Glue Resist, Museums, Bagley, Dyeing.

Eventually I found this little museum just around the corner from me.  It is a collection of buildings including a replica of one of the first houses built in the area.  The site includes 3 original graves and proof of long ago aboriginal visitation, also some coastal rainforest and a sub-tropical cottage garden.  This museum is run by a volunteer organisation called the Gold Coast and Hinterland Historical Society.  The entire committee was there on the 6th of November  working, and they insisted I sit and have tea!.  They followed me around to make sure I was Ok or maybe to make sure I didn’t steal anything.  They were helpful and very chatty and generally made it difficult for me to draw.  Luckily there were only two other visitors there that day.  It was extremely hot, there were few places to sit and draw and there was very little notation about things.  Consequently I only got a couple of pages drawn and I am not very happy with the results and haven’t submitted them yet.  I did manage to take a few photos.

This is part of a little table mat that was at the museum sitting on one of those twig hall tables.  It is sacking with cotton string and is supposed to be original from the 1860’s.  It does look a bit clean to be original but I thought it was interesting.

I have a new Application on my Mac called Turbo Collage.  It lets me put several photos together and add text.  I find it useful to add groups of things and to show progressions.  This is of a glue resist experiment.  I used Elmers Blue Gel glue as the resist and then soaked it in Soda Ash and painted Procion MX dyes with a brush.  Then I added more doodles with the Sharpie Pen after rinsing and washing.  This is my fern frond which I have shown before in a sketch book in an earlier post.  Really I have been drawing this fern frond since I was a child in New Zealand.

Here is a doodle also dyed using a brush with unthickened Procion dyes.  I have redoodled over some of the piece loosely.  Next time I will try painting with thickened dyes.  I think I like the black and white doodles best.

Since I had some dyes made up and Laura Kemshall had just presented a video on dyeing on DMTV I decided to do some simple pieces using her methods.  These are the results and I am quite pleased with them, they will be useful.  I also dyed some more threads to finish off the quilt from the same TV programme using the 2 metre piece of fabric and the rail fence block.

Finally here is the finished quilt.  There is some machine quilting and quite a lot of hand quilting, all practising my seed stitch – I am still not great at random – The hand quilting caused my hands quite a few problems and eventually I realised that I had used the wrong batting to pull perle cottons through by hand.  Its all a learning curve!

Finally, here is a photo of Bagley in my friends garden.  Her lovely husband had taught him how to dig a hole. In actual fact he is much dirtier than this photo shows.  My friend also has a Westie who is female and nearly one year old.  They had a lovely day together and got into such a mess they were banished to the hot garden!  Bagley was a hot and exhausted puppy after that and spent the next 24 hours sleeping.  He can’t wait to get back to that garden and practise his hole digging!

I went with the Serendipity group to the GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) to their “Threads” Exhibition.  It was very interesting, there were quilts and textiles from the Asia Pacific region.  All of the quilts and textiles are actually owned by the Queensland Museum, Queensland Gallery or the GoMA.  If you like textiles its well worth a visit.  I took this photo because it was amazingly hand stitched in the English Piecing style using half inch squares! I have another friend who is doing a postage stamp type quilt on one inch papers, it is going to be magnificent.

Finally, my very un-scientific 6 month light-fastness test on the copper dyed fabric is finished.  there was very little fade.  I don’t have a good photo yet and still have some tests to do – sewing etc using the fabric.



Antique Sewing Machines, Shibori with Janice Gunner, Rusting again! City & Guilds.

This photo is taken of a shop called All Saints of Spitalfields.  The Shop is in the Bluewater Shopping Centre which is just off the M25 near the Dartford Crossing in London.  There are more than one window covered with sewing machines in this shop plus displays inside.  There are other shops in London as well.

I did a class with Janice Gunner learning new Shibori techniques and also how to dye with pre-reduced Indigo.  It was a great two day class and this little piece includes several of the techniques and also different fabrics –  cotton, linen and silk.

Here is the completed challenge quilt for the JEMS Quiltsitters Quilt Show.  I really did not like this quilt until I had nearly finished quilting it.  I am very pleased with it now.  I think when you get so close to your quilt or your art work and it does not really seem to be happening quite the way you wanted, it is difficult.  Then when you stand back and breathe, and get away from it for a while… it all falls into place.  This is quite a different sort of quilt for me and I am now looking forward to making more similar quilts.

