Saturday, May 31, 2014


Here it is, and I am pleased, not because I think it's great art, but because I finally think I'm finding my groove again.

It has been a couple of years since I last attempted a Tyvek piece, and almost as long since I did any serious beading.  This piece also uses hand painted fabric, which was the first fabric painting in almost a year.  The cabochon is a piece of fused glass that I had originally commissioned from a local glass worker, June Derksen, for another piece.  That piece is still around but has suffered some problems and has been re-purposed, to a certain extent.  I'm not really sure how it will end up.  But the cabochon works quite nicely here.  This piece will be mounted and framed in a dark wooden frame-not yet finished.

I am so very glad this turned out so well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Tyvek piece

This month the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge involves the use of the colour purple.  The first thing I attempted went South quite quickly, so I had to find another idea.  Since I may be teaching a Tyvek technique fairly soon, I decided to use Tyvek, to refresh my skills.

First step was to alter the Tyvek with heat, and then paint, both the fabric and altered of altered Tyvek.

Tyvek was a mailing envelope that I cut open and cut off any areas where there was more than one layer.  There was some printing on it but I made that the wrong side without any problems.  People seem pretty well evenly divided about whether to paint first or alter first.  I alter first and do so with an embellishing gun.  This gives me more control, but uses enough heat (350 degrees F) that the job is done in a fair period of time.  A heat gun at either low( 250 degrees) or high  (450 degrees) is either too slow or too fast.  An iron does the job very quickly and is almost impossible to control as you cannot see what is happening under the iron.  It also flattens the "bumps", something I don't want.

The fabric was painted with Parma Purple Seta-Color Fabric paint.  Since I wanted an analogous color scheme I used the purple, plus the same brand of paint in both Fuschia and Cobalt Blue for the Tyvek, all three very watered down so that the paint would flow nicely over the "bumps" of the Tyvek.  As the Tyvek dried, I used a sort of dry brush technique to add Lumiere True Gold.  I had tried a bit of Lumiere Halo Purple and Lumiere Turquoise pearl as well but just around the edge and wasn't happy with either.

As you can see the fabric dried with  both light and dark areas.  When I turned it over it, the colour was much darker but showed a bunch of parallel lines from the Coroplast I used to dry it on.  I sort of liked that and it became the right side.  This gave me an idea of how to quilt the background of the piece, as well.  The True Gold on the Tyvek was too strong for me, and the Halo purple stunning, so this morning, with the piece completely dry, I went over all of the True Gold with the Halo gold.  Much better.

Then to start thinking about beads.  I had several pieces of fused glass, that I had commissioned from a local glass worker, June Derksen.  They had been for another piece that did not work out at all, but the shape and colour worked well for this.  Yes, they are a very deep purple.  

I selected the one on the right for this piece.  By this afternoon, the background had been quilted in parallel lines, and the Tyvek had been shaped and applied to the background.  The fused glass attached to the background, and large selection of other beads assembled for attaching by hand. Guess I better get to work, as I'm supposed to post a picture to the Challenge site by May 31st.

Friday, May 16, 2014


while all of the dyeing mentioned in the last two posts has been batching, I have been working on a small wall hanging.  My original vision was of a pieced background in burgundy and dark green (very low value difference), with gold hand embroidery on the front.  Well, by the time I had sorted out all of the fabric and played with the colour and value, the piece ended up in peaches and celery.

 And a close-up below which better shows the subtle colour variation in the pieced areas.

There is still a good variety of the fabrics I bought to work with in my original design, and my mind is suggesting that this may be the beginning of a series devoted to spirals and maybe triple spirals.  Although, the spirals in this were a bugger to make and applique.  Still it would be a technical challenge, and I maybe need one of those right now.

One more piece of dyeing

After the previous dyeing, I managed one more piece, but not without problems.  This is a huge piece of fabric,  I have had to fold it in half to get it on the flannel wall for the picture.  I started with a LWI bath using burgundy and brick Procion MX dyes.  The result was a pale orange with lots of white areas and a few darker spots, which I didn't like, so I used a normal dye bath of brick, with a higher concentration of dye.  this covered the white spots but still left the piece much lighter than I wanted.  I am usually pretty cheap with the dye, so I made a high concentration of burgundy dye and put it though another dye bath, letting it batch for almost 36 hours.  Here are both sides of the piece.  Not as dark as I would have liked, and not usable for the design I had in mind.  So I guess I'll have to come up with a different design.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The muse is stirring----

Must be spring.  I am starting to get some ideas.  And- I'm slowly finding the ambition to do something about them.

I've wanted to do something to serve as a memory of my trip to Cuba last March, but not something traditional or similar to any other memory of Cuba.  I have an idea, but it needed a special fabric, one that was without any realistic shape or form.  This meant that it would have to be hand dyed.  So using a Low Water Immersion (LWI) technique I actually started a dye bath--the first one in months.

I am quite pleased with the result and finished with enough fabric for the front, back, and binding of a nice size wall hanging.  I chose a deep yellow and medium blue for the dye.  My hope was that I would end up with some yellow to represent the sun, blue to represent the water and sky, and green to represent the glorious foliage.

At first I thought this might be a little dark for what I have in mind, so tried another dye bath of deep yellow and brick.  Nope, not what I wanted at all, and it was too small for more than maybe the front and binding.

But the funny thing about dye baths is that one always leads to another, so I did two more.  Staying with the brick coloured dye, I wanted to find out what the result would be if I used both brick and slate blue.

I am well pleased with this piece as well, although the brick colour, despite being added to the dye bath first, has all but disappeared during the dyeing process.

So there had to be a fourth dye bath, this time with brick and dark green.  Now these two dyes are close enough that one has to worry about complements cancelling each other out and ending up with mud. But happily this was minimal, although the brick was very much muted.  I think this may be my favourite of them all.

My process was fairly relaxed.  I try to never get too obsessive about my dyeing, preferring to be challenged by serendipity.  This may be why my favourite process is LWI.  For the first time, I soaked my fabric in soda ash before hand, and added it to the vessel wet.  Many years ago, when I took my first dyeing course, we were taught to immerse the dry fabric in the dye and then add the soda ash--dissolved in hot water-- about 20 minutes later.  I don't think the different process made any difference to the final result, although there may be fewer sharp edges to the colour changes with using wet fabric.  

Yep, gonna do some more!