Archive for the ‘Dyeing’ Category

Small 3D felted elements or “What’s she got in her pocketses?”

January 26, 2014

I’ve begun to design my next piece which would incorporate many of the recently felted and dyed larger elements like these:

various dyed felted elements

various dyed felted elements

I’m excited by what’s coming together on my design wall but was struggling with what to put in some of those deep sculptural openings that would accentuate the 3Dness. My friend Kris, suggested small felt balls. So after finding a very helpful video online describing how to make essentially felted beads, I got busy (and wet and soapy) with undyed wool.

Of course there was a bit of a learning curve but I made some discoveries. Cheaper wool batt (“Peoples Wool” from New England Felting Supply) is easier to work with than pricey merino.  Wrapping each “bead” with a few strands of lustrous Bombyx silk will create a contrasting pattern after dyeing. And my daugther, Caitlin, discovered that other forms (tiny bananas!) are possible if you shape it before it’s too felted.

undyed tiny felted elements

undyed tiny felted elements

Yesterday these little babies got dyed along with some felting I wanted to overdye. Here are the results literally steaming just out of the dye pot.

Dyed felted small shapes and more

Dyed felted small shapes and more

Look for these in my next piece!

Dyed and ready

January 5, 2014

My fears that the results of all the hours of work experimenting with using resists ( including rocks) to felt would be unusable were unfounded! Even during the entire dyeing process, there was much grumbling and hand wringing (ask my partner in all things dyed, Kris McDermet!). Instead of the acid-dyeing-in-pots-on-the-stove method I was comfortable with, I tried directly applying the dye and then steaming to set. I felt this would give me more variation in the close range of color I was after. By the way, the direct application with rubber gloves on was like  squishy fingerpainting and a blast. But I had little control and feared a disaster.

Not so! after drying the dyed felting by my woodstove and pinning them up randomly on my design wall, I stood back and was pleased with what I saw!  I love the deep shadows and craters.
Many of these fragments will be the building blocks for my next group of pieces.

dyed resist felting

dyed resist felting

Batiking in Ghana 4 (last one!)

September 4, 2013

Dan was also working on his own pieces while he taught us. When we arrived we saw a pile of large bundles of 2 color batiked fabrics which had been widely folded accordian style and bound. These were awaiting final resist dyeing.
Dye bowls were placed tilted in a drainage gap in the floor. Dan mixed dyes into the bowls.

Dan mixing dye for his own work

Dan mixing dye for his own work

You can see three bundles in the foreground ready for dyeing. Each bundle will be stood on its side to pick up that color and then stood on the opposite side to pick up a second color and to allow for color combos along the middle. Hard to explain but easier when you see the picture hopefully:

Dyeing the bundles

Dyeing the bundles

I really wish I had taken more close up pictures of his finished fabric so you could understand why I was so taken by the uniquely  intricate patterning and rich colors. Here’s another shot of fabrics for sale at the shop. It does not do it justice.

fabrics in the shop

fabrics in the shop

So back to finishing my piece of beginner batik: After the second block printing, dyeing and drying, the fabric was rinsed in the outside bathtub.

bathtub rinse

bathtub rinse

Then Dan plunged it into boiling water from the heated oil drum to melt off the wax. He deftly moved the fabric around using two sticks like tongs.

wax off

wax off

Et voila:

finished

finished

Notice the heavy handed moments. Dan and Elizabeth made it look easier that is was!
I hope this vicarious experience was interesting for some of you. It was wonderful for me to relive that day!

 

 

 

Batiking in Ghana 2

August 29, 2013

The next morning after a squished hour ride on a trotro (beat up minivan-the main public transport) and after a prolonged search we finally found the workshop-a concrete block, dirt floor, open air structure in a residential area. Lots of friendly neighbors, curious kids, goats, chickens, a few pigs and sounds of a raucous church choir practicing next door formed the backdrop.

Mercy’s son, Daniel Tekfor Baflo, welcomed us and showed us around.

Dan in shop

Dan in shop

It became clear that because Mercy had actually stopped batiking 20 years ago, Dan was the artist behind the work produced. He’s 34, went to art school for graphic design over 10 years ago and works here 7 days a week. Yet he gets no personal credit for his textiles. This was one of many moments of I ran into  of (to me) mysterious cultural rules of loyalty and obligation. Dan is not happy with the situation but feels he has few choices.

OK back to the workshop…
At one end were the large plastic dye pots.

dye pots

dye pots

And at the other end was the work table, the wax pot…

wax pot

wax pot

…and overflowing shelves holding dozens of beautiful intricately carved thick foam stamps! The designs ranged from traditional  to bold free-flowing contemporary.

blocks on shelf

blocks on shelf

Clearly THESE were part of the secret behind the uniqueness of the fabric Dan produces here. Dan draws freehand on the foam and carves each design with a razor blade. The additional step that distinquishes his work is his technique of overstamping with these blocks. That results in the filagreed, richly layered surfaces I fell in love with.

I had to choose 2 blocks. Well that took a while! But I settled on block 1:

block1

block1

…and block 2:

block 2

block 2

Dan then filled an oil drum outside with water from an old nearby bathtub and built a fire.

water into the drum

water into the drum

Next step-stamping the wax…To be continued!

