Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How to "tent" wet pieces to prolong dye time

Here is a picture for my QU students who need a visual about how to 'tent" the fabric while it cures. The batik underneath the plastic has had the dyes painted on so the dyed areas are not as saturated as they would be if submerged in a dye bath so they could dry out too fast and give lighter results than I want for this piece. The batik is on stretcher bars so air can circulate underneath which could hasten the drying process as well. Since my studio is quite cool at the moment I'm not too worried that they will dry out too soon but propping the plastic up and over the piece will give the dyes a bit more time to cure. You can see that there are tall paint jars that hold the plastic up and off the fabric. Very high tech.

One other idea if you are living in a VERY arid environment is to put plastic underneath the piece with a pad of wet newspapers on top of that. Then the strethced fabric on the frame goes over all that. Top it off with the tent of plastic.This will give the batik or silk or whatever you are dyeing on the frame extra humidity to keep it nice and damp under there for a longer period of time.

Happy dyeing!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Foam tool

My student Pat Smith suggested using a piece of soft foam as a brush/tjanting needle. The idea was intriguing so I cut a piece about 2" x 6" and then with scissors cut the end to make a point. You can see the size when stacked next to a regular tjanting needle.How on earth was it going to suck up the wax? Would it catch on fire? Only way to try is to stick it in the pot!

Whoa! This works great! It held lots of hot wax and did an excellent job of carrying the wax wherever I wanted it to go. Try it! You'll like it. I plan on making more of them in various sizes and shapes. Try making multiple ridges or serrated edges!!

Thanks, Pat!

Friday, May 23, 2008

New Class??!! So many fabrics so little time!

There are a total of 35 yards of brand new fabrics sitting in my dye studio begging to be used up and all I have to do is clear the decks to make time to do some dyeing experiments with them!! They are, in my humble opinion, spectacular fabrics.

From left to right we have a bamboo flannel knit, regular bamboo with a textured weave, a bamboo/cotton blend, white linen, white organic cotton, viscous rayon, and hemp.

I need to test these fabrics to see how they react to the dyes and how they hold up to sunlight, abnormal wear and tear and some other stress tests. I want to try some regular dyeing processes; try using some thickeners and try stamping concentrated dyes on them, and do some discharge dyeing. I should know in month or so if this is something that has interested enough people (I need 20 students to start), if the fabrics are beautiful and utilitarian enough for projects and wearable art projects, and if I have the expertise to teach a class of this magnitude.

My intention is to write a six part session that features these "new" fibers and discuss their history, how they are made and, of course, how they take the dyes. The class will not be offered through Quilt University because I want to be able to limit the class size (20 max) and to only offer it to students who have taken all of my dyeing courses or a minimum of 4 QU courses. It will be a very intense course so advanced dyeing skills will be necessary to keep up and to make it worth your time and money.

I want to add two other fabrics to the pile: soy/cotton and a silk/hemp blend. Fabrics I already have tested and love are burlap, flannel, and cheesecloth. I already know how they react so those are already in the mix and will be a part of the new course.

If you are interested in taking this course, please let me know by emailing me- .

Monday, May 12, 2008

Nui Shibori

Here is a detail shot of a very large scale Nui Shibori piece from the show of graduate work at California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA. The student's name is Laura Kramer.

Here is another detail shot (sideways- sorry). notice that she left the tiny bits of thread in the piece. The piece is actually black with a very pale blue background.

Here is the whole thing. Four long panels. The fabric is like our silk velvet but the pile is a lot denser and shorter. It was either dyed black or purchased black and then discharged after the sewing. The panel on the far right has the most black left and is the most striking. I wonder if she meant to loose so much on the first three panels? Kind of cool having it increase in intensity.

Here's that last panel again. Nice job!! Lots of work. What do you think about those bits of thread staying in the work?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Batiking-back to my first love!

My batik students from Quilt University were asking to see some of the ways I hold the tool called a Tjanting Needle. Above you will see "Pose #1...The Pencil Grip". I like to hold it fairly far back on the handle for two reasons- if I hold it too much closer to the spout, it is risky as the metal cup and shaft that holds the wax is HOT and secondly, moving my hand back makes me hold it more loosely so that the movement is more free and relaxed.

This second picture shows "Pose #2-The Pinkie Out". This gives me some added stability as the point of the tjanting needle AND my finger steady my hand for a more even and precise line.

Last one- "Pose #3-Arm Down". This one is for the long haul. I rest my arm on the stretcher bar for when I am tired or going to be using the tool for a long line. It makes for a much more steady hand. I guess I should have included a fourth pose- "Point, Pinkie, Arm" for the ultimate in control. You get the idea, right?

Here is a picture of me making a thin line with a very wide (but thin) brush. You don't need lots of equipment for batiking. If you can load up that wide brush with lots of wax; carry it successfully to the cloth, and then turn it to the side you can make a very long, thin line without any trouble at all!

Since I had all the stuff out and the wax was hot and ready to go, I decided to start a new batiked piece. I didn't stop to plan or draw or set myself up at all for this one. I do have a picture that I really like of our son with a professor of his from college and two other friends. So I have the general idea of what I want to do but no other preconceived ideas of what to do or how to do it. I really like to work this way.

The picture above is the first waxing. I laid out the main shapes very quickly; perhaps spending no more than 10 minutes on this. It can be critical to the success of a piece but I tried to not think about that too long and too hard.

This is a fairly large piece (maybe about 45x45) and I am not sure it will be a masterpiece but I need to do something with no agenda and no huge brain drain at the moment so we'll see where it goes. I already see a problem in my composition. Due to the large size, I made our son's face a bit lopsided (he's the one on the right) but I can fix that as I go along.

Here is the first pass of dyes applied with a brush- black to gray tones. Used a lot of chemical water to pull the black down into the lower sections of the background.

Can't tip the piece up to take a good shot of it because the dyes are still very wet. Added color and it's starting to shape up quite nicely. I'm liking it. I am pleased with the placement of the people and the piece is hanging together so far so I decided to stop for now and let it dry. Tomorrow I will hang it up on the board and start thinking about what should happen next.

I purposely did NOT bring the dyes UP to the edges of the eyes and mouth for a reason. You'll see when I show you the next step of the process which will be to add some detailing- maybe with fabric paints and maybe with dyes. I want to keep the two mediums away from each other until I figure out what I am going to use for those important features.

The most critical thing I can do with this piece is NOT over think it. I want it to be free and easy and light. The next two sessions of work on it will tell me if this piece will be successful or not. If I get too tight and serious, it will fail. If I go too dark or get too fussy it will fail. If I get too critical with myself and with the subject it will fail. Yes, there is a lot of opportunity to miss the mark BUT there is also a chance it will be a smashing success!

Thanks for looking. Happy batiking everyone!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Workbook coming out August 2008!

I am working on a new product that will be ready for sale by August 1st of this year! It is the first in a series of workbooks that will lead the beginning dyer through the process of hand dyeing cotton fabric. It can be used at the same time you take my Quilt University ( course called Cotton Dyeing Basics, or you can use it separately without the course.
We cover full immersion dyeing for solid colors, partial immersion dyeing for mottled colors, gradation dyeing, dyeing the spectrum, and over dyeing. It is a five lesson course and has a few tips and bonus lessons not found on the online course. Other features will be discussed later but these days I am spending my time collecting pictures and re-shooting new ones.
I'll keep you posted as to the progress of the workbook. It goes out next week to my editor!

About Me

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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