Monday, 19 December 2011

And some other things we've been doing...

And now, a catch-up of a few others things we've been doing, to round out the year.

Our last challenge of the year was Sunflowers, set by Bev. Carol had begun playing with the idea and was making flowers using her flower loom.  This one was made from yarn:
and this one from paper ribbon:
It's going to be interesting to see where she goes with this.

Nola used her challenge to make a cover for her handbag sketchbook. She wanted something without much embellishment, which would get damaged in the bag. She also wanted it to carry the many pieces of paper that currently live inside the covers of the sketchbook, falling out whenever it's opened.
This is the front cover and here is the back:
The fabric is from our sun printing experiments way back in Feb 2009. The flower shapes were made with a paper cutout, from a photograph she took of Marguerite daisies. The circles were made with plastic cups. Then she painted the flowers to look more like sunflowers.

The button and elastic loop fastening, which keeps it closed in her bag, goes to the back, to avoid having a button on the front image. There are pockets inside each cover.

Bev brought along some gorgeous buttons that she bought at the Victoria and Albert Museum on her trip last year.
Maz brought along a stamp she had been carving. She began it at the ATASDA NSW social day in October.

It's going to give an interesting all over pattern. Stay tuned for some examples, I hope!

Tricia has been branching out into quilt-making. She had some Laurel Burch cat prints, and she's added tone-on-tone fabrics and some wonderful wild ones to make this quilt top.
Isn't it fabulous? And a wonderful first quilt. Her next task is to quilt it, which she hopes to have done before Christmas. I think we've finally got her hooked on quilting!

We meet again in January 2012. I wonder what interesting things we'll find to do in our fifth year?

Deconstructed screen printing #2

As promised, here are the other deconstructed screen printing/breakdown printing pieces.

Maz wasn't very happy with hers, so she didn't pursue it very much this time. It came out rather blacker than she had hoped. I really like it, though!
The fabric is sheer, which made the print look quite different. The process would be fantastic for silk scarves!

Nola has several other breakdown printing sessions. Here is one she printed and then dyed here in our earlier session:
It's been printed over with another screen, on a very humid day, so the colour came off the screen quite quickly. The best fabrics seem to come from repeat prints, building up complex layers of pattern.

One of the things Nola was interested in, during this session, was blurring the obvious edge of screen lines. She brushed over the edges with a dry sponge brush, drizzled dye paint on in places and encouraged stripes of black to form during the printing, to break up the regular rectangular effects of repeat screens.

This one was printed using the same screen, on the same day, over the very pink piece. This fabric was initially printed by spritzing a screen with very little pattern but a lot of dye paint, with water, in the same earlier session.
This print was the last from this screen, which exhausted very quickly. Again, she added black highlights and brushed with foam brushes to break down the distinct edge lines. As the screen was becoming exhausted, there were obvious areas that remained unprinted, so the original wet print effects were not obscured. Some areas of that printing resisted the additional dye paint while other areas absorbed it, so this method of making a background has a lot of possibilities.

She still had dye paints needing to be used up, so she experimented with different ways of making marks with the dye paints. They are very different from fabric paints, due to the texture of the DR33, and the results seemed to be less predictable than using fabric paints, in keeping with the unpredictability of the screening process.
The last fabric printed had already been dyed turquoise in the waste bucket of the second session. Nola was experimenting with stamping, using commercial texture plates. The effect was very subtle, as she used turquoise dye paint, and the intention is to reprint this fabric with a other screen, to see how much the texture print resists the screen pattern.
I don't think this is the last breakdown printing you'll see in this group!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Dyeing with natural materials

Last Fibrecircle session, we decided to try dyeing with materials we found in our local areas and gardens. This kind of dyeing, often known as eco-dyeing, seems to be wildly in fashion at the moment and we wanted to see what kind of results we could get.

We bought wool voile and silk voile to experiment with, as these fabrics take this kind of dyeing well. For days beforehand, we collected leaves, bark and other natural materials from our gardens and local area. Tricia set up several pots, each with a different plant material boiling in it. We also used other plant elements, folded and wrapped inside our cloth , to add extra colour in the different dye baths. Once the plant  material in the pots had boiled for an hour or two, we added various mordants to the pot and allowed them to boil further. Finally, we added our folded and wrapped fabrics to the pots and allowed them to boil some more. At the end of the day, we took home our bundles and allowed them to batch in  plastic bags for a further 24 hours, before rinsing them.

