Saturday, 13 November 2010

So what have we been doing 3

Maz began making cards as a demonstration at the Open Studio weekend and was finishing them off on Monday. The tree shape is made from small triangles of paper, glued on in an overlapping pattern. It's such a clever idea but you really have to have a steady hand and some patience to get such good results!

She's also been doing more drawing on fabric. This is one she was working on last Monday:
She uses Sharpie pens for line and colour. By Wednesday, she had made a second similar one. Her intention is to make a bag with the fabric.

Nola was also drawing on fabric, as part of her graffiti project. Last weekend, at the Open Studio, she drew this line drawing.
She intended to draw more on it, to fill in the spaces around the edge, but on Monday, she began painting it instead, with Setacolor transparent paints.

By the end of the day, it looked like this:
This is part of an experiment using words, which become obscured and changed by later additions, much as new layers of graffiti change and obscure the earlier layers. More will happen to it before it is finished. The background is a pale lemon colour, which seems to be quite hard to photograph, and varies quite markedly according to the light conditions.

Beverley was working on a patchwork UFO on Monday. It's one of those projects that come out every so often, and are really long term projects.
She's also been making small art textile pieces, some of which were for sale last weekend, and cards. Hopefully we can get some pictures of those to share!

Tricia was using her rare creative time to work on a crochet scarf:
The colour doesn't show up well, but it's subtle and luscious!

Carol began doing some tablet weaving (or card weaving) as a demonstration at the Open Studio and brought it along to finish on Monday. Here is it all set up:
She's using the frame of her rigid heddle loom to hold the yarns. And here are her finished pieces:
I've given you a larger image, so you can see the detail, but for still more detail, click on the image.

So as you can see. we've all been busy on our various pursuits.

Our next plan is to make a series of works, taking turns to choose a theme or link. Maz has chosen "The Language of Thread" as her theme, and we have until February to make a work. In the meantime, we plan to make Christmas postcards for a swap at the ATASDA Christmas party in December. So there'll be plenty happening in the next few months.

So what have we been doing? 2

Tricia has also been discharge dyeing. This process involves the  use of media, in this case bleach, to remove some of the dye in a fabric, selectively, to make patterns. It has a lot in common with shibori techniques, except that the process is removing dye that is already there, rather than adding it.
 Tricia chose to use black fabric for her experiments, and as you can see, she had quite different results from different fabrics.

 This one was a cotton voile, which is why it is quite sheer, hanging on the line.
Her next step was to neutralise the bleach using a proprietary agent - Bleach stop or Antichlor. It's important to do that step, because washing is not enough to remove all the bleach, and it continues to work on the fibres, eventually affecting the integrity of the fabric. 

So what have we been doing?

Tricia has been busy dyeing. Her interest in eco-dyeing persists, but lately she has been making marks with rust on fabric, and with discharge dyeing with bleach. Here are some of her gorgeous rust-dyed pieces.

 This one was dyed by Tricia's dad - he's become quite interested in the process.
 This one was wrapped around lead sheet, cut into star shapes by Tricia's helpful dad. The lead marked the fabric with blue shapes.

Isn't it amazing what you can do with a few rusty objects and some fabric?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Yep, still here

Did you think we'd vanished away, fallen into disarray or just plain split up? Nope, we're still having fun together, playing with textiles. The photographer deserted her post (what a terrible pun) for a few weeks but now we're back to recording what we've been up to. And what a lot there is!

Last weekend, we shared a table at the NSW ATASDA Open Studio weekend at Epping Creative Centre. If you didn't go, you missed a treat - many different artists showing their work and selling it to the public. You'll have to wait until next time to see so many creative people assembled in one place.

Here's our wares displayed:
We had scarves (knitted, woven, felted, crochet), framed art pieces, art t-shirts for kids, one-of-a-kind cards, gorgeous embroidered bags from Helen, all sorts of goodies. During the weekend, Carol was working on her tablet weaving, and Nola was drawing on fabric. Tricia demonstrated spinning, Maz made her intricate Christmas cards. It was fascinating to see other artists' work, to chat and to sell our goodies.

Here are some of Nola's t-shirt designs for kids:

More pictures of works to follow....

Friday, 13 August 2010

Embellishing machine

Another smaller meeting, but I wouldn't say it was quiet! Maz brought along her Janome FM-725 needle felting machine, or embellisher, as they are often called, so we could have a play with it.

