Saturday, 28 July 2012


As you know, we Fibrecircle girls are often happiest when we’re playing around with dyes and paints and other interesting ways to put pattern onto backgrounds. This month was no exception.

Bev has been doing some rust dyeing, with some bit and pieces she found in her dad’s garage. Basically, she put metal, moisture and fabric or paper together, over time – it doesn’t get easier than that! But the results are great.

These were scraps of silk.

These were heavy watercolour papers.

I think we all would have been quite happy to steal these ones!

This one was an unknown acrylic fabric, which is quite sheer – probably an organza?
Bev was also playing with transfer dyes again. These are Polysol dyes, which are painted onto paper and ironed onto a background. The best effects come from building up layers by ironing on multiple sheets. The background here is watercolour paper, which is an interesting approach. These dyes are more usually used with man-made cloth.

Jan brought along her exhibition name tag, a “tag bag”, which was also created with transfer dyes. It’s beautiful and rich and delicate.
Tricia and Nola have been doing yet more breakdown printing. This time, the screens behaved normally and yielded some interesting prints. This one is Tricia’s:
…and so is this one:
 She envisaged using these as stand-alone prints, which is why she left space around them.
This one really shows the breakdown of the screen.
..and a detail shot of the same one.

Nola printed this cotton piece:
..and this silk scarf
..from the same screen, as it gradually broke down. She had drawn very simple repeat flower elements on the screen with a syringe, which formed a pattern in the corners where the screens met.

She also made a larger one with a clear breakdown effect:
In each case, breakdown occurred fairly quickly, which leaves us with a mystery. Why were there three screens that refused to break down, when all other screens, made in the same way, break down normally? We theorised that perhaps drying the screens with a hair-dryer made them more resistant to breaking down, but these screens were all dried that way. The amount of chemical has been the same, and others made using the same batch behaved normally. The humidity has been variable this winter, but doesn’t seem to correlate in any way. It’s just strange.

Tricia and Nola were also experimenting with discharging some of their dyed cloth, using thiourea dioxide. It’s much milder on cloth than bleach but it’s still a strong chemical, which can affect people in pretty much every way. So good ventilation and proper masks are a must, including during steaming. Here’s Tricia’s experiment:
She painted the thiox onto the cloth randomly with a foam brush, but it's very effective. The interesting thing about this print is that the original fabric was cream, which she printed several times in different colours at the same time. The fabric wasn't dried or batched between prints, yet the thiox only discharged back to an earlier colour layer, not back to the original cream. It's results like this that make the process so interesting!

Nola tried using a print block, which gave very subtle results, as you can see in this closeup:
This process worked much better in areas without a strong colour variation or pattern.

Bev was also doing some sun printing, using ginkgo leaves from a tree in her street.
Sun printing is really such as easy way to get pattern onto cloth. A lot of different media will do this, not just the ones marketed for sun printing, like Pebeo’s Soleil range. Their Setacolor transparent range will also work, as will Jacquard textile paints, Lumiere and Dyn-A-Flow paints. Bev thinks she used Lumiere paints for this one.

Meanwhile, Helen was painting paper with acrylic paints and inks, for a workshop she’s taking. This one was painted with ink first and then with acrylic paints..
…while these were painted with acrylic paint and then with ink.
The first one has quite a dull matte finish, while the others are shiny from the inks. It’s going to be fascinating to see what she does with these!

Nola and Tricia also spent a day dyeing some cloth. Firstly, they set up a couple of dye pots of natural materials and tied some scarves and yarn with string and blocks, tongue depressors and various other Shibori-style methods.

The first dye pot contained wattle, an Australia native flower similar to mimosa. The wattle flowers are only just coming out in Sydney, so the pot contained both flowers and leaves. The result was a less vivid colour than we’d expect just from wattle flowers.

Nola dyed a silk scarf, another scrappy silk skein and some wool yarn. The mordant was copper sulphate, which gives a lovely glossy coppery effect. This is the silk yarn:
Here's the silk scarf, which was bought prepared for dyeing...
... and the wool skein.
In the second pot was bark from ironbark trees. Fibrecircle used this bark back here in November last year, so they knew this would produce a deep chocolate brown, especially if they used ferrous sulphate as the mordant. The pot was very strong with lots of liquid, so they divided it after an hour of boiling, and added copper sulphate to one pot and ferrous sulphate to the second pot. The result was quite different shades. Here are Nola’s results from ironbark and copper sulphate. Here's another PFD silk scarf..
.. some more wool yarn...
... and another wool yarn skein.
Both these colours have a coppery sheen from the copper sulphate mordant and would work very well together.

These are from ironbark and ferrous sulphate, first a wool scarf, tied with wood blocks at the ends...
...and some wool yarn.
After boiling for an hour, the pots were left to cool down overnight with the dyed materials still in them, and then rinsed out.

As you can see, the mordant made a lot of difference to the colour! Nola used the same wool yarn for the second copper sulphate skein and the ferrous sulphate skein – they were wound in succession from the same cone of yarn.

While they were waiting for the results of the eco-dyeing, they used the Drimarene K dyes they’d been using for breakdown printing, using the Four Minute Rapid Fix method from the Batik Oetoro website.

Urea and salt are mixed together with dissolved dye powder in one container, and, at the last minute, this is combined with the appropriate strength of soda ash. The material to be dyed is placed in a plastic bag and the required amount of combined dye liquid is poured over. Tricia and Nola used scarlet and turquoise dye. Nola poured her dye over a neutral Cancer Council hat and over a rather scrappy skein of silk yarn.
The colours were deliberately not mixed, but a mishap with a leaking bag meant more mixing happened than was planned!

After four minutes at the required temperature, the contents were hung on the line to drip dry and then rinsed out gently with warm water and Synthrapol. So easy!

Stay tuned for Tricia’s dyeing results…

We haven’t just been playing around, though. Some of us have actually made things too. Bev created this book with reverse piano hinge binding. It’s a clever kind of binding that allows for extra pages to be added to a book quite easily.
You can see some instructions for this method here, though it looks slightly different to Bev’s book.
The “reverse’ part of the name means the folds holding the pages together are inside the book between the pages; you can also put them on the outside of the book for a different effect. This is a great no-sew method of binding a book.
Helen was working on some rug canvas projects, her absolute favourite pastime. She was finishing off her triptych, which has appeared here and here. She’d been distracted by other things but she was on the homeward stretch now.
Later, Helen was also working on an emperor to go with her soldier here

I love the way he has such a snooty expression!

Here’s a picture of all our sections of the work for the Fragment exhibition in August, displayed together. This isn’t how they’ll be displayed at the exhibition in August, but you can see how they relate to one another.
I guess someone buying the work could frame them like this very easily. From top left to lower right, the works were made by Tricia, Bev, Carol, Maz, Nola and Helen.

Jan is also putting work into this exhibition.
I’ve shown you a teaser of the three works she’s displaying, so you’ll have to come and visit the exhibition to see the full pieces. It’s at the Palm House, Sydney Botanic Gardens, from Thur 16 August to Tues 28 August, with the official opening on Saturday 18 August at 2pm. Come and have a look!

And as always we exchanged postcards. Not many of us had time this month, just Helen…
…from her favourite canvas work...

…and Bev…
… from fabric scraps she printed with Gocco.

See you in August!

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