Translucent felt

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been doing almost obscene amounts of dyeing this week, one batch was for my C&G course and was predominantly focussed on dyeing different animal fibres in the same dye vat (bag in my case) so you end up with a harmonious blend of colours in a range of materials. I chose to use each pair of primary colours so had 3 “vats” and the these are the results.

Each vat contained, Corriedale top, some alpaca top, silk hankies, ponge 5 silk, a piece of commercial prefelt, some merino pencil roving and a piece of hand spun White Faced Woodland.

For good measure I threw in some of my scoured Jacobs fleece too…

The colours are so lovely I kept finding myself standing in the bathroom literally watching them all dry 🙂 Needless to say I couldn’t wait to use them…
Our brief from the course was to create a piece of textured felt using the design work form previous weeks (in my case I had been working with bone micrographs).
I cut out some silk shapes that resembled the holes you see in bone when under the microscope.

And laid resists over the top that were just slightly smaller than the silk.

Then added 2 layers of the corriedale roving, pulling the tufts was lovely as I had different colours with each pull.

I even spun some of the orange/red pencil roving, my spinning is definitely improving but I’m not about to win any prizes for producing beautifully even yarn.

After felting and cutting out the resists.

I’m really pleased with how this piece turned out but it really comes to life when you hold it up to the light:

The corriedale has produced a beautiful crimp and the silks look like stained glass windows. I think this technique would make a stunning lampshade or even curtains.
Here is a closer look at the curly corriedale, this is fast becoming one of my favourite wools to work with:
Now I just need to figure out a way to hang it so it can be hung in front of a window and the frame / hanger does not cast a shadow that would detract from the design….
I also repeated the dyeing a variety of different fibres exercise. Following advice from Ruth I tried some grey and brown too (thanks Ruth). It’s still a bit monochromatic but an improvement on the last version 🙂
Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

Blending dyes on wool

This week I have been doing quite a lot of dyeing so thought I would share one of my favourite techniques with you. I use this technique to blend colours on wool when I want a gradual change of colour or to mix colours on the felt itself. It involves finger painting so is a lot of fun too 🙂

For this technique you will need:
Pieces of prefelt or finished felt (the method below was for 100g of felt)
washing up liquid
acid fast dyes
white vinegar or citric acid
measuring jug and scales
cling film
latex or rubber gloves
pots for mixing dyes in (old jam / chutney jars are good)
disposable pipettes or syringes
steamer (or microwave)

Method:

  • Soak your prefelt in a sink / bucket of 2L water, 0.5 cup of vinegar or 5g citric acid and, a generous splash of washing up liquid, making sure it is well saturated. If you live in a hard water area you can also add 1g of calgon to this soak.
  • Lay out some cling film, overlapping the pieces if necessary to make it big enough to lay out your felt.
  • Squeeze about half the water out of your felt (it should still feel heavy with water and be dripping but water should not be running out the bottom of the felt)
  • Lay your felt flat on the clingfilm.
  • I mix 1g of dye to 10 ml of water but you could easily use half as much dye if want paler colours. I apply my dyes with those 3 ml disposable pipettes but syringes work well too or you could just pour the dye on in the pattern you desire.
  • You can add a second or third colour now to make colour blending easier but I have applied 1 colour at a time to show how they spread.
  • After applying the first colour use your gloved fingers to spread the dye around (the washing up liquid in your bath will really help with this). If it is difficult to move the dye your felt is probably not wet enough, carefully pour some water from your soaking bath onto the felt and try again.
  • Then add your second colour (I used yellow but it looks very orange in this photo).
  • And blend with your fingers again. Continue adding colours and blending until you are happy with the design.

  • Carefully roll the felt up in the cling film
  •  And twist the ends shut or wrap in another piece of cling film to stop steam getting into your parcel.
  • I like to put mine in a zip lock bag too (very “belts and braces”!)
  • Then steam for 45 min to an hour before rinsing under running water.

Natural Wool Colours

This week I have been a good girl (mostly) trying to catch up on my City and Guilds work, there’s been some dyeing of wools and animal fibres and using natural fibre colours. It’s very easy to overlook all the lovely browns, creams and greys that wool naturally comes in when confronted by the vast array of juicy, commercially dyed wools that are so readily available but I hope I can convince you to at least take a second look at the natural colours too….

For the current series of C&G assignments I have been using bone micrographs as my starting point and this piece was no exception. I found this photo on the Microlab Gallery and used it for inspiration. This is a piece of fossilised dinosaur bone as seen under the microscope.

Here are the fibres wetted out ready for rolling, I even used some of my hand-spun Jacob wool for drawing lines (my spinning is still a bit erratic but is getting better and I like the thick and thin effect in this painting).

And the finished piece.

