Day 2

Well I got everything done today I planned to – dyed up 2-3 metres of fabric; rust dyed another metre or so; prepared a screen to do some improvisational screen printing (it is still drying); and did a few monoprints using thickened dye, plus pressed all the lovely stuff I made yesterday using my wonderful new Singer magic press thingie – beats ironing!!

Here is a rust dyed piece using the square plate I mentioned yesterday. The little circles are from washers. This next piece turned out well – the big circles are from the paint tin lid and the broad rectangle bit sticking out (like a frying pan with handle) is from a piece of iron that used to be wrapped around a big barrel. I had forgotten that we had one in the garden that rotted away, and my husband had kept the metal bands. He flattened them out as much as possible, and cut them into manageable lengths. I have a piece fermenting away with several lengths of this stuff on it – can’t wait until tomorrow to see how it looks!

One problem with this rusting stuff is that it all turns out orange – and I am not a very orange person. Also, I am not enamoured of the stark white of the background. So, I have already dumped these pieces into a soda soak and they have had a wash of fairly dilute procion dye added in slate blue/grey, to tone down the background and complement the rust colour. Will see how they look tomorrow too!

Did some more bleaching – good old bubble wrap monoprint was first.Then I had a go at freehand spirals combined with some made from a rubber stamp. I doubt that exposing my rubber stamps to bleach products is a very good idea. However, I rinsed them off immediately, didn’t leave them sitting around in the stuff. Oh well, if it shortens their life, at least it will have been in a good cause!

And finally, a monoprint using the cleaning gel, that didn’t quite work – it was too runny, so I got big areas exposed – although, I do think it will make a good canvas on which to stitch, and I can always stamp/stencil/screen on top as well.

There are lots of other pieces, but these are a good sample of what I did. My husband has really got into the spirit of the rust dyeing. He keeps emerging from ‘the shed’ with new ideas and things to try – some rusty chain emerged a while ago, and he also hammered a lot of little nails (which rust really easily, apparently) into a length of wood, in a nice curvy pattern. I have got those on a piece of fabric – so hopefully, I will end up with a line of little rusted circles – we shall see!

So, tomorrow’s jobs are: print off using my dried screen; wash out all the fabric I dyed, dry and press; check on how the rusting is going on the various pieces, AND – make something!!

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Discharging and rust dyeing

Two things I have been wanting to try for a while – it is a long weekend here so decided to set aside some serious play time. Decided to start with the simple version of discharging, using gel bleach. All the American sites that mention it suggest using Sunlight dishwashing gel, which seems to be unavailable here. So I went hunting in the supermarket and found these two products – could be more out there for all I know, but this is what I got from two of the big grocery store chains. I used both, and they work fine. White King really packs a punch – has a higher concentration of bleach than even domestos! It works really quickly – probably a bit harder on the fabric. The cheaper no name one takes a little longer to discharge, but is probably not so rough on the fibres.

Here is my first piece – I filled up a curved ended syringe (had a devil of a job finding those, but eventually tracked them down at a dental suppliers). I draw squiggles and then circles, just meandering along, getting a feel for it. When it is still wet, and before neutralizing and rinsing, it was very orange indeed. It has now toned down to more ochre type shades. Quite elegant, I think! All the websites say to neutralize with Anti clor or bleach stop – but neither of these seem to be available in Australia. I did a bit of research and apparently one of them is just a brand name for sodium metabisulphite – which Batik Oetoro sell – so I will order some next week. In the meantime, I made do with hydrogen peroxide from the chemist, which also works, apparently, but will work out fairly expensive to use all the time.

Then I had a go using Thiox (which I thickened with alginate). Here is the result, after pasting it onto a rubber stamp – well, actually, a color box molding mat. The pattern is rather ghost like – I like the effect. Interestingly, the black is from the same bolt of fabric – the bleach based products produce ochres, whereas the thiox (and also the Jacquard discharge paste, which I also tried) produce this silvery image, which has touches of mauve here and there.

And I also had a go at rust dyeing. I recently got the Rust Tex CD which I got from Dale, I didn’t have anything rusty lying about, so I asked at work, and someone who keeps a horse on a property around here said he could get me some bits. Not all of them worked – but two pieces in particular did – a rusted lid off what I think is an old paint tin, and a flat piece, that might have been part of a barbeque plate at one time. Right now they are wrapped around some more fabric, simmering away in a bath of vinegar and salt, all wrapped up in black plastic.

But here is one piece that I got done – I only started it 24 hours ago, and have rearranged it on the metal several times during the day to get good coverage. So, I have had a good start to my long weekend.

Tomorrow I am going to do some monoprinting using the gel. I also want to prepare a screen to do some improvisational screen printing – another thing on my list. Oh, and I want to dye up some more fabrics. Then Monday, I am determined to actually make something from my newly generated stash – even if it is just a postcard, or a journal quilt – I won’t go to bed until I have something. I have decided I have to be more focussed on just producing work, and not simply messing about. Oh dear – not enough hours in the day – especially when work interferes! Although, I regularly read Lisa Call’s blog, and that woman is totally amazing. She has a full time job, and children at home (mine are big), and she still manages to put in 30 hours or more a week in her studio – does she ever sleep, I wonder???

Back from QuiltIndulgence Festival

I had a lovely four days in Mittagong at the QuiltIndulgence festival. Took two x two day classes. First was with Fiona Wright – we did nuno felting. All pieces were made on a background of black cotton voile. This one had layers of dyed merino in slate blues and gold/oranges laid out, and topped in places with pieces of silk in the same colours. There is also a piece of good old chiffon scarf (synthetic) like the old ladies used to wear over their hair rollers! It worked fine, even though it wasn’t natural fibre.