I purchased these flat metal rest shapes in the very small outdoor department in Liberty’s Department Store in London.  Here is the result after rusting them.  I really like the leaf shape and might use it for some quilting patterns.

I am going to do some more experiments with the copper solution and have already soaked a rusted sample in the solution successfully.  I have also discovered that vinegar removes most of the copper colour from the fabric which might be interesting.  I also need to do some sewing on the copper dyed fabric to see how it goes with needles and thread.

This is a sketchbook cover I have made after seeing one at my friend Joybell’s home recently.  My cover is a different colour to hers, and I could only vaguely remember her instructions.  The backing is some fabric paper I had made earlier in the year.  The text is sponge fonts from four different sets which just stick on then I hurriedly machined over them to keep them in place.  Then acrylic paints – I used Winsor & Newton heavy body acrylics.  Then a few coats of varnish.  I used some old Jo Sonja Satin Varnish.  I really like it and it will make a great gift idea.  This one is for me – it has my name all over it!

This is a really cool photo taken with an app on my iPhone.  The App is called  ‘Paper Camera”.  There are multiple different ways of viewing the world through this app.  This is called sketch up and I think its great.

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while.  Travelling and blogging was more difficult than I thought it would be, then the Whirlwind and her mother came back to Australia with Perse and Myself.  Then had the elderly-but-delightful parent in and out of hospital.  Plus changing from the Windows operating system to the Apple Mac system proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated, however I have had several more classes at the Apple Store and am a little more comfortable with the new lap top now.

I have enrolled and been accepted to do a City & Guilds on line course in Creative Quiltmaking with the Design Matters Team.  Crazy I know,adding more to my already crazy schedule but I am really excited and will update my progress on this blog now and then.

The final photo is of slime at the Albert Docks on the Mersey River in Liverpool.




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!


Embellishing machines, Altered Books, PhD’s and New Stamps.

This is the right eye of a confirmed PhD candidate.

Last Friday we went to watch our eldest daughter present for her confirmation of candidature for her phD.  Of course she got it and is now a student again.  I think it will take her about 3 years or so.  She took this photograph and it is one of the more serious pictures that I have of her.  Congratulations Eldest Daughter,  we are all very proud of you!

This is an old quilt I made  for this daughter which came back to me last week to have hanging sleeves put on it as it is to be hung in the Cherbourg State School Library.  It has hand prints of all of the children in her first class in Cherbourg and they used it to sit on during story time.  The turtle is made from a really lovely batik fabric that I have run out of and cannot find again!

At the last Craft show I made the great purchase of a new machine.  It is an embellishing machine, although on the box it says “punching Machine” what it really does is needle-felt with five needles at once –  quickly!  The Picture on the right is of some of my experimentation with some wool roving and pre-felt cut into shapes and a bit of yarn on a dyed batting base.  Eventually I will make this into a little bag, but it will have quite a lot of stitching on it first.

This wine glass I drew then painted quickly into my altered book the other morning.  I spent years in the 1990’s trying to learn how to paint glass and the other day after  very little painting in the last decade, it just came to me.  Although its not perfect I am quite pleased.  The spine of the book is a piece of fabric glued down with acrylic matte gel.  I can’t remember where I picked up this technique but you stick down some flat alphabet stickers and then iron them (under some baking paper) then using a stencil type of process you paint over the stickers with some fabric paint, I used Pebeo Setacolour.  When dry you just remove the stickers and heat set from the back with an iron.  I then cut the strip to measure and glued it down.  I had already  changed the colour of the cover to match the fabric.

On the weekend I saw this wooden block stamp from India in a shop called “Tree of Life”  This is not a shop I usually go into, it looks a bit like the old hippy shops, although in the 1970’s you might have found fruit flavoured “cigarette” papers under the glass of the counter!   The painted yellow and blue piece of paper is painted vliesofix, and the gold is fabric foil.  I am very taken by these old hieroglyphs that make you think the ancient greeks had mechanical implements with gauges and steam pouring out etc.  I have stamped with fabric paint onto some decorator weight 100%wool felt.  eventually I will cut it up and weave it back together with some other stuff and punch it all together with my new machine!

This picture of the tree trunk was taken at UQ St Lucia.  I think it is some sort of pepper tree.  Usually when I take this sort of textural photo I have no idea of how I would translate it onto some fabric.  But this time I do!

