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!