Screen printing workshop

Here are the results of my workshop on the weekend. These examples were screened onto silk – the cotton samples I did on day one were incincerated by the teacher (see previous post). These ones managed to get out alive. We were working on unexposed screens, so had to create a pattern using masking tape or whatever – but I didn’t like the effect, as I ended up with big open areas of white where the tape had been. So by day 2 got smart and decided to first do a full screen of some colour, then do something else on top of that once it had dried (with the aid of a hair dryer), so I didn’t end up with any white. The first one I did a full screen of green, then painted blobs of a reddy rusty brown onto the screen and allowed it to dry. I placed the screen down on the green base then pulled across some undyed print paste – Manutex. That helped to wet the dried paint and transfer it to the green. By the end of the screen, the reddy blobs were starting to run a bit. I quite like the effect – certainly better than stark white bits sticking out.
The next one I did a combination of green and the reddy brown on the first screen, sort of half and half, then used what was left of the dried blobs from the first one to transfer – that is why they are fainter. I like the sort of halo effect on some of them.

The final one of this group was just a screen of reddy brown with a bit of green – it is actually more rust coloured than it looks in the photo. These are all a bit bigger than A4 size. I will probably do some stitching/embellishing of some sort and use them as a base for a journal quilt, or maybe a book cover.

I made a second set of three using purple and blue. On this one I then used a stencil under the screen to transfer a wreath quilting pattern, but the stencil was too thick andI really had to lay a lot of thickened dye onto get it to print. As a result, when I steamed it and washed it out, there is a bit of blurring. But that is okay – it was all a learning exercise.

The next one I intended to stencil the whole quilt design stencil, not just the feather wreath part, but again, it was too thick, so I got a reasonable impression from the top, but it gradually got more fractured as I moved down the screen.
On the final one, I just left the base fabric as it was after the first screen of half reddy purple and half blue. I have turned this one on its side as it made me think of a landscape. A Martian landscape maybe – although that would be with the sky part red, I suppose.
I have realised that landscapes are what speak to me more than anything else. I am not sure where my artistic endeavours – crude though they may be at this stage – are going to lead me, but I sure as hell know that landscape will feature strongly.
Okay, that’s enough for now. I have had a fourteen hour day at work and tomorrow is going to be awful, so maybe I had better get some sleep – its just that the few pathetic creative activities I can manage to find time for at the moment is all that stands between me and complete insanity – roll on retirement!

weekend workshop

I spent the weekend at a screen printing workshop, using fibre reactive dyes on fabric. A lovely group of students – the teacher was a dead loss, but never mind. I still managed to learn what I needed. The highlight (or do I mean lowlight) of the two days was the teacher incinerating some of the students’ work when she let the steamer run dry. Personally I wasn’t too fussed as I didn’t like the piece I had made on Saturday, so its immolation didn’t leave me desolate – just as well, I suppose.
We spent a lot of time standing around while she went off and did things – goodness knows why she couldn’t have done them prior to class – its called preparation.
Rather than risk my second day’s work to the fate of the first’s, I brought it home to steam myself – figure even if I stuff it up, I can’t possibly do worse than she did. Managed to get the first length done and it looks good – will post photos tomorrow – am absolutely exhausted from being on my feet for two days.
Have to go now and see to dinner. There is a lot of noise going on in the dining room – my two daughters, aged 24 and 22 are having a very animated debate about the merits of the government’s recently announced intervention in Indigenous communities in NT. I just want to lie down and have a nap.

Yo-yo update #2

Well, it has been pointed out to me in the nicest possible way that I am a complete idiot! Although in my defense, I don’t think the instructions/illustrations in the pack are as clear as they could be – but never mind, thank goodness for the internet. If you do buy the thingie, I’d recommend throwing away the instructions in the pack and going here for downloadable pdf instructions, with colour photos!
Also, check out Sara Lechner’s blog to see how she has combined yo-yos made with the tool with her embellisher to apply them to a background.
I see that Clover are coming out with other shapes – such as hearts and a five petal flower. Not sure about the hearts, but you can easily make a petalled flower (3, 5 or whatever you like) from an ordinary round yo-yo. Make and gather up as usual, then put the needle through the middle of the circle shape to the back and bring the thread up over the outside edge and put the needle back through the centre again. Pull firmly and the thread will ruche the outside edge down towards the centre. Do this at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock for a four petal flower. Can’t see that you would need to buy a separate thingie to do that!

