Sunday, August 31, 2008

Deconstructed Screenprinting

In the middle of batiking yesterday, I realized I would have a pot of thickened green dye left over. Not wanting to waste it, I grabbed the screen I so carefully taped last winter. Thickened dye, a rubbing plate, and time to allow the dye to dry, and here's what I ended up with:

I got up early this morning, and decided the green dye would work great with the turquoise fabric I discharged yesterday. So here are the first two pulls of the screen--

My daughter thinks this piece looks weird, funny, and unmatched. What do you think?

Then I grabbed a piece of white pfd, and did two more pulls. There was still lots of dye left on the screen, so I went through the stash, and decided this hand dye could use some more interest. I got four more pulls off the screen, and these were the results:

I wish I had more time today, because this is FUN!! I'll let those sit today, along with the sunflowers that got completely waxed, scrunched, and dark brown dye applied in the hopes I can get crackle. I'll steam all these pieces tonight, so more pics laer!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Batiking Again!!

I've spent all day today in the studio, doing more soy wax batik. Both of the sunflower pictures are outside, for their last drying before I steam them. I did another piece of fabric with kitchen utensils, and did some discharge with discharge paste.

I used discharge paste once, a long time ago- the stench from the ironing was awful. The bottle of discharge paste has been sitting on my shelf ever since. Now that I have a steamer, no need to deal with the stench. I used some big foam stamps on a silk scarf I dyed a few weeks ago, on the turquoise not-so-hot piece I did at Anne Munoz's workshop in July, and a piece of black fabric I pulled out of my stash. Here's the black fabric before steaming, waxed and discharge paste applied with a sponge roller.

The three pieces spent twenty-five minutes steaming on our barbecue gril burner, and these were the results. The black turned a sort of gray, very different from discharge pieces I've done with dishwasher gel.

The turquoise, my least favorite piece from Anne's workshop--

And the green silk scarf, I think much improved with the leaf motifs--

While those were steaming, I started on the two sunflower pieces. Here's what they looked like after the first dye applications. I decided to use thickened dyes this time, hoping for more control of my lines. I think it worked.

And, lastly, just a fun piece batiked with a potato masher and a pastry blender. I started with bright yellow, added golden yellow, then went to Chinese red. I think I'm going to do one more color, that red is just too garish.

It's about dinner time. I'll steam the sunflowers and red piece after we eat. So, more pictures of the completed fabric tomorrow!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Looong Weekend!!

We'll just ignore the fact that it's the weekend that marks the end of summer. I'm hoping we have a nice, long autumn, to make up for the nonexistent spring. Like a month of weather in the 80's. Perfect.

I was going to get a lot done today artwise, but it's 4:30 and it ain't happening. So I'm resigned to getting the laundry done, kitchen cleaned, and maybe a few other housekeeping chores. I did some running around today, and did score some more goodies for batik--

An iron for dischage with thiox or discharge paste, and two more circle tools. That big pillar the iron is sitting on? That, my friends, is an end from a roll of plain newsprint. I scored FIVE of those for $5!! So I'm hoping to try my hand at fabric steaming this weekend!

And, best of all--

Rayna's book arrived this week!! I have been devouring it, it is a treasure trove of information and inspiration. I did manage to get two pieces waxed this morning, and having her book helped. I think I have an idea of how hot the wax needs to be for the best results, and I'm slowly getting better with the tjanting. i have my print paste made up, ready to go tomorrow morning. Here's one of the pieces I have waxed and ready to dye--

I also got some canvas at Joann's to make a press board or a print board, haven't decided yet.

Oh, yeah- the shoulder is much better. I had a bursitis attack, which the orthopedist said can happen out of the blue. Hopefully the week of Motrin 800's he prescribed will take care of the problem, because the next step is cortisone shots in the shoulder. Rather not, thanks, unless I absolutely have to.

I'll post more after I actually have so fiber related pics to post!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Feeling Better

I never would have believed it Wednesday, but the shoulder is doing much better. I was actually able to go to work on Thursday, although I had it in a sling for a lot of the day. But I can move it most directions without pain, and can now get through a day with only a couple of painkillers, instead of every three hours. We'll see what the orthopedist says tomorrow morning.

