I’ve finally finished washing out all my dyed fabrics from last Saturday so have moved on to revisiting what I did last Sunday at the Surface Design Workshop with Lisa Walton. Yes, I had 2 days of fabric fun, followed by a week of very long hours. The audit to ensure my employer complies with the disability standards looms ever closer. I use the word ‘looms’ deliberately as I’ve been working towards this for months and it’s a bit of an unknown.
So given this is such a priority, I decided to go for a walk instead! I went in search of any interesting surfaces for some rubbings onto fabric. Unfortunately, this is a little tricky without tresspassing. Mostly I just found manhole covers 😦 (see picture above). Perhaps I need to go for a walk in a more stylish neighbourhood!
Since getting home I’ve been photographing some of the pieces I bought home from the workshops and some that I’ve done since. Of course, the girls have assisted as per usual. Pity they don’t help with policy writing!
Anyway, here are the photos of the fabric from the Dye Workshop. I have NO IDEA what I’m going to do with it. When I took the workshop I thought I would learn how to dye and possibly come home with a few pieces of fabric. There are over 24 fat quarters here (and no – they aren’t all orange, that’s just my camera not cooperating!)
I mostly used the more earthy pigments Lisa had available. When it came to my ‘graduated set’ I decided to use the fuschia mixed with something (I can’t remember what!) Anyway, I quickly discovered it was a little too pink in the lighter versions so I added black to most of the pieces and that’s why my fabrics are a little mottled. I’m still not keen on those really light ones. They scream ‘paint over me!’
I learnt my lesson and avoided the fuschia dye for the rest of the day. (I thought it would be more like alizaron crimson, or quinacridone crimson but clearly not. As it turns out I found that all my paint knowledge is fairly useless when it comes to dye colours – I really couldn’t predict what colour I was going to get (apart from the basic idea of hue). I did try to get an autumnal set and was quite happy with the outcome. Evidently there was a lot more staining power in the warm colours than the green as I ended up with 5 warm to 1 green but I’m not fussed. I like it anyway!
Finally, all the pictures below are either from the Surface Design Workshop or pieces I have done since using techniques from that day.
Lisa has just published the first in an ebook series called Creative Journeys. Last week she was very excited and couldn’t wait for its launch. Well mid-week, it arrived and is now available through amazon or from Lisa directly. It’s on Fun and Easy Textile Surface Design Techniques.
It includes many of the techniques we did last week and some more. Indeed, fabric painting is a lot of fun and pretty easy – especially when it comes to salt and sundyes.
Note the all important “e” in the title of this post. When I arrived at the Dyeing Workshop this morning, one of the other participants recounted how her son had asked whether she really needed to attend a workshop on dying?
With a major project due at work at the end of the month, it’s been a long week. I’ve clocked up 43 hours of work in 4 days and probably could have done without the weekend being booked out with fabric dyeing and painting. I had booked this earlier but due to circumstances the company couldn’t control they had to move it to this weekend.
Despite not being the best timing, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. What a magnificent spring day for dyeing metres of fabric in a stunning cottage garden. I’m terribly eager to bust the fabric out of their little zip lock bag batches and take a look at the fruits of my labour… but I’m told I must wait 24 hours! I have them all laid out – it reminds me of pictures from a police drug bust haul.
The workshop facilitator – Lisa Walton of Dyed and Gone to Heaven – was very friendly, had clear instructions and with it being in her studio, it had a lovely air of hospitality (including home baked chocolate brownies for morning tea).
I gravitated generally towards the more ‘earthy’ colour pigments – what a surprise! – with one of my favourites being the ‘tangerine’. Lisa has warned me that the colours do change once dry – another reason I want to take them out of the bags, wash them off and hang them out to dry.
I do need to put them in a washing machine. I’m debating who will be more receptive to freshly dyed fabric in their washing machine – the mothership or the man? (Yes, yes, I know. Quite ridiculous that after years of renting I still don’t have a washing machine but if I got one I’d have nowhere to put the cat litter trays!)
Looking forward to the surface design workshop tomorrow. Much more familiar territory but confident that I’ll still pick up some tips and tricks. At least with tomorrow, when I get paint all over me it will come off straight away. I have managed to dye a couple of fingers blue. Lisa says it takes about 2 days to come off. I do have a 2 day seminar to run at work Monday / Tuesday. Fortunately many of them are clinical people who are used to getting messy with kids so they probably won’t be bothered by my coloured digits!
Handpainting fabric is as much fun as painting on canvas or watercolour paper and it has one added advantage – it takes up less storage space! This piece is about 15 X 25 inches. If I had that in paper, that would be an awkward size. In fabric I can just fold it up.