Nola cut her fabric into six scarf-sized strips, three silk, three wool.
Her first silk piece had celery leaves, rosemary sprigs and leaves of a Grevillea, folded into it, and was dyed in a pot of beetroot. This one has more texture than colour, but it's really quite lovely. It was rolled from one end, giving an ombre kind of effect, as the many layers acted as a resist to the dye. The celery leaves don't seem to have acted much at all.

Her second piece was wool, with photinea leaves and polygala flowers, concertinaed and wrapped, and dyed in a carrot bucket with alum and cream of tartar added as a mordant. The pot looked very pale, so the fabrics were left in the pot as it cooled. The red photinea leaves and purple polygala flowers didn't leave any markings in the cloth, although they did act as a resist to add subtle pattern.

Her third piece was also wool, with Grevillea rosmarinifolia leaves and red onion skins, rolled and tied between pieces of wood. It was dyed in a bucket with rhubarb leaves and alum.
The red onion skins yielded red-brown markings, and the grevillea, green.This one is quite strongly-coloured, more than the picture indicates.

The fourth one was silk, with Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) leaves and flowers concertinaed in the folds. The wattle was picked when it was flowering and frozen for a couple of months. This one was also dyed in the rhubarb and alum bucket. The wattle gave faint blue-grey markings.

The best one was a piece of silk, with celery, rosemary and bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus) concertinaed and clamped, and dyed in a bucket of Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) bark, using ferrous sulphate as a mordant. The celery left faint traces of lime green, which are hard to see in the photo, and the other plants seem to have acted as a resist.

Nola's last piece was wool, with thyme sprigs and prunus leaves, dyed in dandelion tea and alum. The prunus made splotchy marks, while the thyme gave very subtle texture. The thyme was a complete pain to wash out, though, so we don't really recommend it!

Helen was unwell, but she sent two silk scarves to dye.
The first one was knotted and dyed in ironbark bark and ferrous sulphate, like Nola's.
Her second one was also knotted and dyed in rhubarb leaves with an alum mordant.

Bev dyed three pieces of wool voile.
The first one had prunus leaves tucked inside the folds, and then was dyed in a bucket with ironbark leaves and twigs, and a copper sulphate mordant. The prunus leaves give a very intense red-brown colour, especially with a copper mordant.

Her second piece used wattle flowers in a red onion skin and alum bath. The vibrant colour seems to have come mostly from the wattle, as it was colouring the fabric even before it went into the bath. The flowers were frozen, so this seems to have been a similar effect to what India Flint calls "ice flower dyeing". If flowers are frozen, then placed in a warm water bath, the colour can come out immediately, and with the addition of mordant, can dye fabric. It was quite a warm day, so the flowers defrosted as we were using them.

Bev's third piece was dyed in a bath with an unknown bark, possible Brush Box or similar, with alum. The bark was collected by one of Helen's friends, so we have no idea what it was.

Tricia did a lot more dyeing, because she had the dye pots set up so she continued dyeing in the week after our meeting. This is her favourite. It was folded and clamped, then dyed in a bath of red onion skins and alum.

The first one here is really unusual. The blue came from red cabbage leaves, folded inside the layers, and the bundle was dyed in rhubarb with alum as the mordant.

The next one was dyed with red onion skins and polygala flowers inside the folds, in the beetroot bath, no mordant.

This one had gum leaves and prunus leaves, clamped, in the ironbark and copper sulphate bath.

This is one of several that were double-dyed. It was dyed first in dandelion tea, then later tied and placed in reboiled ironbark leaves, copper sulphate and alum.

This silk one was also double-dyed. First, it was dyed in ironbark leaves and copper sulphate. Then, pieces of bark from the Ironbark bark bath were wrapped in the folds and it was left in the cool bath overnight.
This first piece went in the ferrous and ironbark pot.

This one was also double-dyed, first in dandelion tea and, later, clamped and added to the reboiled ironbark leaves, with copper sulphate and alum.

