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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

MAKING USE OF MY DYE SHED - BOTANICALS


Here are some of the many Botanical Print experiments from the last few weeks.  Stay tuned, there are lots more pictures to post, but I will be leaving to spend time with my Mom who will be celebrating her 92nd Birthday, Sunday, August 16.  What a joy for our family - she is a treasure!

Added some "bling" to the purple cochineal dyed scarf by hand stitching some purple sequined netting from my stash along the ends.
 
 
 




















For the past several weeks, I have been outdoors every day from morning until dinner experimenting with silk and leaves, except taking a break for lunch.  The reason?  my darling husband, Peter, painted the ugly plywood floor with light grey porch paint so I love working out there; we also got get another table to accommodate longer scarves and it enables me to work right outside under the overhang   Now the shed is so much brighter and all of my supplies, i.e., chemicals, plastic, pots, are easily located and easily put away when I'm finished with them and there is plenty of room inside to work as well as running water.

I've been working on combining eco printing with synthetic dyeing - I like to call it botanical printing and I have been doing all kinds of experimenting along those lines and learned a lot at the same time.  I have a journal that I began keeping records in because it is so easy to forget the method, even after a couple of days.  Rather than write out a long note and attach it to each piece, I identify each by the date and assign a number and write the notes in the journal, e.g., mordant, fabric, plants, method (simmer/steam) and any other pertinent information.  I then label each piece using a small sticky label referencing the date and number which makes it easy to find in the journal and enables me to keep much more comprehensive records.
 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

BULLET STEAMER/DOCUMENTING RESULTS

I've been away most of May and prior to that I was so busy making samples, preparing handouts, for the three very different workshops and compiling information for the first eco printing workshop that I taught. 

I arrived in Washington, DC, on April 30, and was whisked to stay with my 91 year old Mom (soon to be 92) in Silver Spring.  Usually when you travel and teach, the host arranges accommodations but Artistic Artifacts, in Alexandria, Virginia, is so close to where my Mom lives, that I could not be so close and not stay with her.  I struggled with the arrangements as unless you've ever lived in the DC/MD/VA metro area, you really have no idea what you are dealing with when it comes to traffic and I wondered how on earth I'd get from point A (my Mom's) to point B (Alexendria, VA) for 5 days of workshops.   In any event, my friend Pat kindly came to my rescue (as she has done so often before) and transported me to and fro daily; we had such a great time in the car and had a chance to really catch up.

The eco printing workshop was fun and we had so many supplies to play and experiment with, but one day was not enough time to do it all especially when there are beginners so for the Fiber Guild of the Savannas, where I'll teach next March, the group agreed to two days.

Whenever I teach at Artistic Artifacts, it is a great joy - the owner Judy and her assistant Sharon could not be more accommodating and there are always friends, former students and new ones as well.    I will post pictures as soon as I get them from a friend/student who was good enough to offer to take them since I'm always so engrossed with helping students and don't remember; I have to work on that!
 
 
 


I had been searching for a used bullet steamer for a while and pounced on one that came up for sale on eBay and won - the day before my accident. The condition of purchase was that it had to be picked up in Asheville which is a distance away and as you can imagine, riding in a car was not possible with a broken back!  I'm so lucky to have wonderful friends! and my lovely and fun friend from Charleston, Judy, went to a wedding a couple of weeks later near there and brought it to me.  Since then, I haven't plucked up the courage to try it because I needed to wait until I was strong enough - so today was IT!!!  And it was even more thrilling than you can imagine.   

You have to start somewhere, so I just plunged in and used silk/wool blend that I had available and added some things from the garden and things stored in the freezer (even some previously used eucalyptus), sprayed with vinegar and steamed for a couple of hours.  I'm so very happy with the results!  They really look like an Asian print to me - very soft and flowing.  So now my mind is conjuring up more experiments.   As far as documenting, I'm planning to change my procedure from writing on tyvek and pinning it on the piece, to numbering each piece and documenting the process in a journal because sometimes more information is required for clarity and so I'm beginning that procedure as of today; while you think you will remember, after a while you forget without notes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

War and Peace

 
Last September, I met up with some friends in Charleston to play with eco printing before we went off to an Indigo Retreat.  My darling friend Sharon, who quite suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on New Year's Eve, was one of them along with our friend Jeanne.  We met at another friend, Judy's, who lives in Charleston and who very graciously hosted us and provided her studio for us to use.  And what a wonderful time we had with a lot of laughs and learning.  We had absolutely no idea what was about to befall Sharon and were in such shock (still am) at what transpired.   Anyway, I'm so grateful that we had the opportunity to be together - that is how I will always remember her -- we giggled and laughed so much because she brought her enormous bullet steamer all the way from Washington and between all the supplies and materials they packed in, there was not much room for either Jeanne or Sharon; we really experimented a lot and one of my favorite pieces was this heavy silk that got a tiny bit singed along the fold; I named it War and Peace, since it is peace silk and looks like its been in a war ;-)      I've since seen someone online doing arashi shibori and purposely singeing some of it over an open flame.
 
I wasn't sure what the most effective way was to use it - first I thought wall-hanging, then I thought of cutting it up to sew a jacket and I'm so glad I waited.  It came to me that it should just be a simple rectangular wrap with slits for your arms and it has turned out just spectacular!  I turned the top part over as it was quite wide and it makes a stunning collar.   I still need to stitch the front edges and armholes by hand but it hangs so well and makes a very elegant statement.  Now I need to come up with a closure that will do it justice.
 
