Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Advertisment commission continued

I have the quilt I made for the cinema advert (the previous 2 were for TV and internet) back home to put a binding on it and to fill in the hole that was cut in it for filming purposes. Here is a photo of the hole!
I made the background quilt in a real hurry and it was sent away with no binding. I just didn't have time to get that done. While it was away it had all sorts of extra bits sewn onto it. I have seen the advert and it is great but was only finished at midnight last night so isn't launched yet. Its been a bit of an adventure making these quilts for adverts but although I am used to working very fast, this was a real stretch for me. 4 days from concept to finished object. Whew!

Day 22 - Indigo continued

On Friday last week I tried a different type of Indigo. It is pre-reduced and comes as part of kit put out by Jacquard. Today I resurrected the indigo vat which has been slowly getting smellier over the last 3 days. I am really pleased with the results. It is much stronger than the recipe I tried earlier and it is easier to mix up and leaves fewer indigo grains on the fabric. It is also mixed into warm water and doesn't need to be kept hot. It takes about 30 minutes for the chemicals to start their magic. The fabric comes out of the vat , yellow, which is bizarre.
The piece of fabric at the top is wool which has been laid out on the grass for 20 minutes or so. The bottom piece is cotton which has been out of the pot for about 5 minutes and has started to turn from yellow to green to blue.
Indigo on wool
Indigo on cotton
Indigo on silk.
The piece I like the most is silk velvet (on the right above and below) I can't help stroking it. I think it is a flashback to when my Grandma used to give me fluffy bits of rabbit skin to play with when she worked at a fluffy slipper manufacturer!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday 25th - Day 19 - Field trip wellington

If you aren't a local then here are a few textile related places to visit in Wellington. 

On Thursday 26th March, I went around a few local galleries and shops with some of the Whitireia students. We went to Weta Cave which has opened in Wellington to show some of the props, books and costumes from the movies made at Weta Studios. 3 bus-loads of tourists arrived in the short time we were there so it is very popular and hopefully will be extended in the future to show more items.

Then we went to Asia Gallery in Kilbirnie to check out the fabrics, stencils and kimono. Paul, the owner kindly drew me a map of where the fabric stalls are at the two big flea markets in Kyoto on the 21st and 25th of each month. I have arranged my next trip to Kyoto to coincide with both this time. We leave on the 6th of April so not long to wait now.

Then we went to Minerva Gallery in Cuba St which is the headquarters of New Zealand Quilter magazine and has the best range of textile books in New Zealand. I managed to get out without buying anything more than one Fiberarts magazine which has a great article about the quilts of Diane Savona. Diane emailed me a few weeks ago to say she liked my 'Layers of Lives' quilts. I looked at her website and saw that she and I have been on the same path, using layers of clothes but Diane has carried this way further than I have even considered. She calls her quilts 'Closet Archaeology'. I think they are wonderful and wish I had thought of using solid items under the fabric. Fantastic.

Day 20 experiments

Today I continued using indigo. This time I used an Indigo kit from Jacquard. It uses pre-reduced indigo so is easier to use than the stuff I used last week (color run remover and washing soda). The colour produced was much darker and was the colour I wanted. The whole process ended up messier though. Each piece of fabric needs to be laid out flat or hung up to allow the colour to develop. I highly recommend the kit but also suggest that Indigo dyeing would be better to done outside on the grass. Unfortunately, by the time I decided this, I had already dyed quite a lot of the surfaces blue and spent some time scrubbing them down at the end of the day.

I have a lot of fabric to wash out and get dry. At the moment it is all in a bucket.

The kit was easy to use, is available in New Zealand and the results are very good. There is still enough indigo left in the vat for me to continue next week (I hope). The disadvantage with this system is that it only uses warm water so you get less 'crinkle' in silk. The previous method I used, used very warm water so the silk pieces are left with 3D shapes from the ties. See photo above, these are pieces from the hot water method we used last week.

Here are some of the much darker pieces from today's session with the Jacquard kit. I will post more tomorrow when I have rinsed all the pieces out.

Itajime Papers

Here are some photos of the papers I dyed on Wednesday (day 18), which are currently strung around the room at Whitireia. They are taking a long time to dry and are very fragile at the moment. The paper is Chinese calligraphy paper. It absorbs the dye very well and is strong when it is dry.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

distractions and research + Day 19

I've been researching pleats and folds as part of looking for information on shibori. I am also thinking of buying a smocking pleater to use for pleating fabric before dyeing it. I'm just looking around for one I can afford, preferably with instructions on how to use it.

