My New Toy

Lately I have been working on an exhibition piece that I will need to dye. Normally this would not be a problem, I just put my felt into a vegetable steamer for 45 min to fix the dyes but this piece is way too big to fit into my steamer, in fact it is too big to fit into any of my pans either…. So I started scouring the internet for catering size pots and pans, you would not believe how much they cost!! Then I stumbled on a second hand hot water urn on ebay…. that has potential I thought, so I watched it and watched it, the price climbed, and climbed some more… £40 plus £15 postage, for a second hand urn!! You have to be kidding!!

I watched a few more, but they all went for similar amounts :o(

Then last weekend I stumbled upon this:

Isn’t she beautiful? At £45 she is the most expensive piece of felting equipment I have bought to date but she is huge (30 litre capacity) and so shiny! :o) I can’t bear to put her in the garage but know it will be me living in the garage if she stays in the house….

Needless to say, I have been playing with her all day, dyeing a test sample for my exhibition piece and attempting some ice-dyeing with prefelt, more on those later…

Samples Galore!

I like making samples, small swatches of felt where I can let my creativity and curiosity run wild safe in the knowledge that if it doesn’t work I haven’t wasted a heap of money and time on something that is only fit for being deconstructed into something else or worse, the bin.

Most of these samples were made for a C&G course module where I have to make a scarf to meet someone else’s requirements, but I confess, some I made just out of curiosity and don’t really have anything to do with the design brief ;o)

Rainbow dyed ponge 5 silk laminated to merino 

Strips of rainbow dyed ponge 5 silk laid in a grid pattern on merino.

Rainbow dyed ponge 5 silk laminated to merino with a grid of rainbow dyed prefelt laid over the top.

Reverse of the piece above – the grid of prefelt on the front has created a relief effect on the back.
Using wool yarns and pencil roving for decoration. I love how straight lines become wiggly when you felt them!

Rainbow dyed muslin laminated to merino.
Rainbow dyed muslin laminated to merino with pencil roving for decoration.

Rainbow dyed silk chiffon laminated to merino. 

Using rainbow dyed cotton scrim as decoration.

White tussah silk top carded with 2 shades of blue merino

Rainbow dyed silk hanky used as decoration. This one was my favourite, it’s not very clear from this photo but the pale green silk has a beautiful sheen and slightly bumpy texture.
Strip of sari silk used as decoration.

Rainbow dyed Wensleydale locks felted into a merino base.

That was quite a productive afternoon :o)

In case you are wondering my friend chose the green silk hanky on a dark purple felt with red/purple dyed ponge 5 silk on the reverse. I hope to share photos of the completed snood next week…

Shibori Experiments

Following some very helpful suggestions from the ladies at the Felting and Fibre Studio Forum I have felted the original piece of shibori dyed silk and created a couple more samples, trying out alternative methods in an effort to maintain the beautiful folds of the bound fabric.

Felting the original shibori piece
I laid a very fine layer of merino all over the silk and lightly sprayed it with soapy water. Then folded the fabric concertina style from one end, trapping the wool between the layers of fabric.

 Once folded up, it was secured with elastic bands every 4 or 5 cm and felted with warm soapy water.

This was the result once the bands had been removed and the piece stretched at little. It is a similar width to the original silk but the length is much shorter, it was 50 cm long and is now just 8 cm. I think it will make a nice cuff / bracelet with some beads nestling in the folds.

Creating a laminate for shibori

For this sample I felted a piece of silk to 2 fine layers of merino and fulled to achieve rippling of the silk. Then it was stitched and the threads pulled ready for shibori dyeing.

It was dyed with Procion MX midnight blue – as you can see the silk has accepted the dye much better than the wool.

It was allowed to dry before removing the stitches and stretching out. It has a springy nature; it can be pulled almost flat but always springs back to this position.

Adding wool fibre while drawing the threads tight
On a third sample, I stitched the silk as normal but while I was drawing the threads tight I poked wisps of merino into the folds and felted the piece before dyeing with the piece above. This is what it looked like after it had dried and the stitches were removed. It looks remarkably similar to the first piece with very sharp folds in the silk.

Shibori Conundrum

Last weekend I dyed a piece of stitched shibori silk from my craft group, to be honest I am more enamoured with the texture of the silk than the dye effect. I would really like to felt this piece so I can use it as a book cover but I am sure the texture will disappear as soon as I wet it out.

Do any of you clever people have any ideas how I might laminate this fabric without losing the texture?

I am also open to other uses for this piece of silk, it doesn’t have to be book cover….?

Linked to nina-marie

Fabric Dyeing

This has been another fun weekend, I always enjoy dyeing fabric and yesterday I did some more shibori exploration in preparation for a monthly craft group at the end of January. We will be playing with shibori techniques and as the only one who has practiced any shibori at all, I expect it will fall to me to “teach” everyone else. I feel like a bit of a fraud since I have only done it a handful of times before. These are the fruits of my efforts, they are all small samples but I am quite pleased with how they turned out.

Clamped with triangular shaped pieces of wood:

Clamped with square pieces of wood:

Twisted and wrapped around a ruler:

Pleated, twisted and bound with elastic bands:

I also did some rainbow dyeing on ponge silk:

Cotton muslin:

And cotton scrim:

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