Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wondering Wednesday : I'm Asking The Questions...

...but hopefully not for long.  When I started this blog, a whole two weeks and 1000+ page views ago, I said that it was going to be like an interactive book.  I know from talking to textile people and vendors alike that there's a lot of curiosity about spun bond fabrics, a lot of  'don't really know what to do with it' stuff.   I wanted to give us a forum to learn more about Lutradur, Evolon and Zeelon, and I'm really grateful to everyone who has contributed here so far... let's keep it up!

The problem is, I don't know what your questions least, not unless you tell me.  I've been working with this stuff for several years now, so I've got to know it a bit.  I don't know what you don't know, if you see what I mean, so that makes it  difficult to know what to write about.  So far, I'm sticking to 'process' posts, showing you how I work with the different cloths, giving the odd bit of instruction where appropriate.  But I genuinely want this blog to be a two way process...and for that to happen, I need you to talk to me, here, or on Facebook, or by email.  What would you like to know?  What would you like to see on the blog?  Want to suggest an artist whose work could feature on Fridays?  Go right ahead.  I don't bite...and I don't consider myself the world's greatest authority on spunbond fabrics.  Please help me to help you.

Oh, and by the way, the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked.  This blog is about learning, and it's a safe place to ask really basic questions.  Honest it is.  I know we're only just getting to know each other, but if you're not sure who I am, try my blogs artmixter (my art blog) or wherelifemeetsart (my personal blog).  Get to know me a bit.  I like meeting new people...and I especially like people with questions.  Go on, ask me a know you want to!

ps,  yes, I admit it, the image is a cuckoo in the's on canvas, not Evolon...but I'm planning to make one of these in Evolon on a large scale soon.  Think of it as eye candy!  Or as a learning would a piece like this be different, if it was printed on Evolon instead of canvas?  Knowing when and why to use a particular piece of fabric is an important tool in your arsenal. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

What Am I Going To Do...

with this?  It is a piece of Lutradur 100, which I've transfer dyed...but not very successfully.  It's double postcard sized (12" by 8"), and whilst it's fine at the top, it fades away to obscurity at the bottom.  It's tempting to just throw it away and start again, but at present, nothing usable is getting thrown out (the personal stuff is on my other blog here, if you're interested).  So... I started off by cutting it up.  I don't have a rotary cutter and mat upstairs at present; they live out in  the Little Green Shed, my studio at the bottom of the garden.  So I decided to cut it into a square shape, and did so the old fashioned way (I can remember doing this at school, with paper).

You make a diagonal fold, lining up the short end against the long end, like so...
  and then fold it across the other diagonal, making a triangle with a little rectangle sticking out from the bottom, a bit like a house shape (albeit with a very large roof...), so... and cut the rectangle off.

Now, that looks a bit better... the eye isn/t distracted by that pale bit, and can see the overall design.  So, I started to trial it with different fabrics.  This is a lilac/turquoise silk (remarkably crushed, as you can see...).  I don't think this does anything for either the silk or the Lutradur.  It does strengthen the colours, towards the blue end of the spectrum, but you lose the sheen of the silk for no good reason; good choice for colour, but bad choice of cloth. 
 Whilst Lutradur 100 is semi transparent, you really need a good contrast for any patterning to show through. 

Here it is over a piece of cotton which I printed using a piece of wood.  You can see the patterning really quite clearly here.  So, I have set it up, ready for stitch... see what you think.  How would you stitch it?

Inspiration Monday

What does this suggest to you?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Inspiration For Monday

Sit with this image for a while.  No, not five minutes, longer.  However long it takes.  What do you see?  Do you see a leaf?  A road?  Fields?  An abstract design?  How many different interpretations can you make?

Try it, and share your answers with us.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tip Of The Week.

One of the most boring aspects of working with polyester is painting the paper.  I like to have a 'library' of paper to work with, and sloshing dye over paper for backgrounds is downright tedious.  So... get together with some friends and have a dye sloshing afternoon, preferably in the garden on a sunny day.  The paper will dry quickly if you do that, and you can either swap bits or collaborate on one bit to have a challenge amongst yourselves.  Cake is de optional.

Above is a selection of lutradur coloured with transfer dyes.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Last Saturday's Results...