In the meantime I found some fascinating stuff on Youtube about origami and a wonderful pleated dress made by Jolis Paons out of telephone books. Click on the word 'telephone books' to go to Jolis' Flickr site. I think it is one of the most amazing pieces of Wearable art I have seen.

I also found a website which showed pleated architecture 
and pleated origami bowls and structures by Paul Jackson.

Sri threads have some really lovely antique shibori fabrics on their blog at the moment. I went to Arimatsu Shibori Museum last year and took this photo because I couldn't afford to buy any of the fabric so had to make do with a photo. I think I prefer the stuff on the Sri threads blog to the more complicated patterns on the pieces below (from the shop at Arimatsu Shibori Museum, near Nagoya).


Day 18

Today I used up some dye concentrates which are no longer much use for dyeing as they have been sitting around too long. I used Chinese calligraphy paper and folded and clamped the paper in the Itajime style then dipped the corners into the dye. My intention was to wear gloves but I would keep them on for the main dye bits and then take them off for fiddly bits then forgetting to put them on again. Consequently I have strange coloured finger tips.  The paper is drying at Whitireia and couldn't be moved due the heavy rain which fell just as I needed to leave , so I will take photos tomorrow. Here is a link to another website with  photos of Itajime on paper.

When the paper is dry, I need to see whether the dye rubs off. If it does too badly I will shellac the paper when I use it for bookmaking or collage.

Here is a photo of the first commission quilt I made for Clemenger BBDO. I hope I will get to see the advert it eventually ends up in. It has 2 pale blue shapes which are to have pictures projected into them.

Artists Res Day 17 - Indigo continued

The Indigo vat was resurrected using color run remover and we managed to use it again although the items are getting paler and it was getting pretty smelly from the extra chemicals.
This is a piece I very quickly stitched to see how each fabric would take the dye. Unfortunately my son has taken the best camera off to Taranaki on the school camp with the photos I took yesterday still on it.

This sample is made of greenish Japanese silk, wool which had been previously dyed with flax pods (it was pale brown), cream tussah silk, cream silk knit, cotton fabric and cotton sashiko thread, linen thread.
I put it through the washing machine when I got home to get rid of the chemical smell.
I'd really like to get the strong indigo but had to make do with pale today. On Friday I hope to try the Jacquard indigo kit to see how the price, ease of use, smell, etc compares.

Artists Res Day 16

On Friday I  bound a series of scarf lengths which I dyed in Indigo and left over the weekend to dry so that they would retain the shape of the ties. Today I removed the ties but all the photos are on the other camera and the scarves got left at Whitireia in my little office. I will add the rest of the photos as soon as I can. In the meantime, the 2 photos immediately above show one of the scarves knotted and then the scarf opened out. This one was a bit of a cop out as I got lazy and just decided to kot t instead of binding it as that was taking so long.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Advertisment commission

For the last few weeks I have been involved with making quilts for the Advertising Agency , Clemenger BBDO. I have made three quilts for them. With the first quilt I had about 7 days, but the last two were made in about 4 days each. For the last two Fridays I worked all night , finishing just as the producer arrived on the doorstep at 7am to pick them up on the way to the airport.

The adverts are for a campaign called 'Stitching Up Wellington. 'The link is to one advert where my quilt is the final shot. This quilt was done at very short notice because the original 'final shot' wasn't working and wasn't completed in time. It was filmed the same day that it was completed and I believe the advert was launched a few days later!
Below is the quilt at 6am last saturday, before the binding was added, an hour before it was picked up and flown to Auckland then filmed the same day.

The above detail shot shows the quilt all pinned together. I couldn't use fusible webbing as the designers wanted it to look very puffy. This advert will be on TV in Australia and is already showing on Channel 7 in Australia and will start on channel 9 on Sunday.  The next one will be for cinema and is similar except that it has zoomed in closer to Wellington.

Artist residence day 15

Today Deb Donnelly (textile tutor at Whitireia Polytechnic) and I  made an Indigo Dye bath. I have used Indigo before but someone else has always been in charge of getting the the dye bath set up and working and they have always made the recipe seem incredibly hard to follow with complicated ingredients which are hard to get. The recipe we chose to use, used washing soda crystals and Color Run remover, from the supermarket. It worked really well and it is just magic seeing the fabric come out of the dye bath looking yellow and then slowly turn turquoise and then blue as the oxygen gets to it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

day 15 Res. Logwood.

