Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Finished Cuff

Do you recall this piece?

It was a piece of shibori dyed silk that kept all the lovely pleats after removing the stitching. I was going to felt it but couldn't bear to lose all the beautiful creases so it became an experiment in trying to maintain shibori folds while felting...

This is what it looked like after felting:

Too narrow to be used as a book cover but just about the right length for a cuff / bracelet. After some cutting, stitching, addition of beads and a bit more felting it is finished:

This piece will be on sale at Unravel  in Farmham this weekend, if you are planning on attending this festival a few of my pieces will be on the West Surrey Spinners Weavers and Dyers stand, do come and say hello! Click here if you have no idea what I am talking about....

Monday, 17 February 2014

A Less Successful Method for Ice Dyeing Wool Prefelts

This is the other method I tried for ice-dyeing prefelts over the weekend, you might want to take a look at the results before giving this a go, I won't bother with it again :o(
  • As before, I soaked my prefelts in water with 1/4 cup of vinegar and a drop of washing up liquid for every litre of water.
  • A wire cooling rack was suspended on some old glass jars in a washing up bowl and my wet prefelts were arranged on top.

  • Then a piece of nylon netting was stretched over the top using pegs to secure it.
  • Ice was tipped on top of the netting so that it covered the felt below.
  • Yellow, red and blue acid-fast dye powder was sprinkled over the ice, I used about twice as much yellow as red or blue.

  • I waited, and waited for the ice to melt, it looks really pretty at this stage:
  • The netting was removed and I put the icky brown mess into a zip lock bag.
  • Then I dropped it into my urn that was just bubbling and left it for 90 min.
These were the results, more than a bit disappointing...

Not one to waste anything I put another piece of prefelt into the dye run-off in the bottom of the washing up bowl and steamed that in its own zip-lock bag with the other piece, looks somewhat similar doesn't it?

All is not lost though, one of the pieces from the ice dyeing did not receive much dye so I sprinkled some more dye powder directly onto the felt before putting it in a bag and steaming it. This was the result. I quite like this piece and it makes me want to try ice dyeing without the ice!

I also did another "jar of ice-dyeing" using the same primary colours used above, this is my favourite of the whole bunch... The jar method is definitely the winner! :o)

Linking up to nina-marie

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Ice Dyeing Wool Prefelts

This post is an extension of Ruth Lane's excellent tutorial on the Felting and Fiber Studio blog where she describes ice dyeing for plant based fibres (silk also works well in that method).

I have been trying out a couple of different methods to dye some sheets of merino prefelt (I'm sure the same method could be used for wool top but I can't see the point as you will loose the beautiful patterns when you come to use the fibre). This is the first (and I think the most successful and least messy) method:
  • mix 1/4 cup of vinegar into each litre of warm water needed to cover your prefelt, add a drop of washing up liquid
  • thoroughly soak your prefelt in the mix, gently squeezing the wool to ensure it is saturated, I left mine for 10 min before the next step. I know most people leave it soaking for a lot longer but I am too impatient!!
  • cover the bottom of a large jar  (canning jars are great for this) with just enough ice to cover the bottom
  • sprinkle on your choice of acid-fast dye powder, I used a total of about half a teaspoon for each layer and 3 colours - black, blue and red
  • gently squeeze most of the water from your prefelt but not all, it should still feel heavy with water, and drop into your jar
  • cover with another layer of ice
  • keep repeating steps 4 to 6 until the jar is nearly full or you have used all your felt
  • finish with a layer of ice and more dye powder

  • set aside overnight or until all the ice has melted
  • to fix the dye it needs to be heated for 40-60 about minutes, as there is quite a lot of water in the jar from the ice, I put mine in a pan of gently simmering water for 90 min to ensure everything is heated for at least 40 min.
These are the results:

The colours are far more intense than I expected and I think that was largely due to using the black which becomes a deep purple at lower concentrations, sounds like the perfect excuse to have another go... ;o)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

My New Toy

Lately I have been working on an exhibition piece that I will need to dye. Normally this would not be a problem, I just put my felt into a vegetable steamer for 45 min to fix the dyes but this piece is way too big to fit into my steamer, in fact it is too big to fit into any of my pans either.... So I started scouring the internet for catering size pots and pans, you would not believe how much they cost!! Then I stumbled on a second hand hot water urn on ebay.... that has potential I thought, so I watched it and watched it, the price climbed, and climbed some more... £40 plus £15 postage, for a second hand urn!! You have to be kidding!!

I watched a few more, but they all went for similar amounts :o(

Then last weekend I stumbled upon this:

Isn't she beautiful? At £45 she is the most expensive piece of felting equipment I have bought to date but she is huge (30 litre capacity) and so shiny! :o) I can't bear to put her in the garage but know it will be me living in the garage if she stays in the house....

