Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dylon Dyes

A few weeks ago when I was trying the snowdyeing lark, I received an email from Emma Forbes at Dylon Dyes. They had come across the blog due to my use of Dylon Dyes. Emma offered to send a selection of samples for me to work with!

And so, they arrived in the post on Saturday. Thank you very much! There machine dyes and a range of hand dyes. Joy of joys! The hand dyes are colours I love to use! It is a little confusing because they are called by names like tulip red...will that be the cherry red or the scarlet? I am thinking scarlet.
others are Intense Violet, Ocean Blue, Bahama Blue, and Flamingo Pink.
As the Emma says, "All the dyes are powder form – both hand wash and machine wash and come in 24 gorgeous colours."

Emma also explained, "Every year around August time DYLON® also launches 3 new fashion colours to reflect what is shown at the A/W fashion shows in spring of that year. Last year the colours were autumn plum, petrol blue and stone grey, which have been prevalent in all high street fashion stores. We are waiting to see what this year’s colours will be…"

I love learning tidbits of info about the background of a product.

By the way the lead in video for the Dylon site if you just do is quite fascinating. Annoying if you are wanting to go straight to products, but fascinating.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Dragon claw revisited

Sometime back I did a study of a dragon claw for the Fast Friday challenge. I never finished off the edges. All last year, I kept it in reserve if there was a month that I couldn't get a journal quilt done for the Contemporary Quilt group. However, it would have been a stretch, since the size for 2009 was 6x12.
This year, though, the size is 7x10. And that is nearly what the size of the dragon claw piece is. I decided to use it this month. I am not sure if I will do dragons all year, but I couldn't make up my mind for a different series between the time we learned the size and the end of the month.

I think I have enough dragon or fantasy creature ideas to keep going with that plan. It is a good size for coming up with something quickly.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Little Purse Booklets

Sometime back there was an article in the Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine (Winter 2006 issue 9) which showed how artist, Debbie Crane, had made a little book everyday for a year. She included a couple templates for some of the booklet which could be made to look a bit like purses.

So, for the Craft @the Library for February, we will be making one of the little booklets shown in the Magazine.

Here are a few that I made up for samples. It is a very good way to use the printed paper bags you get at craft fairs and some shops and can't bear to throw away! I also added a few card making stickers I had.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

EquiARTeral blog

As promised, the EquilARTeral blog is up. Not much yet, but info on the exhibit at Slough Museum. I hope to get some photos when we hang the work. It is part of their annual Ideas Bank project with exhibits by artists in and around Slough.

I don't intend to post everyday over at the new blog and sometimes the others will post. It is mainly what is relevant about what we are doing as a group and a place where people can contact us in some way.

We may have a chance to hang some things in the window as well. We are going to take several things and see what works. I may be hanging Endless Possibilities. We shall see. It is translucent and is meant to be double sided or at least hung so you can see the shadows from the other side. So, it should be great in a window.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Funky Fleece Scarves

I was recovered enough today to do the Craft @the Library. However, the brain was still a bit fried, and I forgot the camera. Sheila and Norma came and made some lovely scarves. We ran out of time to do the fringing, but they said they could do it at home. They both have granddaughters who may be recipients. I have a feeling they are going to opt out of the chopping up part and keep the scarves for themselves! Sheila made one which was fuchsia and baby pink and Norma made one which was deep blue and powder blue.
So, for a photo you get to see mine.
I had given away all the others I made for Christmas gifts, so I made one up this morning (that had been on yesterday's agenda) to show. Then in class I worked on another one. The ones I had made previously had the ribbon sewn on the machine, but these were stitched up by hand.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

best laid plans and all that

Well, today sort of got lost in a darkened room. I had another terrible head and even had to cancel the workshop in the library at Birch Hill. I hate that, but what can you do? Hopefully some of the ladies will make their way over to Great Hollands.

Tonight I have been starting to set up a blog for EquilArteral. If we are going to be "real" artists and exhibit in a Museum, it will be good to have a place to direct people who are interested. I will let you know more about it tomorrow when I hope to put some content there.

 Jane posted about the exhibit here.

In starting the new blog, I chose the new blogger editor option. Suddenly I see it has given it to me for this one. I hope it hasn't changed everything everywhere else! Let me know if you struggle to comment in anyway.

