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!”


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!


Gelatine, BOM and photoshop!

This first picture shows some bits and pieces ready to print including the gelatin pad.  You make a thick mix of gelatine in a lamington tray or similar, let it set, then lift it out and place on a surface to print.  Then you load the brayer, having never been to an art class ( and distant memories of high school do not include brayers), I found this step quite difficult.  You tube has nothing on “how to load a brayer”!  Eventually I got some paint onto the surface of the gelatin and made some prints.  The next picture shows a collection from my printing day.

The colours are limited because I have not purchased many fabric paints yet and I hope to be able to use dye in Manutex, when it arrives.  I have made some 4″ blocks with stick on foam from the craft store.  It has been stuck onto some foam core board.  I just rolled the colour on and used them like a stamp.  The checks, circles and arrows at the top of the picture, are stick on foam onto 32mm plumbing pipe then onto a regular paint roller, I can’t remember where I got this idea from but you can slide the pipe on and off to change the print shapes easily, and it is a cheap way of making marks on fabric.  You can see these things in the first photo.  All in all it was a good day and lots of fun even though it took longer to set up, and clean up at the end than it did to actually print.  I don’t think I would bother with the gelatine again until grandchildren are old enough to play as well.  But I can see a use for the quilt block stamps and the rollers for making marks on fabric.  I definitely need more colours.  These were Jacquard textile paint and some trial sized neopaque, I would like to try some pebeo transparent and sun paints – when I save up!

This is a little 12 x 12 challenge quilt for one of my groups.  The theme is countries outside of Australia.  Guess which one this is!  I had a lot of fun doing it and it only took about 2 days.  I just have to make a label now.  I decided I wanted to put some dark batting into this little quilt, but I didn’t have any.  So I dyed some with some left over blues I had been playing with.  There are several different blues in this piece.  I think it looks stunning and it was a shame to have to cut into it.

This morning my Sue Spargo Block of the Month (BOM) arrived!  Great excitement.  I have never done one of these block of the month projects before.  It is going to be quite expensive, but in the usual Sue Spargo style we will be able to put our own indent onto it.

Last week I did a second lot of Potassium Permanganate experiments.  To begin I filled a bowl with 1 litre of warm water and added  1/4 tsp of the Pot Perm. swished the fabric around, squeezed it out then hung it to dry.  This is #1 in the photo.

Then I added another 1/4 tsp for the #2 photo,   #3 has a total of 1 tsp on the mix and #4 has 2 tsp.  The very dark #5 piece was left to soak for 3 hours.  By this time it was quite stiff so I rinsed it very thoroughly, and now, after drying and ironing it is quite soft again.  The larger squares of fabric are natural seeded muslin and the smaller strips are strips of left over white muslin.  None of this lot of fabric was pre washed or treated in any way.  The writing is with a brush onto  muslin.  The numbers have been placed in photoshop – finally after a lot of homework and angst I have accomplished something worthwhile from this very expensive course.

The next photo is another one of my texture photos.  Seeing we live in a concrete jungle of sorts I thought I should just make the most of it and see what I can get.   Hmmm!   Not sure about this one!  It is the pavement near the post office at the Isle of Capri shops!  I was waiting for Mark to come and take me to give blood!


Dyeing Experiments, Photoshop and make your own stamps!

In the past week I experimented with the Tsukineko Walnut Ink Crystals and with Potassium Permanganate.  On the right are the Walnut Ink samples.  I made up the ink as instructed on the bottle, to a 2.5% solution which is 1tsp per 1/2 Cup of hot water.  Each of the fabrics was dunked, swished around a bit, wrung out, then hung to dry.  Then ironed, rinsed, dried and ironed again.   Quite a lot of ink came out in the rinse and the fabrics all paled a little.  The Potassium Permanganate was made into a solution with 1/4 tsp in 2 litres of Warm water – very economical!  I followed the same steps as with the walnut Ink.  There was no colour run in the rinse water except the polyester did not take.

The fabrics are from back to front, quilters muslin , butter muslin (left), polyester (right), wool (left), silk dupion (right),  silk noil twill ( bottom left), silk satin (left) and finally silk chiffon on the bottom right.  The fabrics are in the same order for the Potassium Permanganate except the middle fabric in the second to bottom row is a watered down silk noil twill and the bottom fabric is a piece of seeded muslin done to show discharge with pure lemon juice and a paint brush.  There are really no instructions any where for dyeing with Potassium Permanganate, even though a couple of people talk about it – Edwina Mackinnon for one.  Consequently I really had to fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I went.  All in all I felt that the Potassium Permanganate was the more successful, extremely economical in every way and non-toxic to boot!  Edwina Mac talked about thickening the lemon juice but she didn’t say with what!  I suspect sodium alginate, and the only local place that I know I can get this was flooded last week.

Having tidied and photographed the studio I realized I needed more storage and to make the space more workable, and at the same time not making the whole apartment look like a studio!  So on the weekend we purchased a pantry cupboard and a lot of extra shelves, moved the bookcase and the cutting table.  Everything is much easier and more workable now. I can also have it looking quite respectable very quickly.

Also last week I made some more stamps and this lino cut which is a textural thing I designed myself and can use in lots of different ways.  Since cutting this I have discovered that if you warm the lino up first with a hairdryer or something it is much easier to cut!  Self learning does have its pitfalls. the greeny coloured square is a whole lot of little leaves.  It is cut from some sort of latex and is much easier to carve, hopefully I can use this to impress silk velvet as well as texture on other things, cloth, fabric etc.  The next stamp is my signature.  Its a bit thick but definitely looks like my signature.  The bottom one is a border idea I might use when I am making the fabric for the Quiltsitters challenge quilt.