Logwood comes from the very heart of the tree. It sounds very bad from an ecological point of view, so I just looked it up and found that there are various projects around the world which are growing and harvesting logwood in a sustainable way. Here is a link to a project in the Caribbean.

The dyebath had been used previously to dye quite large pieces and today it dyed  lots and lots of samples, and still seems to have life in it so a little obviously goes a long way.

Most plant dyes produce yellow, or brown. Logwood makes a gorgeous purple. It is very pretty and I can imagine how excited the first people to discover it, must have been!

At left.
Logwood on Tussore silk (tussah silk?)

Bottom of page (top to bottom)
Logwood on thick wool blanket, thinner wool blanket, linen, cotton. I was amazed how well it took on the linen and cotton as most plant dyes do better on protein fibres.

Pretty amazing stuff but should be saved for special occasions.

Artist res Day 12 - foils

I wanted to find out if I could screenprint with Jones Tones Plexiglue and then use foil. Well the answer is yes you can screenprint with the glue as long as you work fast and wash out the glue before it can set in the silkscreen. It did very fine detail. See below for screenprint (foiled).

To use Jones Tones glue and foil, you draw, paint, print, squirt it onto the fabric then wait till it dries and then use the sheet of foil and rub it, (shiny side up) over the glue. The next stage is to put one of the samples in the washing machine and wash as normal to see how much comes off in the wash.

Two samples didn't work well, they were both on fine silk. The glue soaked right through and there wasn't enough on the surface for the foil to stick to.
The example above was on cream silk tussore. It didn't seem sticky enough to grab the foil.
On the left is crepe silk, again the glue seems to have sunk too far in.
On the right is the glue painted onto thicker silk crepe. The glue is thick and sitting on the surface so the foil stuck to it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Artist res Day 11

I finished last week's commission just in time.  I worked from 9am on friday morning through to 6.45am on saturday morning. I finished 15 minutes before the quilt was picked up by the producer on the way to the airport. Now I have started on the third quilt for the same company. To be finished by Saturday morning. I can feel another all nighter coming on!

Consequently I don't have any really cool experiments to show off for either yesterday or today. I hope to get back into the swing of it next week but in the meantime I am earning money towards my trip to Japan in April.

Here are two pieces of fabric which were unwrapped on Tuesday. The first is a classic hippie tie-dye spiral which I did to show the technique to the students. This time I left out the pink (Procion MX8) as it is so lurid. Maybe I should have warned the Venturers about that last week as all theirs turned out very pink.
 The second piece is a bit of wool blanket which had leaves of a New Zealand native tree (shiny dark green leaves, forgotten the name) wrapped up in it and it was rolled around a piece of pipe and pole wrapped to keep all the layers tightly together. It was then boiled in plain tap water for about 4 hours but still looked very boring so I left it lying in a rusty baking tray over the weekend with a little water.
The NZ leaves are deinitely making a pink eco print. Maybe I should have left it to cook for longer. My thanks to Cleo for telling me the type of leaf. Pity I can't remember either Cleo's surname or the name of the tree! I'll edit this page when I have the info.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 10. Distracted by a chance to make money...

I have been commissioned to make another quilt for a company (all will be revealed some day) with a very short time frame. Friday 13th will be an all day marathon to get it done in time. Lets hope that 'Black friday' doesn't live up to it's name. I have three machines, they can't all go wrong! Here is a small bit of the quilt, note that the two islands will be moved to the correct positions soon.

Day 9 Artist in residence - natural dyes pre-mordanting

Over last weekend I pre-mordanted lots of little samples of cloth. pre-mordanting is when you soak fabric in a solution which (hopefully) will make the dye 'take' better. Plant dyes work better on protein fibres such as silk and wool and usually won't make much impact at all on cotton. if you pre-mordant cotton by soaking in soy milk you can sometimes make the plant dyes work on cotton.

I pre-mordanted small samples of cotton, wool and silk in lots of different solutions to see which worked best. Each jar has a different solution in. I used milk, soymilk, diet coke, grapefruit, lemon, soda ash, salt, vinegar, egg, liquid starch, alum. The three fabrics were joined on one side and I used a laundry marker pen to label them. They were left in the solution for 3 days then dried and then rolled up with Eucalyptus leaves (from the tree in Duncan st near Tawa Station) and tied tight with string. Then I steamed them in a pot for 6 hours and left them overnight.

