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.