This one had prunus leaves folded into it and was boiled in the ironbark and copper sulphate pot.

In this one, you can clearly see the outlines of the gum leaves, folded and clamped, and it was put into the reboiled ironbark leaves, copper sulphate and alum.

Things we concluded:
Celery seems to be very variable. Sometimes it yields a lovely lime green; other times it is barely visible at all. There are probably more reliable sources of green.

Wattle flowers are worth collecting, in season, and freezing.

Ironbark is very intense and gave a deep dark colour very quickly after boiling.

Polygala flowers have an intense purple colour but don't dye anything. We decided to try them later as ice flower dyeing, to see if that encourages some of the colour to transfer, but we're not hopeful. It's a shame - it's a beautiful colour, but one thing is obvious, in all the books about eco-dyeing - the colour of the plant is not a good guide to the colour it may produce in dyeing, and strong aroma or oils are a better indication of dye capability than intensity of colour.

A far better capacity to recognise tree species, especially Eucalypts, than we currently possess would be a huge asset in dyeing with Australian flora. Our education in this area is increasing in leaps and bounds!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

And some other things we've been doing..

Here's some other stuff we've been working on or have to share. First, the laminating we did a few weeks ago on sheer fabrics:
Here's Bev's piece of laminated fabric. The photocopied image basically disappeared, but the images from newsprint have printed just fine. The back of Bev's fabric is still quite white and the hand is quite paper-like, but the image is semi-sheer.
This is Tricia's laminated fabric. She had composed a set of images into a single piece of work, and it really looks great. The images had a similar colour scheme and feel about them, so it really works as a whole piece. The colours are still quite warm, enhanced by the burnt orange fabric underneath. Her laminating is also still white and papery at the back, though apparently it is possible to rub off almost all of the paper without losing the image.

Carol brought along the felt wrap she made in a class at ATASDA with Pam de Groot.
It's made from silk chiffon or "tissue silk", rainbow organza and wool fibres.

Helen was working on binding on a purse.
The fabric is one she printed earlier, enhanced with stitching and a button. When it's finished it will folded into a clutch purse, like this:

Nola was sketching ideas for her sunflower challenge piece, the last challenge of the year.
Helen and Tricia has postcards to swap. Here is Tricia's:
It's an embroidered piece she's been working on, off and on, for some time.

Helen's was a beautiful beaded lizard on a painted and stitched background she made a few months ago. The shape under the lizard is made from Sinamay, a stiffening material.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Deconstructed screen printing - the results!

Our experiments with deconstructed screen printing and breakdown printing ended up spreading out over several sessions, as people came and went, and even gave us some homework! Nola still has a screen to print, so there'll be photos from that one soon, too.
Some of the information we had suggested that the first print from the screen might be a bit ordinary, as it takes time to break down the medium on the screen, so Nola did her first pull onto a piece of scrap fabric. The results were much better and more intense than expected.
These are later prints from the same screen, by Nola and Helen. We found it amazing to see how long there continues to be texture on the screen, and how much colour variation is possible by varying the colour of the printing medium, or using clear medium. By the time Nola was printing the third sample above, the dye paint was drying quickly on the screen in the heat, so less of the pattern was being printed.

This third one was later over dyed in the waste bucket from the second printing session. We were rinsing tools and screens in a single bucket of water, which resulted in a fairly strong dye solution at the end. The first time we did this, the dye bucket was, unsurprisingly, brown, but we had good results dyeing a mixture of cloths. As these fabrics hadn't been prepared with soda ash, we added soda ash to the bucket, with good results. The second time we did this, the prepared turquoise dye paint was becoming stringy from the heat, so we tipped it into the waste bucket. The resulting bucket gave us a good turquoise dye solution. Here's the third one after dyeing:
I think the message here is that the most unprepossessing prints can look much better, if you persevere with them!

Nola hates to waste dye so she spritzed the dry screen with water and printed again.
By this stage, we really only had magenta dye paint left, on the screen and to print with. A lot of texture still printed on the fabric, though, and by the end of printing, there was little left on the screen to be rinsed away. By itself, this is nothing to get excited about but, overprinted, it could be quite something.