Maz brought along a piece of fabric she had been working on, with the intention of making a vest. The fibres of the top fabric have been felted into the lower fabric. It's likely to become a wall-hanging in due course.

Nola and Tricia had a play with the machine, as neither of us had ever used one. Here's our sample:

Both of us worked on the top piece. Here's a close-up of Tricia's solo piece:
And here's Nola's solo sample, Bonfire Night:
OK I made the name upon the spot, but it has possibilities, doesn't it?

We were surprised at how noisy it was, though this was probably because it was being used on a fold-up craft table. We were also surprised at how cheap in price they are, compared to the well-known competition! I can't imagine spending thousands on a machine I'd only use occasionally, but a couple of hundred is a much better option, unless you intend to use it a lot. We are blown away by the work of fellow ATASDA member Felicity Clarke - you can see her work Connecting with the light here on the ATASDA members' blog.

Meanwhile, Helen was working on an unfinished work, which (ta da!) she finished on the day. She loves embroidering on rug canvas.
She thinks it may be a book cover one of these days (probably by next meeting!).

Once we finished playing with the embellisher, Tricia returned to her spinning. She acquired the fibre from the Spinners and Weavers' Association Open Day and it's beautifully soft and lustrous. She finished the first bag at our meeting. Here she is spinning:
 Nola decided to do some stamping on one of her "paint rags", with the aim to make some cards. ATASDA NSW is running a greeting card swap at the quarterly meeting, as a fundraiser for the library. Members bring sets of six cards, and, for a small donation, five are swapped and repackaged and the sixth donated to the library for sale. So far, the library has raised just over eighty dollars from this small fundraiser.
The fabric is quilters' muslin, painted with leftover Setacolor paints in an earlier painting session. The stamp was carved with a soldering iron from a polystyrene tray. (Do this outside, because it does produce toxic fumes!) It's easy to do and gives an effect rather like lino cut or woodcut images. The stamping was with Setacolor paints as well. She was experimenting with printing first with the bubble insert from a chocolate box, but the effect was very faint. You can just see the fine dots at the top.

Maz was doodling in her sketchbook, as she often does. Nola got quite excited by it and drew this onto another paint rag:

Next time, Maz is going to show us some laminating of fabric onto paper.  Stay tuned!


Our second July meeting was devoted to making simple postcards. The WA Group of ATASDA ran a postcard challenge with the theme of Natural Wonders, and we thought we might contribute some cards. The cards were displayed at the WA Quilt Craft and Stitch Show at Claremont from 30 July - 1 August. Not all of us were efficient enough to finish and send out cards at short notice, though!

Helen was already playing with this fabric with cartoon ladies. But you can see her postcard in the centre (sorry, the photographer wasn't having a good photography day!).
Here's a close-up:
Isn't it beautiful? She doesn brilliant work. Nola was playing with some postcards she'd already started, to try to finish one for the challenge. This one was almost done:
 It didn't get finished in time, though!

Maz also finished a postcard but the photographer didn't catch it in time.
Prue wasn't making postcards this time. She was busy on a more important work,doing traditional needlework for the Historic Houses Trust. The Trust recently put out a call for volunteers to help repair and stitch furnishing for the houses they care for. Obviously, this requires skill in hand stitching, working with historically correct materials and methods. Prue was stitching lace to a set of curtains.
The others were busy elsewhere on the day, so it was quite a small meeting. But we are busy all the time...

Friday, 23 July 2010

Print Gocco

I'm falling seriously behind on my blog updates! So much to do, so little time. Our first July meeting experiments were with Print Gocco. Some of us had used the Gocco machines before but for most, it was a new experience. So most of our printing samples were just to show the process.

We had three machines between seven of us, so inevitably the process was slow. We all had a chance to print onto paper and fabric.

First, Nola did a brief demonstration of the process. Print Gocco is a simplified screen printing method. The screens are prepared by imprinting a carbon-based master onto the screens using flash bulbs. The same machine can be used for printing, replacing a squeegee in normal screen printing, or the inked screen can be mounted onto a hand stamper. The screens we printed were B6, so using the hand stamper is more useful for larger sheets of paper or fabric, and the machine is better for small products, like cards.

The whole process is incredibly easy to do. New flash bulbs are inserted in the flash unit.

Preparing to make the screen from the master
The carbon-based master is placed on the flatbed of the machine, and the blank screen is inserted into the unit, matching arrows, and ensuring the screen side is closest to the master.

