Monday, 30 April 2012

Inspiration Monday

A natural quilt block!  I'm fascinated by the textures in this photograph.  What does it make you think of?

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Tip Of The Week

Run out of interfacing?  Use lutradur, with or without fusible.  Works beautifully.  I have been known to use Lutradur XL instead of batting; it has the additional advantage of being capable of running through the printer, and/or being able to accept transfer dyes, giving an extra edge to the piece.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Mellow Yellow....

Yellow isn't always as strident as we think...I love the subtlety of this image.  The April challenge ends at the end of the month...

Friday, 27 April 2012

Photo Friday : Ticking Clock

I was really struck by this piece, by Angela Huddart, when I saw it mentioned on her Facebook page, so I asked her if we could share it here, as well as the International Quilt Challenge blog, for which she made it in the first place. She was kind enough to agree.

 She says of the piece;

 'Ticking Clock' features a dandelion seed head.  As a child we used to 'tell the time' by blowing the seeds off the plant.  Depending on how many blows it took, that was the hour...only it was never correct!!

I used two weights of Lutradur, 8" x 11", one heavy (130) and one medium (70).
On the heavy one which would be underneath, I used a white Inktense block to cover the sheet in white, then when it was dry painted an iridescent sparkly paint over it.

On the medium sheet I used two or three different shades of green Inktense blocks and blended them.

With a fine pencil I drew the outline of the dandelion clock onto the green Lutradur and used a soldering iron to slash & burn on the design.

When laid on top of the heavy Lutradur the white showed through. 

I finished it by stitching the seeds using Madeira Rayon thread in bright white and embellishing the background with a Madeira metallic thread. 

This is the first time I've used Inktense blocks and found the colour amazing.  I don't have the facilities for dying here so this is the next best thing for me!
For those of you who have not heard of Inktense blocks, they are water soluble ink blocks, which you can use with brushes or directly onto paper or fabric.  Made by Derwent, they were originally produced as pencils; for more information, have a look here. 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Try It Out Thursday : Hot Stuff

You will remember this pattern from Tuesday's blog, a transfer dyed monoprint on Evolon.  As you can see, I took three full prints, and two partial prints, with the prints gradually getting lighter. You probably think that I've arranged them in the wrong order, as the third one is stronger than the second, but not quite as dark as the first.  Interestingly enough, that isn't the case; I have arranged them in the order they were made.  So what happened?

 The first one, on the left, was made with a very hot iron.  So hot, that it made some of the paper stick to the fabric, and changed the texture of the Evolon somewhat, making it smoother, more like paper, than it is in its natural state.  So...I turned the iron down a bit.  The second print was made with a cooler iron, and whilst the texture of the Evolon didn't change much at all, the print is noticeably lighter.  So...I turned the iron back up again, and got another strong, dark print. 

The moral of this tale?  Not sure that it really has one... but why not try this exercise, starting with a medium hot iron, and see what happens.  If you want to share your results, send them to me and I'll put them up in a separate post. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wondering Wednesday : It's Up To You...

I was wondering... what would you like to use your Lutradur for?  I'm designing next week's project for us to try out in the next few weeks...but I'd love you to tell me what you think.  If you think lutradur would be great for... bag making...or box making... or journal covers... or anything, really... and would like me to design a project for us to do, please leave a suggestion in the comments box.  IWe will tackle every suggestion made, whether or not I think it's possible!  So... please let me know what you want to try.  This is your blog, as much as it is mine... and I can't make this a place for learning, if I don't know what you're interested in. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Try It Out Tuesday : Fussy Printing.

I really enjoy making monoprints with transfer paints, or thickened dyes.  The image above is an example of a monoprint, random black shapes on a yellow background.  The colours are muted because this is the paper version; transfer paints look very nondescript on paper, but brighten up considerably when ironed onto cloth.  I've taken off a couple of prints from this image already, at full size (A4).  But that's not the only way of using a monoprint, or any other transfer dyed paper.  You can 'fussy print' at a smaller scale, by finding an area of the print that you think is interesting, and transferring only that section to a piece of cloth.  In this case, I'm printing on small pieces of Evolon that were kicking about in the studio, offcuts from a larger project.

