Monday, 26 October 2009

October bring your work day

Today in chilly wet Sydney, we enjoyed a bring-your-own-work day. Lots of interesting show and tell, and some progress on our graffiti project.

Prue opened her bag to find the gremlins had been at work on her knitting:
"A metaphor for my life," she laughed.

Last meeting, we were talking about transfer media that you paint onto paper pictures, allow to dry and "just rub the paper off". We discussed how easy, or not, that might be to do. Today, Helen brought a piece she made using that technique, on which the paper stubbornly refused to depart. Eventually, she incorporated the white sections into her design. The original print was mostly just colour shapes, but the resulting print looked like a figure in front of a rolling sea, so that's what she made!

It's called Windswept Girl. Without the story, you'd never know there was a problem, would you?

Beverley was working on her ATASDA nametag. It's like an ATC - how clever!
Helen brought along her finished Graffiti Project piece. Last meeting, she had combined the fabric with a red fabric in a Stack and Slash method. Here is her finished book cover. Isn't it striking? She is, of course, the first to finish!

Carol was also working on her Graffiti project piece. She coloured in her fabric with Sharpie pens, cut it into A4 sheets and laminated them. She cut holes along the edges with a hole punch and, by the end of the day, had constructed this much of a bag. The sections were sewn together with ribbon. Brilliant!

Next meeting, we plan to play with rug canvas. Last year, Helen gave each of us a piece like this: We all had great plans to use it but somehow that hasn't happened. So we are going to work on our rug canvas pieces next month.

To inspire us, Helen brought along some pieces she has made. This one is a little triangular bag, about 12cm high. She layered ordinary canvas, scraps of fabric and the painted rug canvas, and machine-stitched between the grids of the canvas with a metallic thread in a zigzag stitch.Then she cut the strip into three segments and hand stitched them together, adding a plain base. The stitching threads became handles for the bag.

Helen often uses the rug canvas as the basis of book covers. This one has quite simple stitching - satin stitching along the horizontal lines of the grid, which had been painted green. The feature hand stitching uses a more complicated knot stitch and some feather stitch with variegated ribbon.

This one has the rug canvas painted orange, with brightly coloured fabric strips woven through the mesh. Some of the horizontal lines of the mesh has been satin stitched by machine. This one also has the rug canvas painted orange, but the stitching is with threads by hand. Most stitches used are variations on embroidery stitches, such as stem stitch, satin stitch and chain stitch. A square of felt was inset into the rug canvas by cutting away the mesh and stitching from behind. Some lines of the grid are machine satin stitched as well.

This one has the canvas painted black and is stitched by hand with bright blue ribbons. The book pages are also blue, though the book has not been assembled yet.
This satchel shows the colour of the rug canvas if it isn't painted. The colour shows through much more, which is why Helen usually paints it now. This one has woven strips of ribbon and cord, and inserts of very fine cross stitch, one on the front and two on the back.
The rug canvas can also be deformed, even though it is quite stiff. This sample has beads stitched along some sections, and the canvas brought around them and caught together, to make a hollow. The horizontal lines have also been machine satin stitched.
The canvas also can be shaped, by dampening it and tying it to shape while wet. Once it dries, it holds the new shape very well, as this wonderful bowl deomstrates. The grid was satin-stitched in variegated thread first, to hold the layers together.
Finally, Helen has made exhibition pieces using this medium. Here is one of a series on the seasons, Canada Autumn: The canvas was painted red and woven and embroidered with strips of fabric and ribbon.The third strip from the right is made with waxed paper, twisted into beautifully even shapes as it was woven.The whole piece was mounted on Plexiglas for hanging.

Stay tuned to see what we can manage with this medium next meeting!

Monday, 12 October 2009

What the...?

Most of us, as textile artists, have things in our cupboards that make us say, "what the...?" Those things we bought at a show or workshop and don't remember any more what they are for or how to use them. Those materials that look interesting until we come to use them. And even those projects that have stalled because we can't see how to go on with them. Today, Fibrecircle brought some of those things out of our cupboards into the light.

First, we needed sustaining with much chocolate and coffee.

Then, one by one, we brought out these bottles and jars. Most of them are form of sealants, and I guess our confusion is understandable, since there are so many products like this available. Nearly all of them do much the same thing - give a solid base for painting and provide a clear seal over the top of work. Most of what we brought wasn't something you'd use on fabric, except maybe fabric collages. But they are great for giving some robustness or a clear seal to sketchbook pages.

