Sunday, 25 May 2014

Seedpods Workshop with Yvonne Habbe

This week I spent 3 fabulous days in Switzerland, in the beautiful Interlaken area surrounded by awe inspiring mountains, shimmering lakes and the sound of cow bells. I only wish I could have stayed longer.

This was the view from my chalet:

My reason for going was not the beautiful scenery though, I was there to attend a workshop with Yvonne Habbe. What a workshop it was too! My head is still spinning with incredible ideas that her methods have revealed.

Initially we were set the task of making a perfect sphere, these are some of our efforts:

The title of the workshop was "Seedpods" and was focussed on creating 3D forms, here are some examples of her work that sparked my desire to attend this workshop:
Amazing aren't they?

It was a slightly unusual workshop in that we really only spent a couple of hours over the 3 days watching Yvonne demonstrate her techniques, the rest of the time was spent exploring. I am so grateful for finding myself surrounded by such a fantastic group of students, with everyone enthusiastic to share their discoveries at the end of each day. It was revealing to see all the different approaches that we took. Here are a few of our collective works:

And these are a few of my favourite pieces that I created:

The next step is to dye some of these pieces but I will save that post for another day. :)

These pieces are primarily sculptures but I also have a few ideas for some unusual bags that I am itching to try out.... watch this space!

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Alien Invasion Part 2

I finally plucked up the courage to work on my monster "alien signpost" piece again, needle felting some details into the surface and fulling it. It spent yesterday blocked on some children's play mats and drying in the lovely weather we have had this weekend. I blocked it face down to ensure the face was not distorted by the hanging sleeve on the back. This is what it looks like now:

When I started it my plan was to make it into a triptych and trim the edges, hence they are more untidy than ususal but now I looking at it and think I like the wavy edges with the bars of prefelt "threatening" the escape the frame.

It is still an enormous 1.9m x 1m (6' x 3')  despite being quite firmly fulled (I don't want to full it any further for risk of losing the details and muting the colours).

I also quite like it in the other orientation, I especially like the wavy edge at the bottom, it reminds me of ripped paper...

If I trim it, I expect it to look something like this:

And as a triptych -
Version 1 landscape:

Triptych version 1 portrait:

Triptych version 2 landscape:

Triptych version 2 portrait:

I am racked with indecision about where to go with this piece. What do you think? Do you prefer the portrait or landscape orientation? Which of the triptychs is most aesthetically pleasing? Or should I scrap the triptych idea altogether and revel in the torn paper effect?

Monday, 5 May 2014

Sun Dyeing

I was reading a blog a couple of weeks ago with some scepticism. With the benefit of hindsight I concede my scepticism was a little unfair. The blogger in question had posted about sun dyeing and said that you don't need to buy those expensive photo-sensitive fabric dyes / paints, any old fabric paint will do. My initial reaction was, if any old fabric paint will do why is there a market for those expensive photo-sensitive paints? Too good to be true right?

The scientist in me made me set my scepticism to one side long enough to perform a little experiment. We all want to save our pennies to spend on more textile toys don't we??


  • Light coloured cotton based fabric (I expect silk will work too but synthetics possibly not - those are experiments for another day :) )
  • A pad of newspaper or a large box (I used a plastic under-bed storage box)
  • Masking tape
  • A spray bottle filled with water
  • Fabric paints (I used Setasilk (iron-fix) silk paint and acrylic paint mixed 50:50 with textile medium). If you don't plan to wash your fabric you can replace the textile medium with water.
  • Large brushes (I used the foam type)
  • Resists - I used leaves but anything that will lie flat on the fabric and block the light all work well. Paper cut outs and opaque stencils work well.

This is what I did:

  • Stretch your fabric over a box or a pad of newspaper with masking tape
  • Spray with water until evenly wet, allow the water to disperse while you gather some leaves or other objects to create a resist.
  • Working quickly, cover your fabric with fabric paint and lay out your resists, ensure they are as flat as possible to the surface of the fabric.
  • Leave in a sunny spot for 2 hours (beware of breezes blowing all your resists away if you put your box outside - I left mine in front of a south facing window).
  • The hardest part is resisting the urge to lift the leaves to see what is happening underneath ;)
  • Remove the leaves / resists and iron for several minutes to heat fix.

Sitting in the sun catching some rays, the pink and blue on the left is the Setasilk paint and on the right is red acrylic paint mixed with textile medium.

I think I applied the acrylic paint (on the right) too thickly, hence the effect is not so noticeable. In the areas where the paint is a little thinner the leaves are paler.

A second attempt with a lighter coating of acrylic paint. I also sprinkled a few grains of rock salt in the bottom right to see what effect that would have:

After 2 hours on a sunny windowsill:

Close up of the salt effect, it appears to have concentrated the paint under the grain and drawn the paint from the surrounding area:

A close up of an acer leaf outline.

Have you done any sun dyeing? What paints / fabrics did you use?

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Fabric Bowls

After making a felt and scrim fabric bowl a few weeks ago I have been experimenting with alternative ways of stiffening fabrics. The water soluble fabric worked well and has produced a moderately stiff bowl but I am concerned that if it gets wet it will loose its shape and possibly its strength too.

As an alternative I have been experimenting with PVA glue (commonly used in schools for art classes and also known as wood glue).

Here is a bowl made from 4 layers of rainbow dyed scrim, machine embroidery for decoration and PVA glue.

A close up of the embroidered centre:

However, it is still quite malleable...

I would like to stiffen it some more, but am not sure how, some possibilities include threading coloured wires through the fabric or spraying with a diluted mix of acrylic medium but I'm not sure I really like either idea. Do any of you clever people have better /other ideas?