Sorry for the lack of photos. I haven't got enough of my brain back for that at present.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Inspiration Monday

Part of the loom from the silk mill. I think old machinery is interesting. They used aesthetics as well as function when designing the parts.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Learning Day out and about

Sorry for no posting yesterday, it was a long day.
On Saturday I went out and about with a coach load of ladies from the college. Most were fashion students or teachers.
In the morning we went to the Whitchurch Silk Mill.
Some of the silk being woven on the antique looms.
one of the looms being threaded up.
A design board showing the design for silk curtains which was developed for a cafe at a heritage site. The colours were chosen from the bespoke wallpaper sample.
The designer with a Firework silk design she developed from start to finish, including the weaving. Most of the time she works on the process of the design and thread layout for the warp. you can see the equipment at the back onto which the thread is wound from the thousands of bobbins. The thread is very fine. This link shows the process the thread goes through from the bobbins to the woven fabric.

The fabric they make is very expensive. This reflects the time needed for all the processes on the antique machines. Some of the equipment is powered by the watermill, but that is very slow. There are parts of the process which could be faster in mills where the looms are mechanised, but this mill is run as a Heritage and Educational site. They provide silks for Historical Dramas as well as for heritage sites - castles and palaces.
This photo from their website shows the bobbins. There were a few on sale in the shop, so several of us bought included!
The shine is lovely and they will be great to look at, but I am going to try to use some to sew with. Because it is so fine, I may run several threads through the needle at once.

In the afternoon we went to the Bozedown Alpaca Farm. Joy Whitehead gave us an excellent talk which covered the whole process of choosing alpacas who will produce good fleeces to the parts of the fleece which are the best to the various processes to make the fleece into fibre and fabric. We drove past the fields in the coach and saw the lovely animals. Joy and Ken had hired the village hall for the talk as they felt the weather would be too cold and unpredictable to stand around in a draughty barn!
photo from the Internet
I think I want an alpaca. But, I need a bigger garden and more than £3000! So, I may just go visit them sometime instead!
The fabric is dear, too, but well, maybe I can save up for some. It is sooo soft!

Friday, 22 January 2010

EquiARTeral exhibiting!

Through some connections Jane Glennie has, our art group EquilARTeral has been offered the chance to exhibit work at the Slough Museum! As you may recall, EquilARTeral consists of Jane Glennie, Merete Hawkins and me.

So tonight we met to decide what we would show from what we have. We will have one wall, and other groups will each have a wall. There is also window space. We mainly decided on the pieces from our Zoom series. and depending on the space and hanging situation, some of my Connect/Disconnect pieces will be displayed.

The Connect/Disconnect pieces I did are meant to be shown doublesided or in such a way to see the shadows of what is on the other side.

The piece from my set which they decided from Zoom was the Letter piece.

The work will be shown from the 3rd of February for 1 month.

Slough Museum 278/286 High Street, Slough SL1 1NBE
Opening Times: 11am - 4pm Wed - Sat

I am going to be setting up a blog so we can show all our work in one place! I guess I will need to do that next week, so there will be a place people can go to look up more info about us.

We also showed the progress on our Staffordshire Hoard pieces. They look very good together. And once again are so specific to each one of us in the way we work. I think it is good that we all work so differently. It means no one is "copying" and yet the others can critique your work with unbiased eyes and with a different point of view. It is exciting to be able to take this group effort of encouraging one another to a different level of putting it out for public display!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Staffordshire Hoard project

Another step on the Staffordshire Hoard piece:
The stitch-like grass that works to push the edges of the pieces back into the ground - so to speak. this photo is better because it is a detail, even though there is still glare, the camera was close enough for the glare to be kept to one area.

When I do complete this I shall have to try doing a photograph in a place where the light won't bounce off so much. That should prove interesting. or not.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Staffordshire Hoard project

A couple more steps for the Staffordshire Hoard piece. Brown felt round some edges. Gold leather with garnet stone chips. and starting to do some of the big stitches to represent grass and to pull the different parts together.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Staffordshire Hoard project

I have worked off and on stitching the parts for my piece based on the Staffordshire Hoard. This is the project the EquilARTeral group has been working on. We will all have our pieces mounted on gallery stretched canvas which has been painted with the same colour and texture. This will unify the 3 works of art.

I have not worked with a canvas like this before, but somehow for this, I think rather than making a whole piece and mounting it, I felt drawn to depict how it must have been to keep discovering more and more treasure in the earth. So, I feel I need to do small pieces that are incorporated into the canvas in some way. I am quite drawn to the pieces with the garnets mounted in filligree gold work.

