Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Inspiration Monday

“It's easy to say ''no!'' when there's a deeper ''yes!'' burning inside.”
                                                                             Stephen Covey.

How often have you wanted to say no when people ask you to do things that get in the way of your art?  Why not focus on the art.... 

Stephen Covey died recently, but his management books, such as 'The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People' are as useful for artists as they are for business people. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tip of the Week.

Humidity helps when you are transfer dyeing, so if you are struggling to transfer colour from paper to cloth, try putting a steam iron about an inch or so away from the paper, and make some steam, taking care to protect your hands.  Don't stream the paper itself though, as you risk burning yourself from the blowback.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Photo Friday : Gum Flower

Thanks to Dianne Nunn, who has shared this lovely project with us.  I asked her to tell us a bit about it; she said:

First I should explain that I designed this myself as I went along.

A friend sent me some evelon to try and I thought I would start with something simple.

First I drew one leaf on the evelon using a pencil and included a central vein.  I then stitched the outline on my sewing machine.  Once I was happy with the outline I laid some wool fibres (wool rovings) over the evelon and used my needlefelting hand tool (5 needles) to secure the fibres building up the surface with some more wool, some silk fibres and some thread.  With the first leaf I outlined it with some very fine green twine couched down with silk thread (although this pretty much disappears into the surface.

When it was finished I added a few red beads and burnt some holes in the piece to replicate the condition of many eucalyptus (gum) leaves and finally cut the shape out with my soldering iron.  I was thrilled with the fact that the evelon cuts so cleanly with the soldering iron.

The second leaf is a lot more simple – just fibres over the shape added using both the hand felting tool and my pfaff embellishing machine before cutting out.  

This was really an experimental piece to try out the properties of evelon.  I love the feel of it: so soft and strong.

Once the leaves were done I felt I wanted to use them for something so made the gum flowers from cotton yarn with felt forming the gum nuts. 

The piece is mounted on a small canvas which is covered in gold foil and hessian (stapled to the back).

The leaves and flowers are larger than life size but look realistic.

Many thanks, Dianne, for sharing this with us; it's wonderful to see how differently we all use these fabrics.  I'm sure if you have any questions for Dianne, she'd be happy to share more about this pretty piece.

How did you start off using Evolon?  Please do share some pictures, and tell us a bit about it... the same with other spunbond fabrics.  Email me here; thanks!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Try It Out Thursday : More Mixed Media

I thought I'd show you a different way of using lutradur in an altered book; this time, I'm using it to frame an existing image, a postcard I'd made using acrylic wax as a resist, and brusho sprays.   I added the image to the book in the right place, and stuck it down using double sided tape.  I decided to use the same method to stick the lutradur down, as you can see from the picture below of the tape before its backing paper was removed.  As you can see, I added it on three sides, but with hindsight, I should have added it at the top, too, and advise you to do so if you try this (and .  It is, of course, transparent; you won't be able to see it through the lutradur.

Then, I cut a sheet of Lutradur 70 to fit the page, and stuck it down using the double sided tape.  I decided that this would be a 'frame', so I then burned out the centre of the lutradur.  I knew that the glue would slow down the burning, so I could start from the centre, and work out the way; when I got to the point of the glue, I would be able to stop there.  Of course, that only works if you put glue on all four sides, right?  I ended up burning through the lutradur at the top left of the image.  To rectify it, I took a section of the burned out lutradur and covered up the gap... so you can see why I'm advising you do what I say, not exactly what I did!  Of course, the other option would be to treat the lutradur like mount board, and cut out a viewing rectangle slightly smaller than the size of the image, and stick it on in the same way.  That would give you nice clean lines around the edges.

Now for some colour on the 'frame', though it could have been left white.  I did consider silver, but didn't think the image looked particularly wintry, so  I started by painting the lutradur with light gold acrylic paint. 
When that dryed, I rubbed some teal blue Markal stick over it in some places.  I then decided to add some traces of dark brown, just to give a stronger contrast between the image and the edges; this time, though, I added the Markal stick to a piece of scrap lutradur and dabbed it on.  Don't scrub at the lutradur; if you do, you are likely to make the surface fuzzy.  Of course, if that's what you're aiming for, be my guest!