The next day I opened them all out to see which of the pre-mordants gave the best 'Eco print'.
 I really didn't get much of a print on the cotton with any of the pre-mordants although soy milk at least allowed the cotton to pick up a print, even though it is nowhere near as strong as on the silk or wool.

The bundle in the bottom picture on the right is the sample soaked in egg. It gave interesting prints on all the fabric samples but it stinks of egg as I think the egg protein has cooked into the fibres. I washed it but it feels very stiff. The clearest print on the silk is the centre bottom piece which shows all the leaf detail. It was soaked in Calci-trim milk. Soy milk also was a good pre-mordant for all the different types of fabric.
In the depths of my memory I vaguely remember that you aren't supposed to use soda ash on protein fibres and I have discovered why! The wool sample that had been soaked in soda ash started to turn to jelly. Deb says the fibres were becoming 'denatured', it felt really gross and sticky although it doesn't feel as bad now it has dried.

Here is a sample page, not very scientific but pretty.
 Top left is kowhai pods with iron mordant ( made a dark green)
Top right - lichen from my apple tree with alum for a mordant. A nice orange colour.
Middle left - comfrey with alum, middle right - Ivy and alum
Bottom left - eucalytus no mordant.
Middle - the leaves of the eucalytus used to get the red.
Bottom right - pohutukawa with chunk of rusty iron for the mordant. Very black colour on wool.

Day 8 Artist in residence - natural dyes continued

Eucalptus dyes
Someone once told me that silver dollar gum tree leaves gave a good orange dye. When I tried it years ago I just got yellow. Now I have discovered why. I added alum as a mordant but I Eucalyptus does not need a mordant at all.

Here is what  we did to get this extraordinary terracotta red colour.
These were leaves from a gum tree which is near Tawa Station. It is one of those gum trees which have blue grey leaves which are short and rounded. This tree doesn't have the really round leaves of the silver dollar gum but slightly pointy leaves. Using a stainless steel pot, fill it about half way with eucalyptus leaves and then cover with water and bring to the boil. Add wool or silk and simmer for 2-3 hours. In this case the pot was taken off the boil at the end of the day and the fabric was left in the pot. It became an even stronger colour over night. I just think it is amazing!

The Eucalyptus leaves give up their colour when they are heated. Some of the other people got amazing pink prints from this tree by wrapping the leaves up in wool or silk and boiling or steaming them. The prints are quite a lolly pink - amazing from a greenish leaf.

We also tried boiling up kowhai pods. We added iron sulphate as a mordant and it dyed bits of old woolen blanket a really dark army green. You can buy iron sulphate from the garden centre. I think it is used for killing moss on lawns.

Comfrey dyed the wool bright yellow with alum as the mordant. Next time we will try using copper as (hopefully) this should give us a lighter green.

Most plants give brown or yellow so it is nice to find some that give greens and reds.
About 10 years ago Prue Townsend gave me a bag of lichen which had been in the collection of Oriel Hoskin until she died. I tried using a bit of the lichen at the time and didn't get much of a result but decided to have another go. It looks like a native New Zealand lichen called Sticta Coronata but it doesn't turn pink when acetone is dropped on it, which is a sign of Sticta C. Apparently what you do with Sticta is you boil it up and keep changing the water. You dye fabric in each change of water and as you keep going you keep getting different colours. At the moment I am still at the brown stage. See below.

 The first boiling gave me the tan colour, then I changed water, the second lot of water gave the pale beige at the top of the photo. The third change of water gave the dark brown - as the Americans say 'go figure'!
If you are trying this at home, don't use pots that you are going to cook food in, and preferably cook outside the house as the smell of eucalyptus or other plants cooking, can be quite nauseating.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 7 Artist in residence

I'm not doing very well at getting stuff on the blog the last 2 days. Yesterday I got asked to do another commission for an advertising agency and went into the city to discuss it with them then stayed there to look in all the bookshops and galleries as well as having a look at some of the stuff which is on for the Festival of the Arts.

Today I spent with the Whitireia students experimenting with the natural dyes but once again the fabrics are still all bundled up and won't be available till tomorrow.
We did get a nice green from boiling kowhai pods and adding ferrous sulphate (iron) and a strong rust colour from Eucalytus.