Placing the screen in the machine
The flash unit is placed on the outside, again matching arrows, and the top is closed down firmly. The bulbs flash and the carbon-based master is imprinted onto the screen.

To print, ink is drizzled onto the screen, between the plastic backing and the screen, and the plastic is laid back over the screen.

Inked screen in the machine
The screen is inserted back into the machine, the item to be printed is laid where the master was, and the cover closed again, forcing the ink through the screen onto the print surface.

Printed image
Similarly, the screen can be placed into the hand stamper, and the screen printed by manual pressure onto yardage, larger sheets of paper or other materials. 

Helen's prints from the same screen

Here's Prue printing from the same screen. She printed a series of pages with the image.

Beverley made this screen and printed with a metallic ink.
Here are Maz and Nola setting up to print from Maz's screen. The mmaster was a pencil drawing, based on designs in her sketchbook. Maz has a sheer fabric, like an organza, which is laid on top of Nola's cream quilter's muslin.

Maz is inking the screen for printing. She laid down some blue and green inks next to one an other, and mixed the blue and green together on a palette to achieve some blending. Gocco inks generally don't blend, if just laid down side by side.

You may be able to see the different coloured inks on the screen. The screen is mounted in the stamping unit, which has four small springy feet, visible around the edges of the screen.

The printed image looks blurry because it is actually two layers of fabric.

The image was stamped fairly regularly over the surface of the fabrics.

This is Nola's fabric, which was layered underneath. There are slight changes in the design, where the fibres of the organza acted as a slight resist.

The print images are wonderfully clear and the process is simple. It’s a great way to print exact multiples of an image. There are some disadvantages to the process, however. There seems to be some doubt about whether the process will continue to be supported, especially these older B6 machines. However there seem to be new models of the machine available, including one at B5, which would be a more useful size. We managed to buy supplies from Eckersleys without any problems, and there are other Australia suppliers online, notably NEHOC in Sydney. It’s possible to buy the screening material by the yard, now, so theoretically, if the B screens are no longer supported, you could make your own. Nola bought some screening to try, but it wasn’t used in our session.

As printing goes, it’s an expensive method. The screens are expensive, the bulbs are expensive and single use, and the inks are expensive. Most of all, the machines are expensive. A new machine with a few screens and other materials was listed online at $289. Making a single screen and printing a single run of multiples from it came to about $10. A long run would be more expensive as it would use more inks.

The requirement that the master be carbon-based is trickier these days. The system was invented when photocopiers were carbon (toner) based. Nowadays, photocopiers don’t use toner, they are more like inkjet printers and the inks aren’t carbon-based. We had access to an older toner-based photocopier, which simplified matters, and members drew their own designs in 2B or heavier lead pencil or coloured over their inkjet designs with the special Riso Pens. One member had access to a laser printer as prints from that are carbon-based. Charcoal pencils also work. But some thought has to go into the medium used on the master.

It’s a fun and simple method of making multiple prints. We didn’t explore any of the many possibilities in our session. For example, theoretically, a coloured image could be separated into colour layers in a graphics program, the individual layers switched to greyscale and printed as masters on a laser printer. The three layers could be created as individual screens and three print runs in different colours onto a single work might yield a coloured print. It wouldn’t be a photographic print, but manipulating the colours could result in an interesting series of similar prints. The print structure of Gocco makes problems of register (getting the second and third prints in exactly the same position to avoid blurring) much simpler. Similarly, you can over-print a primary print with a second different screen. You could over-print the primary with the same screen in a different colour, deliberately offsetting the second image. As a tool, it has a lot of possibilities for the textile artist, and it’s just as easy for the Scout group to print t-shirts for their camp. Assuming the materials continue to be available!

While we were playing with Gocco, Carol was playing with another kind of printing. She wanted a simple printing method to use with her group of Joey scouts. She mounted a sheer curtain fabric between card to make a simple screen. Then she mounted a fine sticker of a butterfly onto the screen. She painted over the screen with PVA glue and allowed it to dry. Then she peeled off the sticker and, using a piece of card as a squeegee and Permaset printing ink, printed the image. 
The image looked a little ragged, so Carol tried with the Gocco inks, which are a finer medium, since the Gocco screens are finer than most silk screens. The result was  much clearer. 

Isn't that amazing? You can make prints like this with the most basic of materials!