Saturday, 31 March 2012

And The Winner Is...

err... well... actually...  nobody got the answer to last week's question completely right.  Some people got some elements... but nobody got them all.  Those of you who told me that it was a rubbing, were right, though I used fabric crayons, not artists sticks.  It wasn't a bark rubbing, though; in fact, I made a rubbing of one of my own linocuts, on Evolon.  But... I thought I'd do a drawing anyway, to thank you all for taking part.  So, the winner is...  Ineke Berlin!  Please email me with your snailmail, Ineke, and I'll get this wee thing sent off to you!

Tomorrow, I'll show you the two entrants for the March Challenge.  Meanwhile... April's Challenge is...
Make a journal sized quilt using lutradur, evolon, zeelon or all three, inspired by the lines;
'... all at once, I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils'.

Seems appropriate for the season!  End date is 30th April; please email me an image of your piece and a brief artists statement telling us how you made it; as before, the viewers' choice will receive a small prize.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Photo Friday : March Challenge

As today is the last day for submissions for the March Challenge, I thought I would show you my attempt.  There's still just time to submit a piece... you know you want to!

I started by manipulating the image a little more than I had before.  Then, I printed it out on Bertha, my large scale Epson printer, on Lutradur XL.  I then carved into it with a soldering iron.  I hadn't intended to cut all the way through the cloth, but it seemed to work best that way, so I carved enough away to strengthen the idea that these were flints (in fact, they're not; the original photo was of an asphalt pot hole.  As a result, the piece is called Asphalt Dreams).

I decided not to add any stitch at all, as I felt it would be a distraction.  The piece varies depending on what colour the underlying surface is.  The first of the detail shots is on a pine table; the second on navy blue.

I'm planning to frame this piece so that it can be hung away from the wall, to explore the shadows it creates.  Another option is to put it in a light box, but that could prove to be prohibitively expensive, as I'm planning a series of similar works and would want them all framed in a similar way.

I've received one entry for this Challenge; I hope to receive a few more today.  Then I'll share them at the weekend and you can vote for your favourite; the winner will receive a small prize.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Try It Out Thursday : After The Spray...

Remember Monday's post?  Well, having made all that sprayed fabric, I wanted to find something to do with it.  So, when in doubt...yes, you know it.... make a postcard.  I've been making a lot of felt recently, and when I spotted a handful of dyed Wensleydale wool tops that sat beautifully on the sprayed Zeelon, I thought it would be useful to do something with them.  What better than a bit of hand felting?  I've used Lutradur for felting before, but never Zeelon.  So...I positioned the Zeelon carefully on a piece of Lutradur XL that had been cut to postcard size.  I wanted to avoid the scarlet dots which I disliked when I sprayed the original piece, as well as the watermark I created when I tested it for colour fastness. 

Having established I could do that, and which way up I wanted to work, I started trying out the fibres on the cloth.  The first photo, below, shows a wisp of wool tops on the fabric.

 Not a good look; it doesn't show either fabric or fibres to good effect.  So... I moved to this...

...yup, that looks better... and finally to this...

...notice, by the way, that the design has changed a little, has moved across to the right of where I originally started, for no reason other than I like it better.

Why did I use a single needle, and felt by hand?  Because I wasn't using much fibre, and didn't want the holes to appear on the cloth, as they  might have done if I had used a machine, even if I did take out some of the needles.  As it was, I still have holes in one or two places where they shouldn't be... but that's okay.  
My original intention was to felt the fibres straight through the Zeelon and into the Lutradur.  Nope.  I was surprised at how much work it took to get the fibres through the Zeelon, though I suspect that had I used the machine, it would have been much quicker.  I'll fuse the piece together instead.  For obvious reasons, you really don't want to try felting through fused fabrics...

So...what next?  I have a plan, but what would you do?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Wondering Wednesday : Ageing Spunbonded Fabrics

Sandy Snowden, a new reader here (welcome, Sandy, and everyone else who has joined us in the last week or so...), has asked a question about colouring spunbonds; she says;

"what is the best way to get an aged/tea dyed tint to the spunbonded fabrics. Not really into the garish transfer dyed colours. I tried something last year which didn’t work, and eventually soaked it in STRONG coffee. That did knock the brilliant white out a bit, but you couldn’t even say it was ecru."