Here's another series of screens Nola and Helen printed:
This is the primary set of prints.
Again, the dye paint began drying in the screen quickly, because of the temperature, so little of the dye was being released in later prints.
Here is the same piece of fabric, overprinted with another screen in a later session. It looks a lot more interesting!
Once again, the dry screen was spritzed with water and printed onto cream fabric. The water tends to make the dye paint very runny, so it's more like guided dyeing than printing, but echoes of the original printing remain.

Tricia's printing was rather less successful. She used borrowed soda ash, and it seems not to have been as effective as the soda ash the others used. Her prints were intensely coloured like Nola and Bev's, and were batched under the same sort of conditions by the same method, but a lot more colour washed out at the end. None of us used Synthrapol in the rinsing stage.
This is Tricia's first set of prints. As you can see, the dye washed out badly and she lost all her lovely texture. It's so frustrating, because she had some absolutely fabulous patterns and colour combinations after printing!
This is the best of her prints. And to add insult to injury, here is Nola's end print from her screen once she'd finished, onto fabric she'd dyed turquoise in the second session waste bucket.
The remaining patterns from the spritzed screen have actually come out clearer in these prints than the original printing. I guess that reminds us that dyeing always has that surprise factor, and not all the surprises are good!

Bev's prints had no such trouble. She produced lovely complex patterns from her screen.
These prints were done on a very soft, semi-sheer fabric. They'll look fantastic mounted against a backing and stitched.
These prints were done on cotton cloth, like Nola and Tricia's. I like the way she's moved away from the side-by-side structure that we automatically tend to do.
These prints exhausted the screen, with very little dye paint left to wash out. Bev was working on a cooler day than the earlier sessions, and she had less trouble with the screen drying prematurely. Drying screens aren't a huge problem, since the dye in the screens can be released with more of the thickener or, if the screen is almost exhausted,by spritzing with water, but it can be frustrating when you have a wonderful pattern happening!

We haven't seen the results from Maz's screen yet, and Nola has another screen to print. I think we all found it a very interesting process, and something some of us will probably incorporate into our creative practice. We particularly liked the way it produces a whole series of same-but-different images, with wonderful texture and depth.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Double the fun!

The Fibrecircle girls have been busy creating lately, both in the group and elsewhere. Our first October meeting was crammed full of creative energy and two different activities.
Tricia brought show and tell from the dyeing workshop she did at Virginia Farm Woolworks last weekend. She had some fantastic cotton squares, which she thinks will be perfect for a quilt. They really are a short primer of ways to tie fabric for Shibori dyeing.
1. fabric wrapped around a CD
2. twisted from edges with object in middle
3. bobby pins strategically placed
4. twisted in circular motion from the centre, keeping it flat
5. wrapped around another CD, corners fan-folded
6. fan-folded from corners, then bobby pinned and tied in the centre
7. concertina fold and clamped between tongue depressors
8. marbles tied with string
9. stones tied with string
10. scrunched up and tied
11. stitching with tied corners
12. clouding - pole-wrapped and tied 
13. Tied with string in clusters
14. concertina one way and then the other, then tied
15. Large piece showing clouding
16. Pole-wrapped diagonally
17. wrapped length of plastic chain
18. pole-wrapped, scrunched and pushed along the pole
Maz brought along samples from her week-long workshop with Marie-Therese Wisniowski at Fibre Arts and Hunters Hill last week. Marie Therese was teaching a method of transfer printing she calls Multisperse Dye Sublimation. The result is visually complex art textile pieces on man-made fabrics. Maz's samples show some of the possibilities of the technique.
1. Sample of the transfer printing, repeat of the print, light colours first
2. as above
3. multiple layers on delustered satin, using plant material as resist
4. colour sample on synthetic chiffon
5. sample on synthetic lace
6. two pieces – one on ordinary satin – Maz wasn’t happy but Marie-Therese suggested printing again onto organza as an overlay
7. reverse layering – dark to light – on delustered satin
8. Printed using plant materials, moving the plants with each colour to create shadows
9. printing without laying down a background colour first, and moving the objects to create shadows
10. multiple print – paper stencils, some reversed, and line drawing on transfer paper
11. postcard size pieces using different techniques she’d learnt
During the week, Maz won a raffle, and this was the prize – a large piece of printed silk fabric by Els van Baarle.  This is just a section of the fabric, as it's way too big to take the whole.
Isn't it just gorgeous? We all wanted to sneak it into our bags! Helen brought along two bags she’d made since our last time together. This first one uses fabric that we printed last month. She cut the fabrics into strips and wove them together into a piece of fabric. She also made her own braid by stitching over yarn on the machine, and used it to embellish the front.
The other bag used a piece of monoprinted fabric, embellished with appliqué, stitching and beads.
It was also time for the unveiling of our latest challenge works, on the theme, Let’s Go Geometric. Maz’s unfinished Geometric piece is worked on rug canvas with embroidery threads. She’s not sure where it will go next, perhaps a book cover.
Nola’s Geometric piece was also unfinished, but is almost there. She’s making a dice pot for gaming, using fabric she painted earlier and then block printed a couple of weeks ago.
This is the lid, which needs to have a rim added.
These are the sides of the pot, individually stamped with hand-carved stamp motifs.
Bev’s Geometric is also unfinished. It’s inspired by the windows of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and is made from snippets of fabric trapped between layers of silk organza. You can see her sketchbook with sketches for the work, along with the piece itself. 
Helen is the only one to finish her challenge (no surprises there!). But she surprised us by producing two challenges. The first one is this notebook cover from embroidered rug canvas.
Here's the whole cover.
But she said that she thought we would all expect her to make her challenge from rug canvas, and that wouldn‘t be a challenge, so she decided to do another one. The second one is a concertina book, with pockets containing different geometric patterns.
The side with the pockets..
The other side...
Then it was time to start work.

