Friday, 31 July 2015

More natural dyeing/tinting

Flushed with success, I continue my kitchen dyeing experiments. All my original fabrics were pretty much white - so if you compare them with the page background it's a good indication of the tone.  This time I didn't mordant the fabric.  As I couldn't wait (typical) I followed Alex's tips and tried using avocado skins and stones (I had to  rescue some from the compost caddy!) She got some gorgeous shades here. Note to self - get more avocados! I got a very pale copper-pink colour on the old tea tray cloth and cotton . On the silk though it's much more gold brown -  interesting......

Had a bit of an upset with the black beans. Janice got a really, really lovely shade with these here.  I dipped the fabrics, but following the car accident I left them damp and squished up  over night.

You can see more clearly on the silk below I got these brown marbled bits where the fabric was squashed together - but  dry they look  much more subtle. I like it! The linen produced a  grey rather than blue, not so keen on that. Next time I'll user more beans to achieve a darker blue -and might try the soy milk mordant.

Finally, I went rusty! I folded and tied some sheeting around an old rasp  and left it out in the rain for a few days, which produced some interesting marks. I'll try this again.The crocheted lace - (a charity shop find) is just dyed with coffee.

Here's a little Floweri- pop doodle on some of the black bean dyed cotton, which was an old  pillow case - gorgeous for stitching on! x

Monday, 27 July 2015

In a Blue Mood

Last week didn't end well. Our car was hit by an out of control vehicle on the motorway. We're ok now, but it was a horrible shock and we are still going through all the hassle with insurance etc,  and hoping the car isn't written off. Amazingly, no one was seriously injured for which I am devoutly thankful.

As you can imagine, this has put me out of sorts for a few days, and not much work has been done. I did have a lovely  relaxing afternoon sketching with the Urban Sketchers Bristol/South West  (if you're on Face Book, apologies to  those who aren't) on Saturday, when the sun shone,  but did more chatting than sketching. I haven't been able to settle  to complete my workshop sample, but I have started thread doodling again.

Although I don't consider myself a 'blue' person, this slate blue hue calls to me and its now one of my favourite colours.

Originally, I  drew the flower as a motif on some tea dyed calico, but felt I needed to go on with the process after stitching it.
I used just plain stranded cotton in different shades of this grey blue colour.

I didn't use beads or objects to accentuate the stitching, but just described the texture by using different stitches.

It did give me a lot of opportunity for knots too :) 

Thanks to everyone for the dyeing tips and info, which has been so helpful.  I plan to tint more fabric as soon as I don't feel quite so tired and achy, and when it finally stops raining!  

Monday, 20 July 2015

Natural dyeing ( or tinting!)

A few weeks ago, when we finally had a warm sunny day, I decided to  some of my annual natural dyeing. I should probably say tinting,  as I'm not really looking for a strong colour. Due to lack of space and difficulty drying things,  I  keep it really simple, and  everything is food grade!  I have plenty of options for yellow and brown shades and want to increase my palette.

These cottons are dyed with blackberries from my freezer. The bottom one has a mordant of white vinegar.  I love this colour! The middle one has no mordant and is more crushed strawberry. The top one is blackberry and turmeric which is a pretty gold/pale lilac. The colour's more obvious than the photo in real life.
I wanted to find a  natural green, and I'd heard good reports of rosemary - of which I have lots!   So  after much snipping,extracting leaves, and a salt mordant, here is a piece of old linen found in a charity shop, cotton and silk. These are a  lovely pale yellow green.

  A very subtle rainbow, but the gentle  effect I was after - hooray!

I want to find a blue I like now and I've seen a lovely effect using black beans with a soy milk mordant? Anyone tried that, or have any tips or combinations which have worked well?

Friday, 17 July 2015

Taking A Stitch Tuesday - TAST

Some of you will remember that I attempted TAST a few years ago. I'm delighted to say that  it's running again, and started on  - Tuesday! :) It's all explained here. Whether or not you're an embroiderer I  thoroughly recommend popping over to Sharon's wonderful blog Pintangle , for a visual feast  - and lots of interesting articles about creativity.

Oddly enough, this re-run of TAST has come just at a time when I have been focusing on how I use thread -  and where I'm going with my embroidery.  Plus, my embroidery ladies have been asking about making samplers! There is no such thing as coincidence, eh?

I'll be dipping in and out of the challenge to get inspiration, and stretch myself a bit. The lovely thing about this is that embroiderers at all stages can join in and learn from each other.

Here's my mini project for Week 1,  Fly stitch

Embracing the wonkiness as it had to be done free hand - but never mind!  I enjoyed being stretched   having to focus on a stitch I  rarely use. I'd never realised the couching/overlaying possibilities of Fly stitch before -  I almost never do borders, but  had great fun with the variations.  I'm not quite sure what I'll do with any samples, but suspect I'll opt for a book.