So, today I started laying the parts out to get an idea of how they might look. I think it is getting buttons, and several of the pieces are having layers of wadding behind them to make them stand out. Here is a photo of the beginning of the composition part of it. I think I may be using brown felt around some of the pieces to make them seem to come out of the ground. It is not easy to get a photo, as the light bounces off the paint.

Although there are images of the Staffordshire Hoard online, it is not easy to flip back and forth between them. I discovered that a booklet has been put out about the hoard and what they know so far. So, my son bought it for me for Christmas. That has been a big help...especially a photo of one of the gold and garnet pieces laying in the ground in the field with bits of grass, etc. Not sure if I will work the grass in, but I might do large long straight stitches around the edges of these stitched pieces as a method of attaching them to the canvas and implying the grassy bits.

I hope to get a lot more done on this in the next couple days.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Inspiration Monday

This flash of colour from the car park in the street behind our house caught my eye through our window, so I had to go capture it before the snow went.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

In the post - yesterday

I don't know if you have heard of Remnant House in Harrogate, but they do a little catalogue with verbal descriptions of odds and ends of fabrics. I needed more habotai silk to use in the transparent/translucent pieces with the organza. So I made an order. It didn't take long at all!

Remnant House has an online site now and I noticed they had black habotai for the same price as the white. I have been wanting to try a discharge process which uses a paste and not bleach. (It is not good to use bleach for silk.) So, now I just have to get a period of time when I can play again and see what happens with the black habotai. I already have some black velvet, so it will be fun to experiment.

And then finally, since I was making an order, I also bought some cotton sheeting to replace what I used in the snow dyeing experiments this past week. The fabric I used I had purchased in the Bracknell Market from Lady Sew and Sew but as the Market is only open on Fri and Sat, it is not so easy to just pop along and get things when I need it. I like to have supplies in my stash so I can just get it out and work with it when I am ready to do the work...regardless of the day or if I have the car, etc.

So, now with the organza from the other day, I am sorted for supplies again. I rarely buy fabrics, but for me these are basics and it is good to know they are already on hand.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Slow Cloth

I have been working on the Slow Cloth now and then over the past weeks and months. This week I did quite a bit more. I cut quite a few pieces to fill in little gaps. I like the frayed edges, so I did that first. I also pulled threads on quite a few of the pieces.

I have started some stitching on the background, but I will probably leave it a while now til there is a specific "reason" to take it and stitch it.
Here is a full view

and a couple detail shots.

Friday, 15 January 2010


The overdyeing is in process. In the small container is the piece like no.1 from yesterday that I was already overdyeing. This time I am leaving it at least 24 hours (after wringing the excess liquid) just to make sure it will cure at room temp, rather than the cold temperatures.

Piece no.1 has also been given a start at something new. It has orange, brown and a bit of red.

I decided to see what would happen with some of the dye I drained off. I had dumped them together. Before I drained the red dye liquid from the piece in the small container, the liquid was a blueish purple colour. With the red liquid added, it is a burgandy colour. Of course because it has melted snow, it is diluted, but I thought I would see what would happen with it. I have an old stained damask tablecloth someone gave me, so I scrunched it up and put it down in the liquid.

Tomorrow I will see what it looks like and if the dye liquid is strong enough to have done anything. For this, I am not really looking for anything stellar, it will be one of those pieces that will make up its own mind what it wants to be.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Snow Dyeing - results

Mixed results for the snow dyeing, so mixed feelings about it.
because I was experimenting, the fabrics were varied, as was the pre-treatment and the container size. I think all these things made a difference in the results.

Beginning info: The different fabrics were all cotton.. some cotton lawn, some cotton from a quilt shop, some quality cotton from a workshop I did at Houston in America, also a piece of cotton pillow ticking.
Normally I get good results from Dylon hand dyes without the addition of soda ash to the fabric because it I have been told it contains something of that sort already. Some of the fabric had already been treated with soda ash, most hadn't.

I think I will show the results from sad to glad.

1. yellow/orange/scarlet - larger container/no soda ash/quilt shop cotton
Very sad, I didn't even bother to iron this. I am going to overdye it with brown. You will see why later.
results: NO patterning at all - perhaps the container size? It was lovely bright orange, but most of the colours just all washed out. I have had this happen before with colours I used with scarlet. It may be that it strikes more quickly and so the other colours haven't a chance. There was a companion piece that had more white areas so I didn't rinse it out at all, but am overdyeing it with using the snow dye method using red. We will see.

2. green - smaller container/no soda ash/pillow ticking

sad, but I can find a use for it.
results: no patterning except the fold marks where the fabric was scrunched.

