Monday, 28 April 2008

Painting fusible web (Vliesofix)

Today, my Fibrecircle group played with painting fusible web. I've used this technique before in my work, using acrylic paint, so I was interested in finding out whether the fluidity of the medium affected the results, and whether other media than paint could be used effectively. I also wanted to know if the glue base could be melted with a heat gun instead of an iron and how this might affect the outcome, and what the effect was if the web was torn apart before fusing.

First, I painted a section of fusible web with acrylics straight out of the tube, with a fairly dry sponge brush. The paint seemed to emphasise the webbing pattern, which was very visible once it was ironed onto cream quilters muslin. Dimensions 13in x 9in. The brown touches are from a little printing pigment ink pad, smeared over the surface immediately after painting.

Next, I used the same paint, thinned with just enough water that it flowed onto the web easily. Dimensions 10 1/2 x 11 1/2in. The backing paper buckled due to the wetness of the medium, as it had when I used it previously, giving some nice rippled effects. I added some embossing powder to the paint, but this was lost when the web was transferred, so I added more while the surface was still tacky and zapped it with the heat gun. It really looks like water, doesn't it?

Still working with slightly wetter acrylic paint, I painted the web with three colours, mixing the colours both on the palette and on the web. The texture on this one reminds me of brickwork, and I'm waiting for the graffiti artist with a spraycan to arrive! Dimensions 10 1/2in x 10in.

Last, still using acrylic paint, I created a very watery paint and roughly sloshed it onto the web. The background paper was very wet and buckled. When ironed onto the fabric, it looked rather like rusted fabric, with clear watermarks. Dimensions 13in x 2in.

Clearly, the wetness of the medium makes a big difference to the outcome. In the past, the watery texture hasn't always been what I wanted, so using a stiffer medium gives a rougher, more variable surface finish with more of an imprint from the webbing surface.

I didn't really play with too many different media. I did try fabric crayons, which went onto the web very well, as they are quite soft, like pastels. Dimensions 8in x 6in. The result was very textural, like a rubbing, as the crayons, like the drier acrylic, picked up the web texture. A friend tried Shiva Paintstiks but the effect was no different to drawing with them directly onto cloth, so it was considered not especially useful. Jo Sonja's Opalescent paints looked very ordinary until the web was ironed onto black fabric, when they achieved real star quality.

I also experimented with tearing the web apart before fusing. I've seen the web cut apart into shapes after painting (see especially Linda and Laura Kemshall's book, The Painted Quilt) but I wondered about using painted web as a collage medium, roughly torn apart. This one was painted with the same acrylic paint and, once dry, the web was torn apart and layered, then fused with the iron with a scrap of backing paper as an overlay. Dimensions 6 1/2in x 2in. I also painted one with Setacolour paint, and tore it apart in the same way.
Dimensions 3 1/2 x 2in I think this technique offers a lot of possibilities, as it gives the lovely textured effects but also makes a feature of the sheerness of the fusible web.

We experimented with using the heat gun instead of the iron to fuse the web to the background fabric. It won't show up in photographs but the heat gun results were noticeably more textured than the ironed ones. However, the tackiness of the web vanished, which might not be desirable if you're planning to add other layers, such as organza or foils, before the web dries thoroughly, but is useful to know if you want to stitch immediately without waiting for the web to dry throughly. Now I am wondering what would happen if you painted fusible web with dimensional paint, using the heat gun to transfer the glue to the fabric.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

New bag

I haven't posted much lately because the Real World, in the form of Mum's new kitchen, Karen's wedding plans and the urgent need to book accommodation in London and Paris, has been impinging on my virtual life. Enough, I say! I managed to get into the workroom long enough to be a little creative.
I bought these fabrics a few months ago, with a bag in mind.

