

With this challenge, I am also challenging myself to try more abstract work and to incorporate mixed media.  My idea is to put together an idea as quick as I can, then design further layers to complement it.  At this stage I am averaging about one a week, but we  will see.

Just get on with the idea, don't worry about details!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tyvek experiments

After my post about tyvek the other day, I was intrigued with the gathering effect when you stitch fabric on one side and heat the tyvek on the other, so I had a play.
In the first sample, I stitched a grid, and filled in some of the squares to stop the tyvek shrinking.  As you can just see on the right, this worked, but the flat areas need some definition, perhaps with beading.
The next sample, I did a rough sketch of a leaf, filling in the leaf and tacking the tyvek down loosely around it.
You can see the leaf is flat in the centre, but again needs defining.  If I didd the stitching with a heavy thread in the bobbin and  tight bobbin, loose upper (cable stitch), or did this after the shrinking, perhaps this would make a good effect.
Here, I have added batting to the leaf to define it more.
In this sample, I stitched clam shells/scallops.  It is hard to see in the photo, due to such a dark fabric, but this makes oval puffs, which again could be defined with stitching.
In this sample, I stitched wavy lines and the puffs looked like curver shirring.  The puffs were not as defined in this sample, as I put some light iron on interfacing on the back of the fabric to see what would happen if the fabric was heavier.  Instead of shrinking, the tyvek tended to form holes, which is also useful, but not what I was looking for here.
In this sample I sewed relatively close straight lines and the fabric really bunched up nicely in lines.  It looks just like shirring with elastic, but of course, it doesn't stretch. quite nice.
In this last sample, I used a wavy spiral design to try and get some spots and puffs.  I also sandwiched the tyvek in batting to try and slow the shrinking.  This sample, although a bit dark to see the definition again, gave a really soft and defined texture that would really pop with some stitching and beads.
I think I will spend the next few evenings adding a bit of stitching to these samples, then I will show them to you.
I will hopefully be doing a workshop with Neroli Henderson at ATASDA Vic next week on tyvek and such, perhaps she will give me a few ideas.  I am sure she will.

Keep on playing, it keeps art fresh.