I now have some more equipment for batik and other fabric surface design. I ran into DI yesterday, and found this skillet/fondue setup, that actually has a thermostat. And look at the cool design on that potato masher! I've already moved my wax into the new pot.

I have been wanting to find a way to steam fabric, either to set dyes or to discharge with thiox. I tried discharge paste once with a steam iron, and could not stand the stench. And, I swear it ruined my iron. Then one day I remembered a campstove setup and turkey fryer we bought a few years ago, and used exactly once. I asked DJ to dig it out of storage- it is perfect!! I have a huge pot, with a strainer I can turn upsidedown to set the fabric on. It can use the propane tank with our grill, and will set nicely on the patio in back where I can comfortably keep an eye on it. I am ecstatic!!

I have another picture I want to try with batik, and I am thinking through my color sequencing. I'll be waxing it after work this week, as long as the shoulder continues to improve.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pain, pain, pain

I do not know what I did- but my right shoulder and upper arm got injured somehow, and I can barely use it. I'm living on pain pills, haven't been to work since Monday. Any sewing related activities- forget it, in caps. Even the thought of bearing down on a rotary cutter sends me off with howls of pain.

I can't sleep in our bed- I have to sleep on my back (which I hate), then my arm hangs down and hurts. All night. Last night I slept in DJ's chaise, with my arm propped, and did much better. So I will be there again tonight.

I went to a chiropractor Monday and today, and he's done some physical therapy. But today I darned near fainted when he was done, so I now have an appointment with an orthopedist on Monday. Here's hoping I survive until then.

I will never take my right arm for granted again. Showering, getting dressed, all those very necessary activities we do every day take me twice as long (if I can do them, some I can't).

The chiropractor keeps asking me what I was doing, probably trying to jog my memory. No auto accident, no fall or trip, absolutely nothing like that. The only thing I can think of is stirring a pair of Shannon's pants in a 5 gallon bucket dyebath, overdyeing them after she got pink bleach spots on them. If I hurt it then, I sure didn't feel it at the time.

So I guess I will be spending my time until Monday on the chaise, with books and TV, and my big ice bag handy. Whatever it takes t get my right arm back.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lessons Learned about Batik

I finished dyepainting the background of the tulip batik, and washed it out last night. I LOVE being able to wash out the wax the same time I am washing out my dyes! So here's the final result, washed, dried, and ironed--

Mmmm- I like all the colors, with the exception of the orange. I know my color mixing with dyes, but I will need to do a better job of thinking through my color sequencing next time. I really wanted a rosier, pinkier background, not the stark orange.

I looked carefully at the white lines, wanting to see if my waxing needs work or if the soy is just different than traditional batik wax. I could tell that my lines had tiny breaks, enough to cause the issue with escaping green dye that is so obvious. So I will work on my technique with the tjantings. I also remember that I may not have had the wax as hot as I did the other times I waxed, so that may make a difference with the tjantings too. And, I will wax both side of the piece if I want to make sure I contain the dye. It sure seemed to work with the last waxing I did, since the red dye stayed where I wanted it to.

Can you tell from this that dye painting is not my favorite way to apply the stuff? Smooth transitions are hard to do, and I just don't get the color coverage I want. Since I don't have a setup conducive to painting large pieces, I'm less inclined to improve my results with practice. Printing fabric to cut and use with other fabric, this is much less of an issue. And I suspect I will want to do more of that, not wholecloth pieces.

My frame setup is another challenge to resolve. I don't like using a box if I have to move the piece to wax the entire piece. The wooden frame I made did work, but it was a little too small for the tulip piece. And pounding my tacks into the wood was not fun or easy. Also, I managed to dye the thing with several colors from this piece- now I'll be worried about backstaining on the next piece if I tack the fabric directly into the wood.

I have another image I think I will enlarge and try- a big sunflower, from the same book. Maybe a size just smaller than my frame. And I think I will go for a much deeper color background.