Then there were the weird materials. (Nola had a good collection of those!) Packaging material - might be good to machine stitch, as long as it doesn't catch underneath ? Probably will smell bad and kill all living things in a kilometer radius, if melted. Several people took samples away to play with, nobly risking life and limb in the search for truth.
Rug canvas, kindly donated by Helen some months ago. She's promised to bring us some examples of what you can do with it, next time. So maybe we might actually use those samples...
Sizoflor - what is that stuff? All agreed it looks like fun to stitch, and overlay, and print, and paint, and of course, zap with the heat gun.
Quilling paper strips - several of us own them but none of us do quilling, what's that about? Nola tried weaving it through the rug canvas but it wasn't robust enough (and it was seriously boring to do). Maybe it would make an interesting base fabric woven on the loom with a cotton or linen warp? One Day.
Lingerie wash bags, with dead zippers - interesting to hand stitch? They are very soft but the holes are interesting. Might take paint in interesting ways too?


Shiva Paintstiks - OK,we can see they take a rubbing beautifully, especially when the texture is large and open. Just...have...to...peel..off ... this.. coating....of... dry stuff first!
Oh, more rug canvas, painted gold. What sort of knots can we use, if we use these strips of fabric? Ah, yes, like hooked rugs only on a bigger scale. I think we'll be seeing more of this rug canvas.
Here's Tricia modelling her gorgeous crocheted wrap.


Do we think it looks OK as it is? (We do!) Should she crochet more on it, around the edges, or do something else to it? (We don't think so.) She spun most of the yarn for this project herself. And, yes, she finished it today!

Prue brought along a sample from a cyanotyping class she did with Barbara Schey years ago. We discussed the differences between cyanotyping and sun printing. Prue has always been disappointed that we didn't get such sharp images with the sun printing. How can we improve the sharpness of the images? Some suggestions were to pick foliage the day before and press it flat overnight; to slit prominent stems and veins to flatten the leaves out; to use lightweight materials like ferns that stick to the fabric when wet; to press things down firmly against the wet fabric; to work on very hot days so the fabric dries within twenty minutes; to use paper doilies and other paper shapes that might adhere a little to wet paint.


Helen brought along her graffiti fabric, which she'd cut into squares and then into sections with another fabric, using gentle curves. How to rearrange them? After some head scratching, we got them rearranged nicely. They look great, don't they? She's planning to cut them again and rearrange them further.

All this plus browsing some of Nola's quilting books took up our day. So what do you think of our "What the...?" ideas? All thoughts gratefully received!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Do your own thing

Today was a do your own thing day. Some of us loafed around reading the books that members had brought to share, and that Nola had bought for the ATASDA library. Helen was working on "this old thing". I don't think she should be allowed to describe her work that way, do you?

Tricia was crocheting a scarf with two yarns and the result is gorgeous.

Carol was working on secret women's business for Prue, who was steadfastly not looking. I can only show you this tiny bit: By the end of the day, she had added a lot more stitch and it was looking fabulous. But you'll just have to wait until the end of the year for the grand unveiling.

Nola knitted a bit on the endless jumper. Prue suggested it must be for a giant! Nearly finished...
Next time, we're having a "What the?" day. We all have those materials in our possession that we've long since forgotten what to do with, and often we have projects that have ground to a standstill. So they are all coming to our "What the?" day, so we can pool ideas. I wonder what we'll see?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Bringing out the inner child

This week at Fibrecircle we had such a fun time! If you've ever had the impulse to make a mark on a pristine surface, maybe graffiti a wall, this activity is for you!

First some background. A couple of months ago, Helen told us about an activity she organised with another group. They took a sheet of paper, everyone drew on it, and then it was cut into sections and each member took a piece, to do something with. We all thought that sounded like fun. The same day, Helen also brought some fabric from her stash that she no longer needed. One piece had not been claimed - a large piece of furnishing fabric, originally from the stash of Helen Lancaster, a well-known Australian textile artist and curator. "Wouldn't it be fun to draw on that?", we said.

This week, we all arrived with our stash of fabric-fast pens. It was a large piece of fabric, so it took us a couple of hours to draw all over it. Here are some of us at work:At first it was a bit terrifying, to have to make some marks on the surface. Most people started small. But as time passed, we really got involved and started experimenting. Graffiti is fun, although we all discovered that it's not quite as easy as you might think! After a few minutes, we moved along a seat, so every part of the fabric was drawn on by all of us. We also included our name or initials each time, since graffiti is so much about tagging, about declaring, "I was here, this is my space".

Here are some close-ups of our work: Some names are easy to see, others less so.

