I’m just squeaking in under the deadline for the third quarter challenge. I had a hard time deciding what to create. Finally, I fell back on experimenting with layered color mixing. I have always thought that Mark Rothko’s paintings would work well as an inspiration for this technique. So I searched for a painting of his that was created in the 1950’s. I found number 10 painted in 1950 at MoMA’s website.
I didn’t have any tall glass vases like Ann used but I did have an olive jar that was the same shape mostly. I could use that. I created a resist to include approximately 30% shrinkage and got out my stash of short fiber merino. I didn’t really have enough of the blue for the first layer but decided to go ahead and wing it.
The short fiber merino that I do have is in batts, so I wrapped the blue around in the vertical direction for the first layer.
Then I added more colors in layers wrapping the resist horizontally. These were all solid colors to start with and I wanted to see if the movement/migration of the fiber would create a more mottled look like you see in Rothko’s paintings.
I did add a bit of dark grey at the top for a deeper value. The photo on the left shows the piece after layout and wet down. The photo on the right shows the piece after felting before I removed the resist. You can definitely start to see the color migration. I cut out both ends of the resist and as you can see at the bottom of the right photo, the blue wasn’t covering the ends completely. But I decided to leave the ragged edges as the Rothko piece felt like the paint had ragged edges. Then I fulled the piece and pulled it over the glass jar to hold it’s shape while it dried.
Here’s the result. It looks very much like a landscape to me and the color mixing worked just as I wanted. You can see the top of the glass jar in the photo on the right. I would prefer a smooth vase and I will have to go and look for some at the local dollar stores. I did try a light inside but I made the felt too thick for that to have much effect at all. But I do like the possibilities of this technique, creating thinner layers next time. I hope to create some landscape lanterns with real glass vases. Thanks for the idea Ann and thanks for the challenge Lyn and Annie. It made me try something out of my usual box.
Every summer my weavers and spinners guild does a fibre poker challenge. You can choose weaving, spinning or felting. I am doing spinning and felting. This post is about the spinning challenge. I haven’t started my felting one yet.
In these challenges, they make up 4 decks of cards. The cards for spinning are Fiber, Colour, Type of Yarn and General Design. You pick one from each to get your poker hand. You are allowed to return one and draw another.
Fibre: surprise us.
Colour: dark rich colours
Type of Yarn: thick and thin
General Design: include locks
I decided I wanted to try spinning some of the silk hankies I have. these looked like dark rich colours. Well, not that dark but not pastel.
I looked up what was the recommended way of prepping them for spinning. It was to poke a hole in the middle and stretch them out. Most of the drafting is done in the stretching out. I did 2 of each colour. They stretch quite far. I am sure I could have stretched them at least twice as long but I didn’t want my yarn that thin.
I also have to do thick and thin. I decided the easiest way to do that was to use the required locks to create the thick parts. I think these are Bluefaced Leicester.
I don’t have a spinning wheel. I like to spin small amounts, so I use a drop spindle I have quite a few.
After I finished the 4 silk hankies I made it into a center-pull ball. My original intention was to ply one end against the other.
But then I changed my mind. I spun some purple silk top to use as the other ply.
I made it into a center-pull ball as well. I put one small ball on my thumb and one on a finger. I used a little painter’s tape to keep the outside thread from unravelling as I will be pulling from the center, then I can control how fast it pulls out. I like painter’s tape as it’s just sticky enough to hold but comes off easily without grabbing and pulling the fibres and doesn’t leave any sticky behind. If I was going to store the ball I would tie the two ends together instead.
Somehow I guessed right and had just a little more of the second simple single than the first fancy single.
That’s my laptop lid so as you can see there wasn’t much extra.
I wound it off into a skein. It looks a little wobbly at first but it needs to have a bath to let the spin show what it’s really like. I used the small extra piece to tie the skein in 4 places. I wanted the 4 ties because I am very good at tangling skeins.