Carol wasn’t participating in the activities this time, so she was busy preparing craft for her Joeys Scout group. She was making flowers from egg cartons, as samples for the kids to follow.
Our first activity was to prepare screens for some deconstructed screen printing/breakdown printing. In this method, printing screens are used to create a series of similar-bur different prints, unlike traditional serigraphy (screen printing), which aims to produce identical images over multiple prints. Basically, thickened dye is added to the screens in a pattern, and allowed to dry thoroughly. When the screens are printed with the thickening agent or some more thickened dyes, the dry material is slowly softened and dissolved from the screen. Thicker areas of dye paint take longer to break down and act as a resist. The result is usually complex layers of colour.
Before everyone arrived, Nola had prepared some Drimarene K dyes, mixed with urea and DR33, a thickening agent. We were using several different methods to put colour onto the screens. This screen was laid over a texture plate and several pieces of bubble wrap, and printed with a squeegee in the usual screen printing method. The texture of the materials underneath was reproduced on the screen and allowed to dry.
This screen was painted from the back in several layers. The first layer was a wash of turquoise, from when the dye paints were made up. It was allowed to dry overnight, and then further dye paint was added in different thicknesses, using a sponge brush. The thicker areas were imprinted with pieces of bubble wrap and texture plates, which were left on the surface while the screen dried. Some puddles of dye paint were drawn out into spikes with a comb, and small black lines were added with a syringe.
This screen was built up during the morning, by painting on the back. It had dye paint applied thickly and then two pieces of string were laid down in a random pattern, then a small piece of  bubble wrap, a piece of road guard plastic and more bubble wrap. This screen took a long time to dry, because the bubble wrap tended to trap the moisture.
We’ll show you the printing results after our next meeting!
The second activity was laminating fabric. This process transfers an image from newsprint or similar lightweight paper onto a layer of sheer synthetic fabric, using gel medium. First, the image was laid down on the back cloth, and then the organza or similar fabric was taped firmly down on top. Gel medium was added to the surface, fairly thickly but without soaking the paper. The layers were set outside to dry.
Once they are thoroughly dry, they need to be heat set with an iron for about 10 minutes. Then the fabric is placed in a bucket of warm water for about twenty minutes, to soften the paper. The paper is removed by scrubbing with the fingers and then with a dish scourer, leaving the image behind. Some paper residue usually remains, so the images are usually slightly cloudy and mysterious. They show up well overlaid over strongly toned fabric. We’ll show you the results of that next time, too!