30 April 2012

Irresistible Flour Paste

I've dropped hints about flour paste resist experiments a couple of times, and now it's time to deliver. I really liked this technique. There was something deeply satisfying about messing about with the gooey flour paste. It brought out the inner kindergartener in me. It's also totally non-toxic, and it was quite a relief not to have to worry about gloves, face masks and safety goggles for a change.

The technique is quite simple: you make a mixture of approximately equal parts of plain white flour and water, spread it over the cloth, make marks in the wet paste, let it all dry and then apply thin paint over the dry paste. The paint will enter into the marks, as well as cracks that form when the paste dries, and create patterns on the fabric. The patterns are revealed when the flour paste is washed away.

Wet flour paste on fabric, and marks made with a wooden kebab stick

Dry flour paste. I let it dry for 48 hours: when the paste feels warm to the touch it's dry.

Paint applied over the dry paste. I used thinned fabric paint and let the paint cure for 48 hours before rinsing off the flour paste resist. I didn't heat fix the paint with an iron, but might try ironing carefully from the back next time, just to see what happens.

I used thinned fabric paint. First the paint was quite runny, which created this kind of effekt:

I thickened the paint a bit and the lines became sharper:

With thicker paint it was more difficult to get the paint into the cracks in the resist. However, when the paint was drying, the cracks widened and I could go in with a second layer of paint in certain areas:

Pretty cool effects, right?

I also tried bleach:

Notice the colour of the discharged areas: peach. This is the same dark blue fabric that I earlier used with Jacquard discharge paste. That gave a totally different colour:

Try this technique! It's not for those who demand instant gratification, as there is a certain amount of waiting time, but it's loads of fun! Just remember to flush the rinse water with flour paste down the toilet to avoid any problems with your plumbing.

Happy May Day and see you again soon! - Annika

28 April 2012

A Tower of Colour

I finally finished my gradations, and I'm really pleased with what I've accomplished. I now have 72 (including the three gradations I did earlier) new squares of scrumptious colour in my stash to work with. My fabric stash has had a very strong leaning towards yellows, reds and purples - my favourite colours, but now I have a more varied colour range in different values, which will be very useful in the future. The lighter ones will be great for overdyeing and printing, whereas the darker ones will be excellent for discharge techniques.

Here's a tower of the 36 colours I've dyed this past week:

The light gradation in close-up:

The dark gradation in close-up:

Look here for the medium gradation and information about the colours and dyes I used.

My next blog entry will deal with flour paste resist, so visit again soon if that sounds interesting to you!

Have a great weekend! - Annika

24 April 2012

Artist's Block

I'm on vacation. I have big plans. I'm burning with eagerness to try everything I ever wanted to try. I should have all the time in the world. So what's happening? - Nothing! I've been suffering from the most awful artist's block. Since my last blog entry a week ago I've managed to finish a sock, cut out the muslin pieces for a wrap-around top (no sewing, though), dye two gradations (one which is still batching), try out a fun technique with paintstiks (which I will come back to when I've found a paintstik which isn't past its 'best before' date), and created a sad little square of surface designed fabric. Yes, I know I sound a bit despondent. I feel a bit despondent. I guess I was more in need of a vacation than I realised, and my body just put the foot down and refused to turn on the creative juices. So I just have to take baby steps. It's frustrating, but not the end of the world.

This is the first gradation I've dyed so far. A warmer colour scheme than the last one, with golden yellow, bright scarlet and medium blue (Jacquard Procion MX dye). Click the tags Gradations, Dyecation, Procion MX and Frieda Anderson for more information about gradations. A lighter gradation (gradation 2, i.e.) is ready to be rinsed out, so I'll show you that one in my next blog post. What I like about working with these gradations is that it makes me mix colours that I know I would never have mixed if I had just been doing it on my own. And to my surprise I've realised that those colours that I thought I considered "ugly" are really very useful and not ugly at all. Bright or muddy, light or dark, they all have and deserve a place in the fabric stash!

First gradation, medium value (they look a bit lighter in this photo)

I mentioned a 'sad little square of surface designed fabric'. Well, to be fair, it's really not that sad, but I was a bit disappointed with it, as it didn't turn out the way I expected. I'll walk you through the process. And if you want more details and inspiration check out Melanie Testa's great article Cut from your imagination. Resist-printing fabric with paper 'snowflakes' in issue 21 of Quilting Arts Magazine.