Flowering trees, glue resists and fish.

I am so busy rushing around getting from  A to B, often I forget to really look at the things around me.  For example we have a lot of flowering trees in Australia, many of them are introduced but they do very well here.  I have decided to pay attention to the trees and make a note of when they flower and how long for.  (At this point my daughters are both rolling their eyes!)  So to that end I spent today taking photos of some of the trees in my neighbourhood that happen to be in flower.  Some of the trees I have omitted because  they are just so over publicised, for example the frangipani, or because they are a whole species in themselves, for example the palm trees; and some because I just could not find a nice specimen to get a good photo.  The first tree is the Shefflera Actinophylla, native to Northern Queensland and considered a pest on the Gold Coast by our esteemed council – I should point out that the photos I took are in the Park on Bundall Road adjacent to the Council Chambers!

Schefflera Actinophylla

The flower is the spiky thing sticking out of the top I know this from watching Burkes Back yard!  The Lorikeets seem to like it!  It is really a whole lot of berries stuck onto a stick randomly!

Delonix Regia flower

You might know this as a Royal Poinciana  tree – they come from Madagascar and love the Gold Coast!

Tibouchina flower

Probably the Tibouchina is really a large shrub and not a tree, but you can park your car under it and get some shade so in my book that makes it a small tree!

Flowering gum

I found this by accident, just driving around the council buildings looking for the Tibouchina.  If you didn’t pay attention you might miss the tree because from a distance it looks quite inconspicuous.  This tree was quite small so I could reach and pull down the flower to photograph.


These Jacarandah trees are by the Q Centre.  I have never noticed that they flower at this time of year.  Usually they flower at the beginning of summer before the leaves come in.  I wonder if they are flowering now because we have had such a lot of rain this summer.  Does any one know?

successful glue resist.

I have been playing with different glues for quite a few weeks now , looking for a cheap, locally available, glue which will resist dye, paint and other runny colouring fluids.  I have had many dismal failures and quite a few surprises.  Eventually I got some successful Glue resist!  The one most people say to get!  Elmers blue gel.  I got it from Essential Textile Arts which is owned by Susan Pietch in Brisbane.  Speaking of purchases, my first order from Dharma trading arrived today Yay!  I have such a busy week I won’t be able to get stuck into playing until the weekend.

Fresh Fish!

I wanted a photo of some fish for my altered book project.  These fish are at the Ferry Road Markets.  Have you heard of Fish Printing?  You get a fresh fish and paint it with some printing paint and then press fabric or paper onto it.  They used to do it in Japan to record fish size and type!  These fish were too expensive but I was tempted.

Flour paste resist, rust dyeing – again, Altered books.

So here are the pictures for my flour paste resist experiments.  The first picture is the piece of fabric all pinned down to my print board, this is a failed shibori piece I dyed by tying onto a piece of plumbing pipe and then did not put enough dye into the mix, or too much water, or both.  I had no idea how thick or thin to spread the flour mix and I feel I could have gone quite a bit thinner, I have written and drawn into the mix with a skewer in the second picture and in the last picture I have waited for the paste to dry which took about  24 hours, and then painted the whole thing with pebeo setacolour transparent in their Indigo colour.  You can pretty much do the same thing with a whole range of kitchen goodies.  Rice flour, cornflour, instant potatoes, oatmeal, cooked rice you name it, if you can make a batter you can give it a go!

Here is the fabric after rinsing and washing.  I had to wait and passively cure the paint because obviously you can’t iron it!  Don’t read it it is a whole load of rubbish about Strelitzia.  I waited about 4 days.  Pebeo gives you no idea about passive cure time and I really think that this was too soon.  Next I would like to try the same flour paste technique with thickened dye, also using potato dextrin in stead of flour which is supposed to give you finer lines.

I was googling something the other day and accidentally came across a person who rust dyes and adds tannic acid to make black.  Not having any tannic acid, I made a very strong cuppa – 4 teabags strong! and got my little pipette and dripped some of the tea over the area where the fabric had started to rust.  This piece is only about twelve inches square unfortunately, It was a piece of leftover Lakehouse white on white spot.  I really love this little piece and will definitely do something with it.  I am also going to try to duplicate it.  To that end I went to that big hardware store today and made some purchases for the rust experiments.