Last Saturday, we had a competition.  Five people all got bits of it right... and as there are only five entrants, I'm giving five prizes <g>... send me your snail mail addresses here and I'll send you a small excitement!

In fact, four of the five beads were made from Evolon; the fifth was made from Lutradur...not a hint of Tyvek in sight!  You were right about the soldering iron, though.

The image today is a continuation from Thursday.  This piece is made from commercial cloth combined with Lutradur, and takes the framing idea a little further.  It's larger, for a start, A4 sized, and is embellished with beads (note to self, should take better care of samples...and must find missing bead...).  Hope it gives you even more to think about while using Lutradur... you can, for instance, see much more detail because the Lutradur is a 30 weight in this example.  I've stitched round the circles; I didn't need to do so from a technical point of view, but wanted the extra emphasis that the stitched line would bring. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

Photo Friday : Winter

This beautiful piece was made by Maggi Birchenough: this is what she has to say about it.

"The piece was made in response to a competition run on the Popular Patchwork Forum to create something using the 'new' fabric Zeelon. The image is one of my own photos, taken of me on a the beach in Brighton on a lovely sunny winter day. It has always been one of my favourites and I had thought about using it with a poem overlaid but hadn't managed to find the right overlay fabric, until I discovered the lovely transparent  quality of Zeelon. Because I didn't manage to get any Zeelon until a couple of days before Christmas, (having traveled to pick it up from Spunart after their Christmas party!), I was very short of time as the closing date was Dec 31st and I was working all through the Christmas period from 21st - 28th December. This influenced my decision to print the image onto tea bag paper rather than direct to the Evolon base. I was familiar with that method of printing but hadn't done any onto Evolon before and just didn't have time to experiment. I bonded the tea bag paper to the Evolon using acrylic matte medium. The Zeelon was a dream to work with. I gave it a wash of blue acrylic and Koh-i-Noor water based dyes, spray basted it to a piece of printer paper and printed off the poem and the title. I attached the Zeelon layer with straight stitch and French knot embroidery and then added embroidered 'stars' around the figure with a silver metallic thread. I burned away the Zeelon around the figure with a soldering iron.

I was pleased with the way in which the piece came together but would definitely work straight onto Evolon for the base image in the future, especially having seen the effects that you have achieved. I also felt that the contrast where the image was revealed was not particularly obvious. Something to re-think to get a bit more definition in the future.  It is A4 sized and once the idea had been formulated came together very quickly. The aspect that took the longest was writing a suitable poem. It did win the competition incidentally so looks like I'll be popping down the road to Spunart for another order soon."
If you have any questions about this piece, please post them here, and Maggi will, I'm sure, respond.  If you want to contact her directly, you can do so here .  Thank you, is a lovely piece of work, and it's great to hear the story behind the making of it.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A Postcard From Lutradur...

Meet Jakey.  I wanted to show you a fast method of making a postcard.  And yes, I'm obsessed with cats... so Jakey got involved.  Because Lutradur is non woven, it doesn't fray.  That makes it perfect for fast  postcards, as you can work with a minimum of stitch, but still get very effective results.  This particular postcard is a 'framed' portrait of a comedy cat, but it could easily be a window with a view beyond, or have a fabric photograph in the aperture of the frame... whatever you like.  The usual size for a postcard, incidentally, is 6" by 4", so I cut all my materials to that size before starting.  I used transfer dyes throughout.  If you don't know how to use these handy dyes, there is a complete guide in Lovely Lutradur, or just follow the directions supplied with your dye.

I started by cutting a piece of polyester needlepunched wadding, as I didn't want to stitch through all the layers, so that I could write on the back, which was to be a piece of Lutradur XL, and coloured it the same as the colour I was going to use on the front.  I did this because the lutradur on the top level is semi transparent, and having the same colour underneath it would reinforce the top colour. 

Then, I coloured the top fabric, Lutradur 100, and placed the picture of the cat on the top where I wanted it to sit.  I did this by eye; you could, of course, measure the piece to be sure that you get it in the right place.  Then, I took a pencil and drew roughly round the cat picture.  I then cut a very scant quarter inch within that frame, so that the aperture was the right size to hold the picture firmly.  You can see in the image below where the pencil marks are, and the subsequent cutmarks.