Needless to say, I have been playing with her all day, dyeing a test sample for my exhibition piece and attempting some ice-dyeing with prefelt, more on those later...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Ice dyeing

This week I ventured into a new form of dyeing for me - ice dyeing. The effects are so impressive I always thought it must be really tricky to do but after reading Ruth Lane's method on felting and fibre studio I decided to be brave and give it a go. I need not have worried, in some ways it is actually easier than my method of rainbow dyeing. I'm afraid I did not take any pictures "during" the process but here are the results.

Linking up to nina-marie

Monday, 10 February 2014

Over the Moon

Yesterday I hit a new milestone in my endevours to become a designer-maker, I made my first Etsy sale. I've sold a few pieces to friends and at a craft fair but this is my first foray into online selling. What surprised me most was that the lady in question didn't buy just one piece, she took 4 pieces of my textile art, yes FOUR!

How's that for a big pat on the back?!! I can't think of a more sincere way to tell someone you like their work. I'm so happy I have been bouncing around like an excited child :)

She sounds like a really lovely lady and is planning to hang a couple of them in her wellness room (she practices holistic therapies), which sounds wonderful.  I hope they bring her serenity and peace.

These are the pictures she selected:

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Completer Finisher

Have you ever done one of those personality tests? Myers-Briggs, Insights and others? I have completed more of these things than I care to remember but one of the earliest ones labelled me a "completer-finisher", apparently I am driven to complete tasks which is probably fairly accurate. I get anxious if there's a deadline I can't comfortably reach ahead of schedule. This is probably why I am feeling a sense of accomplishment and inner calm today. I have finished 3 projects in the last few of days...

Reversible hooded scarf, this has been a lot of fun to make and now I have worked out an improved pattern I will definitely be making more of these.

A textured laminate piece for my C&G course. This piece I have titled, "Eye of the Storm" as it was based on da Vinci's "Deluge" drawings. I am still toying with the idea of using fibre etch to reveal some of the coloured cords and adding some embroidery so maybe this one isn't quite finished yet....?

And my Q1 challenge piece, which was inspired by this painting by Jackson Pollock.

I still can't decide which way is "up" for this piece...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Samples Galore!

I like making samples, small swatches of felt where I can let my creativity and curiosity run wild safe in the knowledge that if it doesn't work I haven't wasted a heap of money and time on something that is only fit for being deconstructed into something else or worse, the bin.

Most of these samples were made for a C&G course module where I have to make a scarf to meet someone else's requirements, but I confess, some I made just out of curiosity and don't really have anything to do with the design brief ;o)

Rainbow dyed ponge 5 silk laminated to merino 

Strips of rainbow dyed ponge 5 silk laid in a grid pattern on merino.

Rainbow dyed ponge 5 silk laminated to merino with a grid of rainbow dyed prefelt laid over the top.

Reverse of the piece above - the grid of prefelt on the front has created a relief effect on the back.

Using wool yarns and pencil roving for decoration. I love how straight lines become wiggly when you felt them!

Rainbow dyed muslin laminated to merino.

Rainbow dyed muslin laminated to merino with pencil roving for decoration.

Rainbow dyed silk chiffon laminated to merino. 

Using rainbow dyed cotton scrim as decoration.

White tussah silk top carded with 2 shades of blue merino

Rainbow dyed silk hanky used as decoration. This one was my favourite, it's not very clear from this photo but the pale green silk has a beautiful sheen and slightly bumpy texture.

Strip of sari silk used as decoration.

Rainbow dyed Wensleydale locks felted into a merino base.

That was quite a productive afternoon :o)

In case you are wondering my friend chose the green silk hanky on a dark purple felt with red/purple dyed ponge 5 silk on the reverse. I hope to share photos of the completed snood next week...

Friday, 7 February 2014

Shibori Experiments

Following some very helpful suggestions from the ladies at the Felting and Fibre Studio Forum I have felted the original piece of shibori dyed silk and created a couple more samples, trying out alternative methods in an effort to maintain the beautiful folds of the bound fabric.

Felting the original shibori piece
I laid a very fine layer of merino all over the silk and lightly sprayed it with soapy water. Then folded the fabric concertina style from one end, trapping the wool between the layers of fabric.

 Once folded up, it was secured with elastic bands every 4 or 5 cm and felted with warm soapy water.

This was the result once the bands had been removed and the piece stretched at little. It is a similar width to the original silk but the length is much shorter, it was 50 cm long and is now just 8 cm. I think it will make a nice cuff / bracelet with some beads nestling in the folds.

Creating a laminate for shibori
For this sample I felted a piece of silk to 2 fine layers of merino and fulled to achieve rippling of the silk. Then it was stitched and the threads pulled ready for shibori dyeing.

It was dyed with Procion MX midnight blue - as you can see the silk has accepted the dye much better than the wool.

It was allowed to dry before removing the stitches and stretching out. It has a springy nature; it can be pulled almost flat but always springs back to this position.

Adding wool fibre while drawing the threads tight
On a third sample, I stitched the silk as normal but while I was drawing the threads tight I poked wisps of merino into the folds and felted the piece before dyeing with the piece above. This is what it looked like after it had dried and the stitches were removed. It looks remarkably similar to the first piece with very sharp folds in the silk.