This first little picture is the things ready to be rusted.  The second is all of those things in a plastic bucket with some vinegar and salty water.  I have added a couple of already rusted bits to encourage the others. I am going to time how long it takes.

The third picture is a foam monoprint of a Strelitzia leaf ready for printing.  I have glued it to some foam core board with the Elmers Ultimate glue.  This is for my Quiltsitters challenge quilt which I have made a really good start on.

Last week my fabric arrived from Whaley’s in Bradford!  Just need the Dharma trading order now!  Today block 2 of the Sue Spargo Block of the Month arrived.  Below is the completed block 1.

I decided to go ahead and put some beading on, after joining the Yahoo group for this I realised a lot of the others are doing their own thing with beads etc.  Can’t wait to start the next block!

Here is a page from my Altered Book which I am doing as a weekly project with the DMTV programmes.  The spoon says Taumarunui NZ: this is where I was born.  Perse wanted to go all engineer on me and get  mechanical devices to flatten the spoon, eventually I just took to it with the hammer on a chopping board!  This page is not finished, and yes I know NZ is not aligned correctly!  I am really enjoying doing this project and I am learning such a lot about all sorts of different media.

Perse was working down at the Avalon Air show last week and he sent me this picture of an F22 Raptor!  If it was rusty I think I could use it, in the meantime I will just file it away with my texture photos!

Heliographs, sketching and rust experiments

This is the result of some heliographic printing – sun prints.  I have used  cut out shapes of my scissor collection, I thought I would need something thick and black for the shapes so used black sticky back foam but some of the shapes are just the paper on the back of the foam and I have since found out that you could just use any paper shape.  I didn’t want to do the usual leaves that everyone does.  Paper stencils are easy to cut with a sharp blade so I might cut some more intricate designs and have another go.  The paints used were Pebeo Setacolour Transparent which I miraculously found on sale at that big barn store we all hate and are forced to use occasionally!  Not my usual colour palette however I am trying to expand my horizons.

I thought I would show my design of last week with colour added.  The colouring is done with my little set of 10 Neocolour II aquarelle pastels.  These are water soluble oil pastels. weird huh?  You just lay down a little colour and move it around with a wet brush.  I quite like it and I am hoping I can simulate this style with thickened dyes on fabric.  When the dye thickener arrives!  This little design is in my everyday note/sketchbook and part of my reasoning for putting some of these little drawings in is to encourage people to do some sketching.  It doesn’t have to be perfect or fabulous or have any purpose, but I might flip through this book one day and think I really like this design and then make a quilt based on it.

This piece of cloth is part of the ongoing rust experiments.  This time I used a piece of pre dyed fabric then after neutralizing the rusting with salt water I put the piece through the wash (with some old towels), then soaked it in a fairly strongish solution of fabric softener in hot water for about an hour, then line dried and pressed it.  I am hoping this will make the rust less harsh on needles.  Apparently when you go on and do multiple layers with dyes, discharge, printing etc. on the one piece of fabric it is then called “Complex Cloth”, and if you are a bit creative – it can then be called “Art Cloth”  I just like the idea of blue and brown this week!

Because I am looking for a gutta like resist for cotton which is fairly fine to apply and will stop the dyes from feathering I have done some experiments with all of the glues in my cupboard and even bought  a couple of new ones.  So far I have used – PVA, which does wash out but doesnt stop the dye/paint from moving.  Roxannes Baste it which does a great job of stopping the flow of paint but does NOT wash out (contrary to what you may have thought).  Dritz fray check which was all over useless.  Stiffy, which was quite good at keeping the paint in place but does not wash out.  Tacky Craft Glue which holds the dye/paint but does not wash out and it STILL tacky.  Teachers Choice school glue which is difficult to make a fine line and spreads all over the place but does hold the paint/dye and washes out fairly well.  I now have some black Gutta to try next.  I have photos of this but boring!

This little pencil case is an old pattern which I was reminded of on my DMTV programme.  You can make these with anything, I used left over edges of a small quilt and joined them with the black and white fabric.

My Book shipment arrived today from that cheap American On line bookstore.  Yay!  I have to go now and read them all from cover to cover!  Luckily most of them have lots of lovely pictures.

“If you are not failing every now and again, it is a sign you are not doing anything very innovative.”  –  Woody Allen, love him or hate him, these words are very true.