 

Batiking in Ghana 1

August 27, 2013

I just got back from a transformative four weeks in Ghana, West Africa!  It was jam-packed with extraordinary adventures that I’m just starting to digest! Here’s a fiber related one. It will probably take a few installments.
Nearly everywhere in Ghana are women (often carrying large loads on their heads and babies on their backs!) wearing boldly colored batik dresses and head wraps. I tried not to stare but the intricate fabric designs, the complicated cuts of the dresses AND the ingenious way yardage was skillfully used to secure those babies was a visual treat. Some of that fabric was cheap fake batik imported from China. But I sought out where to buy locally made batik. I had been given the name of Mercy Asi Ocansey from a friend as the place to see the most beautiful and interesting hand made batik in the area. I finally found both she and her small shop in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Wow.

Mercy and I in her store

Mercy and I in her store

She is retired and the designs and fabric are now being created by her son, Daniel Tekper Baflo (much more on his amazing craft later!) She asked me to wear one of her batiked shirts for the picture. This photo does not do justice to the  multilayered unique designs on all this fabric. Needless to say I left with a lighter wallet though it was agonizing to pick what yardage to buy.

Dan and his sister

Dan and his sister

I returned a few days later to work out a plan to be able to observe her batik workshop (outside of the city) and create some fabric myself. This involved lots of misunderstood English, laughter, many cell phone calls to “the boy” (her son, Dan) and polite price haggling. My friend and I left with very rough directions and a plan to travel there the next morning. I also, of course, had bought more fabric : ).

More in the next installment!

Life Goes On II

July 11, 2013
Life Goes On II

Life Goes On II

To create the fabric for this piece, I first collected smooth stones from Halladay Brook next to my house. By placing the stones on cotton that I had painted with dye, the dye molecules migrated away from the covered areas leaving ghostly serendipitous circles.

Don’t ask me why, I think of it as some sort of magic… Anyone out there know the answer??

Here’s a closer look:

Life Goes On- detail

Life Goes On- detail

Avocado Dyeing

January 20, 2013
Avocado Dyeing Drying

Avocado Dyeing Drying

Guess what color I’m going to felt?
Very interesting seeing how different fibers ( wool bat, wool prefelt, silk bombyx, silk hankies, silk gauze, alpaca yarn and raw curly cotswald wool) all took up the dye differently and created just what I wanted… subtle variations of hue. I only used Avocado and Sun Yellow acid dye. Another experiment was dyeing wool “nebs”-tiny little specks of raw wool that are the result of some step in wool processing. Lots of possibilities for those little buggers. So I tied them in a silk gauze bundle and threw them into the dye pot. Needless to say there were many escapees some of whom attached themselves to other pieces of fiber.

I figure it just created even more opportunities for complex texture when I felt it (later this week)!
 

 

Future Felted Fiber Dreaming

January 15, 2013

I love visiting New England Felting Supply in Easthampton, MA.! After months of percolating ideas about creating pieces that included large felted areas  juxtaposed with silk charmeuse, I went a bit crazy there last week.

Fiber to Dye

Fiber to Dye

SO many enticing and varied choices of fibers! I stuck to buying only undyed fiber which helped me focus but I couldn’t resist the potential possibilities of combining various dyed-together fibers and the richly textured felt I might be able to create.

Emphasis on “might”. I’m venturing into dyeing and using wet felt methods combining pre-felt, bat, silk fibers and possibly cotton cording. I will most likely need to expect a few disasters initially.

First dye session on Sunday with my amazing fiber buddy, Kris.

 

New large commission-the beginning

April 5, 2012

I’ve gotten the go ahead to start work on a 7 foot long commission and I’m going to attempt to be organized enough to document its creation here. We’ll see…

It will live on a very large curved wall and will be attached with velcro strips (technical challenges are in my future!). I had to rebuild my design wall to accomodate this length and decided to go with gray felt instead of my previous black. This is partly because my studio is one end of our large bedroom and a 12′ black wall seemed a bit goth and gloomy.. Here’s the new design wall/blank canvas:

New design wall

New design wall

I spent some time last week dyeing silk charmeuse and some new alpaca yarn specifically for this commission. I also experimented with Color Magnet while doing this dyeing. Very yummy results. So here’s my palette:

Dyed for commission

Dyed for commission

Next time: the design

 

 

Unexpected but fantastic results!

March 18, 2012

A successful dyeing morning with my fiber friend Kris! I’m beginning to dye fabric for a large commission (7 feet long!) and this experiment with using Color Magnet is a part of that.

This product is supposed to create darker areas where applied. I don’t know if it’s because of the material (silk) or the process (acid dyeing uses hot water) but the results were different than expected. But in a wonderful way. Color Magnet is sold in an applicator form as well as the jar of goop.

The applicator went on too thinly so very little patterning happened. The liquid in the jar was fun to apply, went on maybe too thickly, was slow to dry (overnight on my porch wasn’t enough) but gave the best results.

Color Magnet on Charmeuse silk 1

Color Magnet on Charmeuse silk 1

The dark areas are there but also beautifully random white areas.

Color Magnet on Charmeuse silk 2

Color Magnet on Charmeuse silk 2

I love the one above-how the darker areas are outlined in white.
One more:

Color Magnet on Charmeuse silk 3

Color Magnet on Charmeuse silk 3

 

 


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