This time, I liked the upper part of the print, so I took a postcard sized scrap, and looked to see how much of it I could fit onto the paper.  I worked straight from the paper to the fabric, but if you find it hard to imagine what something might look like transferred, try making yourself a paper or card 'frame', or use a mount cut to the size of your cloth.  That way, you can move the mount around the cloth until you find the configuration you like best.  If you don't want to use the paper complete again, then cut or tear the selected area, so that it's easy to transfer to the cloth.  I ended up with this selection; see if you can work out where it came from!

It's interesting...but it doesn't feel quite complete.  There's a big gap roughly centre right, and it doesn't feel completed, somehow.  So I repeated the process, choosing another area of the paper, and produced this result;

To me, this feels a lot more balanced.  I'll now add some stitch.  Why don't you give this a try?  Paint a pattern of some sort, print one off at full size, and then, working at a smaller scale, build up a smaller piece using selected parts of the original print.  It's fun!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Tip Of The Week

We temd to think of the spun bonded fabrics as 'art' fabrics; but they make wonderful materials for practical usage.  Evolon was made specifically to be made into clothing, for instance.  Why not try it out to make an applique for a tired tshirt?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Yet More Yellow...

Just a week to go til the end of April's challenge.  Like it said on the original post:

 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, 20 April 2012

Photo Friday

I would love to feature other artists' work here on a regular basis... if you have a piece you would like to share, please email me here

This piece is slightly bigger than postcard size.  I had made it while demonstrating at a show somewhere, and wanted to echo the little squares that feature in the surface design, which was created using Brusho inks on the base, with stamping using fabric paint.  So, I took larger, dyed wool felt squares, and, using an embellisher machine, added them to the lutradur (lutradur 100, I think).  Lutradur is not any good for embellishing onto things, but it is a great base for felting.  I finished it off with a whisp of white wool.  I'm still wondering about adding some metal foil, or some tiny beads...what do you think?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Try It Out Thursday : Combining Lutradur And Evolon (cont)

So... did you try Tuesday's little exercise?  If you did, and if your iron was hot enough, what should have happened is that the lutradur and the evolon bonded together.  Depending how long you ironed them for, you might not have been able to separate the two without tearing the lutradur. 

Why might you want to do this?  After all, Evolon has a wonderful texture; why would you want to hide it?  Oe reason might be to add an inclusion which you don't want to stitch into.  I've used a scrap of fabric, here, just as an example, it was lying about on the ironing board...  but you could put a piece of paper, a feather, a leaf, anything that  you feel you would like to use as an inclusion, but which stitch isn't ideal for.  If you don't want to add colour to the inclusion, make sure that you cover it with a piece of blank paper, cut to that size and shape, before you transfer the colour. 

Why not try it?  What else might this technique be useful for?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wondering Wednesday : Stockists

Whilst I can't say there was a mad rush of enthusiasm for a stockist list, everyone who commented, said they would find one useful.  So, today is a question for you:  Who is your preferred stockist for spunbonded fabrics.  Let's not muddy the water by talking about dyes, etc... just stick to evolon, lutradur and zeelon.  Tell us the name of the stockist, the town and country, and a web address.  Let's keep it simple!  Just leave a comment in the comments section, and I'll collate them. 

Thanks for your  help!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Try It Out Tuesday : Combining Lutradur and Evolon

Cut yourself a piece of lutradur (preferably lutradur 30), and a piece of evolon, the same size.  Lay the lutradur on top of the evolon, and iron transfer dye onto the combined cloths.  What happens?

Monday, 16 April 2012

Inspiration Monday

Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy.
Walt Disney

How can you apply this to your work?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Tip Of The Week.

When ironing transfer dyes onto spun bonded fabric, remember to cover your ironing board with something to pick up the dye that will inevitably pass through the holes.  I use Lutradur XL, but Evolon or polycotton would do as well.  I then cut the XL up into postcard sizes, and use it as the basis for postcards using lighter weight spunbonded fabrics. 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

More Yellow.... is interesting to see how yellow moves towards green, in some images, towards orange, in others.  It's thought of as a difficult colour to work with...personally, I think it depends on what you use with it.  What do you think?