Then, I placed the cat picture on top of the wadding, and ironed them together; this was enough to keep the image still, but you could stitch it in place at this point, or just pin it to make it secure.  Then I placed the Lutradur 'frame' over the cat.  At this point, I thought... this is boring.  Fortunately, I had made a sheet of yellow dye with orange flecks on it, so I ironed that over.  This had two effects; firstly, it broke up the chunk of plain yellow at the bottom, and secondly, it made the yellow colour stronger. 
I could, of course, have added stitch instead; french knots would have been an interesting replacement for those dots of colour, for example. 

To anchor it down, I had intended to simply stitch round the pencil line, but I thought that was a bit boring, too... so I couched down some sari thread, using machine zig zag.  That could just as easily be done by hand, of course.  Or the lines could have been erased, and the piece been stitched intensely all over (other than the cat picture itself); there are lots of different design choices possible here.

Once I had done that, I added the Lutradur XL backing, and stitched round the edges.  I had intended to add more sari yarn, but somehow that didn't seem right.  I did, however, think that something was missing.  So I found a fabric marker, and added a 'signature'.  The fabric marker was not very good, however, and I didn't like the effect, so I stitched over it for good measure.  That, of course, has shown through on the back, so my pristine, card-like finish is ruined!  I think it was worth it, though.

One completed postcard.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it good enough... probably. I could work some more on  it... I think that small beads scattered around where the dots are would be interesting, or some hand stitch.   Now it's your turn... see what you can come up with!  If you don't have lutradur XL, use Pelmet Vilene.  Similarly, if you don't have Lutradur 100, you could use any one of the lutradurs, though if I was using Lutradur 30, the lightest of the lutradurs, I might think about covering the whole of my wadding with yellow fabric, or a contrasting fabric, possibly, and fusing the image onto the top of that.  Why?  Well, Lutradur 30 is very transparent, and it would be easy to see the wadding underneath; it doesn't look very interesting.  A yellow fabric would strenghten the colour of the lutradur, whilst a contrast would do the same, but in a different way.  Don't be afraid to experiment: remember, it's only fabric. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Wondering On Wednesday...What Is Spunbonded Fabric?

My lovely daughter in law, Tracey, who studied Textiles at college, asked me this on Facebook.  And it seemed like a good question, so here goes.

We're used to fabric being woven, with a warp and a weft.  It is uniform, can be torn in straight lines, has a tendency to fray.  Spunbonded fabrics, however, are a type of non woven fabric, and are made in a completely different way.  At its simplest, the fibres, which are man made,  instead of being woven together, are placed on a belt, in a completely random way, to form a web.  Then they are zapped (I'm not good at technical terms!) with heat, to bond them together.  They are mostly used for industrial purposes; your sofa and bed are probably lined with Lutradur, for example, whilst Evolon was created as a fabric for industrial clothing. 

The image above is a piece of spunbonded fabric.  It isn't Lutradur, which is the brand name of a particular type of polyester spunbonded fabric; rather, it is a piece of florist's wrap, green on one side, silver on the other (and I have no idea how they did that...sorry!).  You can clearly see the web-like construction of the cloth.  That means that it will not fray, and that it is impossible to tear in a straight line, and often impossible to tear at all.  It also tolerates heat better than most cloth made from polyester and/or nylon.  These things make it ideal for textile and mixed media art. 

Hope that answers the question, but if it doesn't, ask away

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I'm Often Asked...

what I like best for colouring spun bonded fabrics.  As with most things, my answer is... it all depends.  But if I was forced to make a choice, I would go for transfer dyes.  They don't affect the hand, the colour is bright and clear, it is simple to apply and all in all is fab for man made fibres.  They can, of course, make marks on cotton, too...they just won't be so bright and clear, because they weren't designed for cotton.  Polycotton, of course, is a different story, depending on the relative amounts of poly to cotton.  The higher the poly content, the brighter the colour... but I digress.