And then here are a couple of other pieces of chiffon that have been eco printed also. 
 
 




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Success At ArtWorks and The Story of Silk


Yesterday's Fantasy Beach Felt workshop went really well, although I wish it had lasted an hour longer.  Except for a couple of students who had minimal experience, most were totally new to felt making (although very talented in other fiber areas)  I do love teaching about the differences in wools, the varieties of silk and other fibers and the importance of using proper techniques, also understanding when the felt is properly finished.   I really wanted to be able to show the students the difference that stitching would make - since the pieces were still damp, we could not use a sewing machine but some hand stitching really is fun and makes a huge difference to the texture, but by the time their piece was felted, our time was over and it was time to quickly clean up.  I will make sure that next time, class is long enough to include time for stitching and embellishment.   Anyway, the students asked for "more" so it was a success.  

I could do a much better job taking pictures and confess that I am VERY bad about that and really must focus more on picture taking; I love giving individual attention, so I just don't think about it until it is too late.  I need an assistant who is a photographer!  Maybe I'll get a volunteer who can take classes in consideration for photographs - Wendy Avery???

One of the students, Elizabeth, who drove from North Carolina (6 hours!) very kindly gave me a gift of a silk handkerchief from Japan, printed with the story of silk - what a wonderful teaching aid this will be!  I didn't really get to appreciate it until this morning when I had time to sit and look at the silk in all the different stages and forms.  Thank you again dear Elizabeth!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Painting with Wool






I am trying out a local venue to see if it is suitable for workshops this Saturday, I think we will have a fun group.  I had planned to copy my daughter, Andi's idea of pairing wine and art.  Andi who is a fine artist and also works at a winery offers workshops that combine wine tasting and painting. 

I'm working on finding an appropriate B&B that would be interested in hosting events so that out of towners could have a lovely place to stay and enjoy all that beautiful Beaufort has to offer and where we could also serve wine, have lunch/dinner, etc., - I love pairing with local businesses so that we can help one another.  In the meantime, this workshop will be held at ArtWorks which is really neat gathering place for artists of all sorts and it is where the fiber guild I belong to, FAB, presents its annual show and sale each November and if it is a success, then I will plan more.  The sip of wine didn't quite work as the complications for me to serve wine were just too much and I want to focus on the felt and students so I was able to get around it by telling students that they can bring their own "sip" if they are so inclined!

Although I do very much love to travel and teach, it would also be so wonderful to be able to offer classes for local people too - I think too often in the South, people think of felting as heavy and wooly and much too warm to wear in such a temperate climate; however, once they see and feel  light and airy nuno, it tweaks their interest and they understand that it is just perfect for those in between days or cooler evenings. 

 
The other type of felting that has great possibilities in this area is painting with wool - it is just perfect for wall art or inclusion for bags and there is no end to inspiration around the low country so that is what we are doing on Saturday - sipping and painting with wool.  Here are a couple of samples - one with a lot of stitching and the other with a minimum amount.  I have found while doing this that it helps to take a photograph during the process to see where interest is lacking.  For some reason, it help focus on the picture better, I don't know why but it works.  I added elements to both of these after looking at the picture and I know what I would do differently next time - a great way to teach students from my own experiences. 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ice Dyeing

Last year before I had my accident, I had begun to experiment quite a bit with ice dyeing - oh so exciting and fun!  I did a ton and now have pieces to use up.  First I did a sample using one layer of wool and topped with a silk batt and loved the results although the background looks grey in the picture it is actually a greenish blue and all the colors match the dye colors.  The top piece is the back and the second picture shows the texture of the silk batt - scrumptious!





 

Next I used a long piece to make a wrap, I loved the iced dying but I must say, after felting the dyeing doesn't show up quite as much.  For the second piece, I used two layers of wool to learn what the different would be between using one and two layers and for the surface I used silk hankies in the same tones as the ice dyeing - it is a little more substantial but not too heavy because the wool was shingled very lightly for the two layers.  I also learned that I do not like working with some artificial fiber (not sure what it was)  that I had purchased some time ago because it looked like silk - even though I just used a tiny bit, you can see how strong it is and I won't be using this again.
 
 
 
 


In the Mood

. . . . .  to felt, dye, stitch, gather plants to eco print. My mind is full of ideas and plans but because of my accident, I've been way behind.  I've been invited to do a fashion show at a luncheon for a ladies club on Fripp Island, on April 15.  I'm very honored and excited about this because they have invited me to give a presentation and the members will be the models so it's a great opportunity for me to promote felt making and eco printing to a local community.

The beautiful weather is here but if the truth be told, I do love a rainy day too - I think it is in my blood because maybe you don't know but it rains a lot in Scotland, the land of my birth and early years so I find it to be a comfort.

I took the plunge and cut up the white nuno fabric that I felted a few weeks ago and stitched it all by hand into a lovely flowing jacket that fits perfectly; it isn't quite dry yet, so I'll get a better picture when it is.  Madonna (the name of my body brace who is now a working girl) had her first real job and she worked like a charm, although she is not so beautiful to photograph she aims to please with the fit!  For a pattern I copied a jacket that I have and there are a lot of opportunities with the simplicity for embellishment.  I still have quite a bit of the nuno yardage left so I'll have to come up with another idea to use it.  I thought about something to match the jacket, but a skirt of the same fabric would be just too much.