First of all, though transfer dyes are strong when mixed at full strength, you should experiment with the proportions of water to dye powder to produce more gentle colours.  And remember that you can iron the dye out of the paper at least three times; I have got marks out of transfer dyed paper after five ironings.  As you iron the paper repeatedly, the colour becomes more and more faded, until it appears pastel in nature.  So if you use the early prints for something else, the later prints will give you the faded look you are seeking.

There is, in fact, a different technique in Lovely Lutradur for giving lutradur an aged appearance, so I won't repeat it here. Lastly, consider rust dyeing.  The image above is of Lutradur 30 which has been rust dyed.  Using Ferrous Sulphate to rust dye the lutradur would probably be the better bet to give an overall colour.  There are instructions for that technique in 'Exquisite Evolon' which would also work for the spunbonded fabrics. 

Hope that helps.  If anyone else has suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments section!

Remember, you can always ask a question for Wondering Wednesday; send it to me here

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Try It Out Tuesday : Spray Inks

I thought I would follow up last week's posts with a final post about using spray inks.  The image above shows a piece of Zeelon which has been sprayed with Brusho spray on ink.  The results are muted, but reasonably good.  The image below, however, shows another piece of Zeelon which has been sprayed with Brusho inks... quite a difference, huh?  The blues are identical, incidentally... just much brighter in the second piece.
What I did, was to prepare the cloth using a digital ground.  I figured that if it worked for digital ink, it would work for anything... and it does.  It keeps the colourant on the surface of the cloth, not allowing it to soak in.  The downside, if you consider it such, is that the reverse side has much less colour.  For me, though, it's enough to get this vibrancy, which is characteristic of Brusho.  I'm going to repeat the process of spraying with a setting agent, to make the colour stay where it is (though washing is not advisable). 

So...which is 'right', with or without the digital ground?  The answer is, there is no right.  If you want the muted effect, don't use the digital ground.  If you want vibrancy, use the ground.  Your cloth, your choice.  No right or wrong involved!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Inspiration Monday

'It ain't whatcha do, it's the way that you do it,
It ain't whatcha do, it's the way that you do it,
It ain't whatcha do, it's the way that you do it,
And that's what gets results'
Melvin 'Sy' Oliver and James 'Trummy' Young

Apparently this song started life as a calypso, but has had a variety of different incarnations since.  Similarly, if you make something in one way, it doesn't mean it's the only way... change the rhythm, change the beat, change the colour, change the material... make it different. In art terms, it's called a series.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tip Of The Week

Perfection is the best you can do on the day.  Don't beat yourself up about things that are less than perfect in your eyes.  The truth is, nobody will ever notice that wee detail that is annoying you.  Besides, there is always something you can do with a piece you're not satisfied with... so don't panic, and don't give up.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

How Did She Do That (2)?

Or, more to the point, what fabric, materials and techniques did I use?  Answers below, please, and I'll put all the correct ones in a hat on Mon 26th March at 12 noon GMT, and select one name, who will receive this wee piece, in a mount, ready for framing.

Thinking caps on..<G>...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Photo Friday : Circles I

Today's image comes from the amazing Dale Rollerson.  You can find her blog, and more of her work,
  here.  She works a lot with spun bonded fabrics; this piece is Evolon.  She says of this particular piece;' I have monoprinted with the Gelli plate using acrylic paint and stencils – Evolon takes colour so well. I plan to stitch on it before too long'  I'm hoping she'll send me a follow up image when she has stitched this incredibly richly coloured piece, and keep us appraised of the progress of the series. 

So there I was thinking, what's a Gelli plate?  I'd never heard of them, so had a look at their website .  They make a gel printing plate that looks like gelatine, but is reusable.  It sounds fab...want one...but until one of us has a paying job, I'll settle for gelatine printing, as I have several packets of gelatine in the kitchen cupboard.   I found a video on U Tube showing how it's done; please note that the video is the copyright of the original artist, and has nothing to do with Spunbond Sensations!.

Many thanks to Dale for sharing this with us; if you have work at any stage of development that you want to share with us, please contact me here

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Try It Out Thursday...More Spray Colour

I thought I'd make a little experiment with the coloured cloth I made earlier this week, as we saw on Tuesday.  I have a spray called 'PrintGuard', which is intended as a waterproofing agent for inkjet prints, predominately.  It also 'enhances UV light resistance', so seemed promising to work with Brusho, a water soluble ink.  So, I tried spraying both sides of the cloth with it.  (Why both sides?  Well, because both sides show almost identical colour patterns, so I wanted to preserve them both.)  It passed the lick test (not quite as disgusting as it sounds... lick finger, see if colour comes away from cloth...); however, when I tried dabbing it with a piece of dampened kitchen roll, look what happened...

