Second Hand Fabrics

May 30, 2012

Oh, Nicola is now, speaking my language: second hand stores.  I openly admit as a true artist that I have rescued items with a bit of dumpster diving, which ended up being excessively valuable. When I first time visit a town I do not head for the tourist attractions but I scan the environment for junk stores.  I found a little fabric store many years ago, along the side of the road not unlike a fruit stand. It was near a quaint town population just under 200. The store was crammed pack with 100% natural fabrics that were end roll or bolt ends.  I found delicate cottons, silks alongside heavy-duty sailcloth. Oh, I had so much fun dying those fabrics and I still have a few left in my stash. Sadly, the store was torn down in lieu for a convenience store.

 

I read an article in the NY Times that  the cotton industry has discovered a way to  intermingled nano Millimeter ( I forget the actual weight but it was microscopic) of  synthetic  to reduce shrinkage, yet the amount is so small it  is still legally label it 100% cotton. This explains why newer items such as tee shirts and linens will not dye properly with procion dyes.  Yes, I have taught classes on beach towel dyeing using a kiddie swimming pool.  Have you ever wondered by some 100% cotton tee-shirt seems to be hot or slightly itchy? This small percentage of non-natural fiber keeps the fiber from “breathing”, or allowing the air to freely flow through the garment.

 

The only true test is doing a burn test, which I found this one of the most useful tools I learned at art school.   For a final test in this class, I was presented a pile of samples and required to identify the contents by burning them.   A small sliver is fibers, held of course with tweezers or tongs, set a flame with a match, various fibers will have a different burn rate, odor, and a distinctive ash or rubbish result. I have worked with textiles for over forty years and yet garments or unmarked fabrics have deceived me especially some with the distinct feel of silk, when tested will burn into a hard uncrushable black ball and smell foreign.  Silk will scent of burned hair and crush into ashes.   Plant fibers have the odor of paper burning while all animal protein: wool, silk, leather have the smell of when you get too close to an open flame and your eyelashes get  singed, the stench of burning hair.    It is a fascinating, to me after I wrote this, I discovered there are several web sites with the various  test results.

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Felted Postcards

February 9, 2012

I adore postcards,  and have collected them for over 40 years, even though the internet can take us to exotic lands, postcards are a signal that some one thinks of you even while they are gone.  Over the years, I  have been in several multimedia post card exhibits and it is great fun.   I would like to see  a twist on the travel postcard event by  creating felting post-cards about HOME.

This challenge is called “Postcards from Home” and features small (4 inch by 6 inch) pictorials of scenes from you home environment: landscapes, perhaps a historical  point of interest.  Some suggestions to get you thinking about a pictorial postcard:  the natural environment, such as mountains, deserts or coastal scenery; native flora and fauna; images of agriculture such as farms, ranches and dairies; man-made scenes, such as towns and cities, bridges, monuments, museums, and theme parks; historical images from home past; and recreational settings.

Deadline:  August 15, 2012
Open to all
Size:  4 inches by 6 inches (traditional postcard size
Writing may be included
Make a label for the back of your postcard containing the following information:

Postcard from Home Challenge 2012
Your Name and Address
Title of Postcard
Location of scene

On a separate piece of paper, please include a short paragraph explaining the scene you felted and any additional information that you wish to share.  This information may be used in promotional materials and articles concerning this challenge.

Bring the finished postcards, or mail* the finished postcard to me.  I will document and photograph each postcard. I would like to take a display of these postcards to various exhibits. We have a Final Friday exhibit here in my hometown of Lawrence, KS. There is First Friday in Kansas City, MO. There is a large possibility of several national venues for a traveling exhibit but locations are undisclosed at this time.

 

Leave a response if you might be interested.  The pieces will be auctioned off for a charity fund raiser TBA later. So this is a mere feeler for a response.  I may extend it to fiberart postcards, since  my circle of acquaintances extend way into the fiber world: weaving, surface design, beading,  hand made papers,  fabric design, dying, indigo, baskets etc. i have yet to decide.  What a great way to get your work SEEN by a groups of people.

New project

February 4, 2012

I have been working on this for 2 months but my day job has so rudely interrupted my process.  It involves, merino wool with silk wrapped in a spiral around the cylinder of wool  that was created with a resist and loose locks left unfelted. Then,  direct application  of acid dye  was applied after  a 4 inch PVC pipe was inserted into the felted cylinder and scrunched  using a Japanese method.   I found it interesting that the silk dyed a different shade of blue even though both the wool and silk were white.

This is a detailed of the piece that is 9 inch circumference with a height of currently 17 inches but with the copper tubing  it will extend it to 24 inches. The copper tubing and  the base is still in design stages but as soon as the piece is completed decent pics of piece will be posted.  I am very excited about this piece but currently I am still mending from a rotator cuff injury, which is adversely affecting my ability to felt.

Works in Progress

November 26, 2011

Taken with Rebel T3

Work in Progress

Work still in progress. The re-bar needs to be straighten and waxed.  I am still working on the idea  and what I am actually conveying in this piece. I am using a new camera, which I am uncertain it does the work justice so the camera back get returned.  I have fifteen days for a final decision.

