Challenge quilts, Dyeing with copper experiments, Flowering trees, Altered Books.

Nearly finished quilting!

This photo is a small part of my Jems Quiltsitters challenge quilt.  I have nearly finished quilting this on my machine.  I never really like my own quilting and have all sorts of problems trying not to be jerky and keeping my stitches even.  I have to have it finished before May because I will be away for 6 weeks and when I get back it will be nearly time for the Jems Quilt show which will be at the Brookfield Hall on the weekend of July 23rd.  I will put in exact dates later.

final colour of copper solution for dyeing

Yesterday was the day for the copper dyeing trials.  I have written vast quantities of notes and have lots of ‘what if’ ideas.  Basically it did not matter how long the fabric was soaked for, so long as it was swished around and thoroughly wet it seemed to take the colour.  There was no colour in the rinse water and the fabric was softer after rinsing.  It seemed that  the fabric used up the colour and the solution got progressively weaker.  The linen dyed a beautiful shade very similar to a proper English Robin egg blue, but the wool and silk died a dark grey.  All of  the cotton dyed a lovely aqua colour.

Copper dyeing.

On doing a bit more research I have discovered that the pH of ammonia is around 11.3, which is also the pH of a strong Soda Ash solution.  So I thought I might try soaking the copper in some soda ash to see if it gave colour.  I also wondered if adding more copper would make a stronger, or darker colour.  Does anyone have any old copper bits they want to donate to me?   The ammonia is not toxic and can be added to your garden but it does burn your nasal passages a bit.  My mother used it as a household cleaner, and we always had to soak the hairbrushes and combs in it every week.  I don’t know why, and so have discontinued this tradition.  Maybe this is why there is such a huge outbreak of head-lice these days.  Maybe we need to soak our grooming tools in cloudy ammonia once a week.

Spathodea Campanulata

This is also known as an African Tulip tree.   This particular specimen I noticed while waiting at some lights on a rainy day in Burleigh, iphones are so handy!  These trees have been flowering in March as well but I did not know what they were called then, not even it’s  common name.  I have a book by India Flint called ‘Eco dyeing’  It is a lovely book but not really well laid out as far as recipes go.  India lost me when she mentioned that you should really know the correct botanical name of the plants you were using.  There are over 248 species of gum trees!  all of them begin with Eucalypt…….  However something must have rubbed off because since then I have tried to learn the correct names of trees.  India has a lovely blog, there is a link at the side of my blog.

another nearly complete page in my altered book.

Yes, I am still doing my altered book, I have about 6 or 7 pages completed now.  Of course as I get on I am improving with techniques etc.  and so I am tempted to paint over and redo things all of the time!

Nearly a little purse!

That yellow and orange flower looks like a poached egg!  This is nearly ready to be made into a little purse to keep sewing things in.  It has thousands of beads on it! Well hundreds anyway. The background is dyed batting and the flowers and leaves are wool or batting.  I attached them with my embellishing machine.

Bauhinea branch

This tree is outside Dad’s unit.  I thought the leaves looked like butterflies.  The tree is not flowering right now, but it does flower!



Creativity and Inspiration, Reverse Garbage and the Altered Book.

How beautiful is this moth?

My friend Lesley introduced me to the idea of following other quilters on facebook.  I am fairly selective about who I follow, but Lesley sends me ideas on a regular basis and one of them I took up.  This was Pam Holland.  If you click on the link it will take you to her blog where there is a lovely video of a quilt show by the Lake of the Woods Guild in Kenora, Canada. This is a lovely but isolated part of Canada.  The quilt show is amazing.   Although I miss a lot on fb mainly because I am not on it all day I think, I did happen to spot a comment from Pam where she was discussing Three books about creativity and Inspiration.  I have always been curious about where some of our artists and quilters get their inspiration and so I bought these three books as ebooks and have them on my phone to read as well as on my pc.  I had a mixed media art teacher in Sydney in the 90’s by the name of Barbara Dimitri who encouraged us to take lots of photos of things textural and so I have been doing this on and off for quite a few years now – hence the lovely photo of the moth!  Interestingly, this is one of the things that the inspirational quilters and artists I know of, all do, along with sketchbooks and journals to jot down notes, quick drawings, plans, colourways, layouts, you name it.  Photos are much quicker than writing or sketching.  Having this blog has had one side bonus in that I have been forced to sort of organise and name my photos and keep them in a sort of order!   The digital age also helps!

At the top of this photo is a plaster cast of someone’s teeth, bottom jaw I think.  I got this from a box of casts at the reverse garbage shop.  It was fairly clear that the box had been full and was now nearly empty and I did wonder what all the other people did with their casts!  I used mine to make an impression in one of those blue foam stamps that you heat up, impress, ink, stamp, clean, then heat again to re use with a different impression.  I inked the stamp with some acrylic paint then printed it onto the side of a page in my Altered Book.

I call this page Chompers!

The ReverseGarbage Shop is at 20 Burke Street, Woolloongabba, Brisbane.  They buy used or left over waste from industries,  they then sort it and put it in bins and you can go and get things to make other things with fairly cheaply.  Among some of the things I purchased were some sort of really rusty tool, some acrylic letters, some plexiglass to use for mono printing,  some  chipboard that I plan on using to make my own books one day as well as quite a few things that I can use to “make marks” on fabric.  There was also lots of things like wood, large plastic buckets that would be good for immersion dyeing, lots of posterboard, rubber bits, felt bits, foam bits, you name it!  It is not exactly dirty there but you do feel like washing your hands when you leave!

Another page finished in my Altered Book

I now have three or four completed pages in my Altered Book.  I have really enjoyed doing this project and I have practised lots of different techniques and tried out different things, colours.  Perse asked when it would be finished and then answered his own question with.  ” I suppose you could just go on with it for ever really!”