First I printed a hand dyed piece of fabric with bubble wrap and discharge paste:

Then I applied a Magic paper (freezer paper) 'snowflake' resist:

Here's the result after applying fabric paint (dark green, metallic green and gold):

You can see the problem, right? What I should have realised when I was applying the paint is that I was working with the background. I think I would have got away with it if I'd stopped after the metallic green paint, but I felt like adding a bit of glitz, and that was too much. The gold paint jumps forward and since it's similar in value to the the resisted leaves, it obscures the resisted pattern.

I spent some time mulling over the problem and going through different ways to solve it and save the fabric, and this is what I ended up doing: I grabbed a green Multimark pen and drew in the contours of the resisted motifs.

I'm not wild about it, but it's better, it works, and it taught me a valuable lesson about contrast. Something I'm wild about, however, is the snowflake:

If I don't use it as resist in another piece, I'll glue this one into my sketchbook. I love the metallic sheen on the paper.

Thanks for following my adventures in surface design. There's more to come soon. Flour-resist. That's all I'm saying. ;-)

Have a great week! - Annika

17 April 2012

Polka Dotty

It's been a bit quiet in Blogland lately, but I'm very happy to say that I'm on vacation again, so there should be more activity here within soon. You probably won't be surprised if I say that I have big plans, and I expect I will have time to accomplish only a fraction of what I want to do.

So, what do I want to do? I want to do another gradation, with a warm colour scheme this time, and I want to do some surface design on the fabrics that I dyed during my last dyecation. I'm also planning to sew a wrap around top with a stencilled and embroidered appliqué motif on the back. So stay tuned for reports about fun and games.

Meanwhile, I'll just share a couple of photos to show that I may have been quiet, but I haven't been idle. Here's a supercute bag I finished yesterday. (I blogged about it earlier when I'd finished the first outside pocket.) As soon as I saw the pattern in the Winter 2011-2012 issue of International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene magazine I knew I had to make it. I bought the polka dot fabric in December, but haven't got round to sewing it until now. It's such a summery bag, isn't it? It makes me think of strawberries and cream. Yum!

You're not going to believe this, but this is a recently finished vest that I last blogged about exactly one year ago today, when I had just started knitting it. I discovered this right now when I was looking through my archive to see when I wrote about it. Funny coincidence, isn't it?

Okey dokey, better get back to copying the pattern for the top I plan to sew. I'm going to do things right this time and make a muslin version first, to make sure the fit is correct before I cut into the real fabric. I haven't been very good with that kind of thing in the past, but I realise that it is a crucial step if you want to be sure of success. I want to brush up and hone my clothes making skills, which have rusted a little from lack of use.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week, and please return soon for an update on my new dyeing, surface design and garment sewing explorations. - Annika

7 April 2012

Happy Easter

My plans for the Easter vacation were very simple: to sleep, take long walks, finish a couple of projects and hang around with my folks and Fia the Terri(fi)er. So far, things have gone according to plan. I finshed a tank top with an Alabama Chanin-inspired motif on the back (you will recognise the peony from the market bag I finished recently)...

... as well as the slipover I started knitting in February.

 (See the bed cover? I finished that in 1998! Phew, that was a long runner. 
I don't think I'll do another one in a while.)

And here I hang around with the sweet Terri(fi)er.

Enjoy the holiday! - Annika

1 April 2012

Rooster and Ruffles

Easter is approaching fast, and with that four days of vacation, thank goodness. I sorely need it, as I've had a pretty hectic three weeks again and my vertigo has returned to my great dismay. I really should have stayed away from everything craft-related this weekend, but I was just so craft-starved after all the work I've done that I disregarded vertigo and crocheted this goofy bug-eyed rooster anyway, as therapy. It makes me laugh. (The pattern is from the spring issue of Novita magazine (Kevät 2012 [in Finnish].)

And I couldn't stay away from starting another project too. I've been planning to do this bag for months. This is as far as I got tonight. I love sashiko embroidery and decided to embellish the pockets with a flower motif I found in a book (Sashiko by French author Agnès Delage-Calvet). More information and images later.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week! - Annika