I'm also often asked about what the difference is between dye and paints.  It's simple, really.  Dye comes as a powder, and it makes up with (hot!) water into a substance that is like watercolour paint..all runny.  Paint is the powder, but mixed up with water for you and thickened, so it's more like fabric paint.  Both, however, have to be painted onto paper first, and then ironed onto the cloth.  The technical term for this is sublimation dyeing, by the way, in case you come across it.  Transfer dye can also be bought in crayon form.  Transfer crayons are difficult to find in the UK because the most common  type, made by Crayola, apparently doesn't conform to EU standards (that would be one type of dye in one crayon..sigh.). 

I have all three types of transfer dye in my arsenal.  Why?  Because they are good for different things.  I use transfer dyes for background washes, as they are thin and go a long way.  They also last for ever, if kept in a sealed container (I keep mine in plastic milk jugs).  I use transfer paints for detail work, like printing.  I could thicken up my own dyes, of course, but I know that if I use a commercial paint, I will get consistent results.  If I want a particular colour, though, I will mix my own from the dyes, rather than mix the paints together.  The crayons are great for drawing and writing, though you have to remember with writing to do mirror writing; the words will be ironed onto fabric, and will read in reverse if you don't.  Which is great if it is what you want to achieve...less so if you just forgot.  Guess how I know!

A complex image, like the one above, will use many different layers of both dye and paints.  Interestingly, the marks that look like drawings are not crayon, but paint.  If you want a painterly look to your drawing, don't use crayons, because you can't vary the mark the way that you can with paint.  Try it, and see!  If you're not sure where to start, don't worry...I'll be doing a step by step tutorial to make a postcard from either lutradur or Evolon in Thursday's post.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Magic Mooncat... an occasional series of quiltlets.  Those of you who read my other blogs will know I share my life with four cats, so it seemed reasonable to pay homage to them (even though I don't have a white one...).  I love making these little quilts, and they are great fun.  This one is Autumn Evening.

Most people use spun bonded fabrics as the primary fabric in their work, myself included.  But I wanted the idea of a ghost cat, a magic mooncat, so he is made from Lutradur 70 and placed onto a quilt made from scraps of commercial fabric, and a border of my hand dyes.  You can see from both the images that you can see through the cat to the background quilt, which gives that mysterious feel.  Is he there, is he not?  What do you think?

What is there, of course, is cat hair.  The real stuff.  It, and they, get everywhere, and like nothing better than sitting on a quilt.  Especially when it has a cat on it already....

Saturday, 18 February 2012

How Did She Do THAT?

I promised fun stuff at the weekends... so here is a competition.  The people who can tell me what the photograph is of, and how I made it, by Monday 20 Feb at 9am gmt will have their names put into the hat, and the first three out will receive a little lutradur or evolon something from wee me... so... What is it, and how did I do it???

Friday, 17 February 2012

Photo Friday : 'The Magpie' by Angela Huddart

Our first Friday photo is from Angela Huddart, in the UK.  If you have ever bought a pack of C&T Publishing's Lutradur, you will have seen this particular photograph before, as it is on the packaging, a well deserved honour for a lovely piece.  I asked her to tell us a bit about it;

"This is what I call my 'famous' piece!    It is a journal quilt measuring approx 8" x 11" and is based on Monet's painting 'The Magpie'.  I made it by sketching onto plain fabric then covering with a layer of Lutradur.  I thread-painted the gate, magpie, fences and trees, then painted strips of Lutradur dark brown for the trees in the foreground and stitched them in place before zapping with a heat-gun.  For the snow in the foreground I added a layer of scrunched up Lutradur, stitched it in place and zapped it again with the heat-gun.  After sandwiching, adding borders and quilting, the foreground and the sky were lightly brushed with a sparkly paint.

The Lutradur behaved just how I wanted it to - I could paint it, stitch on it and heat zap it.  I wouldn't do anything any different in hindsight.  I'm all for making life easy for myself and this worked for me with results that I liked - thanks to a great product! I loved making it so much I've made another as C&T Publishing have this original. 

I am a member of C&T Publishing's 'Creative Troupe' who occasionally send a 'call-out' for members who are interested in various new products.  When I joined there was a call-out for pieces made from the the new Ultra-Light Lutradur, which they provided.  I had made a couple of fused pieces based on The Magpie and loved how they turned out, so decided to have a go using Lutradur and thread.  The pieces they receive are used as models to demonstrate to retailers what can be achieved by using a particular product.  When it came to producing the packaging for sale to the retailers, they chose this piece as well as four others to be featured - mine just happened to be on the front !"
You can see more of Angela's work here,and you can contact her here .
I'm sure if you want to ask her anything about this particular quilt, you can just leave a comment in the box below, and she'll respond.  Thanks, Angela, for being so generous with your time and expertise.