...whilst that isn't as big a loss of colour as it would have been without the spray, it's still significant.  You can see how the pigment has moved to the edges of the dampened section of the cloth; fine if you intended that, but not so good if a bit of damp has got into your image...  So, I sprayed both sides again, let it dry (it dries very quickly).  This time... you can see, very little came off on the kitchen towel.  I think that a third spray would be enough to ensure that the odd bit of damp won't be a problem at all.  Interestingly, the white dot to the left of the image is not where I took the colour from, but rather was a part of the original patterning... the dimple just above it is where the colour was tested.

Worth having?  I think so.  I spray all my photographs with this stuff before I stitch them, to make sure that ink doesn't spread about the image on my hands.  I think I'll be doing the same with all water based substances from now on.  More experiments with sprays next week...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Wondering Wednesday... Whatever Happened...

to Monday's post, I hear you ask.  Well, it's here.  Apparently, my knack for scheduling (or lack of it) means that it shows up in February... in other words, before I started the blog.  Huh? 

I'd like to thank the seven people who have given me feedback on the blog.  I hope many more of you will follow suit.  I genuinely want this blog to be helpful... if you don't tell me how I'm doing, I can't improve.  You can always email me with questions for Wondering Wednesday here.  Similarly, if you have images you would like to see featured on Photo Friday, send them to that address.  You don't have to be a well known quilter, or a teacher, or a writer to do this... just let us see the stuff you've made with these amazing fabrics. 

This is beginning to sound like a begging letter.... and for that, I'm sorry.  But it's hard to give the customers what they need, if they won't talk to you... so how about it?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Try It Out Tuesday : Spray Colour

I have a number of Brusho sprays in my collection (Brusho is a water soluble ink, if you haven't come across it before).  I mostly use them for working on paper, but have been known to apply them to fabric.  I usually apply fabric medium or something similar before I use these watercolour inks, because otherwise, the colour has a tendency to sink into the cloth, and as Brusho's main feature is the strength of colour it produces, that seems a bit of a waste.  However, I was spraying an altered book in the studio on Sunday, when I realised that I was hitting a piece of Zeelon.  So, having started, I thought I might as well finish the job... and the cloth above is the result.

As you can see, it has very gentle colours.  It is very obvious that the ink has sunk into the cloth, because when you turn it over, the reverse looks very similar.  It is not, however, identical; some of the inks I used have glitter in them.  The way to tell the front from the back is quite simply to look for the glitter; it stays on the surface of the cloth.  If you expand the image below, you may be able to see the odd shimmery bit here and there.  I'm quite pleased with the way this has worked out.  I have used Brusho on untreated Lutradur, and not been happy with the results; on Zeelon, though, it looks quite promising.

The dots are very dispersed here... it's what comes of working wet on wet.   And I do keep forgetting that scarlet doesn't go well with purple...but never mind. This is, of course, water based paint, so it will wash out if it comes in contact with water, so not a technique you want to use with material for clothing or anything you intend to wash...better to frame it, than  to just mount it. what am I going to do with it... more on Thursday...

ps you could try this out on zeelon using any spray ink; it doesn't have to be Brusho!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Tip Of The Week

Oops...I burned it again....
We've been talking about Evolon this week, so I thought that we'd finish the way we began.  When you are transfer dyeing on Evolon, remember that it is a combination of polyester and nylon.  I find that it burns more easily than Lutradur, so be careful; keep your iron moving all the time as you transfer the colour, and press firmly to encourage the colour to transfer as quickly as possible. 

PS the large burn at the top was achieved with an iron; the smaller, lacy holes, with a heat gun.  There's definitely a difference between the holes you create when you're trying, and the holes you create when you're not...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Just A Reminder...

that there's a challenge going here for more details.   I know Angela Huddart is playing... anyone else?  Remember, if you want a larger file of the image, you just have to ask me...

