Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New From the Dyeworx

Imagine - dyed, washed and ironed in one day? What's my rush? My point in doing this rather dark and murky batch was to make some pieces specifically for discharging. In most cases I got what I was after. This group started life as a huge cotton damask tablecloth I bought on Ebay. This group includes some overdyes and some yardage Jan brought over. We used salt in the dye solution this time which I think accounts for some of the interesting figuring on this fabric. This is the piece that had the soy wax. Live and learn. The black took more strongly on the back than the front. If I had stopped and pondered a bit before throwing dye around I would have considered a few laws of physics, like gravity. Because I didn't want too much cracking in the wax, I laid it out flat on a piece of vinyl, spewed a few cups of soda ash solution over it and immediately attached it with brushloads of black dye solution. I should have laid it face down. Better still, suffered the cracks and immersed it.

Go get some inspiration

I'm supposed to be setting up the Lawrenceville Frankenstein Dyeworx but here I am grubbing about in my old bookmarks, deleting and delighting. Here is a list of artists I would OWN if I ever hit the lottery.Some fiber artists, some not.Some of these people you will know, others will be a revelation. In no particular order - Lorraine Glessner Mary Anne Jordan Mary Stoudt Gwen Fox Natasha Kempers-Cullen Ann Brauer Pamela Hill Hu Yong Yi Amy Robertson Janet Steadman Jette Clover Quinn Zander Corum Sandra LH Woock Mirjam Pet-Jacobs Keisha Roberts Eleanor McCain Katharina Lichtman

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Soy Wax & Homegrown Comedy

Here's a piece of fabric slathered over with some of the soy wax I brought back from Convergence. I don't want too many cracks so it's hanging from the design wall until tomorrow's dyefest. Things are going to get fairly dark if that Cotton black works the way I want it to. I'm still knitting my way through each nine innings of the Braves amazing comeback. This recycled silk is a bear to work with and I have to struggle to keep from knitting so tight that the wooden needles squeak. I can always count on Colin to be as un-PC as possible at every opportunity. Last night he stopped by to see what I was up to, took one look at the knitting and said "What's this then? Flayed hobos? Bum skins?" I laughed for an hour and every time I take that knitting out I will start snickering.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stop me before I hurt something

(28 x 23) I lost track of the number of times I started sewing on beads, making marks with black thread, outlining the worms with beige thread, etc. With each attempt at embellishment I would recall the title "Atavistic Inclinations" and pick out the nonsense. It's finished. Now I can get back to the last thing I was doing before this sidetracked me...what was that?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stitching on "AI"

It's a wonder I'm getting anything done these days - I can't seem to tear myself out of the pool. After doing the cleaning chores and the obligatory "I'm exercising" laps, I find myself just drifting. I have been reading the sunday paper in soggy sections laid out on the deckboards. There is no bigger waste of time than reading a week-old newspaper but the cooling antigravity of the water compels me to stay a little longer. Once I am pruned to the max, I settle into the studio which gets hot despite the fan overhead and the AC. The stitched mouths are too subtle to see beyond a few steps away. I may add a few black vertical stitches by hand just for emphasis.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cascade Discharging

A number of people have asked me for a quick tutorial on using dishwasher gel for discharging, or removing dye from fabric. I'm no expert but I'll tell you what I have learned through experience.

My "Law & Order" law degree dictates that I give all the inane and obvious warnings up front - don't drink dishwasher gel. Don't make it into meatloaf and don't use it to cure crabs. Being a carbon based life form myself, chlorine bothers me so I work outdoors and wear gloves and glasses. Duh. This stuff will kill you as quick as most anything else under your kitchen sink. If anyone chooses to disregard common sense (so what else is new) the gene pool thanks you for getting out.

Cheepo store brands work as well as the more expensive stuff and, because they thinner, I find the store brands easier to work with. I started out by putting the gel in a plastic hair color applicator bottle and squeezing it out where ever. On the last batch (pictures above) I painted the gel on with a fat brush which later died and early death because I forgot to clean it.

The gel is harder to see once you start moving it around with a brush. Putting gel on wet fabric will give a different result than dry. I like the creeping halos that you get with damp fabric and used a spray bottle of water to keep things damp as I worked. Half the fun of discharging is not knowing what's happening under the gel as time passes. Time? Anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more depending on too many things to go into. Remember, it's voodoo.

If you are deeply in love with the fabric (sick puppies, alla ya) do some testing on a little piece of it and take notes. In the batch pictured above, I was working with PFD cottons that had been dyed and overdyed to death disastrously so the color came off in layers. I HAVE NOT SUCCESSFULLY DISCHARGED OTHER FABRICS! Warning - I did eat some cool holes in a silk velvet scarf a while back.