If you would like to have a photograph featured on Photo Friday, please contact me here


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Err...I've Got This Bit Of Lutradur...

...and I'm just not sure what to do with it.... sound familiar?  It happens to us all.  The particular piece of Lutradur I have in mind is a piece of Lutradur 30, the lightest weight, which has been cut in a rather peculiar manner.  I'm really very bad at cutting things straight, but this is ridiculous.  Because it had been cut so strangely, I had put it to one side in my studio, so, when I was painting and wanted to lift some thick acrylic paint from the surface of a painting, I picked it up, applied it and gently smoothed over the surface.  It picked up some gorgeous random marks from the painting, I put it aside to dry, and it has been lying around ever since.  Today, I picked it up and started to work with it.  I haven't made a firm decision yet, but I thought I would write about the process I'm going through, to help you to think a bit about the choices you have when you use Lutradur 30, or any of the other Lutradurs.

This is a scanned image of the cloth itself; it's not the best of images because of that.  As you can see, other than the marks of the paint, it is still its original white self.  One of the decisions I will have to make is whether to leave it white, or not.  I could paint over it...but of course, that would be a decision I would have to make, and stick for now, I'm going to leave it white.  It's easier for you to see what I'm doing if there's a strong contrast.  And besides, I might not need to colour it.... but more of that later.

Anyway... I then wondered what it would be like with some colour behind it, so promptly laid it on the living room carpet, which is a terracotta colour.  Immediately, you can see a difference.  If I was serious about laying this particular piece onto specific colours, I would trial them under the piece, just as if I were trialling fabric for a quilt.  I rather like this...but it's not interesting enough, yet.  I could, of course, crop it down to just show the marks, as I did in the original scan, and that would be much more interesting. 

And then, I remembered a quilt that I'd had lying around for quite a while waiting for More Quilting

So... I tried the whole piece of cloth over the complete quilt.

Actually...that has potential...I really rather like the shape of it.  I might use that particular idea on something else.  The problem here is that the marks are in the wrong place, well below the focal point of the quilt.  So... as you do, I tried moving the cloth up the quilt, to see what it looked like...and here it is.

Now we're talking... I find this combination interesting.  The stitching below the Lutradur is very strong; it was made with a heavy variegated thread in the bobbin, stitched from the reverse.  The marks of the paint are, in fact, very heavy, as you can see from the image below.  I usually tell people to dilute paint when using it to colour Lutradur, as it can clog up the holes that cause the transluscence that is its main feature.  But there is an exception to every rule, and when you want this kind of texture, you need to apply the paint really thickly.

So...I have an idea for where to go next...but what would you do?  Watch this space next week for my choices... 

Meanwhile... you might be thinking, 'But I've never used my lutradur, and I couldn't do anything like that'...   So... let's start small.  Get your own bit of lutradur out!   All the lutradurs are semi transparent; why not try it against a variety of different cloths, just to see what happens.   Any kind of cloth, or a quilt you're not happy with, or a UFO.  If your cloth is some of the heavier weights, you may have to find cloth that has a strong contrast, like black and white, for you to be able to see the underlying cloth clearly.  Just keep looking until you find a combination you like, and put it aside.  We'll start a project with it on Tuesday.  Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wondering On Wednesday... About Inkjets

Welcome to Wondering On Wednesday!  Heidi Rand has very kindly asked the first question.  She already prints on lutradur, but was wondering about inkjet printing on Evolon and Zeelon.  Well, I can't comment on the results on Zeelon, as I haven't tried it yet!  So, I'm going to take her question and twist it slightly.  Which do I prefer printing on, Lutradur or Evolon?  For me, that's a no brainer at one level.  I love Evolon's texture, and its softness means that it has more texture when you stitch into it, and that's important for me.  So, at a purely emotional level, Evolon gets my vote. However, the technical answer is one that I'll doubtless keep coming back to over the life of this blog: 'It Depends...'   In this case, it depends what you want to use it for.