Yo-yo update

I tried out the Clover yo-yo maker thingie – although coming from the English tradition, I call these little circles of gathered fabric Suffolk Puffs – but anyway, I gave it a go, and I am afraid I have to give it a big thumbs down.
It works by running a gathering line a scant 1/4 inch in from the edge of the circle, but you then have to fold the raw edge down with your fingers while simultaneously pulling the thread to gather – this just doesn’t work for me. With the old fashioned method, you do the running stitch through the folded edge, gradually working your way around, then pulling to gather. Trying to simultaneoulsy make all the raw edge fold down neatly and stay there without the benefit of stitching to hold it, while gathering was just completely beyond my capabilities. In the time I fiddled about and still didn’t get a decent result, I could have made three or four the old fashioned way!

I have got a little collection of these already as shown in the photo, as I plan to make a miniature suffolk puff top to add to my collection. I am an accredited teacher with Canberra Quilters, and each year, one of us takes turns at putting on an educational display as part of our annual exhibition. The year it was my turn I displayed a series of miniature quilts chronicalling the history and devlopment of different styles of quiltmaking starting in 17 Century Britain and moving through the development of patchwork in the US and onto the latest trends. There were about a dozen quilts in all which captured the major movements/styles. But I have had in mind to add extras to fill in some gaps – and a suffolk puff top is on the list.
This is the double wedding ring quilt using mainly original feedsacks that I did to illustrate styles of quilting in the Depression era. I had previously entered in in the Miniature section of the show and it won viewers choice that year. It is about 14 inches square (if indeed something with round edges can be considered square, but you know what I mean!). The rings were foundation pieced and it is hand quilted – I rather enjoyed making this little treasure!

Fawlty towers, the ship of the damned, felt flowers and yo-yos.

Jervis Bay, looking toward Pt Perpendicular

We have just got back from four days away in Huskisson, on the coast south of Sydney to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We booked into a 5 star guest house, expecting luxury and pampering and ended up feeling like we were in an episode of Fawlty Towers. I won’t bore you with all the dreary details, but suffice to say it was not particularly relaxing or peaceful. The couple who run it were the desperately eager to please types (not really like Basil at all, of course) so they tended to smother you instead of just leaving you alone. They had some bloke come in in the evenings and he banged away tunelessly on the piano in the parlour (yes, they had a parlour), while sipping glasses of port. Unfortunately, Liberace’s banging permeated every nook and cranny of the house, so our afternoon naps were rudely cut short.