Work in Progress

This piece was a direct result of  my local fiber group by demonstrating how to achieve locks. This piece was made of raw fleece, un-scoured, uncombed or carded  with wee bits of previously dyed fleece.

he teal, aqua, blue piece was totally an experiment with un-carded, non-scoured fleece and white silk  gauze. Once the piece was felted then fulled, it  soaked in white vinegar then while still wet, it was bound with  cotton twine and scrunched together. Three shades of blue of acid dyes were mixed and dripped onto the wet wool. The silk readily absorbed the dye the most.  Once the dying was completed, wrapped into cellophane shrink wrap and nuked for 2.5 minutes on high power.  It was reste4d then additional 2 minutes in microwave. Not shown are the intact locks at the top, which adsorbed the deep midnight blue dye that match the silk portions. It was left to dry in the scrunched position.  The vessels is in progress as I am making a copper tubing to hold it.  Once completed the piece will be displayed in its entirety.

Untitled as work is in progress

Stitches

March 26, 2011

The baseball season reminds me the past not pastime but my past.   My fondest memories growing up were visiting my grandpa in a small Catholic town in Northeast Kansas.  Rumor has it that he was known for his wine making throughout the region, as he was a second-generation immigrant from wine country in Germany. When we visited grandpa, after hugs and hellos, the first thing grandpa would say, “Now, you kids stay out of the grapes.” Naturally, this command only enticed me more to investigate his crop; yes, I was a spunky child.  I would head directly outside and meander through the grapevines, observing the intertwining, curling branches that thickly hung on a sagging wired support what seemed endless. The heart shape leaves displayed a countless pallet of green tones while the thin curling arms provided entertainment as I pulled them out straight and watch with enthusiasm, as they would spring back into a tight coil.

Eventually my yearning for the forbidden fruit would capture my attention and I would find a secluded area and pluck one of the mammoth grapes; they were the size of shooter marbles and just as hard. I loved seeing the green ones juxtaposed next to the violet fruits. I would carefully peel the grape, revealing its succulent fruit beneath the bluish violet skin. It was so smooth and juicy as I rolled it around inside my inquisitive mouth. I would hear grandpa’s favorite pastime linger out the windows and guilt would heavily rest upon my Catholic shoulders, and I would trek back.  Once inside, I would crawl upon grandpa’s lap as he listened to the baseball game on a huge walnut upright floor radio while sipping a lukewarm beer.

I managed to escape any accusations of stolen fruit but it did imprint a delightful era in my years.  I suppose grandpa’s affection of sports naturally influenced my father, who loved all sports. If it involved a ball, my dad knew how to manipulate and conquer the rules accompanied.   I spent a great deal of my childhood on baseball fields, not by choice but accompanying my dad to amateur team practices.

Stitches

Anyway, the reason for this story is that this vessel is called, “Stitches” I was never enthralled with sports, I was more intrigued by the stitching on the balls, the baseball has pleasurable hand stitching that loops around and back again, and the lattice of pigskin with its bumpy leather texture were much more tactile to caress.  I never understood the white bare lines of a tennis ball but it reminded me of the white boundary lines of a baseball field. The pentagonal sections on a soccer ball were puzzling.  The black circular lines of a basketball, well they were not stitched, but they could have been.  The one ball I could call my friend was a tethered ball, one that could not get away from me.  Am I admitting that I am ball challenged? You bet!  Balls are an extensive part of my past with a love-hate relationship, given a choice art lessons would have been my pick.   Although sports tend to bore me, they are a part of the total sum of my existence and so this vessel is inspired by my past.

Dyeing a wool vessel

March 12, 2011

This unexpected vessel design was an exercise in creating color on a pure white vessel using acid dyes from Pro Chemical.  Once I felted and fulled the vessel, and it was completely dried, I folded vessel like a paper fan on one side.  I held the folds in place using metal pinch binder clips (the giant size). I wanted a random application opposed to a regular pattern, as the vessel was much too petite, so I added a few additional clips and even wood clothespins.   I mixed the acid dye with a tiny bit of water to create a paste then it was mixed with a pint of water with a pinch of non-iodized salt and tumbled into one of my stainless steel bowls and placed  on top of the electric burner. When the dye became 140F, I submerged the bound vessel into the dye.   Once I was satisfied with the saturation point judged by personal preference, I put the bound vessel into a plastic bag to slowly cool, this allowed plenty of time for the dye to penetrate and since protein, fibers require heat to open the cell structure and allow the dye to penetrate the cell membranes. .  I let it sit overnight in the bag, though this step is not necessary.   The following morning I rinsed the vessel but the dye had correctly exhausted or absorbed by the protein wool fiber.  When I rinsed it, no excess dye bled into the drain. It was a gratifying lesson, as I have never approached wool dyeing in this manner. The high contrast of the white and turquoise gives a vivid graphic design, which is definitely out of my comfort zone, and I enjoy more subtle designs but this one is promised to an adoring fan.