Friday, 13 April 2012

Photo Friday : Looking At Details

I thought it might be interesting to look at a detail from a larger quilt, instead of looking at a whole quilt...though in fact, this might be a piece in its own right...or at least, could be with a fairly minor change to the stitching (any thoughts?).  It is a detail of 'Flying Circus', a whole cloth, made from Evolon, which I showed you in full here.   For convenience, though, I'm showing it at the bottom of this post.  Remember you can click on the image for a closer look; try not to be distracted by the rather obvious cat hair...another use for a photograph of your work! The detail, though, encapsulates for me the strength of this piece, and particularly the quilting.  I used machine stitch to delineate what I thought were the 'features' of the piece; here, they are two strange flying beings...angels, perhaps?  More likely trapeze artists, given the context... but I still think the one on the left is an angel.

It's interesting to consider the different effects that the hand stitching has.  The larger stitches, to me, are air; the smaller, tightly grouped stitches, the ground.  To be honest, none of that occurred to me at the time; it wasn't until I found the flying angels, and the horse (elsewhere in the quilt), that I realised that this was a 'flying circus'; no reference to Monty Python at all...I'm not particularly fond of their humor.

I think it's really useful to look at parts of a piece of work, as well as the whole; it can inform you of what's really going on in the piece.  I know I've found this particular exercise enlightening...I hope you do, too.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Try It Out Thursday : That Piece of Lutradur...

...really did change my perception of that quilt.  If you've been following the saga, you will know that so far, I've taken a piece of lutradur which I'd printed on using acrylic paints, and added it to an existing quilt.  After stitching it onto the quilt, I coloured it, and then... dear reader... I burned it.  But to my surprise, I didn't do anything like the amount of burning I had intended.  The original thought was to get rid of almost all of the lutradur, leaving only the paint marks and the quilt below.  In fact, I liked what was happening on the surface so much, that I kept a significant part of the lutradur.  Only problem was, that the bottom half of the quilt looked stronger than the top.  So, dear reader, I bit the bullet and... cut it up.  I ended up with this:

Much smaller...and the focus is now on the focal point, where it should be, and not wandering down the quilt wondering why those quilted lines are there...  I did have a small problem, though.  Where the paper stuck to the lutradur/paint, was one or two little white splodges.  So...I picked off what I could, and then coloured the remainder with some acquarel watercolour crayons. 

This final shot shows you the melted lutradur.  It's interesting to see the contrast between the stitched cloth (cotton, stitched with heavy thread in the bobbin) and the melted lutradur; some of the stitch is hidden underneath the lutradur, other parts are exposed, making interesting shapes. 

When I teach a workshop, I always ask the same question at the end of it; what have you learned?  I wonder what you have learned by following this exercise?  Please, if you would, share the first answer that comes into your head in the comments below.  Often, by sharing learning with other people, we recognise things about the whole experience, that we don't get by keeping our thoughts to ourselves.

I do hope you found this exercise interesting. I'm quite pleased with the new, smaller piece, though I do feel there is possibly still more to be done with it.  I'll live with it a while, and see.  What do you think?  Is there something you think should be added?  I can't promise to follow your suggestions, but I will think about them, and tell you what I think in return....  I'd really like this to be an interactive community; it's difficult to talk into a vacuum.  If you don't tell me what you want, then you might not get it...and that would be a shame.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Wondering Wednesday : Keeping Evolon's Texture

Felicity Griffin Clark asked how she could keep Evolon's texture while using a digital ground.  She said that she had tried an untreated piece, and a treated piece.  ' the digital grounded piece has lovely glowing colours but is quite stiff and rough and the ungrounded piece is lovely and soft - and dull'.

To be honest, I hadn't come across that problem before, so I started asking questions... which digital ground are you using... how are you applying it... how much of it are you using... are you following the instructions...  It turned out that she was using Golden's digital ground, and, following the instructions, had added two coats, at angles to each other, using a large pastry brush.  That made me wonder if perhaps she was simply using too much medium; it is important to use two coats as Golden describes because if you don't, there is a tendency to miss bits out (guess how I know...), making the final print strongly coloured in some areas and less so in others.

The purpose of the medium is to keep the ink sitting on the surface of the cloth, so that it doesn't sink into the fibres, thus diluting the intensity of the final print.  The cloth needs to be covered adequately, as I said above, but not soaked.  So, I suggested to Felicity that she dilute the medium slightly, 80% medium to 20% water, and apply it with a foam brush (thus avoiding brush marks).  Success!  Good print and no problem with the hand. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Try It Out Tuesday : Remember That Piece Of Lutradur...?