3. cherry red/black - larger container/no soda ash/cotton lawn
okay, at least looks somewhat like hand dyed fabric. you can tell that the black separated out. The black has a lot of blue in it, so it blended with the red and made the mauve colour.
results: fairly normal low water immersion patterning. I may over dye this with something using low water immersion techniques to retain a lot of the colouring that is already there.

4. royal blue/black - larger container/no soda ash/cotton lawn
okay, the black helped to create more tones of blue. The white area is actually a sort of dull grey, so the real colours are more like a stormy sky than a nice cloudy sky.
results: a bit of the snow dye patterning visible here and there. This may also get some other dyeing treatments, if only to do something about the grey areas.

5. purple/green - small container/soda ash/quality cotton
glad! - But, where is the green? It has just made it a bluer purple, but you can see where the purple separated into fuchsia and blue.

results: you can see the crystal patterning in many places. This is good. I am thinking the soda ash is necessary to use with the cold of the snow, even with Dylon.

6. purple - small container/soda ash/quality cotton
even more glad!
- you can really see where the purple separated into fuchsia and blue. I like this, and I am not actually a purple/pink person! I do wish I had been able to tell which of the small containers had which fabric after I put the snow on. I would have preferred NOT to have 2 purple pieces. However, I am sure that I will find I "need" 2 purple pieces somewhere down the road.

results: you can see the crystal patterning all over. This is very good. Again I think the soda ash is necessary with the cold. But I also wonder if the small container had something to do with it.

7. yellow/brown- larger container/no soda ash/cotton lawn
WOW! Very glad! okay, this is the surprise. no bumblebee fabric here! you can see blues moved out of the brown. the yellow does show in places and also helps to lighten the dark brown in other places. I can think of a lot of things to do with this. and now you know why I am going to overdye the sad scarlet piece with brown!

results: awesome patterning. and without soda ash or being in a small container. who knows? But I like it.

Overall: I think it was worth the experiment for the last fabric, but I don't have the time and money to be messing about for 3 nice pieces and 2 okay pieces. I will stick with normal ways of dyeing...and even then, if I am looking for a certain type of fabric...say for dragons, I will buy some from someone who already knows how to consistantly get the results I like.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Snow Dyeing

Today I tried a new dyeing technique I have been hearing about. It is called "snow dyeing". Last year, I read about a lot of Americans doing it, but I was unable to try it when we had the snow last January. Here is a post about someone who tried it last Feb. So, now that we have had so much snow, I decided to give it a go.

The basic idea is to put the fabric in the bottom of the container, pile snow on top and then drizzle the dye over it. A bit like snow cones. As the snow melts, the dye settles on the fabric. The snow acts as a resist and the patterns are quite interesting.

There are various methods people have tried. I haven't got racks or anything to keep the fabric out of the dye, so I am hoping it isn't a problem. This lady got good results without worrying about the runoff.

It wasn't easy to work out how much dye. Most people are using MX dyes, but I already had Dylon dyes mixed. I did add more dye powder, because the snow does cause the colour to be diluted. I already know the dye I had mixed comes out a bit paler than I really like.

I often find it difficult to decide what colours to use when I decide to do dye experiments. From what I read, the results are more interesting if you used dyes that are already mixtures, as the colours in the mix seem to strike at different rates. So, I chose purple, green and orange. (I am sure you know your basic colour theory... blue and red is purple, blue and yellow is green and red and yellow is orange. It is not always as simple as that, but as I said, it is the basic colour theory.) It will be interesting to see if they separate and in what ways.

I really haven't much fabric in the orange red category, so decided to go with that first. This first photo shows a mix of yellow, orange and scarlet. Then all purple, a blend of purple and "spring green" (which I had mixed from green and light blue) and all spring green. The S shape was not deliberate! It started as a swirl.

Then I decided to do more. I could have waited til tomorrow, but I may as well do it all at once. especially as I set this up on the floor in the dining room...not a good plan when you have bad knees and hips! I didn't think I would be willing to suffer like that twice!

This time I was thinking about fabrics I could use for dragon fabrics. I thought I would do blue with black. Then I realised I really needed red, so did red and black. I recently bought some brown, so thought I would give it a go. The box looks a lovely chocolate colour, and you can't always tell what the colour will be from the mixed liquid. but I didn't expect it to be so dark brown that it was nearly black. I was going for yellow and brown. I am not sure what it will become. I know the brown is quite a mix, so, it may break up into its components and be quite interesting. (If I end up with bumblebee fabric, I will over dye it with green to have green and very dark brown.)
as you can see, the dye in the original ones is already sinking down through to the fabric. It is a very cold room, so I think the snow will melt slowly and make great patterns.