First I quilted some of the fabric:
You can't really see the quilting here but it's a free-motion design of leaves and the odd flower (some of them very odd!). It shows up a little better on the back:

Then I cut out and assembled the bag: It's from a pattern, McCalls 4118. It's the first time I've ever made a bag from a commercial pattern and, while I really like the way it looks, I really wasn't happy with the design. I found the final seams, across the side bottom of the bag, were too thick (six layers of fabric, three of batting) to be sewn by machine and were a challenge sewn by hand with stab stitching. It would have been easy to design it in a way that ensured this didn't happen, so I'll be making some adaptations of this design when I make the next one. But I do like the way it looks! Here's a closer up view:

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Just too damn busy!

Sorry, no Scatterdays this week, though I did have some ideas. The K thing I like the smell of is my kitchen, especially on Friday when I made tomato sauce, pumpkin soup and chicken and vegetable soup. Mmm! My K hobby is, of course, knitting, and you could have seen my lovely rose red jumper, which just needs assembling and a collar. I expect it will appear here when I have some sitting-down time that's not at the computer to finish it. And while office things were a challenge, since I don't go to an office, I did think of keys, which I used to have when I did, and, in desperation, klebestift, which is the German word on my gluestick.

But I can share some drawings. I always want to draw much more than I actually do, so I'm trying to use those in-between times to draw. Today's in-between time was waiting for the virus scan to confirm that the sneaky little virus I picked up online (not via email) had been soundly dealt with by my sharp-toothed anti-virus software. This one interested me because of the difficult angles that weren't sharp but rounded:
I'm not very happy with it but that's the point of drawing - to get better at it.

I called this one Xray heron. The bird is backlit by strong sunlight relfecting off water and you can see the pinions overlapping and even some of the bones in the wing. I didn't expect to capture that translucence (and I didn't) but it was fun to try to draw it. I imagine angel's wings having this kind of relationship to light.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


Scatterday again! I'm sure those Time Monks have been pinching time off me this week. Stop it!

This week's letter was A again and the categories were Restaurants, Things you find in the dark and Turquoise. I ate at the Austrian Schnitzelhaus with our Swiss friends last weekend but of course, I didn't take the damn camera, did I? I haven't been back since to take the photo I should have taken. The food was good and our friend appreciated the opportunity to drink a few authentic Austrian beers.

However, I did better with the other categories. The Things you find in the dark around here are Arachnids. We had an accumulation of leaf curl spiders early in the summer, followed belatedly by the more usual St Andrew's Cross spiders. The leaf curlers are annoying because they insist on their particular abode, despite the annoyance of always rebuilding their webs. The St Andrew's Cross spiders are smarter - if their webs are annihilated, they build them higher, above head height. I am accustomed to gardening under an umbrella of arachnid accommodation!

I had trouble finding turquoise at first. My acrylic paints don't include any turquoise just at present. But then I realised we have many turquoise Artefacts - a turquoise hippo, copy of an Egyptian artfact in the British Museum, a turquoise owl (of course), also a copy of an Egyptian artefact, and a modern pitcher bought from an artisan's atelier. I also own a cute Album, full of photos of my god-daughter and her sister, an attractive and appreciated annual event.

So please overlook the absence of the Austrian Schnitzelhaus. Clearly I need to take my camera with me *everywhere*!

Thursday, 3 April 2008


Thanks to Margaret's blog, I was reminded about string stamps last week. I haven't made them for years, since my kids were young! We're talking about twenty-five years here! So I decided to have a play.

I made these three stamps in about ten minutes.

I found that the easiest method was to rub a blob of PVA glue between finger and thumb and then run the string through it. The string is nice and sticky, but you can use an awl or tweezers or your relatively clean other hand to manipulate it into place on the card.

I made some prints with leftover red paint.

Then I was overwhelmed by the impulse to colour in.
These ones will get a lot more colour than this, over time. I envisage them as iridescent with colour, eventually.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Some more experiments

This week, I've been experimenting with transparency transfers. It's a technique I've used quite a bit in the past, but it's fun to play around with friends and see what new things can be done. In this method, you print an image from your computer into transparency, with a bubblejet (inkjet) printer. Then you use a polymer (acrylic) medium to transfer the image from the transparency onto fabric, by painting the medium onto the fabric and burnishing the image with the bowl of a spoon. Once dry, you heat-set the image by ironing it thoroughly.