Yes, this one... I talked about it here.  Well, finally, I got round to doing something with it.  I had it in my mind to stitch it to the quilt I talked about in that post, and then to burn it away, leaving only the stitch and the paint that I had patterned it with.  So, I started by cutting it down to size, so that only the patterning was left; I'll use the scrap pieces in other projects.  And I stitched it using bright pink thread, to tie in with the occasional pink strips in the quilt, and pink elements in some of the fabric.  It wasn't the most obvious choice, as it seemed to clash with the red of the paint, but it worked fine.  Sometimes it's worth taking a risk with thread colours; you can always remove it, or stitch over it (my preferred choice), if you really don't like it.  I followed the spiral patterning underneath, though not in a terribly regular way, knowing that it wouldn't be a problem because the burning would minimise the importance of the stitch.

Stitching done, I took it through to the ironing board.  I said that I'd planned to burn away the lutradur, leaving the paint behind, but I did wonder if perhaps it would be good to colour the lutradur before burning it, and leave traces of it behind.  So, hunting through my bag of painted papers, I found this;
I carefully separated the two motifs; this is a good idea, as it means you only iron the section you want to have on the cloth.  I chose the more diffuse, circular motif in preference to the spiral, as it was larger, and added more colour to the overall piece.  That seemed to work nicely... except...
...yup, the paper stuck to the lutradur...or maybe it was the paint... but either way, it left a nasty hole, bigger than the holes that burning with a heat gun would produce.  Rats. So I had to take that into account later, when I burned the piece.  To be honest, I've not had this happen before, except in a case where there was painted bondaweb on the piece.  My iron does get a little overheated at times; I suspect this is what happened.  But it's not a disaster, given that burning was my original intention.

So... I liked the addition of colour, so kept going, adding first some yellow, and then some more of the red swirls until I had a piece I was pleased with.  I don't think we think about adding colour after adding Lutradur (or any other bonded fabric) to cloth, but it's a really good way of getting pattern exactly where you want it, rather than having to fussycut a piece specially for a given area.

So now what...?  We'll continue this one on Thursday.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Inspiration Monday : Spring Cleaning?

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.  Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture.  Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.  
                                                                                                                 Dee  Hock

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Tip Of The Week

Bring out the texture of Evolon by stitching extensively.  The more you handle it, the softer it gets.  In this piece, there is a tiny difference between the texture of the flowers and that of the background.  It's not major, but I know it's there.  I don't know if it's visible...what do you think?

ps there's more about this piece here

Friday, 6 April 2012

Photo Friday : Wendy Cotterill

 This week's image comes from Wendy Cotterill, whose blog you can find here, and whose shop, Gallery Textiles,  is here; Wendy specialises in Spunbond fabrics.  Wendy says about this particular piece:

The inspiration for this piece (and many others) has been an interpretation of a seascape, or more specifically, waves. The resulting piece itself is not particularly inspirational, but more what it represents - embryonic techniques and the expression of movement.

This piece was created from a piece of 30g Lutradur which was initially painted with water colour type paints in the early days when I first started experimenting with Lutradur.
Water based paints are okay, but dry to a much paler finish.
The pink section near the top of the piece were coloured with transfer dyes, and although not immediately apparent, has letter forms on the surface. Again, this was the first time I used my now favourite technique of transferring text onto fabric.

Once the piece was coloured I cut the Lutradur into section with a soldering iron using a  vermicelli type pattern on the edges and reassembled the sections laying one over the edge of the next and stitched them together with a free running stitch.

This overlaying technique creates a colour combining effect, although on reflection, not a very good one in this instance. The colours are too 'muddy' and similar in tone.
This experimental piece did however turn out to be quite pivotal in informing much of my subsequent work with spunbonded and synthetic fabrics;
This where I first tried out my transferring text with transfer dyes and have used it to great effect many times since.