Here it is after its bath and hang to dry. I didn’t use any weight to try to set the yarn, I wanted it to be its natural self. I am quite happy I managed to get a nice balanced spin. I took to pictures flipping it over so you can see both sides.
I spread it out more and took a close-up. I am really please with how this came out. It was difficult to get the locks in because naturally, the twist wanted to go to the thinnest part.
I hope you like it too. It was a bit of a challenge but that’s the point, get you doing something you wouldn’t normally do. I could have wished for some action shots but it’s hard to spin and hold the fibre and hold the camera. It puts me back to wondering why on earth my prehistoric ancestors got rid of the prehensile tail, it would be so handy.
It has been wonderful to get back together with my local artist group. We have all been completely vaccinated and have started our monthly meetings again. It is good to get out of the house, share our work and try out a few new techniques.
We recently tried some natural dyeing. Paula had a bunch of natural dyes and some earth pigments. This post is definitely not meant to be a tutorial because we didn’t follow any instructions, didn’t use any mordants and really just winged it. So the thread that I dyed is definitely not wash fast, color fast, light fast etc. I’m sure that there are specific ways we should have used each dye but we were just playing around.
Paula mixed up the various powders with water as well as coffee, tea, beets and avocado pits and skins. No mordants were added and we didn’t soak the fabric or thread beforehand except to get it wet. Before we arrived, she put some small strips of cotton fabric and some cheesecloth in the dyes to show us what the colors should look like.
So here are Paula’s control samples. If you click on the photo, you should be able to read the headings to see which colors are what. As you can see, some of the dyes worked better than others. But it was good to see what we could expect. Thanks Paula!
Then we put our threads in the different colors and left it for several hours. After that, we removed the threads, squeezed them out and put them in baggies to take home.
I did rinse the threads lightly when I got home. Except the indigo ones which I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed with little success in getting rid of the fugitive dye. I was pretty impressed with the colors that we achieved with so little effort. This is the 6 stranded DMC cotton. I didn’t keep track of the different dyes as it didn’t really matter to me and I wasn’t planning on repeating the process. The light blue one is Butterfly Pea and any of the really dark blue ones are indigo.
Here’s 8 Perle cotton.
And 12 Perle Cotton.
These are crochet cottons. I decided to try these as they are a similar weight to the 12 Perle cotton but significantly less expensive. I haven’t tried stitching with them yet. The really light one on the bottom left is dyed in beet. It definitely doesn’t dye very well without any mordants.
I also had this cotton yarn meant for weaving on hand so I dyed some of it too. It’s good for couching or laid work.
Here is the lace weight wool. The green in the upper right is from Matcha tea. It’s a lovely soft green. I’m always surprised how the wool and the cotton dyes so differently. I know that it does as I have dyed loads of threads but somehow it surprises me every time. 😉
I did dye one piece of fabric which is hemp canvas. I dunked it in the indigo and pulled it straight out. The indigo was very strong as you can tell from the darkness of the thread dyed in the indigo. We had a great time and I ended up with some fun colors.
Happy Independence Day to those readers in the US.
In Part 1, I showed you my design process for this challenge. It’s based on Art Deco ideas and color schemes but I created my own design.
The first thing I needed was to buy some black wool yarn. I was going to order unspun yarn, which I think would work best for this technique but I didn’t manage to get it ordered. Instead, I went to Michaels (hobby/art store) and purchased this cheap, wool yarn. At least that made it so I could move forward.
Next I placed my enlarged design under a piece of plastic so I could follow the lines with the black yarn first. You need to work upside down with this technique. So the black goes on first. I wet down the yarn per Ildi’s instructions on her recent felt wall hanging post. If I had been paying more attention, I would have looked back at Ildi’s design and seen that it was much more spread out than mine. But on I went.
Here’s the layout after I had laid down all the wet black wool yarn. I found it was easiest to cut all the lengths that were similar and wet them down at once. The yarn had a tendency to just lie on top of the water and not get wet. So I took 6 cut lengths at a time and dunked, patted and pushed the water into the yarn. Then I laid the yarn length along the pattern, sometimes squeezing the ‘corners’ to get a sharper turn in the yarn. I cut off the extra lengths as I worked.