The next piece hasn’t photographed true to colour. It looks all pink and green, when in fact, it is bronzey/olivey.

Here is a scan, which shows the colour better. I think this will make a great surface for stitching – I am thinking, hand stitching in big running stitches, with thick silk thread.

Next couple were vaguely sinspired by Spring here – our spring festival, Floriade has just started, so I was thinking, fresh, spring greens, fields of tulips etc. They were also an experiment with including different types of silk – up until then I had only put silk organza on top – mainly because that is the only type I had! But these two include silk jap and silk chiffon – I really like the way the silk chiffon softly blends in – whereas the organza has a crisper, crunchy feel and look.

This next piece really shows that characteristic of the organza. The lighter sections on the surface are pieces of hand dyed mulberry bark.

I think this is one of my favourites – can’t decide whether to use it horizontally, suggesting ripples in the sand, or vertically, suggesting tree bark? What do you think? The middle layer on this one is a mixture of alpaca (which doesn’t felt) and merino, with a bit of glitzy stuff carded through. The top is a piece of cream silk chiffon. The yellowy textured bits are under the top (unlike the mulberry bark, above, which sits on the surface) – they are strands of silk throwsters waste). I like the effect it has created. This is another one I can envisage doing some hand stitching on – and maybe a few small shells? Only, of course, if I go with the seashore theme – they would look pretty incongruous grafted onto tree bark!

And finally – the colours in this one aren’t true – it is really more olivey and Australian bush type colours. I used a layer of olive coloured merino, then topped it with some hand dyed silk hankies with some strands of textured wool laid on top. The base was an olive coloured silk scarf in a very open weave – you can see the fringe hanging down at the bottom edge.

The other two days I did some machining on water soluble stuff. One thing I confirmed doing this class is that sitting for hours, free machining is NOT my thing. a) it is totally boring, and b) it isn’t good for my neck and back, which are a bit fragile and don’t need any unecessary stress. I played around maching circles onto some polyester organza, then burning it between the stitching to make the holes. One of these is a scan, and one is a photo – I went with a vaguely circular motif – some stamping with fabric paint onto some hand dyed cotton, then some circular stitch directly onto the fabric – backed with batting – I used the flower foot as well – caused great interest in the class – have a feeling Dale is going to get a bunch of orders as a result! I did three circular shapes onto the soluble in purple rayon, then stitched them on with copper metallic. That was about it before my boredom thresh hold was reached. The rest I machined bubble shapes onto poly organza, burnt them out with my wood burning tool (had to sneak out of the class to do that) then stitched them onto the surface. Couldn’t decide at first whether it was a cosmos or an underwater scene – class consensus – underwater – so there you are!

A bit more play

I painted up some lutradur (the heavyweight one), then cut it into strips, using my woodburning tool. While I was in a pyromaniac mood, I pulled out some sheers, laces and other synthetic stuff and sliced them up using the tool. Then I pondered what to do with these bits, and found some good background fabric in my stash. Then I remembered that I had some black Misty Fuse, which hadn’t been opened, so bonded that to the background fabric, laid out the bits and pieces, fused it down, then put the whole thing on a piece of felt for stability and machined it. I had thought about adding some foiling at the end, but decided that some of the fabrics were already glitzy enough. Instead, I embellished some yarn on the surface to see how the embellisher felt about lutradur and other stuff – didn’t seem to mind.

More lutradur and lace

This one I actually followed the instructions! Stitched down the cheesecloth and lace motif in white cotton thread. Painted with various types of paint, then (oh alright, this bit wasn’t in the instructions), zapped with the heat gun. It still resisted a lot because of the paint, but I did get some distressing and curling around the edges, and a little hole above and to the left of the flower. I have another idea I will try today of doing some stitching as a resist, zapping, then painting – aiming for holes!

The reason I am thinking about holes is that I am off for four days of workshops next weekend, to the Quiltingindulgence Festival at Mittagong. I am doing a two day class with Sue Dennis called ‘Wholly holes”, and a two day workshop with Fiona Wright on nuno felting – can’t wait! Can’t post a link to Sue Dennis website, it has been down for a couple of days. I think we are going to do lots of machine stitching on water solubles, which will be fun, but I think I’ll take some other stuff to stitch onto as well, like lutradur and tyvek and other things that I can ‘dissolove’ with the heat gun. I am afraid I am not a very obedient student – I tend to wander off and do what I feel like, rather than what the teacher says – might have to wait till I get back to the motel at night to do the heat gun zapping – don’t want to be disruptive!

Lutradur and lace

Like countless others, I couldn’t resist having a go at the Lutradur and Lace techniques in the first issue of Fibre and Stitch – here is my result. I used metallic effects copper paint on the lutradur and then sprayed with the patination fluid. them I daubed some lumiere and some other stuff here andthere. I haven’t actually done any stitching yet – the gesso that I put down first, so the metcallic paint had something to stick to, sort of glued the bits to the lutradur. I finally tried zapping it with a heat gun to add to the distressed, patinated look. However, the gesso and layers of paint obviously insulated the lutradur, and nothing much happened. I might have a go on the weekend at a distressed/stitched piece. For now it is off to work, and another tedious all day meeting – tedious, tiring and ultimately pointless, no doubt. Can’t wait to retire!