It is also where I made the decided not to use any kind of applied paint to the surface of any of the spunbonded fabrics including Lutradur, as any heat distressing is compromised. I also learned (eventually) that a soldering iron gets very hot and burns you if you touch the tip!!
This is the piece of work that I did as a result of the one described here

Artists Statement
When Marion asked me for an Artists Statement, it took me back a few years as I have not written one since I graduated with a Fine Art degree in 1993.  When I read them I find a lot terribly self conscious, but here goes!!.
I carry a lot of 'textiles' baggage around with me, enough to have invented the term 'bag lady' and once threatened that if ever I wrote my memoirs they would entitled 'My Life in Carrier Bags'. In my early 20s I worked in the fashion industry as a pattern cutter, a job that is now done by computers and subsequently taught in further education passing on my skills to young fashionistas in the 1980s - you may remember the 80s?? Big shoulder pads and mahooousive jewellery?? I honed my teaching skills but a combination of events - a terminal decline in UK based manufacturing, my hankering to return to my first passion of surface pattern & decoration and an unexpected left hand turn took me back to study for a degree in Fine Art where specialised in experimental photo/printmaking and colour on canvas which very much informs most of the work that I still produce. A short hiatus in producing any kind of work at all - ie unemployment - eventually led me down the road of gaining a whole new set of (digital) skills and have adopted the ever increasing possibilities of desktop technologies which has subsequently enabled me to reinvent my world of textiles. I still do a bit of stitching when I have too!!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Try It Out Thursday : Finally Finished!

Well, if you remember, I asked for comments on Tuesday.  The two I got were unanimous... that flower was too strongly coloured...right shape, right size, just wrong everything else!  So, I thought... what could I do about it? 

As you know, when you transfer dye something, you get more than  one print from the paper (up to five, if you're lucky, but at least three).  So I took another piece of the lutradur from the same dye batch, and stitched into it, as you can see below.

Then, I cut out two freehand floral shapes, put them on top of the piece, and added a freshwater pearl, like so:
Well, yes, it's an improvement... but it's not quite right.  So, out with the heat gun... remember, if you try this, that your small shape will get Even Smaller when you heat it, so a. cut it a bit bigger than you want it and b. don't hold it in your fingers when using the heatgun (I pinned mine down to a table top using a pencil). 

As you can see from the close up, below, I've added a tiny bit of the Zeelon that covers the whole piece, just to link it properly to the whole.  And there we are, finished at last!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wondering Wednesday : Sources

Gill asked if I had a favourite source for Brusho.  As it happens, I do; I go straight to the people who make it, Colourcraft Ltd.  For people in  Norfolk, I stock a little for sale in The Little Green Shed (I also have transfer and other dyes).

But there's a bigger question... where do you GET this stuff?  I wondered if it would be a good idea to have a supplier list on a page on this blog, so that people can share information about suppliers?  I know, for instance, it is very difficult to get Zeelon in the US... so lets see if we can establish who is stocking what, where... leave a comment here, and I'll set up a page.  If there's anyone who would like to volunteer to keep it updated, I'd be very grateful for the help?

And in that vein...I'm working on some kits using spun bonded fabrics.  The idea is to provide everything you need to experiment with a particular technique, such as bead making, in a single bag, with full instructions, which you can either follow or ignore <g>.  Do you think this is a good idea?  Would you buy such a thing?  Email me for more information, or if you have a suggestion for the kind of kit you would like to see.  Or just pop a comment on here. 

The image, incidentally, is powdered Brusho on paper.  It's lovely stuff!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Try It Out Tuesday : Changing Direction

Remember this?  Well...I'm still not happy.  I have had it kicking about the dining room, right in front of the computer, just looking at it.  I did some more thinking, and playing around, and finally took all those embellishments off the piece, and added one single thing.  It is a suede flower, in beige and a very pale turquoise/green colour.  Eau de nil, but a bit stronger.  It was just the right size to put in the circle, there... and immediately, the piece changed.  It took some of the detail out of the stitching, made a very clear focal point, and seemed to pull the whole piece together...or at least to begin to do that. 

So, I decided to take a similar colour and stitch into the top.  I did this to attempt to decrease the strength of the stitching, which gives the piece its structure.  Putting the flower in there makes it look like a vaguely retro 60's motif...which I rather like.  See what you think.  In the end, I used a variegated beige /mushroom/brown thread which really shouldn't go well, but seems to.

Am I happy now?  No, not really.  I don't think the stitching on the top  layer is strong enough in colour to defuse that strong, dark stitching behind.   I think more stitch is called for; what do you think?  Hand or machine?  More embellishment?  Strong Drink...?  Another layer of cloth?  Please do leave a comment, I'd be interested to see what you think.  We might even get a conversation going!

No matter how badly you feel about a piece, you can normally retrieve it using layer.  One way or another, by either adding colour and/or pattern, or reducing it by, say, burning away, you can change the focus and feel of a piece.  Try it... you know you want to.