I really like this piece, it is quite heavily textured and I’m finding hard not to stroke it whenever I wander past. I think it looks lonely and needs some companions, so will have to make a few more ;o)

For a related assignment we were also asked to make a piece from just white fibres with the intention of dyeing it so that the different design elements would be revealed as not all fibres accept the dye at the same rate. Here is the piece laid out, ready to be wetted out and rolled:

And before dyeing (not very inspiring!):

And after dyeing:

I’m a little disappointed with this piece, I’m glad I incorporated some vegetable fibre (igneo corn top) which does not accept the acid-fast dyes, the corn top is the only element that has provided a reasonable amount of contrast. All the wools, silks, mohair and alpaca seem to have accepted the dye fairly evenly so the changes in colour are rather subtle. The different textures are nice though. I am tempted to add some embroidery to make it more interesting…..

Sculptures to Dye For

I confess I have been a bit slack about posting lately. Sorry about that but I have been doing bits and pieces of felt making and dyeing. I dyed these pieces from my workshop with Yvonne Habbe a couple of weeks ago but have only just got around to taking photos of them. I think most of them turned out really well.

This one is about 4 inches long and I am tempted to stitch some beads into the cleft down the centre and turn it into a brooch.

This was my spherical pod from the first exercise on the workshop, I’m pleased with how the rainbow dyeing has turned out.

I love the colours and floral shape of this piece but it is too large to be a brooch – maybe a small bowl?

I have been making lots of these to test out how different wool breeds behave in these small sculptures. This one already has a brooch pin on the back.

This is another brooch, it wasn’t intentional but after adding the dark beads it now reminds me of a pomegranate.

This sculpture (about 10 inches tall) reminds me of a tellytubby – again that wasn’t my intention at all when I drew the template and started shaping the felt!

This piece still needs a bit of work, I think I will stitch down the curly tips to hold them in a tighter spiral and add a brooch pin to the back. It measures about 6 inches across.

OK – so the eagle-eyed amongst you have probably noticed this one and the next have not been dyed, instead they have been treated with a cellulose based stiffener.

Not sure if anyone else has tried making a hollow cube from felt? This has to be one of the most difficult things I have tried to do with felt, as you pull and stretch one side to straighten it you end up pulling another edge out of shape. I plan to add some stitching to this one, more on that next time.

And finally, a little tease, this is one of the bag designs I have been working on since Yvonne’s workshop, it is actually a coin purse (or will be) that will have a matching handbag.

Have a great weekend!

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

Sun Dyeing

I was reading a blog a couple of weeks ago with some scepticism. With the benefit of hindsight I concede my scepticism was a little unfair. The blogger in question had posted about sun dyeing and said that you don’t need to buy those expensive photo-sensitive fabric dyes / paints, any old fabric paint will do. My initial reaction was, if any old fabric paint will do why is there a market for those expensive photo-sensitive paints? Too good to be true right?

The scientist in me made me set my scepticism to one side long enough to perform a little experiment. We all want to save our pennies to spend on more textile toys don’t we??

Materials:

  • Light coloured cotton based fabric (I expect silk will work too but synthetics possibly not – those are experiments for another day 🙂 )
  • A pad of newspaper or a large box (I used a plastic under-bed storage box)
  • Masking tape
  • A spray bottle filled with water
  • Fabric paints (I used Setasilk (iron-fix) silk paint and acrylic paint mixed 50:50 with textile medium). If you don’t plan to wash your fabric you can replace the textile medium with water.
  • Large brushes (I used the foam type)
  • Resists – I used leaves but anything that will lie flat on the fabric and block the light all work well. Paper cut outs and opaque stencils work well.

This is what I did:

  • Stretch your fabric over a box or a pad of newspaper with masking tape
  • Spray with water until evenly wet, allow the water to disperse while you gather some leaves or other objects to create a resist.
  • Working quickly, cover your fabric with fabric paint and lay out your resists, ensure they are as flat as possible to the surface of the fabric.
  • Leave in a sunny spot for 2 hours (beware of breezes blowing all your resists away if you put your box outside – I left mine in front of a south facing window).
  • The hardest part is resisting the urge to lift the leaves to see what is happening underneath 😉
  • Remove the leaves / resists and iron for several minutes to heat fix.

Sitting in the sun catching some rays, the pink and blue on the left is the Setasilk paint and on the right is red acrylic paint mixed with textile medium.

I think I applied the acrylic paint (on the right) too thickly, hence the effect is not so noticeable. In the areas where the paint is a little thinner the leaves are paler.

A second attempt with a lighter coating of acrylic paint. I also sprinkled a few grains of rock salt in the bottom right to see what effect that would have:

After 2 hours on a sunny windowsill:

Close up of the salt effect, it appears to have concentrated the paint under the grain and drawn the paint from the surrounding area:

A close up of an acer leaf outline.

Have you done any sun dyeing? What paints / fabrics did you use?
Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday
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