Some Procion MX dyes come away quicker and more completely than others. Some commercial fabrics discharge well while others seem impervious to the bleach in the gel. And finally, get a bottle of Anti-chlor or Chlor-out from the pet section in the grocery store for the final rinse. It's cheaper than the gel and it chemically cancels the chlorine. If you don't stop the bleaching action of the gel your fabric will ultimately resemble old underwear - gray & holey. Vinegar to cancel chlorine? No. Don't argue. The folks from the dyers list have already bitch-slapped sense into my head over this issue. Any questions? Feel free to ask.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Atavistic Inclinations

I cobbled this together from one of the discharged pieces I did last weekend. Added some details with a Clorox bleach pen and then broke out the paints. So far, so good but I see a lot of hand stitching in the near future, perhaps even some beading. I brought home about 4 pounds of juicy glass beads from Grand Rapids and they are heaped up on my work table just beggin' for action.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Committed Now

It must be our lizard brain that makes us think that machine quilting is easier than hand quilting. Of course I started out with some foolish metallic white thread that the Janome just hates so the backside of this quilt is going to have to be covered up like so many turds in a sandbox. Once I switched to rayon thread, Big J settled in and stopped fighting my moves. Now I feel like I am building a huge cheese and it's going to take a while.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More Discharge Devilry

I guess this is called a monoprint. I used the plastic squeeze bottle to apply the dishwasher gel to the green piece and laid the blue one right on top of it. Somehow I have to use both of these in one piece. And Jimmy, here are two of your kat crew, sleeping it off. Miss Karma is off having her hair and nails done somewhere and charging it all to you. We miss you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sleeved, Hung & Shot

"Sunny Jim" (59x42, hand dyed and commercial cottons, antique cotton damasks machine pieced and hand quilted) Now now that I take a good look at it, there's a little more work to do -nothing a good squashing with the steam iron won't fix. And then another round of pictures.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What's hatching

I got this one sandwiched last night during the (yawn) home run derby. Jake helped me square and smooth it at the kitchen table - work that goes so much better with another pair of hands. After pillowcasing this over W&N, I find the edges are crisp and regular - nothing to distract from the front of the piece. He is a patient and thoughtful assistant who will find himself pressed into service regularly in the future. I may wind up painting and/or appliqueing on this one to recover the intensity of the darks as they were when the fabric was wet. Colin suggested that I quilt the white parts and leave the rest in relief. Sounds promising. It's about 42" square. Working title, Kodamas 1.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Real Fiber Stuff!

Take heart all you dyers. If some of your last batch was just Ho-Hum, don't forget that Cascade and Anti-chlor can come to the rescue! It was a great day at the Lawrenceville Dyeworx undoing the misery of the losers of the last big dye-fest a few weeks back. As you can see, secret formulas and ancient, esoteric practices are involved here. My neighbors think I run a boot camp for clown school dropouts. work in progressnot making wine antichlor bath
I think I'm six for six this time out and having just finished the ironing (and everything is just a great looking dry as it was wet)I figure there's at least four whole cloth pieces in the wings.

Friday, July 07, 2006

While I was away

This came in the mail from Nancy Javier of Banar Designs. That's me, lower right - a Cover Gal! And a nice full shot of a little piece I did last year. One of those journal sized pieces I did just because I needed some handwork to do. . I'm in some great company here: Sue Reno, Lesley Riley Jane La Fazio, Betty Hirsh, Lynn Krawczyk, Connie Rohman and Louise Thompson Schiele. It's a nice overview for people who may have never heard the terms "art" & "quilt" strung together. Here's the image from the inside of the book - better than the one I had left in my files

Monday, July 03, 2006

A New Vice

Yep. That's just what it looks like. Knitting. I paid TWENTY US DOLLARS for a pair of beautiful wooden sticks that I planned putting my hair up with. Then I happened by a vendor who was selling a large bag of sari silk at a very reasonable price. Marcy Petrini took pity on me being stuck in the HGA office and gifted me with her directions on learning to knit and a wicked new habit is born. I have to read further to see how to end these things. This silk is almost as coarse and ungiving as jute but once washed it goes all soft and fluffy. I still have to work hard at getting each stitch right and count them at the end of each row. By the last stitch, I find my tongue all sticking out and dried up. No pictures of that, thanks.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Convergence 2006

It's getaway day in Grand Rapids. I have been working at Convergence '06 for the last eight days (12 hour days) and just have not had time or energy to post anything but now I have an hour to kill before we leave for the airport. It's been quite an experience. Grand Rapids is a beautiful city, what I saw of it and the Amway Grand Plaza is the old school Cool Queen of hotels. I've met some wonderful people, contributed to a hugely successful convention and shopped my buns off. More about all this when I get back to ATL.