I’m posting this pic now as I expect I may be offline again for a few days. My internet keeps dropping out. At least tonight I got it resolved to a point where they have concluded it is not the phone line – the fact that the phone line has also been dodgy for the last month is apparently co-incidence! They say it’s the modem and they are sending me a new one at no cost. After this long of flaky phone lines and internet connection, so they should! Fingers crossed getting a new modem will stablise my internet access.
It’s probably a good thing it’s being flaky. I have just started to set up a pinterest page and I think I got a little too excited by some of the cool things I could pin!
Sometimes I love getting an ‘art material’ and using it in a way it wasn’t intended! I know that many artists do this; it’s why both ends of the paintbrush get dirty; why happy accidents turn into techniques.
Lately I’ve been playing around with applicuts. An applicut is a fabric shape/image cut using a laser which is intending for applique work on quilts. It comes with a sticky ‘fusible’ backing so you can iron it down first and then stitch. Whether you use satin stitch, straight stitch, a decorative machine stitch or even hand stitching is really up to you. I recently hand-cut a shape with scissors. As I was applique-ing (if that is a word!) it down, I had problems with it fraying. I think I’ve been spoilt by using applicuts as the laser almost ‘seals’ the edges so it seems to fray less.
A friend of mine (the daughter of my dressmaking teacher) makes these applicuts. She hasn’t asked me to write this post and may just shudder at some of the things I’ve been doing with her materials!
Applicut as a stencil
When I started the art quilt I knew that I wanted to include some birds in it as Andrew loves painting pigeons. I also wanted a squirrel (one of our nicknames for Gesso). A small squirrel. I got some left facing and right facing doves. At first everywhere I put the dove in it’s ‘true applicut’ form seemed to stand out more than I wanted. My idea was to have a few doves over the quilt but integrated within it, rather than looking like items I added later.
I was getting nowhere until I was messing around with handpainting fabric (I’ve become a little bit of a painting fabric-holic) and decided to add a subtle outline of a dove by tracing around the applicut with a Pitt pen. It was subtle. I was happy.
But what would happen if instead of putting it on after the fabric was painted, I used it during the painting process?
Applicut as a mask
Under the screen went the applicut. It was going to get paint all over it. Hmm… nah… who cares. I had a spare one!
It shifted a little as I did it. Sometimes I think that would be annoying but in this case I didn’t mind that it was a little fuzzy. I did a monoprint with the lighter copper colour on a piece of perspex and then defined him a little more once again using a Pitt pen.
Applicut as ‘stamp’
After doing a few of these, my applicut was more than a little wet. I flipped him over (something I’d seen Kerr Grabowski do with paper she’d been using under her screenprints) and rubbed a little . I must have also had gold/copper paint on my hands because even outside the bird I got some added colour. This is one of my favourites birds in the quilt. He sits in the top right hand corner.
Applicut for ‘pattern’
My applicut had started to curl up. I think all the moisture was getting to it. So I just plonked it down without worrying whether it was straight or not. I then got a pallette knife and dragged some copper paint over the top and then removed the applicut.
It looked nothing like a bird but I still liked it. At this stage my applicut looked decidedly dirty and sick. I had a couple so I wasn’t fussed if that was the end of this particular applicut. I’d had some fun with it!
Initially I’d tried using the ‘paper’ backing as a stencil tool. Unfortunately it’s slightly ‘waxy’ and after one use it ‘recoiled’ itself into an unusable state. When I try to unfurl it to stick it under the screen, it springs back and I can’t get it flat.
About a week later, I was painting fabric again. (Yes I know, it’s a little addictive!). Anyway, I was looking at the poor applicut which was once purple. Now mottled on both sides I could still see residue of the fusible backing. I decided to give it a shot and see whether it would stick.
Remarkably – it did!
Yesterday, I finally put a purple bird on the quilt.
They were always supposed to be purple – not gold and copper. I didn’t do anything untoward to this particular applicut besides clipping his wings a little. I wanted to make it look like it was behind the other shape (at this stage marked out by the temporary white tacking line). I intend to quilt along that line so hopefully it will look like the bird is in the background.
I’m not sure that I’m done with the applicuts just yet. If anyone has any other ideas how to get a little more mileage out of this one art material, let me know.
I think I’ve finally cracked it! I’ve tried a number of different mediums to combine with my regular acrylic paint to make them into ‘fabric paints’ with very mixed success. At last, I have found that print paste is my new best friend.
If you are thinking of creating your fabric for quilting then here’s a few of my ‘what not to do tips.’
Golden GAC 900
You can have too much of a good thing! I found that when I combined my paint with GAC 900, the result was often sticky. Perhaps I put too much but it seemed to be a fine line. For me, I want something that’s not as sensitive. That I didn’t have great success with this Golden product really surprised me. I am very attached to my golden paints and many of their mediums – they are simply a joy to use! However GAC 900 is being crossed off my list. Others my get it to work. I’m not that patient!