More tomorrow

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday 7th March

Today I opened started preparing for some dyeing on Tuesday. I am pre-mordanting cotton, silk and wool in salt water, soy milk, soda ash, vinegar, lemon juice, egg, milk, liquid starch, diet coke (because I had some left over) and alum, rusty water.. I have a series of bottles, jars and pots with little bits of fabric sitting in them.

I opened the rolled up tubes, see above. They are cotton, wool and paj silk and have been rolled up with silver dollar gum leaves inside them. and left over the weekend in a rusty tray. I wanted to see if the Eucalyptus leaves would give their bright red colour without being boiled or steamed. The rusty tray is just to give some background colour.
This is on silk (above)
This is on cotton(above)
This is on wool. Turns out that the Eucalyptus colour doesn't really take without the heat from boiling or steaming. Although I admit that I could have left them longer than 3 days. They were kept in a hot car and then in the conservatory so were warm but not boiling. They are the same leaves as went bright orange when steamed or boiled (see friday 5th).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Saturday 6th March

Today I have been sorting out the garage to try and find all my different dyes and inks and material which has been dumped in there over the last year. Sometimes I teach a class and then just don't get round to putting everything away again afterwards. I have found all sorts of weird screenprinting experiments from the past , they are in the washing machine as they smelled mouldy.

This is a link to the website for an exhibition which I am involved with which is in Germany at the moment. It is called 'Southern Lands'. Unfortunately it has turned out to be quite an expensive exhibition for me as the postage was NZ$150 and then I got hit with 169 Euros customs duty for Germany which a friend has paid for at the moment but I will have to repay. The exhibition looks very nice from the photos though and it looks like my quilts fit in well with the others.

I have also got a quilt in this book '500 Art Quilts' officially launched today. The publisher is Lark Books. The quilt pictured in the book currently lives near Adelaide.
I'd rather see windmills...
Back to cooking dinner, tidying up the garage. and ironing all the fabric I washed today. Good job the weather is nice.

Artist Res Day 5- natural dyeing

On Thursday I showed the students the traditional (and not terribly eco friendly) way of dyeing with natural dyes. Use a stainless steel pot, put in about half a pot of boiling water and about a third of a pot of plant material. Boil for 30 mins and then add a mordant such as alum or Iron suphate. Put in different bits of fabric and simmer for several hours.
Here are some of the results. This is not a new technique for me so I haven't gone into it in much detail.

Fabric dyed with New Zealand flax seed pods with iron Sulphate as the mordant. from left to right is wool, tussah silk, paj silk, nylon, cotton.

NZ flax again with alum as the mordant.Wool, tussah silk, paj silk, nylon, cotton.

This time we used Ivy leaves and alum as the mordant. Wool, silk and the whitish bit is viscose. I think the students gave up on cotton as it didn't take the dye well (this is normal).

This is all stuff I have done before so no surprises but Deb Donnelly, the textile tutor then showed the class how to do Eco prints using Eucalyptus leaves. She learnt this from India Flint. 
Wool blanket wrapped around a plastic pipe with Eucalyptus leaves tucked between the layers. The leaves were from a silver dollar gum. I have always been told that the silver dollar gum gives red dye but I have never found that before. Turns out that is because I have always used a mordant such as alum which turns the colour yellow. Eucalyptus doesn't need a mordant at all.
When the pipe is unwrapped you can see the prints of the leaves. The above piece was wrapped around the pole then string was tied around it to keep the layers tightly together and then it was simmered in tap water for 5 hours.

This slightly quieter piece was steamed in the same pot of plain tap water.

There are more bits and pieces that are waiting to be unwrapped. This is a bit of a slow cloth process.
A sandwich of wool, leaves and silk then rolled around a pole and string tied around that. Simmered in a pot with eucalyptus leaves in the water for 5 hours. 
You can even see the midrib and some of the details of the leaf on the silk. 

I have three pieces of fabric (cotton, silk, wool) with eucalyptus leaves tucked inside them and wrapped around poles , steeping in a rather rusty old baking tray. They were left in my car  in the sun all day. The car gets very hot and they are now in the conservatory and will get hot tomorrow again. I'll leave them a few days to see how strong the colours get. See below.
The rusty baking tray is providing the mordant and making the print black.