On Sunday we went on a whale watching cruise in Jervis Bay – well that was what it was supposed to be – as it turns out, the huge catamaran lost an engine two minutes out of port, but the intrepid skipper, instead of turning back, handed over to an obvious novice who was extremely uncomfortable with the job of steering and went below to see if he could fix things. In the meantime, we meandered about the Bay aimlessley. There had been big storms the few days before, and there was a slight swell – and it was only slight – I get seasick, and felt perfectly fine the whole time, so it can’t have been that bad. However, some of our fellow travellers were obviously not made of such stern stuff and judging by the odour on the main deck level, had tossed the burley bucket – as my husband colourfully refers to throwing up as a result of sea sickness.
So we stayed on the top deck, where were had a lot of time (3 and a half hours, to be precise) to observe our fellow passengers. There was a small, but noisy group that we kindly decided must have been from some kind of assisted living arrangement – their social skills were noticeably absent and their personal habits bordered on the alarming. There was a bunch of obviously bemused Indians – several young couples who lounged about looking as bored as we felt; and an obnoxious New Zealander who insisted in barging into the cabin area where the stand in skipper was nervously keeping us afloat and studiously poring over the map of the Bay taped to the desk and opining on various things. He would then go back out and bore his group – who as far as I could tell, comprised his long suffering wife, daughter and son in law, with stories about various natural disasters he had personally witnessed and, seeminly, barely survived — these included some sort of eruption, a bridge collapse somewhere in NZ, including the precise body count and date of the events.
After more than an hour of this, the skipper emerged from the bowels to announce that we only had one engine (no, really?) but help was on its way. Help comprised a couple of blokes in a small boat who came alongside (I think that is the nautical term). One boarded the Cat and conferred with the skipper before being escorted below – apparently his name was Dan, but alas, he bore no resemblance to Diver Dan from Seachange (sigh!). He had a long, rather oily jacket and hair that could only be described in the same way. He disappeared below while the other bloke tied up the little boat to the back of the big one then clambered on board himself. I am not sure what he did – but it didn’t make much difference, because after an hour, the Cat still only had one operating engine.
By now, despite the complimentary tea and biscuits, everyone was thoroughly bored and restless, but excitement arrived in the form of the big orange Sea Rescue boat which was despatched from HMAS Creswell, the naval base within the Bay. It came alongside and everyone waved and they waved back and it escorted us for a while, but then obviously got as bored as the rest of us with going around in circles, so roared off to look for something more interesting to do.
Eventually, two and a half hours after setting off, the skipper advised that we still only had one engine, and it looked like it was going to stay that way, so we would be waiting for just the right window of opportunity in the tide turning cycle to sort of coast back in the port. Fortunately (?), that window of opportunity was only about a further hour away.
So we went around in a few more circles then the Sea Rescue boat came back and escorted us into harbour with all its lights flashing importantly. We got in sort of next to the dock, but then the skipper announced that he had no control over anything anymore (I can’t emphasis how reassuring that was to everyone), so yelled at the Sea Rescue boat to push us in. It lined up on one side (don’t ask me whether it was port, or starboard, I have no idea – the side that wasn’t nearest the wharf) and sort of nudged us in. That seemed to work fine and they threw some ropes and secured us and off we went.
Staggeringly, the cheery staff just said, ‘see you later’ when we disembarked – no apologies, no suggestion of a refund – just ‘see you later’ – as if!
I was very bloody annoyed by this, so on our return home, phoned them and complained and the girl on the phone breezily informed me that most people just went up to the office when they had disembarked and asked for their money back – and got it. I asked her what about the people that just went off bloody angry about the whole thing – were they going to give them their money back. No, she said in a tone of voice that clearly implied she had never heard such a suggestion. We have since arranged that we will get our money back – but I wonder about the poor slobs who just wandered off dazed and bewildered by the whole experience and $110 worse off for four hours of aimless drifting and a cup of tea and a biscuit.
So, that was our anniversary weekend. As my dear husband rather drily remarked – no wonder Agatha Christie set so many of her murders in country homes and on cruises!

This is the lighthouse on Pt Perpendicular. I can’t begin to describe the force of the wind the day we were there. That is me, right in the centre of the photo. It was the day after the terrible storms that lashed the coast a little further north of where we were. I am no lightweight, and I could barely stand up for the force of the gale. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be the wife of the lighthouse keeper, isolated in such a desolate place, with no company and no communications for weeks or months at a time.

There was lots of sea lettuce and this pinky stuff on the beaches from the storm.

And lots of foam and froth from the sea being stirred up.

One day we went to the very nice little town of Berry, where the Kangaroo Valley joins the coast. Lots of lovely shops, including a needlework shop crammed full of goodies. I found these die cut felt flowers – they had them in a range of sizes – these are about 1 3/4 inches – the big one is about 3 inches across. I also picked up the Clover yo-yo maker – I had seen them advertised and they looked like fun.

I’ll have a go at making some and post next time.

Fabric dyeing and TAST

For years I vowed never to get into fabric dyeing – way too messy – I could see myself splattering stuff everywhere – I have always found the concept of being creative whilst remaining tidy too bizarre for words. However, I recently relented and invested in some Procion dyes. I got some undyed yarns from here. And then I had a play! This photo is a little dark, but I dyed some cotton and some scrim/cheesecloth and a few different yarns.

And here is what I have started making. I embellished the cheesecloth onto some dyed cotton, with a thin layer of dyed merino between – I texturised it quite a bit, embellishing from both front and back – I like the way the little cheesecloth loops come through to the front – then I used some of my coordinating threads to do some of the TAST stitches. I bought a spray of fake flowers (why do they call them silk flowers – who are they kidding?) and pulled them apart – they were white, so I painted them with some Setacolour paints and have embellished them in the centre to hold them down – but the petals stand proud of the base. They aren’t very firmly attached – they will need some french knots/beads in the centres.
Obviously this is still a work in progess – needs a lot more stitching – but its a start. And I am quite addicted to dyeing stuff!
The Texere order was shipped promptly, although postage from UK to Australia was a bit steep. Does anyone know of a supplier of undyed yarn closer to home?