First of all, we tried Golden gel medium, bought especially for this purpose. It's the medium that everyone raves about, in magazines and books, for this technique but it's been hard to buy in Australia until recently. This is what happened to my samples:
As you can see, the logo transferred, but with some blurring. It was unaffected by washing. So far so good.

Then I used a colour image:
This is a bit deceptive because I forgot to take a photo of the transferred image. The middle image here has been covered with a brown paint wash to disguise the many areas of white that showed through. The gel medium really didn't transfer the coloured image at all clearly, and the result was more like a watercolour painting than a photographic image. After all the sources saying this is *The* medium for transfers, I was quite disappointed. Some people had trouble getting any sort of print from the medium, and certainly none of them were clear. Some transparency sheets and some printers simply did not like the Golden medium at all. Mine were probably the best transfers, using Nobo transparencies and an Epson printer.

Here's another reason for my disappointment:
I've done a lot of PVA transfers in the past and, as you can see, you can get really clear images. I deliberately scrunched and roughed up the print when I washed it, because, for this particular project, I didn't want it to be too clear! Usually, there's not much loss of colour or clarity at all. After all, if I want clear photographic images, I'll print directly onto fabric from the printer. But if I'd used the Golden gel medium with this image, the faces wouldn't have been recognisable.

Another reason for my disappointment is that I had previously bought Chromacryl ordinary gel medium to try, and found that it made the ink run. It's a much runnier medium than the Golden gel medium, so I wasn't surprised that the image blurred. I did a print for contrast:
This medium really makes the ink run (there's a wash of ink around the outside of the image which was cropped from the photos), and, when washed, it turns a milky colour. I expected the Golden gel medium to be much better, and while it is better, it wasn't worth the outlay of more than twice the price of the Chromacryl. I'm sure it would be possible to thicken the Chromacryl medium, which might help prevent the ink running.

One of my favourite methods of transfer is metallic paints. I did a couple of samples, so the group could see what it looks like and experiment a bit. My first one was greyscale, transferred with silver paint, which in retrospect was pretty dumb. I'd already had a play with this image in Corel Photopaint, to blur the edges and that encouraged the grey print to fade even more into the silver paint. It looks a bit moody and interesting, just not quite what I wanted for my project! The transfer medium is Setacolor Shimmer Ash. I think the blueness of the middle image is a weird photographic thing - it basically didn't change when washed.

This one was a greyscale image, similarly blurred around the edges in Photopaint, but transferred with Setacolor Shimmer Gold. These paints transfer the image really well and I've used them lots of times before.

Of course you can transfer images with plain acrylic or fabric paints. This series shows the image transferred with red acrylic paints, and then overpainted with green textile paint. It's for one of my secret projects...

The fun part about playing like this is the unexpected. One member of the group had tried at home, with whatever she had on hand. She had found that mat spray, the fixative you spray over drawings in charcoal or other soft media, also gave a transfer. I laughed and said, "Oh I'm a cheapskate, I buy cheap hairspray to do that!" There was a stunned silence and I rushed for the hairspray can. Yes, you can make a very clear transfer with ordinary hairspray. This image was printed from a transparency that had previously been used for a not-very-successful Golden gel medium print, so it was just the remainder of the ink on the transparency. The ink just came straight off onto the fabric, without requiring much burnishing.

Sadly, it's evident that the print is not wash-fast. I plan to do some test samples onto fabric previously prepared with BubbleJet Set for straightforward printer printing, and I'm hopeful that a dyer friend will try using fabric pre-prepared with soda ash. There must be a way to make these very easy and cheap transfers wash-fast! Meanwhile, it seems like a very useful method for paper transfer, or for when you want your image to wash out afterwards, such as a guide for stitching.