Monday, September 14, 2020

Shibori Shiraz

My outdoor dye place - I love my sink!

Yes, its been a while and I'm not even going to say why....

But I'm back at it and working at getting my creative mojo happening. This summer was spent dyeing amongst other tasks and I did a LOT of ice dyes, they are gorgeous! I'll do another post sometime and show you the best ones...but I also delved back into Shibori in a small way. 

Since moving to our small island my dye studio is outdoors and really just happens in the summer but last year I made some Shibori that worked very well as water on a quilt and I knew I needed more. So this is a little tutorial to show my version and it involves wine....

  1. Buy wine that has a uniform diameter bottle, no bulbous or fancy shape - buy the cheap stuff with a screw top and drink it all!
  2. Gather your wine bottles - fill them with water - and the same number of juice jugs, not one or two but at least three bottles and three jugs.

Measure the circumference of the bottle and add 1 1/2". Tear a strip, full width from selvedge to selvedge (no cutting, just tear) that measurement. Sew the fabric into a tube with a scant 1/2" seam allowance.

Pull the fabric tube onto the wine bottle, working from the neck down is generally easier. Place an elastic band at the bottom ( I like the thicker elastics from broccoli), push the tube down as far as you can and secure with another elastic at the bottom.

Mix up a soda solution in a bucket: 1/2 cup soda solution + 1 gallon of warm water, stir well. 

Place each bottle into a juice jug and pour the soda solution into the jug to the top of the fabric and let soak for 20 minutes.

Wearing a particle mask, mix 1 teaspoon of dye powder into 1/2 cup of water and stir well, some powder may float to the top so take a couple minutes to stir well.

I like to vary the intensity of the colour between each jug so I'll put a little bit, 2 tbsp. or so in the first jug, a bit more in the second and then finally the remainder in the last jug. Plunge each bottle gently up and down to get the dye mixed in the jug.

Let the bottles soak in the dye solutions for 2-3 hours then remove and rinse well.

Now comes the fun... there are endless colour and value combinations but I'll walk you through how I can get so much variety in a simple way:

  • make 2-3 batches of the dyed tubes, each a different colour - say red, green or blue
  • then take one red tube and two blue/green tubes (different values) and put them into a batch of yellow
  • from those three put them into a bronze or purple batch
  • there's no need to wash the tubes in between dye batches, just rinse, hang to dry and start again with a soda soak for 20 minutes and new dye colour in the solution
  • I repeat those steps over and over with different colour combination. Usually I only do three colours on one fabric, sometimes I'll stop at two if I really like them
  • one of my favourite is to dye with"indigo" from dharma Trading - it looks like the real thing but is a fibre reactive dye!
Once I have a batch of these tubes I unpick the stitching and I wash them all in the machine on a hot setting with a bit of Synthrapol detergent.
They really do glow beautifully once Ive ironed them ...

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Textile Totes Tutorial....

Do you ever get an idea, a really great, awesome idea and have to just run with it? Right to the end to see where you'll end up? Maybe it comes in the middle of the night and all hope of sleep is lost? Or perhaps when you have another immediate, important deadline? And it stares you in the eyes and says DO IT! DO IT NOW!

Yup, it happened a couple weeks ago and I needed to try it out!!! I needed canvas - I live on an island - no canvas here! So a trip to the big city to the art store....several types of canvas - yikes! what to do? OK, buy some of each! Go home and test them all out. Primed canvas didn't work for my idea so paint the other types - the tight weave, more expensive canvas - not a success either. But the cheap, looser weave was perfect!

Did you know there's such a thing as clear gesso? Wow, I bought some and used it up quickly, had to buy more, damn that stuff is expensive! But it works equally well diluted with water! Who knew?

So I made a couple prototypes - playing with size and shape, which paints, brush strokes, markers and the, love, love them! And of course, I lined them with some of my ice dyed fabrics....

Two years ago when we moved to our Island, I had to give up both my large studio and a separate "wet room" where I could get paint all over and not worry. Now I use the top of my washer and dryer which is quite ok, but not nearly as large.
Here's my progress pictures as I laid down a dark background and then picking up the vareity of colours in the lining fabric - did more painting and screen printing, layers drying in between.

I like the relaxed "slouchiness" of them but I could add a stiffener in if I chose. There's lots of alternatives to the design and if you visit the "black hole" of Pinterest you'll find tons of them!