I also got my rust dye piece washed, dried, and ironed. This is one process I don't think is for those with control issues. If you think dye is hard to control, it's nothing compared to rusting. I wanted the image on the garden ornament to show clearly- I got part, not the whole thing. So next time, I think I'll do a wrap with wire around a pole. Something where I'm not trying for a specific image!!

This morning, I cleaned up the studio while Bentlee worked on a couple of postcards to give her mom and dad. We've found that my Featherweight is perfect for her, and I can set it up on a lower section of the table my Bernina is in. She stitched, then added some details with stamps and fabric paint.

After the edges were done, we added the final touches with hot fix crystals. According to Bentlee, every postcard needs so glitz!

Tonight, we're off to the county fair; tomorrow, a Bees' game in Salt Lake.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Batik and Rust

I added the last color to the tulip batik this morning, and now it is batching away. Definitely a learning experience, not a masterpiece. I've got it upsidedown so the red will bleed towards the top.

In between a couple of hours of work, and some cleaning / laundry, I decided I wanted to try some rust dyeing. I found a small piece of overdye I did some time ago- a pale turquoise-y with subtle rust accents. I figured more rust would work just fine. I wanted to use a garden ornament Shannon bought DJ last year- something that was designed to rust! Then I added some rusty odd and ends I found in the garage. Apparently rust doesn't take long here. I soaked the fabric in vinegar, and have had to wet it twice to keep it damp- that just in the space of an hour or so.

I have lots more small pieces of this sequenced overdye, this may lead to something bigger.

This weekend it is the county fair, and Bentlee will be spending the weekend with us. So it will be a busy one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Don't have any fiber pictures to post,although I have continued to work on the soy wax batiked tulips. I've waxed all the flower parts, front AND back. Now I can mess with the background, and hopefully not have any more escaping dye. We'll see.

I did want to share photos of something I ran across last week while traveling up Provo Canyon to Heber. We've had some wildfires uncomfortably close to home- smokey skies, and the smell of fire on some days. One of them was above Bridal Veil Falls in the canyon. I could see the smoke as I headed up, and the burned trees on the mountainside.

Further up, the canyon narrows considerably. The road runs next to the river, and the mountain shoots steeply up on the other side of the river. I'd noticed an odd looking helicopter as I was driving. The further I went, the lower it seemed to be going, until I watched it drop down in front of me.

Some little voice told me to grab my camera when I left the house that morning, and I was glad I had. I watched while the pilot hovered over the river, dropping his suction hose into the river- I guess to fill a water tank?

I watched for several minutes, then got another shot of him heading back to the fire with a full tank. I could feel the water spray kicked up by the rotors. Maybe six or eight cars stopped to watch the sight, and the skill of the pilot, hovering over the river with a steep mountainside so close.

The fires are out, we are left with the blackened mountainsides. But I'm grateful for the dedication of people like this pilot who help keep the fires from going completely out of control.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Soy Wax Batik

I got my tjantings from Dharma, so I hunted through my copyright-free books and came up with a design to do. I can tell my garage-sale overhead projector will get plenty of use, it made enlarging the design a simple task.

Friday afternoon I waxed it. I got the skillet hotter this time, to see if having the soy wax hotter would make it behave more like the traditional wax I used at Anne's workshop. It didn't, it still has wax on top- but it went through, I could tell by looking and feeling the underside.

After brushing on soda ash solution, I dyed the almost the whole piece yellow. I want the tulips purple, so can't have yellow as an undercolor- but the rest of the piece, I can.

I batched it awhile, then did the stem, leaves, and flowers- so blue on the first two, grape on the flowers. A bit of yellow bled into the flowers, but I'm ok with that- it will help shade the flowers.

Today I hope to wax part of the leaves, so I can add a darker blue to shade the leaves some. Then I'll wax all the flowers, and blend in some red to the background.

I've had some bleeding in my lines- when I waxed, I used a box that was smaller than my piece. So I had to finish the job by moving it, and bending the already waxed portion over the box. I wonder if that didn't contribute to the incomplete lines.