So, the final touch was to run a black watercolour crayon round the edges of the page, just to help give a little definition to it.  And there we are, another completed page in my altered book!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Wondering Wednesday : Burning Evolon

Can you burn out Evolon the same way that you burn out lutradur?  Err...yes and no.  You can use a heatgun or a soldering iron on Evolon, just as you can on lutradur.  However, because of the nylon content in the Evolon, it will burn more quickly than lutradur, meaning that to get a similar effect, you really need to control the amount of heat you are using very much more than with lutradur.  You do that by varying the distance of the heat gun away from the cloth. 

Gently heating the cloth with a heat gun, varying the position of the heat gun, and its distance from the cloth, you will first see some distortion (a bit like Tyvek, when heated), and then small holes, like this.

 Blast it with a heat gun, however, and you may get a little discolouration, as here, and much bigger holes.

If you look closely at the second photo, you will see that blasting it with a heatgun produces hard, slightly shiny edges.  If this is the look you want, that's how to do it; otherwise, have patience, and keep that heatgun moving!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Try It Out Tuesday : Mixed Media (continued)

Last time, I'd just covered a leaf with lutradur in an altered book.  Sandy wondered how I was going to colour it 'after the fact', as she put it...well, it's surprisingly easy.  Pretty much, the lutradur coloured itself.  If you remember, we stuck it on with acrylic adhesive.  So, when I applied the heat gun to distress the lutradur, some of it started to burn, creating lovely colours that looked perfect with the leaf.  You do need to be careful with the heat gun when doing this; get it too close to the page and you may find that the paint under the lutradur, and the page itself, will buckle and swell a bit.  It's an interesting look, and any swelling immediately disappears as it cools, but better not to produce it in the first place!

So... I started at the edges of the page, creating a very distressed look, and then worked over the rest of the page.
I then singed the lutradur a bit more, and added some colour round the edges using a watercolour crayon, before rubbing a glitter Markal stick across the page, giving it some texture as well as a slightly frosted look.

This is the final piece; the frosted effect doesn't photograph all that well, but I hope you get the idea.  Lutradur really doesn't have to be coloured before you use it; you can colour it at any stage of the process.  I hope you'll give it a try!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Try It Out Thursday : Mixed Media

We tend to think of spunbonded fabrics in terms of textile art, but of course they have much wider art applications than that.  It has become increasingly popular for textiles to move across into mixed media, blurring the boundaries between the two.  I've been working in mixed media for many years now, and use spunbonded fabrics in a variety of ways to get some very interesting results.

I'm particularly interested in altered books...no, don't shudder!  There is of course an argument that books are sacrosanct, and should never be harmed in any way...but nonetheless, books are pulped or otherwise destroyed every day (apparently you can have too much of a good thing).  The books I alter are books that are being sold off for next to nothing, books that are old, or falling apart or for some reason unwanted and unloved by anyone.  They make a wonderful three dimensional 'canvas' for art works.  I thought we'd have a look at using Lutradur 30 in an altered book.

There is lots of information on the web about how to alter a book;  if you have never tried this branch of art before, you might find this link helpful.  Or just Google 'how to make an altered book' to get lots of instruction!  You join me here part way through altering this book.  I have done most of the preparation, and now I'm making art in the pages.  This page here has been painted with acrylic paint; I want to add a leaf to it (no pun intended..).  So, I begin by spreading mod podge over the painted page.  I'm using Mod Podge here because it was the first glue that came to hand;  PVA is fine, acrylic mediums, book paste is all fine. Don't get hung up about adhesives...if you're stuck, fusible would do just as well.  We don't associate ironing with books, but there's a first time for everything!

After spreading the adhesive evenly across the page, I added a large, brown skeleton leaf.
I then added more adhesive to cover the leaf.  Make sure there is an even covering; this will both give some added protection to the leaf and hold the lutradur in place.
Finally, I cut a piece of Lutradur 30 to the size of the page, and stuck it down.  So far so good. 

I now want to think about colouring the lutradur...but we'll talk about that on Tuesday.  Of course, the techniques I'm using here could be applied to either good quality paper (watercolour paper is ideal) or to board, as well as to books. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Wondering Wednesday...What's Going On?

I promised a post a day, and for the last couple of weeks, it has been a post a week.  Mea culpa, I was overtaken by the demon depression, and it makes life difficult, sometimes.  I can't promise that won't happen again...I can only promise to do my best not to miss more posts.

I'd love it if you would ask me some more questions for Wondering Wednesday, or share your work for Photo Friday... email me here.  I'd like to stress that you don't have to be doing extraordinary work to have your work featured here... we all learn from seeing what everyone else does. 

And a final question...I'll be showing my May/June challenge here at the end of the week... did anyone else manage to make anything, or do you not like this feature?