Saturday, 29 March 2008


After a little break when the Real World impinged, I'm back to playing Scatterdays. Of course, this week the letter is X, but we were mercifully excused from categories.

I know everyone will have the obvious Xylophone, but there are not enough X words in the world to be exclusive. So here is an extremely elderly xylophone, which has excited many children over the past thirty years.

Of course I could have shared my x-rays, but instead I extol the xylosma. This beautiful plant exists happily in a difficult spot in my garden that is both shady, and hot and dry, depending on the season and time of day. It provides shelter for more exotic examples, without expecting exceptional treatment, and expands exponentially until it is abruptly excised. which is accepts with equanimity. It has tiny white spring flowers but is exalted for its pretty new growth, pink on lime green. Isn't it exquisite?

Finally, in extremis, we have Xenocide, part three in the Ender Saga, which begins with Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card. He is among my favourite fantasy/sci-fi authors adnd his books often raise interesting ethical questions.

Evening bag

Tidying up the workroom generally means I "find" all these little tasks that will only take me a minute to fix. One little job was to repair the strap of an evening bag I made back in 2005. It's from black Duchesse satin, and I designed simple red machine embroidery for the flap. The design is loosely based on a Very Useful Bag I have owned for years, but that one is in patent leather. I had to work out how I could make another one with the useful features of that bag.

Generally, I was happy with how it turned out, except that I couldn't get the heavy chain I wanted for the strap. All my clutch bags have straps, because there are always times when you need your hands free (for example, to eat the nice food and hold a glass at the same time!). I optimistically used the chain I did find, and of course, it broke the first time I used the bag.

I don't want the strap to be too bulky, because when I don't need it, it sits in a little pocket inside the bag. I decided to try sewing together two lengths of the lighter chain, to make a flat band. This is the strap being sewn together: The finished strap looks like this on one side: and like this on the other: I like the first side best, with just a hint of the red stitching showing.

Now it just needs me to attach the strap firmly to the bag and I'm done! I wonder how long that process will take?

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Those expandable paint samples

I finally found a moment to share the results of the expandable paint experiments. My main interest was not to see them puff (though that's fun too!), but to see how the medium I'm using takes various colouring media. So I stamped and blobbed the expandable paint without colouring onto various fabrics, and added the colour afterwards.

These samples show the expandable paint as it was printed and after it was coloured with acrylic paint. The first sample was stamped with a square of plastic grid, rather like the plastic used to stop leaves falling into your gutters. Since the plastic strips all run the same way on one side, single stamping just gives you stripes, but turned at right angles, it give you a criss cross pattern. Once it was dry and puffed with a heat gun, I painted the whole sample with blue acrylic paint, wet on wet; I wet the fabric with water first and brushed on quite wet paint. I added a touch of Treasure Gold afterwards, once it had dried.

The second sample was stamped using a kitchen sink strainer, and dry brushed with the same paint once it had been puffed; I touched a dry brush in the paint and brushed it lightly across the surface. The paint just sits on the high points, a bit like taking a rubbing. The strainer is a fun stamping object but one of the group also found she got a very clear, sharp result from stencilling the expandable paint through the holes in the strainer.

The third sample was wet on dry - quite sloppy paint laid down just on part of the puffed areas with a brush.

I also coloured plain puffed samples with gouache, fabric paints, calligraphy ink, Dye-na-flow, marker pen, Treasure Gold, Rub 'n Buff, Shiva Paintstiks and fabric crayons...

Monday, 10 March 2008

Weather Report

While I was flinging paint around today, I decided to add some paint to Weather Report. I talked about this one back in September, when it was on my design wall. It was one of my journal quilts from 2006, that wasn't quite as successful as I'd have liked. It looked a bit too much the same, so I decided ages ago to add paint to emphasise the coastline. I did that today, and it looks much better: I like it better now, but I think the overlay of a rainy puddle is getting a little lost now, so the leaves look like they are hanging in space. I thought this might happen, but now I need to find a way to balance it back the other way. Maybe some beading?


Today I had a fun playday with the Fibrecircle group. We were experimenting with puff paint additive (expandable paint) and some bought puff and dimensional paints. I've played with them before but some of the others in the group hadn't. I wanted to see what happens when you print, dry, puff and then colour over the top; basically how well they take acrylic paints, Treasure Gold and other rub-ons, crayons and so on. I also wanted to play with my new heat gun!

This one has stamped images in commercial puff paint, dimensional paint, expandable paint medium coloured with acrylic paints and some expandable paint alone. The base fabric is a medium weight polyester. When I puffed the motifs with the heat gun, the thicker ones at the right hadn't dried thoroughly, so they deformed the fabric in an interesting way. (This was another part of my experiment - what happens if you puff them before they are completely dry?) Another group member had painted onto velvet very thickly and puffed after only a couple of hours drying time, and the result was this gorgeous bubbly effect that looked like lichen on rocks. More playing in this area, I think!

These were puff paints and expandable paint coloured with acrylic paints, printed onto crystal organza. I was interested to know what puffed paint might look like on very lightweight fabric, and whether the heating process for puffing would melt the organza. I found that, by working carefully, I could puff the paint without the organza melting, but it was a near thing and the organza melted in a couple of places. It also deformed quite easily from not very thick expandable paint.

This one has stamped images in the basic media, on a fairly coarsely woven cotton fabric. The expandable paint is from an old bottle, which tends to puff unevenly. It's the one I used for the Where You Live postcard. I plan to paint, rub and generally play with adding colour on these uncoloured ones.

This one was an extra. One of the group brought rubbing plates and soluble wax crayons. I wondered whether the crayons would act as a resist, if I did a rubbing before adding expandable paint. The red is the rubbing with the wax crayon, the gold is puff paints, puffed up. I found the wax crayon did act as a resist, so I got some nice layering effects. The fabric is a remnant of one I painted for the book pages, a pale green with some faint red highlights.

I've already cut apart the individual images and overpainted some of them with acrylic paint. I want to see how the medium takes paint after puffing and how this compares to adding paint initially. I know that sometimes you want to unify a piece by painting over the top of everything after the medium is puffed, but I also want to see what individual motifs are like if you paint just the motif.

More to follow!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Actually I finished the journal cover last Friday, just haven't had a minute to put up a photo. I'm really happy with it.

The front under the flap looks like this:
The butterfly hides the bead and elastic fastening. I think, next time I get out fabric paints, I might paint strokes of colour around the bead to make it into a flower. I did try adding straight stitches but they get in the way of the elastic, so I took them out again.

I've started adding pages to do with Fibrecircle, the new textile explorations group I belong to. I may share some pages later, as we go along.