We limited ourselves to black and red pens, and tried to cover the whole fabric evenly, like a graffitied wall. The fabric also had a muted pattern. Here's what the whole fabric looked like:(Sorry, it's hard to get all the marks to show up, but it gives you a general idea.) Once we finished, we cut the fabric into equal pieces and, with the drawing folded inside, each person took a piece. Our challenge is to use the fabric in some way and bring the results to our first February meeting in 2010. (The long lead time is because we are also doing another collaborative project at present, but since some members want the work they receive to be a surprise, we can't share those things with you yet. Stay tuned!) Each person can change the fabric in whatever way she likes - by adding colour, by cutting it apart, by stitching, whatever they want to do. I think the results will be fascinating!

Monday, 24 August 2009

August part 2

Today, Helen showed us how to do Orizomegami. It's a method of dyeing folded rice paper with water-based dyes to give complex patterns. We each folded rectangles of two different weights of rice paper into small parcels. We dipped them quickly into a bowl of water to dampen the paper, and then dipped the edges or corners of the packets into bowls of ordinary food colouring. (Wear gloves! Food colouring loves to dye human skin!)

Then we pressed the packets between two small sheets of stiff cardboard and carefully unfolded the wet paper using tweezers or a paper knife. The paper can tear quite easily, depending on the weight of the paper. Then we laid the sheets out to dry.

The way the parcels were folded affected the pattern. We were also struggling with Sydney's spring winds, which chose today to arrive, and some drying sheets were splashed with falling droplets, which added to the interest. We also saved the drips from when the papers were pressed between the cardboard, and it gave interesting semi-blended colours, not always the brown that might have been expected. Although we all started with exactly the same papers and colours, it's remarkable how different they all are.

Here are Beverley's:

and Carol's:



These are Helen's own:


These were a collaborative effort for Tricia:

And these were Nola's:


See, all different! You can see the fold marks (this is a feature of this kind of paper dyeing) and how the folds affected the way the colour went into the paper. It's a very interesting technique, and easy to do with the minimum of materials. We talked about ways to use the papers. Obviously, most paper uses would be fine, but you could also adhere the paper to a cloth backing with diluted PVA glue, which would make the paper robust enough for stitch.

August part 1

We've had a quiet time at Fibrecircle lately. Each meeting since June, some members have been away, and we've mostly been working on our own things. But this month, we have made up for it.

Firstly, Beverley taught us how to do a Coptic binding on a book. Carol brought lovely papers for the book outer covers, and Nola contributed some parchment paper for the inner covers. First we learnt a clever technique for making no-glue covers.

You may have to think about this a bit when you do it. You take the outer cover paper and fold it over the stiffening, top, bottom and sides. You trim off the excess at the corners, leaving a small amount to turn under right on the corner. You do the same with your inner cover paper.

Turn in the top and bottom fold of the outer cover, against itself. Lay the stiffening on top of the wrong side, with the side flaps of the outer cover sticking out.
Turn in the side flaps of the inner cover, against itself. Lay it on top of the stiffening, wrong sides together, and tuck the side flaps of the outer cover in underneath it, over the top of the stiffening. Tuck the top and bottom flaps of the inner cover into the pocket formed between the outer cover and the stiffening. Presto! It's quite firm.

I won't attempt to explain Coptic binding, though! Here's what my book looked like:

And this is the binding:
Pretty, isn't it? I could have run the ends back into the book, but after knotting them off, I ran them through to the spine, because I think I will incorporate them into more embellishment on the cover.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Gorgeous things!

Today was an ordinary group day, so we weren't playing with anything special. But almost everyone had wonderful things to show.

Beverley had some quite old show and tell. These pieces were made by her maternal great grandma in Ireland. Just incredible workmanship and in great condition considering their age. She also brought some work made by her paternal grandmother, who was a prize-winning embroiderer. Just incredible.

She also had the clothing from an antique doll given to her by an uncle. They were so detailed, just tiny replicas of adult clothing. I photographed the outfit with the top open, so you can see that it has been fully lined. Underneath is a modesty piece, a sort of blouse front, tied round the neck, to cover the front of the body under the top. Here you can see the back of the skirt, complete with bustle.

Beverley also brought some of her own work. Here is a piece she is working on, inspired by an article in Quilting Arts magazine.
She carved the stamp shown at the bottom, and used it to stamp on the background fabric. Then she stamped the same image onto another fabric and cut the images in half. She applied the cut images over the stamped images, giving a blended image. It's an interesting technique with lots of possibilities.

During the day, she was working on this bag, sewing on the handles. She has just a few stitches to go. It looks just beautiful.

Today, Carol was working on a set of ATCs for a swap, but I'll let her tell you about them. Nola added some text on a book she's working on, but it can't be shared just yet. And Helen had some beautiful books to share but the hopeless photographer didn't record them, or anything else she did today! Mea culpa!