I have three different sizes and you can see the variety that I've made in my Etsy Store:

And I'm offering free North America shipping on these fabulous totes!

If you are inspired as well, I found this tutorial that is similar to my process:

And if you use Pinterest, just search for Fabric Basket Tutorial - if you disappear for a few days, we'll understand!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

HouseMade Cards - a tutorial

Since we've been home I've had a hard time settling on a long term BIG project...maybe because there's been lots  to do before Christmas - shopping, baking, errand etc. I'm excitedly looking forward to  January and staying in one place for a while! Because I've been so easily led astray I looked for a smaller project that I could do in spurts that might suit my mood.
So I got out my box of card blanks and set up a little workspace to make more of my HouseMade Cards.....

For this project you'll need the following:
  •  a box of card blanks - I use Strathmore Creative Card blanks with a deckle edge, they come in cream and white and in boxes of 10, 25 or larger if you get really enthusiastic! You might find some other kinds
  • a small 6" ruler. I can't find my metal ruler with a cork backing (the cork keeps it from slipping) so I've been using an Omnigrid ruler
  • an art knife with #11 blade. A few years ago I bought a box of 100 blades, best investment ever!!!! as a sharp blade is essential and I put new ones in as soon as the old one seems a bit dull
  • pencil - mechanical or whatever you have
  • a white eraser
  • a couple Pigma or fine tip permanent markers
  • a little watercolour set with brush or watercolour pencils such as Derwent.

Mark the placement of the roof, windows and doors:
  1. On the inside of the card front, using a ruler with light pencil lines, mark the placement of the roof and chimney first.
  2. Then draw the windows, try different styles, sizes and arrangements and layouts. I find that two different groups of windows work best for balance, sometimes beside one another or on top or below. Its fun to experiment and you'll find that one idea leads to the next and so on....

Cut out the roof and windows

Use the art knife and ruler to follow your marked lines. Cut slowly and watch carefully where you want to stop and start. Once you've finished cutting, use the white remove the pencil lines.


Turn the card over and using the fine tip marker, add details to outline and emphasize the roof, chimney and windows. Add some brick work, cracks, and details as desired. If you have a planned recipient, add their house number or other particulars. Have fun and be creative!

Add Colour

Keep the intensity quite pale and add colour with watercolour paints or with pencils. My approach is relaxed and a bit rough but you might prefer a little more control. You could also add ivy, flowers or bushes!
Once finished and dry, I put a label on the back and slip the card with the envelope into a plastic protective sleeve. Now it's ready to give to a special friend!

One more idea -  use a little battery light and put the card onto the mantle for Christmas.... These cards were made for my Etsy Shop but I couldn't photograph them properly...that task is planned for the new year, learning to take the best photos possible!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Inspiration from Marble...what???

While I haven't been in my studio during the last two months, I have been busy gathering inspiration with my iPhone while my husband and I toured through Portugal, Spain and Sicily. Because we were walking on the Camino and then hopping buses and trains afterwards, we didn't want to pack a lot - so my art practice was all about recording with an iPhone.
Beyond the regular scenic shots of buildings, bridges and wine I looked for interesting compositions that involved line, pattern and's a few:

I've been following a French artist, Fabienne Verdier who paints vertically in ink, standing directly on her stretchers, using giant brushes and tools of her own invention suspended from the studio ceiling. She studied calligraphy and art in China for over ten years and her art have a dynamism and flow that I find very appealing. Most of her work is in two colours, often highly contrasting and worked over several panels, sometimes vertically, other times horizontally. You might enjoy looking further:

During my time away and without having access to materials, I envisioned how my mark making might be produced on a larger scale and how I might work with developing marks on fabric and how it might evolve with the addition of stitch. 

Some of the statues had the most beautiful folds in their clothing and I was intrigued by the lines that were formed, especially when cropped or photographed at an angle.

I am not an expert at PhotoShop but I'm always willing to experiment and push a few buttons on the keyboard. And my results might be great or they might sit on the computer until I get around to deleting them....

But working with layers, cropped, over lapping and rotating has produced some positive ideas that might work into further development.

I used a filter called Threshold which have the strongest contrast.

I repeated the image four times with the same orientation

I took a slice of the previous arrangement

Then the slices were repeated and two were flipped.

More slices were taken and repeated....
 As you might guess, the design options are limitless and each time something else might appear, depending on the cut, orientation and the repeat. I'm excited and looking forward to more experimentation. Now, if I could just get used to being on a different time zone!