I went into this with the attitude it is a process piece, one to help me learn how the wax behaves- so if it is not a masterpiece, that is just fine. But doing a wholecloth piece is very different and more painstaking than doing abstract cloth that will be cut up and used in a larger piece. I like doing that, and think I would approach it in the future by doing several at once, with colors that blended- in other words, think of the whole, finished piece, and not just the cloth I am working on. You have lots of time to think through that issue while waxing, it is not a quick process!

I also got brushes, but haven't had much luck with them. I hope I can figure that out before I'm ready to wax the background, that would take forever with a tjanting!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

WAQ-y Friday

Friday my small art group met down in my neck of the woods. I did a brief demo of how I'm constructing my own stretcher frames, then we went to the Springville Art Museum quilt show, an annual event sponsored by the Utah Valley Quilt Guild.

Utah is known for its conservative politics, and Utah county, where I live, is one of the most conservative urban areas in the state. That also applies to quilts; when we moved here, I didn't even bother to check out the guilds, I knew I wouldn't fit. And that conservatism is reflected in this show. The vast majority are traditional; some very well executed, some not so. There were three Dear Jane quilts exhibited, all of them included nine patch blocks made with inch squares. That's one inch BEFORE piecing! I got a headache just thinking about it.

Photography was allowed, but there were very few that moved me to want to take a picture. One of our members had, Jalaine, two pieces exhibited, and they definitely stood out. I love the colors in this one, makes me think of Cinco de Mayo.

The second has neat contrast between sparkle and subdued. I thought the red backdrop set it off well.

Of all the traditional ones, this is the only one that appealed to me. I like the shape and the colors.

My friend Sandra Starley from Moab has two small pieces; you can see them here.

This quilt of aspens was interesting, and probably the least traditional one to get a ribbon.

Hands down, the most magnificent quilt there was this one of a moth. The detail was astounding, her use of fabric and stitching to create the wing patterns was amazing.

Seeing the show provoked a lot of discussion over lunch on quilt shows versus art shows, and how we can best get our work out there. Don't think we came to any consensus, which probably about describes the lack of consensus in the fiber art world!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mystery of the Pink Cat

I had a phone call from my daughter while I was at work yesterday, half-hysterically asking me if I'd seen our cat Annabelle. I hadn't, at which point she told me Annabelle was pink!

I just had to start laughing, obviously Anna wasn't in any danger of dying or anything from being pink. So when I got home, I got to see just what our pink Annabelle looked like.

She is definitely pink. Both Shannon and DJ wondered if she had gotten into my dyes- no chance, folks, they are in jars that are securely covered. Shannon thought she smelled sweet, like Kool Aid- also interesting, since we don't have that in the house. Anna likes to go outside and lay on our redwood chip mulch, would that turn her pink?

So, the mystery remains. Any ideas out there what would turn a cat pink?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Not much by way of fiber content

this weekend. Friday I was in Salt Lake most of the day, yesterday I managed to finish a blouse before taking my Bernina to the repair shop. It's sewing fine, but refuses to turn off with the dial- so I want it looked at now, before something else goes wrong. Still have the Juki if I have the energy to sew this week after work.

I'm only six weeks behind, but I actually got started on Marly's birthday present today. I'm using my Caran d'Ache crayons, like I did on the first two pieces I made her. This one will be slightly different, I'm also including some Neocolor I in the piece- the crayons that are water resistant. We'll see if I get the effect I'm hoping for. Maybe I'll have pictures after I go at it with the water.

I did get out with my camera Saturday. With all the talk of alternative energy sources on the political front, and T. Boone Pickens' plan that is heavy on wind power, we have been intently watching a wind farm close to our home be built and become operational.

We live at the mouth of a long canyon that is known for its wind, so it was a logical place to locate a wind farm. The units are huge- I can see them easily ten miles away. I find watching them mesmerizing.

Eight of the nine windmills were turning when I took the picture. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that my local electric company is generating at least a portion of its power from a source that is local, renewable, and non-polluting. Wonder how those windmills would look as a thermofax?