I have a large collection of images like this... I'm fascinated by wear, tear, erosion and change.  I think you can always tell an artist by the type of images they take...they're the ones on their hands and knees on a narrow, muddy path, taking a photograph of roots...  How many of you have done that, then...?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Photo Friday: Ely Cathedral

Since we have been talking about Evolon this week, I would feature an Evolon piece, and, for a change, something that is unfinished, my own piece, Ely Cathedral. 

This is a large scale piece (by my standards, anyway), 23" by 30" (58cm x 76cm), and was one of the first images I printed using my large scale printer.  It is a digitally manipulated image of a stone in one of the walls of Ely Cathedral.  I wanted to catch the way in which the stone was eroding naturally, as well as the man made incisions on the stone.  Or are they?  I think they probably are, but they are ambiguous enough to be natural, also... the viewer must decide.

I have two print outs of this piece.  One of them is untouched, and will remain that way.  Just because I print out on cloth, doesn't mean that I have to do anything with it... and the image is strong on its own.  This version, however, has a lot of hand stitching in it; I'm about two thirds of the way through the initial stitching of it, entirely by hand, using three different variegated cotton threads, random stab stitching.  As you can see, unlike the example yesterday, there is no puckering.  My intention in using stitch was to add some texture, but not too much.  Stone is a hard material; trying to render that by quilting it seemed inappropriate.  So I have stitched randomly, and with different sizes of stitch.  From a distance, it looks untouched; it isn't until you get up close and personal with the work, that you realise that there is any stitch involved.  Where there are clear marks, I have tried to avoid stitching into them, but I have not always been successful in that; there is the odd stitch here and there which is not quite where it should be, but I don't think it makes any difference. 

Now, I have to finish that initial layer of stitch, and decide whether that is it, or not.  My initial intention was to add a second layer of stitch, using a heavier weight of thread, and larger stitches, to see how that affected the texture.  From yesterday's example, though, my suspicions about puckering have been confirmed, so I need to think again.  One option would be to use Lutradur XL as a backing; I don't want to use fusible interfacing as it would make the cloth difficult to stitch by hand.  I'm also wondering about those marks...  do I find a way of suggesting that they are somehow lower than the rest of the piece... perhaps some sort of reverse trapunto, where the featured area is the one without any padding.  I haven't decided, but I do hope you have enjoyed this particular trip round a work in progress.  If you have any questions, please ask away.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Try It Out Thursday : Texturing Evolon

I was talking on Tuesday about how Evolon softens as you stitch it, and thought that I might encourage you to try it with this post.  This is a monoprint on Evolon, which I wanted to hand stitch.  I've hand stitched Evolon before, but never with a heavier thread than an average quilting cotton.  This time, I'm working with silk thread, and as you can see from the pictures, it's fairly heavy.  I had an interesting time trying out suitable needles; unlike woven cloth, non wovens don't have a regular structure.  Evolon has a consistent, fairly firm structure, unlike the spun bonded fabrics, and so are more difficult to hand stitch (machine stitching is easy).  I have ended up using a chenille needle; it is sharper than a tapestry needle, but with the larger eye needed for heavier threads.   I found tapestry needles too blunt; I had to force the needle through the cloth.  Chenille needles need a little bit of encouragement, but are distinctly easier to work with on Evolon.  Of course, if anyone knows of a better needle that this for this purpose, I'd love to hear about it!

I started in the centre, and began stab stitching randomly.  Random is easier said than done, you really do have to pay attention to which direction each stitch is running in, as its all too easy to make a number of stitches, all in one direction, in roughly the same area.  This attracts the eye, and rather defeats the purpose of random stitch!  I started with a darker thread, and then added a second, and a third colour, making sure to leave enough space each time for a selection of stitches in different colours.  The third colour, a dark brown, is devoted to french knots, rather than stab stitches, and I'll probably add some tiny beads when I have finished stitching. 

You can see from the images below that the cloth is already starting to pucker as a result of the stitches.  In my opinion, it's difficult enough to stitch through Evolon by hand using a heavy thread, without adding interfacing of any kind on the back; you could, though, add a layer of medium weight Lutradur to reduce the puckering.  Similarly, if you wanted a more textured effect, you could add a layer of wadding.  Try not to pull the stitches too tightly; that will increase the puckering.  As I continue to add stitch evenly across the piece, the puckering will at least even out!  I'll then iron it gently to encourage it to lie flat, and see what it's like.  If necessary, I'll block it.