Beth Brandenkamp also has some interesting posts on snow dyeing. She nukes it in the microwave at the last, to set the dyes. I have a secondhand microwave I got to use for dyes and other chemicals. It means you don't have to worry about poisoning your family! So I will probably pop the fabrics in the microwave before I rinse them out.

In today's post: Last week, I ordered some silk organza to use for more of the transparent type pieces that I worked with last year. It arrived today. I have a few ideas, but not sure just what yet. Because it is easy to work with, I may even be brave enough to do something a lot larger than I normally do. I struggle with quilting large pieces normally because of the chronic pain I have in my neck and shoulders.

I have also made an order for silk habotai and some cotton sheeting.

PS I got an email from Dylon in response to this post! Thanks, Dylon. I will let you know the results! Love your dyes...lots less mess and fuss!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

late presents and 2 lads and things we saw

Okay, I am sure you are tired of snow. But just go see what this "green and pleasant land" has been looking like and you will see why the dominance in the thoughts of UK residents.

So on to other things.

Yesterday, at long last, the Christmas present to me from my husband arrived. He ordered it near the beginning of December. I guess the snow held it up?

I am looking forward to seeing the workshops on these DVDs. I am particularly looking forward to the one on portraits because I met Maria Elkins last year when she was going round the UK with her daughter. They even stayed here over night and I took them into London.

And here is a photo of 2 very likely lads in front of a scene of London at the airport.

A Certain Lad and the Cousin Lad ... My sister Kathy's youngest.

They did go look round A Certain Lad's uni, which is not too far, but as the Cousin Lad had been trekking round the Middle East with a group for 10 days, they were both content to play Lego Indiana Jones video game for hours on end.

The Cousin Lad with me in front of the new travel pod thingys they are going to have at Heathrow. For some reason, A Certain Lad said I was smiling with an Italian smile. what? how many Italians does he know and what made it an Italian smile?

Other interesting things seen at the airport:

- The police pinching(taking) a lady's handbag from her trolley while she was gazing through the window of a shop!
It was actually interesting, she had no idea they took it, and even when she turned away and was pushing her trolley off, she had no idea it was gone! They had to come up to her and tell her they had taken it and give her whatever lecture they reserve for such dimwits who haven't the sense to look after their worldly goods in public places.

- an Art Shop in the Airport! well, this was very curious. Who has this sort of money to make impulse buys to ship to who knows where? Perhaps the smaller pieces, but the huge awesome horse painting? (which I wish the lady hadn't walked in front of when I was doing the photo) or the huge sculpture? Or maybe you would just put the torso under your arm and take it as carry on baggage? I wonder if they actually sell anything?

and last but not least,
- Stephen Hendry (famous snooker player) waiting on his own "looking Sad" (as my son said). I thought when I saw him that he looked like someone I knew. Then my son noticed the long piece of luggage which said "Snooker Priority" and which held his snooker cue. I would have been willing to stop and get an autograph, but A Certain lad felt too sorry for him and said he wouldn't want to talk to anyone, since he had lost his game and had to go home early. Well, I thought it would probably cheer him up. (and why did it seem he was all on his own without an entourage or hangers on?) But I hadn't the nerve... perhaps he wouldn't want people to know he had a middle age female fan that looked like the lady in the photo posted earlier.

and actually, I am a bit of a fan. Some time back, when recovering from a surgery I got interested in snooker. Okay, some think Cricket is boring. I like Cricket. There are some very exciting moments between the tactical parts. Snooker actually IS a bit boring, but you can watch it and read a book at the same time if you have to have enforced rest.

and the dog likes it! no, really, if you go off to do something and leave it on, you find her laying upside down on the settee with her head nearly hanging off watching the balls roll around on the screen! LOL I guess it has to be watched upside down to make it more exciting.

well, that is enough rambling for one day! If you have made it this far...thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Inspiration Monday - Transformation of Trees

View from My studio window.

Normally, Inspiration Monday comes because I am busy getting sorted for teaching on Monday evening. But the college has cancelled the evening classes due to all the issues I related about the lack of clear roads and also the problems with getting home in the evening when the roads become worse. So, I am having a day off.

However, there is still inspiration!

I have been taking alot of snowy photos. (you would never believe I grew up in the woods of Maine where this was common place!)

So the photos for today are about the transformation of trees.