My Procion mx dyes arrived this morning!  I have some fabric already manipulated ready for a Low water Immersion technique.  I plan on doing some layering and also playing with some resist, like flour and water paste!  On the weekend I got a respirator for mixing the powder!  I also got a silk screen to do some of that on the next layer!  I am a bit nervous and will have to check  some instructions on the internet.  I have a book from the library called “Art Cloth” by Jane Dunnewold,which I have read from cover to cover.  I think this is a pretty good ” Dyers bible” sort of book and I will try and get myself a copy.

I went to the library last week and took out 6 books about Textile Art, Art Quilting, Creativity etc., and ordered another 6 books which I think have arrived already.  The library sends me an SMS when they are in!  How technical is that!

Last Wednesday night I went to the first of 4 photoshop classes at the Benowa TAFE.  We used the TAFE computers which are still running XP! I mean really! this is two systems behind!  The tutor, Martin Rawlinson is very nice and quite patient.  We were using Photoshop CS4 which is the big fancy expensive programme.  I only have Photoshop elements 7, which came for free with my laptop.  While we were there I thought I was managing things quite well  BUT when I got to finally have a little practice on my own laptop – nothing is the same!  So this week I will take my laptop and have a wee chat with Marty and if he can’t teach me Elements 7, I think I will have to try and get my money back.  I had wanted to do something fancy and show you what I had learned, so sorry about that!

Instead of  an old quilt, I thought I would show you one of my texture photos.  This was taken at  Blue, the Taj Hotel we stayed at on the finger wharf in Sydney last November.  The Hotel is built in an old wharf building and this has been left as part of the architecture.  It is all very stunning!  Russell Crowe lives in an apartment at the end of the finger Wharf.


Inspiration, failures and linocuts.

In the past few of years I have done several classes with my local Guild, The Gold Coast Quilters Guild Inc.  Some have been good and some have been OK and most have introduced me to complicated and unnecessary techniques that in the long run I will never use again.  However there were two tutors who really opened my eyes to the possibilities!  They are Helen Godden, and Sue Spargo.  In the Helen Godden class I painted my own drawing from memory, that is the objects were not in front of me, nor were there any pictures or photos of the items.  I learned how to manipulate paint on fabric and that I could, I also learned that free motion quilting is really easy on a smaller piece!  With Sue Spargo I rediscovered the joy of stitching and got to embellish to my hearts content, I discovered wool applique, needle-felting, how to bead with embroidery stitches and that its really fun to do your own thing and mix up the fabrics.

These two tutors led me on a long path of discovery and eventually I have found Linda and Laura Kemshall and their TV programmes – DMTV, which I now subscribe to, and am in the process of watching all the archives that are still available. Linda and Laura are a mother and daughter team in the UK who both have Arts degrees but make you believe you don’t need one!  Now I believe that all things are possible and that I can do some of the things that in the past I felt I couldn’t for whatever reason.  So now through all of these people and a lot of Googling and note-taking and drawing I have come up with a theme for my Quiltsitters Challenge quilt for 2011. I have even come up with a plan to design and make my own fabric, to do this I have to learn how to do screen printing, lino-cut printing, dyeing with procion mx dyes and then finally I will be able to make a quilt that meets the requirements of the challenge.  I can’t really tell you what my theme is because all of that is really meant to be kept a secret so that people will come to the quilt show in July.

I have posted photos of the little Cotman Watercolour set that Sally gave me when I was in the UK in October, one of the set and one of my drawing of it.  I now keep an A4 sketchbook beside me when I am at the computer I make notes of things I need to look up and websites that look interesting while I am on the computer and also do a lot of doodling and drawing, designing etc. usually with just a pencil, but the picture of the leaf is done with the set of Inktense water colour pencils that Laraine gave me.  I thought by putting some pictures up of my drawing attempts you would feel better about your own drawings.  Apparently its all about practice and seeing!  The tree beside the leaf is a purchased rubber stamp.

In the past week I have been busy with my Sydney friends who were up here for the week so did not get as much done as I would have liked.  However I did a few things that failed.  The first was a play with some” idyes” which I had made up in some glass jars in a concentrated form and put them away for a couple of months.  I squirted them around on some left over batting (cotton) they looked OK until I washed them.  They are in the bin.  Some things just are not even worth taking a photo of!  The other thing I did was play with some walnut shells.  I had read that ground up walnut shells make a great pin cushion filler.  After much research I eventually found pure ground up walnuts, Black English Walnuts to be exact, labelled ‘Lizard Litter’.  Good for Lizards because if they eat it, it won’t kill them.  I found a recipe to make walnut ink on the web and while making it threw in a little bit of fabric.  The Ink was not strong enough to behave as an ink but the little bit of fabric that boiled with the shells for an hour is ok!  There is a photo of the result. Not bad, but I have some Walnut Ink crystals – from a good scrap-booking shop, which I will try next.  They use walnut ink in the movies to make the costumes look old, and in scrapbooking to make the paper look old.  It is non-toxic and lightfast!  What I really need are some walnuts that have fallen from the tree with their green hulls still on, then I can make pickled walnuts and walnut ink!  Does anyone out there have a walnut tree?

I have also posted a photo of a lino cut that I have nearly finished, just need to tidy it up a bit more.  I can use this for rubbings for pencil or shiva paintsticks, I can stamp with it with stamping ink or thickened procion mx dyes and I am sure there are 59 other things I can use it for as well.  The last time Idid this I was in Art Class in the 4th form and I was 13!  Its meditative, and hurts your hands, but definitely worthwhile, and it is my own artwork.

In my searching around the internet i found two other textile artists who are quite interesting if I can figure out how I will add them to my side list.