Friday, 21 December 2012

Four days til Christmas!

Where did the year go? If I look back on my blog, it was clearly filled with interesting and creative times! In January, I was weaving plastic strips into a bag. By March, I was making earrings and a bag, as well as getting the travelling suitcase exhibition on the road. From May until August, I was constantly doing breakdown printing – a fascinating process! And from August til now, I was dyeing like a madwoman, both with native plants and with fibre reactive dyes. And painting fabric, which is my fall back activity.

At this moment, I’m putting together the last jumper I knitted in the cool weather, making another bag, piecing quilt blocks by hand and dyeing anything that stands still long enough. Oh, and I have weaving on the loom. No wonder that I haven’t paused to update the blog recently!

So what’s been happening in the last month or so?

First of all, my friend Jennie brought me back some gorgeous presents from Canada. First, there was this beautiful trivet, which, contrary to expectations, is made of glass! It’s very light and a truly gorgeous colour, and of course, has the Canadian maple leaf.

Second, she found this fantastic French Canadian cookbook at a stall. Its title translates as “from the garden to your table”, which is very much my food preference! It tells you, in French, about the various fruits and vegetables and then gives you interesting recipes to make with your produce. I haven’t made anything from it yet, but some of the recipes sound delicious.
Third, she gave me this beautiful calendar of Inuit art from Cape Dorset, a village on Dorset Island in Nunavut in Canada. The style of art is simple but it has a luminousness and delicacy that I love. You can read about the history of this artists’ cooperative here and see their work here .

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some more discharging, with thiourea dioxide. It will be the last time for 2012, because it’s an outdoor activity, due to the toxicity of the chemical, and it’s getting too hot now. It’s a shame because I have a pile of fabric I want to use for this process and I really love the effects I’m getting.

 I began with screen printing, using a paper stencil on the screen. I really like the interesting effects I get with very simple repeat patterns done this way. It takes an ordinary piece of dyed cloth and improves it out of sight. I made up a Thiox solution and thickened it with DR33, to make a print paste. The Thiox needs to be used quite quickly to be effective, so you need to be set up, ready to go, when you do this step.

This is the pattern on my screen.
(Ignore the blue tinge; in this photo it had a block out agent applied after printing, so I could save the negative of the screen and use it again next time.) As you can see, the pattern has been cut freehand in strips and taped on. My cloth was cotton that I’d deliberately dyed dark with leftover dye at the end of a dyeing session, thinking it would discharge in an interesting way.
Once it was printed and steamed, it looked like this:
It's amazing how the eye makes the lines join up, even when they don't.
I don’t have a “before” photo for this fat quarter of cloth, but it was also dyed very dark with a mixture of colours in a dyeing session. It was printed with a second screen in the same way as the first.
Then I moved on to printing. I bought an interesting potato masher that I thought would be good for this process. I used it to stamp onto another fat quarter of cloth from an earlier dyeing session.
Here's the dyed cloth:
...and here it is discharged:
It’s rather good, isn’t it? I think it makes a better print block than it does a potato masher!

I also wanted to experiment with adding colour to the discharge process. I didn’t have any appropriate dyes, but I did have some powdered pigment, which I used to make up paint for my kids, about twenty-five years ago. I wondered if it would be permanent on discharged cloth. I mixed some of the blue powder into the discharge paste and stamped with the potato masher again, onto a piece of dyed cloth.
It looked very dark when it was wet but once it dried and was steamed, it became much lighter, so I guess I’ll need to add a lot more powder to get intense colours.
I'll be experimenting further with this combination, when the weather cools down.

I’ve also been doing some natural dyeing. The Fibrecircle group got together for a dyeing day and the results are on our blog here. Here are some of mine that I really like.
Silk paj, tied on square blocks with E. cinerea leaves in the folds, dyed in ironbark E. sideroxylon bark and ferrous sulphate.

  Silk paj,concertina's in three, folded with cinerea leaves and tied onto Tricia's parallelogram perspex blocks, dyed in a bath of helichrysum petiolare and alum.

Silk paj, tied on tongue depressors with green twine, dyed in a bath of Eucalyptus pilularis Blackbutt wood shavings and alum
This one has delicate green markings from the twine that haven't showed up well in the photograph. I love it!

Silk paj, pleated and tied with green twine, dyed in ironbark and ferrous sulphate. This one wasn’t used at Tricia’s, because the twine was obviously bleeding green dye onto the cloth and we were concerned about contamination. But there was very little green on it or in the dye bath.

These three wool skeins came out in an interesting way. I pre-soaked a scarf which had brown onion skins tied into it, and I noticed that the water was coloured. So I left two wool skeins, 2ply and 8 ply in the water for a couple of days. They both came out a gorgeous pinky colour. Then I dyed them in cinerea, wrapped around tongue depressors. So there are areas of dark pinky-beige and then darker areas from the cinerea.

This darker one was tied the same way but with green twine, which darkened the colour significantly.

And then there’s the Drimarene K dyeing.
I over-dyed some prevous eco-dyed and fire-reactive dyed scarves. This scarf had beads tied into the ends, and was dyed yellow and orange. The mokume areas weren't very successful so I retied them and redyed. I really like it now!
This scarf was eco-dyed with machine stitching along the ends. It looked pretty ordinary, so I clamped it with large metal washers and over-dyed it with blue fibre-reactive dye.
It's much improved too!
This one was bunched and tied and dyed with diluted fibre reactive dyes.
I dyed more socks too (I'm loving these!):

…and a tee and shorts for my granddaughter.

I did a whole lot of other stuff too, which I expect will show up here sooner or later!

So another year is almost over. I wonder what the next year will bring? I’m foreseeing lots of creative messy times!