Sunday, February 27, 2011

Silk Screens

 When my local surface design group got together, we made silk screens. We used a combination of methods but it worked really well. We used PhotoEZ and a Yudu machine.  We tried to use the supplies that came with the Yudu machine but it didn't work and took a really long time. With the PhotoEZ, you just need your design on a transparency, you put both on the Yudu machine and 'burn' the screen for 4 1/2 minutes. We used the high resolution screens. Then you soak them in the sink for 5-10 minutes and gently rub away the part that wasn't exposed to light. And look at the screens I made! It was really exciting to see my designs become a silk screen. Today, I used duct tape to put around the edges so I would have a well space to put thickened dye.
 Here's one screen with the duct tape around it.
 Then I got busy using my new print table and my new silk screens. I used thickened acid dyes with presoaked (in acetic acid and water) scarves. I did both of my flour paste resist scarves. One I used brown and the other I used ecru.
 This is the brown one. I thought that I had made the brown a bit too red at this point.
 But once dry, the color works fairly well. The scarf on the right is the one with the ecru screen printing. It is really subtle, that is to say, you can hardly see the silk screening. But I actually like it that way.
 Here's a close up of the brown silk screens.
 My fossil fish.
 This is the trilobite screen on the right side. Can you see it?
Here's an ammonite
 Then I used the silk screens to do some discharge on this brown scarf. I always forget to test ahead of time and I always get a surprise as to what color remains after discharging.
These turned orange. Here's a better photo of the trilobite. I had a blast and I really liked doing the silk screening with the PhotoEZ screens. It was simple and fairly quick. I will definitely have to order more of these. The only problem is how expensive they are, nearly $10 per sheet. The lower resolution ones are less expensive but we thought with the complexity of the designs we were using that the higher resolution would be better. If you haven't tried these, you don't need a Yudu to burn the screens. You just need a light source. It takes a bit longer but if you have a sunny day, it works in the sun as well. So give it a try, it's great fun.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Texture

 When my local group met last Friday, we tried a texture exercise that I read about in Creative Embroidery by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn. You take white paper and make different textures by various methods such as twisting, crumpling, cutting tearing, curling, braiding etc. Each of us made lots of different textures and then we added them all to the same page. The photo above is a sample I made because I unfortunately forgot to get any photos of the group's page. The reason that you use white paper is you want to think about texture and not about color. Once color becomes involved, you have a tendency to concentrate on color.
Once you've completed your texture sheet, you can scan it into the computer as a grey scale photo. I put this into Photoshop Elements and increased the contrast and decreased the brightness. Now you could take this and look at small portions of the page with a frame, picking out a portion that interested you. Then do sketches from that framed portion using the sketches as a basis for new work. Or you could find one of the textured papers that you really liked and think about making that texture into fabric. How would you get the same texture in fabric? How would you stabilize the texture and attach it to a base? Or do certain of the textures remind you of stitching? How could you stitch to achieve a similar texture and add it to your work? Really quite a simple exercise but one that has many possibilities that could lead you in different directions.

Next Friday, we'll begin working with the element of color. That should be fun! Please let me know if you have been working with texture in your work, I'd love to hear what you're doing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hand Stitch Sketch Book

I seem to have run out of "free" space on Blogger. So I deleted some old photos, hopefully that won't be a problem but I guess I'll have to work out how much I should pay for space per year. I have definitely been using more photos this past year. These are photos of my hand stitch sketch book that I started in my Level 1 Hand Stitch Class. We painted the first 10 pages with Procion MX dyes and then I painted more with Dye-na-flow paints when I got home. I really like this concept of keeping a record of various stitches in this book. I have added other stitches that we didn't do in class. The page on the right above is one of my takes on fly stitch. I worked it in a circle. These could be snowflakes or flowers. The most tedious part of this is poking the holes and figuring out where the holes should go.

 This is the back of the page above. I haven't done any stitching on the purple side yet.
 Here's a few more pages that have just been painted

 We also made a color chart with the Procion MX dyes as you can see on the right hand page.
 The page on the left is the back side of the page that I already showed in previous posts. The front of that page is black with red chain stitch. The right page is couched yarns.
 Here's the back of the couched yarn page on the left. I threaded another novelty yarn through the stitching on the back. It was quite painful to do due to the thickness of the novelty yarn. The partial page on the right was cut down and then stitched with button hole stitch around the edge. This was then covered with raised chain band stitch. The small dark edge is more button hole stitch done with a thinner thread.
 Here's the back of the button hole page and then on the right is feather stitch.
 The back of the feather stitch on the left and then back stitch with various lacing options.
 The left is the reverse side of the back stitch and on the right is another page of fly stitch. Looks very different from the circular variety above.
 The back of the fly stitch is on the left and the chevron stitch is on the right.
 I did a lacing of the back of the chevron stitch so it looks very similar to the front side. The right is just painted with no stitching.
More painted pages.

The page on the right has herringbone stitch. I still have to do a "knotted" page for homework. I think I will be using one of the black/grey backgrounds with some of my orange hand dyed threads to resemble a lichen photo that I have. There are still 8 pages that are blank so if you have a suggestion for a stitch that I haven't done and would work well through punched holes, let me know.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Level 1 Hand Stitch Class

 I had a wonderful time at the Level 1 Hand Stitch course that I took at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center. The first day we dyed threads and fabrics with Procion MX dyes. I hadn't used this type of dye before since I usually use acid dye, so I was glad to get this experience.
 Here are a few of my threads hanging on the line drying.