Had to add Chinese Knots of course  - love them sooooo much. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Brown Paper and Stitch Book

Another  experiment - working with recycled material. Inspired by my workshop at the end of last summer with  Frances Pickering  I wanted to make a simple book using paint and stitch. This little prototype is made entirely from the brown paper packing material used by a well known on-line company (other brown papers are available!) :)

 I've been  playing about with the momigami, (paper kneading) technique, I found in Cas Holmes
 ' The Found Object in Textile Art'. I'd love to know if anyone else has used it?  The cover was molded and bonded  to stiffen it - and hopefully make it durable! It gave a nice, leathery effect.

Inside colour pencil worked  quite effectively  on the dyed paper. 

On the right are a couple of blank notebooks I put together with momigami covers.

 This is my favourite page. I have a thing about the arum family!

 I'm happy with this and learnt a lot of useful things making it!

One of the good things about being a curious bumblebee is that  you can buzz back to the same flower. Over the last few weeks, I find myself being drawn back more strongly to embroidery.

Isn't it odd though, that when you feel the need for a change,  the past rears its head?
Last week I had three separate enquirers asking me if they could see my dolls - and would I run a doll class again?  It was  lovely to be asked - then I realised I hadn't actually got one single place with my photos  - so I decided to add some new pages here. It did seem strange to put them back on my blog, after all!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Rustic Sunflower Needlecase

Here's another one I made earlier.
I suspect I'm a little bit obsessed with needle cases; I seem to make a lot of them. Probably because they're useful, don't take an awful lot of work, plus you only need to sew reasonably straight lines!

This lovely rustic linen called out to me from a fabric shop in Bath. 'You need me' it cried, and everyone in the shop turned round in amazement!
Ok, I made that up, but we all know the little voice, don't we? It niggles at us when we see the pretty/interesting/ new item we can no longer live without. Even though I'm trying hard to simplify and recycle, I'm not immune to its enticements.....

The linen's almost like a high quality feedsack, and very rough.  I wanted to paint on it and wondered  how Inktense pencils would work. Not bad, as it turned out. I doodled my favourite flower, and added some text and stitch.

I really like this motif,  it tends to be my go-to doodle! I repeated it on the back, this time working on calico first for some variety in texture, and then fusing  this to the linen.  I wanted to keep the naive, rustic effect, so I mixed  up the stitching, Actually, I think I could equally have reversed the back and front images, but hey ho....

 Inside I made my usual lined pockets on each side, bound with some old chocolate coloured silk and then cut out dark brown wool felt for the needle holder.

Another tiny sunflower appears when the felt is lifted, having just pushed up from the soil below.

 He -llo!
(If you've seen 'Gnomeo and Juliet' this will make perfect sense to you, if not,  sorry!)

Can I say a big thank you for all your lovely comments on my re-emerging posts. I hope I've managed to visit or e-mail everyone,  but if I haven't got to you for any reason, please know I am really grateful for your support. x

Friday, 3 July 2015

Mixed Media wall hanging 'A bird sings'

 You may remember I teach a weekly hand embroidery class at our local patchwork shop. For the last few terms  this has become pretty wide ranging, and various ladies' projects have covered contemporary embroidery,  gold work, stump work and  - some colouring/painting fabric.  I've also met quite a few local quilters who said they'd like to do something a bit more arty, but just didn't know where to begin.

I'd made something completely different from my usual creations this spring,  which was inspired by the phrase, 'A bird sings because it has a song'.  So I showed it to Jayne (shop owner) and suggested we do an introduction/taster day for mixed media work, (I promised we won't cover the workroom in paint!) and she agreed.

The concept for this was a reflection of new life and change.
 I made a stamp for the nests, and created three different images on calico.  Each nest has some hand embroidery, ranging from heavily couched with textured threads, to a minimal - one egg only. Each  background  was painted with  Koh-i -Noor dyes.
The eggs were stencilled on to painted fabric. I then fused all the pieces onto a layered structure of cotton fabrics;  the old  duck egg blue fabric blended really well with the palette I'd chosen. The next stage was to add random stitching in variegated threads, and the text was printed out, torn, stained and treated with acrylic wax,  as were the bits of 'egg shell'.

It was finished off with lichen covered twigs and natural objects I'd gathered, including a feather our obliging garden woodpecker dropped. The piece is hung on a piece of driftwood from a Portishead beach.

 I'm really excited about this workshop, as it's something I've wanted to do for ages. I'm working up  a winter themed piece because it will be held in December.

So 'this week I have been mostly':
Making stamps with household items, and stamping fabric! Here are a couple of  the prints so far, which I quite like. I printed the snowflakes on the hottest day of the year!

My plan is a create a fun, simple approach anyone can do, and create some different effects on fabric - without buying lots of expensive products, and using techniques which can be applied equally to fabric or paper.

Now I just have to get on with it!x