Both Lutradur and Evolon will happily go through the printer, though, the lighter weights, whilst giving a lovely effect, are somewhat wasteful of ink.  The transparency that Lutradur is famous for is achieved through lots of little holes, which ink travels through, and on to the backing or, if you're working without backing, onto the printer itself...not a good look...

As this is my first ever question, I didn't have the luxury of preparation time, so I have no lutradur samples to show you, though I did do a chapter on printing on lutradur in Lovely Lutradur.  So the images are of a piece of printed Evolon which  I've recently finished as a wall quilt.  The image is of a lily, and has been manipulated in Paint Shop Pro to strenghten the colours.  I then coated the fabric with a medium, to stop the colour soaking into the cloth and being lost, and then printed and stitched.  Remember to click on the images to see them up close.

I hope you enjoy and are inspired by these images; the effect of printing on cloth is amazing, I think... I'm working towards an exhibition in July, called 'Blossomings', which will feature these flowers.  This one is roughly 44cm square.  I'll doubtless be talking about the preparation for Blossomings in the main blog.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Polyester? Me? You're Kidding, RIght?

Blue Tree Dreaming : Quilted Lutradur. what I would have said five or six years ago if you had told me that about eighty to ninety percent of my working time as a textile artist would be spent using polyester.  Now, though, that's exactly how I spend my time.  I work with Lutradur, Evolon and now Zeelon, using them for all kinds of things, including creating stitched photographs and multi layered quilts and embroideries.  With my friend and fellow artist Dijanne Cevaal, I wrote 'Lovely Lutradur'; Dijanne was the person who introduced me to spun bonded fabrics, for which I'm profoundly grateful.  A meeting with Mervyn from Spunart introduced me to Evolon; in fact, I stole his only sample... I'm surprised he still speaks to me!  And more recently, Mervyn has introduced me to Zeelon, another spun bonded fabric that has been introduced to textile artists.  It's an exciting time, with so many different cloths from man made fibres to play with!
Lost In Translation.  Dyed Lutradur over commercial fabric, heat distressed to show some elements in their original colours.

So why am I starting this blog?  Well, mainly because I want to create a resource for everyone who is using spun bonded fabrics in the art world, and explore the possibilities with you.  I know that every time I go to a quilt group meeting or a show, people tell me that they have got some lutradur, or evolon, or zeelon...or all three... but they have never used it because they don't know quite how to use it.  And that's despite all the books that have been written.  So... think of this blog as an interactive book.  I'll be showing you some step by step projects to make with your fabrics, as well as answering questions you might have about these wonderful fabrics. I'm also hoping to interview other artists who work with these fabrics, so that you can see how different people approach working with these amazing fabrics.  I'm aiming to post here every day, (barring accidents, illness and acts of God, of course), in a very structured way, starting...well, now, really! 

cushions made from Evolon

So...  the week will look roughly like this.

Monday is Inspiration Day.  I'll post something inspirational...a quote, a picture, a question.  I can't think of a better way to get the creative juices going at the start of the week.

Tuesday is for Trying Things Out.  This is the day when we explore actually using the fabrics.

Wednesday is Wondering Day.  Every Wednesday, I will answer a question that YOU have set.  You can email me here and ask me anything you like about these fabrics; how to dye them, how to use them... or ask for advice on a project you're working on.  

Thursday is another Trying Things Out day.

Friday is Photo Day!  Photos of past or ongoing work, mine, yours, anything that is interesting.  Again, you can email me if you would like to have your work featured here; the only proviso is that it must contain at least some of one or more of the spunbonded fabrics.  I will fully credit your work, will link to your blog or website, and will write an article based on the information you give me in a short and simple pre-publication questionnaire.

Saturday and Sunday are Fun Days!  Depending on what has been going on in the week, we could cover any or all these topics...think surprise!

I hope you'll enjoy visiting this blog...please do ask questions, make comments, give me feedback, so I can write stuff that meets YOUR needs.   And today would be a good day to ask questions for this and successive Wednesdays... what's the one thing you would love to know about spun bonded fabrics  (but were afraid to ask)?
Flying Circus.  An Evolon quilt, with both hand and machine stitching.