Why not try it for yourself, at postcard size, perhaps (this piece is A4).  You will feel the fabric begin to soften under your hands as you work; it's a very pleasant feeling.   Sadly, the change in texture isn't particularly photogenic... you'll have to try it, to feel it!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Wondering Wednesday :What Is Evolon?

Well, I asked on Saturday why Evolon was, strictly speaking, odd man out in this blog.  Heidi Rand wondered aloud whether it was spunbonded...and indeed, it isn't,. though it is a non woven cloth like both Lutradur and Zeelon.  It is a microfibre, but put together in a unique way; Freudenberg describe the process here.  Angela had a point, too, when she said that it isn't semi transparent...perhaps just as well, when you consider that it is used for clothing!  And Mary was right, too, to say that it is a mixture of polyester and nylon.  Lutradur is made of polyester, and Zeelon, of nylon; Evolon is a mix of both fibres, but more polyester than nylon. 

If you haven't used Evolon before, it has a wonderful texture, a bit like artificial suede, and comes in two types.  Evolon is fairly firm, will happily run through a printer and is great for all manner of purposes.  Evolon Soft is exactly that... softer and floppier than Evolon.  It is ideal for clothing, as it has great drape.  Of course, you can make Evolon softer by washing it repeatedly.  The Soft version has, in fact, been through an extensive industrial washing process, which makes it much softer than regular Evolon. Interestingly, handling Evolon produces the same result; if you hand stitch it , it softens beneath your hands; try it!

I've used this image on here before, but I make no apologies for showing it again.  If you click on it to enlarge it, you will be able to see the texture of the cloth.  The top was transfer dyed repeatedly to produce the rich colouration and effects that you see on it...but we'll talk about dyeing Evolon next week.

So...there you are.  That's what Evolon is.  Now, are you going to try some?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Try It Out Tuesday... Using Up Scrap...

The completed piece.
It comes to us all... too many scraps, not enough time.  I have several bits of Lutradur and Evolon that were surplus to requirements for various reasons, so I put together this little postcard (told you I liked postcard size for trying things out).  First I cut a piece of Lutradur 100, to act as a base, and then fussy cut little bits of Lutradur and Evolon; in fact, if you have read Exquisite Evolon, you'll recognise the little leaf shape!  I laid them out in the pattern I wanted, making sure that they covered the base, and free machine zig zagged them into place. 
Assembling the postcard on the base.

Why free machine?  Because I find automatic zig zag boring; I can vary the width and positioning of each stitch as I please when free machining.  I used variegated thread deliberately; I wanted the colour to vary, to make the stitch a feature.  Of course, other than keeping the fabric attached to the backing, the stitch plays no useful purpose; these fabrics don't fray, so there is no real need for stitch.  I could have simply fused the fabric onto the base, but I like the link with Crazy Quilting that the stitch suggests.  So... Crazy Quilting Goes Modern!  You could, of course, embellish madly.  If you want a postcard finish on the back, fuse the piece onto Lutradur XL, and stitch discretely round the edges in either straight or zigzag stitch. 

Postcard complete...ta dah!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Inspiration Monday : Ideas

‘Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them'
  Alfred North Whitehead

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Tip Of The Week

You're ironing madly, but the colour on your paper won't transfer, even though you know you haven't used it before.  First check your iron; it has to be on at the hottest setting.  If it's the first time you have used this particular iron, but other irons work well, it may be that it just doesn't get hot enough... the cheaper the iron, the better for transfer dyeing, I've found.

The image above is called 'The Texture Of Memory'.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Strictly Speaking...

Evolon shouldn't be part of this blog.  Anybody know why?

Answer on Tuesday, if nobody has responded here first...

The image is a quilt called 'Flying Circus'.  Look at it closely, and you'll find a horse, a dog, a trapeze artist of sorts, and all sorts of other odd flying things...