Supercover = supertacky! I actually didn’t realise when I bought my black permaset textile paint that I had chosen Supercover. (Their paints come in standard and supercover). I think the idea is for a product which has a greater opacity. Unfortunately it gets a tacky feel which I really don’t like.
Believe your silk screen will stay clean
Every site I’ve read says it – don’t let your paint dry on your screen; clean it quickly. Well, it doesn’t seem to matter how speedy gonzales I am at getting the silk screen washed, my screen is not ‘clean’. What I soon discovered (after fretting I’d ruined my screen) is that it is more stained than dirty. I can still get really clear prints through it but I do have marks – particularly from phthalo green!
Believe you can stop at just one piece!
Originally I’d only planned to put a small piece of my handpainted fabric into the quilt. I thought given I hadn’t put pieces in the centre parts that it would look like I’d tacked them on! With a dwindling supply of the fabrics already in the quilt, I’ve had to supplement. (At least that’s my excuse!)
Thinking starting with coloured fabric is a good idea!
There are fiber artists out there who like to start with fabric which is already coloured – Lynn Krawczyk is one. She says she got tired of filling in the white spots! Perhaps it is because I’ve painted on paper and canvas first and fabric second, that I seem very attached to starting on white. I know how one colour layered on top of another will behave when I’m using paint. When I’m starting with a fabric colour, I’ve taken my art colour theory and adapted it – with very mixed results. I think it is because it’s hard to know the properties of the colour you are painting on. I stared at it for a while trying to decide whether it was a green or purple leaning blue; I deliberately chose a red loaded with crimson as usually you can make a beautiful purple out of a blue and red where each leans towards purple in it’s colour. I got dark mud instead! So, I’m sticking to start on white.
Forget to put gloves on
A lot of people recommend gloves whenever using any kind of paint for health reasons. In the case of silk screen printing, I’ve discovered that for reasons of ‘messiness’, the gloves are essentially. Somehow I regress back to a 2 year old and get it not only on my fingers but up my arms, elbows and on my clothes.
Think the cat will leave you alone
Wait until your cat is in a very deep sleep or suffer their curiousity you will!
So what is working?
Permaset Print Paste in combination with any of my acrylic paints seems to be producing a very consistent result. I like the Golden Fluid Acrylics the best but I think that’s just a result of my passion for them generally! Thicker paint does work and other brands seem fine – e.g. Matisse.
As you need a fair bit of paint for silk screening, I’ve taken to using the lumieres for some embellishment on the top (see bird at top of this post) rather than using them through the screen. They do work beautifully as a screen print; it’s just me being stingy on my paint!
Waterproof Calligraphy pens
I’m loving the nice crisp line I can introduce with a calligraphy pen – especially amid the chaos that is my painting style! Now my quilt has the words ‘mad as a hatter’ up one side. It’s subtle enough that you can’ easily read it however still detectable.
I’m trying a few other things but I’ve yet to wash them so will let you know if they are a success!
In the flip and 4 method of quilt making, roller cutters are overrated. Scissors work just as well.
Step Two. Make your own template.
I’m not sure why people bother with those rulers. You can easily just chop up the back of a display book and use that as a template. Never mind that it might be a quarter of an inch out from one end to the other. Pah! Accuracy is for pansies.
Step Three. To make it faster cut a few squares at once.
Yes, in the flip and 4 method, cutting one at once is a no no. Cutting 2 seemed reasonable to me. 4 decided to take it one step further and cut 8 at once. Sure, they were a little rough around the edges… but who cares?
It may be traditional to make quilts out of all cotton. Sadly, my scrap baskets contained more than just cotton. I didn’t want that gorgeous Chinese brocade to look lonely so I included it.
Step Five. Make it wonky.
I’m sure there are some people shaking their heads at my sewing effort. How could she? Look at how far out those corners are? How many vodkas had she had before sewing this thing?
When I sent a message to 4 saying I’d done some more of the quilt, he worried I’d made it too perfect.
Yes, my perfectionism had meant I unpicked half a quilt to get the brocade pieces which were fraying out in order to overlock them. My nagging neatness made me remove the white selvage which was showing in the middle of the quilt. Yet, in the spirit of this being a flip and 4 quilt, I didn’t unpick where the corners didn’t meet. 4 was right. It adds some charm.
Step Six. Add a cat.
Gesso even tried his hand (paw) at chasing the needle.
Step Seven: Don’t worry about colour matching
Here, orange could live next to red, brown, pink, purple or toxic lime green.
Step Eight: Dispense with pattern matching
You’ll find quilting fabric often comes in ‘stories’. 4 or 5 fabrics all themed together not just on colour but on subject matter. In this quilt there’s dinosaurs wearing hawaian shirts, celtic knotwork, turquoise turtles and chinese brocade. The only thing binding these fabrics together is that we found them in my cupboard.
Step Nine: Have Fun