 Here is my work station on the second day. It looks fairly neat but you should have seen it by the 5th day. I had threads, projects and stuff strewn everywhere.
 Here is our first project in our sketchbooks. It is chain stitch. I have been doing chain stitch for years and  learned that I had been doing it incorrectly all this time. Who knew?
 Here is another chain stitch sample on felt.
 Here is a collection of the work that I did during the five day course. I had many unfinished samples at this point.
 This is Bobbi's work. Wonderful colors!
 Here is Nancy's work. I love that page in the middle with bright yellow and deep blue.
 This is Marie's work. Here colors are wonderful as well. I really liked her feather stitch sample, the one on the bottom left.
 This is Sarah's work. She used quite a few pale backgrounds because she wanted her stitches to show up more.
 This is the one sample that was fully complete at the end of the course. It is a couched thread sample.  The oranges are really not a color I am comfortable using so I was trying to stretch my color horizons a bit. When I started this piece, I thought it was going to be hideously ugly. But I am really pleased with the result. It was good to try a different color combination and work through the design process becoming more comfortable with the color choice as I went along. I need to take a closer photo of the stitches as you can't see them all that well. But you can click on the photo to make it larger.
 Here's Gail taking photos of all our work at the end of the class. The thing I like about Gail's classes is that she really works to teach you design as you learn about stitching (or whatever you're doing). I always learn so much from her and she really encourages everyone to go their own direction. If you are in the northwest, I would strongly recommend taking her classes. And she is also going to start having online classes, so if you aren't close, you can take classes online soon. Click on the link in the first paragraph to take a look at the class offerings. They are well worth the investment.

I still have quite a bit of homework to complete to get my certificate for this course. I will show you all the samples once I've got everything completed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Texture

 Last week we talked about visual texture and using pattern in your work to achieve texture on a 2D surface. Today we're going to talk about tactile texture. This is what I love in fiber art. All that fiber and woolie goodness. This is a French Knot sample that I did for my Level 1 Hand Stitch class. We were supposed to do a square that was 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" filled with French knots and "messy" French knots. Mine overflowed a bit. But I had the best time making some of the biggest French knots I've ever made from yarn. You can see from this shot that it looks almost like the stitches have been padded underneath. They haven't. It's all knots. Now this is my kind of texture.
 The background piece is hand painted felt with sheers, netting and tulle fused on top. I used a variety of yarns, threads and floss to make my knots from tiny ones up to humongous ones. And I love the texture. What do you think? Did I go overboard?
 Here's another sample from class. It's satin stitch done with a variety of weight cotton threads as well as some wool threads. Look at how the stitches themselves lend texture to the piece. The different weight fibers also tend to lead your eye through the piece. I hadn't really thought about using threads in this way before. This is another small piece less than 2 inches square. The design is based on wood grain. I have such a hard time just drawing a design out of my head. We were asked to sit down and draw four different designs and then choose your favorite. I didn't like any of mine but luckily we had a break after that. I went to break and saw the wood grain design on the break table and oi la! It always helps me to design from an inspirational source. How about you?
 This is one of my pages from our stitch sketchbook. I had never hand stitched on paper before and sometimes felt like I was in Occupational Therapy but I found it enjoyable. Don't you like the texture of the chain stitch sitting on the surface of the paper? I'm working on more stitches to go into the book and I'll show you the entire book later when it's finished. The page is painted with Procion MX dyes. We painted the pages with the same dyes that we used to dye our threads.
When I think of visual texture and patterns, I usually think of commercial fabrics similar to the ones I mentioned in last weeks post. But when I was thinking about what I do with texture, I realized that the flour paste resist technique on this scarf is visual texture. It is not a repeating pattern but is a pattern and it does give texture to the scarf visually. These natural and organic patterns are my favorites.

The other thing I have a tendency to forget is that texture doesn't always mean woolie (felting on the brain) but can be smooth. Do you prefer a certain texture in your work? Do you use mainly visual or tactile texture? What could you do differently with texture in your next piece? Let me know what you like about texture. I'd love to hear how you use texture in your work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hand Stitch Class

I've been busy trying to catch up after being gone for 10 days. I had great fun at my Level 1 Hand Stitch Course at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center. I'm the tall one. I will be showing you what we did in the next several posts so stay tuned!
If you want to see a sneak preview, take a look at Gail's post on her blog.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Design Focus Friday - Texture

I rarely use pattern in my work to create texture but I think my friend Vicki does a brilliant job of using pattern in her kaleidoscope quilts. With just solid pieces of fabric, these quilts would still be a kaleidoscope but I think that the choice of patterned fabric really makes the piece sing. 

If you look at Vicki's quilts from a distance, the kaleidoscopes do have texture from the patterns in the fabric. On closer inspection, you can see the individual motifs in the fabric.

I am not planning on making this kind of quilt but I do love the result of Vicki's hard work. Do you use patterned fabrics in your work? If so, do you think about how this adds visual texture to your pieces? If you don't use patterned fabrics in your work, can you think of a way to add these in? How would that change your working method? Or how your piece looks when created?

Let me know how you use visual texture in your work and leave a link so we all can see.

Photos used with permission of Vicki Welsh.