Friday, 9 March 2012

Photo Friday : Dijanne Cevaal, Sentinelles

This week's image comes from Dijanne Cevaal.  I have been friends with Dijanne for many years now, and have watched her work develop. As you probably know, we collaborated on the book 'Lovely Lutradur'.  She says of her work:
These images are of little Sentinelle pieces I have been making that go with my larger series called Sentinelle. which are life sized Sentinelle images. You can read more about it here and here.
The image was printed onto the lutradur from a linocut I made. I had first coloured the lutradur and then prnted it and then machine stitched it as a quilt sandwich . I like how different these sentinelles look compared to the ones that are simply linocut printed onto cloth and somehow they lend themselves much more to machine stitching. There were no real surprises though the fabric that i used underneath the transparent layer of lutradur certainly added another aspect to how the final image looks as the lutradur and print were all exactly the same colour to begin with. of course the choice of thread colour also added to this.
To see more of Dijanne's work, check out her blog ; I know she has a catalogue of the Sentinelles available for sale, and you will find details there.  If you have any questions, please leave them here; I'm sure Dijanne will respond.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

What Am I Going To Do : Part Four

We left this piece with a bit of foil on it, and nothing much else different.  This, however, is where it starts to get interesting, at least as far as embellishing is concerned.  First, though, I have to consider the piece as a whole.  I am still concerned about the way that the stitching stands out as in some way being separate from the rest of the piece, as you can see below.
So... remember yesterday's Zeelon?  I put that on top of the piece, and got this result:

I really like the way that the Zeelon pulls the whole thing together... but I still want to embellish, and think that adding stitch and embellishment underneath the Zeelon is the way to go. The reason for that would be that I think that if I embellish and stitch over the Zeelon, I will cause the same problem I'm trying to solve.  So, I auditioned some beads and other embellishments...

I like the small beads, but the larger hoops are too dark, and the buttons somehow don't look right.  Even though the smaller of the two beads has the same pink in it as the background (and metallic, to boot...), the black makes it stand out too much.  The thread is good, too, so all I need to do now is have a look at the embellishments underneath the Zeelon, just to make sure that I'm making the right judgement...
...and I think I am.  All I have to do now, is decide where to put the different elements which I have selected, and Just Do It!  I'm going to end this particular series of posts here, as I think that it may take me a while to do all that hand beading.  I did think about the hot glue gun, but somehow feel that it is important to add the beads by hand.  If they had been seed beads, I must admit that I would probably have used hot glue to attach them.  These are larger beads, though, and I may find that I don't want to mass them in a particular area, for which glue would be ideal, but rather spread them amongst the stitch. 

I hope you have enjoyed this particular trip around my design process.  If there is something you would like me to look at on Tuesdays and Thursdays, just add a comment.  Otherwise, I'll just tell you about what I happen to be doing at the time!  And of course, I will record each part of the embellishment process, and eventually produce a Part Five post, to let you see how I get to the finished article.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Wondering Wednesday.... What Is Zeelon?

Ineke asked about Zeelon, so I thought I'd talk a wee bit about that today.  I wanted to take a picture of the lightest and heaviest weights, and decided that the best way to do that was to dye some... and that brought up Maggi's question about dyeing with Procion, and why it didn't work. 

Zeelon is made of nylon fibres, in exactly the same way as Lutradur is made (I talked about spun bonded fabrics and they way they are made in this post ).  It comes in three weights; light, medium and heavy.  I love Lutradur, and when I was sent a sample of the medium weight Zeelon, I wasn't overly impressed.  I didn't think it was all that much different to Lutradur.  Boy, was I wrong!  I didn't realise it until I handled the light weight.  Lutradur has a slight stiffness to it, and whilst Lutradur 30 is fine, it retains that slight stiffness.  Handling Zeelong light is like handling a very strong cobweb, with a slight sheen to it.  The heavier weight is also soft, but has a crispness about it that I find very attractive.  And Zeelon does still have the transparency that Lutradur is renowned for.

Zeelon comes in white, so to get a decent image, I needed to dye some.  I could have used transfer dyes, but the quickest way to get an all over colour is to use acid dyes.   Nylon dyes extremely well with acid dyes, as you can see above.  The colours are strong and true.  I gave instructions for dyeing with acid dyes in Exquisite Evolon; it is a very straightforward process.  So, can you dye it with Procion MX?  Well, yes, you can, but not with soda ash.  It is possible to use Procion MX with vinegar and heat, the same way as you use an acid dye.  There is a long standing argument about whether or not this gives good colour.  I have used both acid dyes and Procion MX dyes in this way, and have to say that I haven't noticed much of a difference in the overall results.  So if Procion MX is the only dye you have, you can use it to colour Zeelon.  For myself, I prefer to use acid dyes for nylons and silk, for the simple reason that that is what these dyes were designed to do.  But if I don't have a particular colour at home, and I do have some Procion, then I'll use that and not worry about it. 

Now, all I have to do is decide how to use these two bits of fabric... and remind you to ask me some more questions for the next Wondering Wednesday!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What Am I Going To Do...Part Three

Well, I've been looking at this piece for ages, and can't decide what to do with it.  The stitch seems very rigid, somehow, and not really in keeping with the softness of the prints on both the lutradur and the cotton below it.  Much less organic, though it does make me think of a sun.  It also makes me think of an elephant in a tunnel...but that's another image for another day... 

So, I decided to start with what I think should be the focal  motif; the circle at bottom right.  And with a nod to the idea that it might be a sun superimposed on a field of flowers, I decided to foil that area.  I like foiling, and all the spun bonded fabrics I use take foiling well.  Dijanne Cevaal did a great step by step 'how-to' for foiling in the book Lovely Lutradur, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, just show you what I did to add foil in this case. 

I wanted to make the foiling in the centre quite irregular, so took some scraps of Bondaweb and laid them out across the circle, where I wanted the foil to be.  Sorry, it's a poor quality image, but good enough for you to see how I did it.

I then applied the foil, using a hot iron. 

That worked nicely.  But I didn't want it to be the only bit of foiling on the quilt, so I repeated the process in different places across the 'sunblaze'.  If you do something once, it often looks like an afterthought or a mistake; better to repeat the action elsewhere in the quilt, to provide some balance.

It's still looking pretty sparse, but already it has softened the overall look of the piece just a bit.  I now need to continue that process, pulling the piece together using texture and stitch.  I know, I said this had three parts... I was wrong.  Let's see how long this takes... there will certainly be a couple more processes before this is complete.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Inspiration Monday : What Is Real?

I took a lot of images last summer of flowers; this one is a peony.  I have manipulated the image, slightly, to make the colour more vibrant.  Does that make it any less real?  Does it matter? 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Tip Of The Week

I talked last week about painting papers in a batch.  If you do that, then make sure to keep the ones you have used separate from those you have not used.  The used papers can be recycled in collage and mixed media work, but there is nothing more frustrating than trying to get more colour out of an exhausted sheet.  Trust me.  I've done it...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Challenge For March

I thought we might have a monthly challenge, just for fun.  This month's challenge is to make something inspired by this image, using any or all of the spun bond fabrics.  No limits!  Any size you wish, any medium.  If you would like a large image to work with, eg for Photoshop purposes, email me here and I will send you one.  We'll have a Viewers Choice with a small prize for the winner.  Please submit your image to me on the above email address, with a title and short statement about the piece, no later than 31 March this year. 

And if you get stuck, you can always ask for help... questions for Wondering Wednesdays are always welcome...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Photo Friday : Heidi Rand


This week's photograph shows an interesting and useful way to use Lutradur, and comes from Heidi Rand, whose work you can see here and here, and whom you can contact directly here.  She says of her work:
 "I love making useful things from my art, and really treasure the
unique qualities of Lutradur: the fact that it looks delicate and is
translucent, but is actually strong and won't tear, which makes it
perfect for structural art pieces like vases, bowls, etc.

I've been making fabric vases for years, using my original fabric
designs that I print onto cotton or silk, but I was inspired one day
to try the same basic pattern using Lutradur.

For the surface design of this piece I took my original photos of a
butterfly, a feather, and a window, duplicated them and blended and
collaged the images into a dramatic abstract with vivid patches of

I printed the design onto Lutradur that I had coated with Golden
Paint's Digital Ground, a substance that greatly improves the quality
of the inkjet print. I sewed the lutradur into a vase, using an
untreated piece of lutradur for the base.

When I make the fabric vases I have to use stabilizer and line them,
but because the Lutradur is strong enough to stand on its own I didn't
use stabilizer.  I also decided not to line the inside of the vase, so
that light could shine through it to enhance the effect of the printed
design.  It really shortened the time it usually takes me to make the
vases, although coating the Lutradur was an extra step I don't need to
take with fabric because it's pretreated for inkjet printing.

I love the finished vase - I think the only thing I'll do differently
next time is to use a printed piece for the base for a more cohesive
and polished look."
I'm sure this has given us all food for thought; if you have any questions, please ask them here, and Heidi will respond.  Many thanks, Heidi!