Then I started laying out the colored wool. This was wet down in advance too. It was a bit awkward filling in the areas to start but I soon got the hang of it. I pinched off a bit of fiber, got it wet and then ‘smooshed” (that’s a technical term) it in place. My estimates of the amount of wool needed also got better with practice. I filled in the background color too to make the first layer of wool level. I did look at Art Deco color palettes and chose one that was similar using what I had on hand.
Then I added more of the background wool on top. I wanted it fairly thick so that it wouldn’t shrink too much and squeeze the design down even more.
I covered the wool with a sheer curtain and pressed the air out and added a bit more water to get everything flattened out. From the blue green side, I folded over any stray fiber and made a kind of circle with the background. I figured I would cut it later if I wanted everything to be even.
Then I spent most of my time rubbing and putting pressure on the blue green side. I didn’t do much rubbing on the front design as I didn’t want it to shift. I always use a piece of corrugated rubber underneath the felt while I rub and have the felt covered either with plastic or sheer fabric. Once the design was set and everything was staying in place, I fulled the piece with a rolling pin and with hand pressure. I didn’t do any throwing, rolling or heavy rubbing.
Here it is after felting and fulling. I was surprised at how straight my lines stayed. I did do a little stretching along the length of the lines if they started to get wonky. But all in all, I thought the method worked great. It does take a long time to layout but the design stayed put. The cheap wool yarn worked fine so I didn’t need the more expensive unspun yarn. But I think unspun yarn would felt in more easily and perhaps have less “hairiness” when felted.
And here it is after I cut the edges. It would make a nice hot mat or a design on a bigger felt piece such as a large tote bag. The piece is about 10″ in diameter (if it was a circle). I’m not sure what I am going to do with it. Thanks Ildi for the idea and thanks to Lyn and Annie for another good challenge. Art Deco is an interesting time period to use as an inspiration!
When getting my materials together I was often frustrated that I could not get the colours I wanted. This was especially true of silk materials and you had to buy a large quantity to get only a small amount which could be expensive. It was not until my past time of trawling through Youtube videos that a came across the “colour your life, Rae Wollnough” episode. What a revelation. With a very simple process, I could dye not only silks but fibres too.
So I set about getting the materials I needed. Firstly the dyes themselves. I use EasiFix all-in-one protein dye. These dyes work on natural materials like silk and wool etc (I get these from Etsy). These dyes are fixed by heat so no need for a fixing agent. I use a mixture of silk but here I have used a ponge which has a lovely lustre.
The process is so simple. Cover your table in cling film and wet it with a spray bottle. Place your silk on top, here I have flattened the material out but you can get some nice effects if it’s scrunched too. Your silk must be wet as the colour spreads better and it will burn when heated if it is dry.
Next the fun bit. I use pipettes, brushes or simply pour the dye onto the silk.
Once I am happy with the dyeing I wrap the cling around the piece gently patting out as much air as possible. Once wrapped I pop it in the microwave. Only a couple of minutes does a small piece like this. Be mindful to follow the safety instructions of the dyes and only use equipment that is specific for dyeing and nothing you will use domestically.
Once heated I leave the piece to cool completely and it’s this that sets the dyes as well as the heat. This is the worst part of the whole process as I cannot wait to see the outcome. It is not an exact process but the results can be magical.
The piece is rinsed until the water runs clear and it’s done. You can re-dye if you are not happy or think it needs more.
The colour you can achieve are wonderful, the weaker the dye the paler the colour and you can achieve your own colours by mixing also.
The possibilities are endless and results are well worth the effort as little as it is.
It seems a few of us have had the dying bug. I couldn’t find my green curls and I needed some for another little picture I wanted to do, so I decided to do 3 colours of green to give me some variety. I did them in large freezer bags so I would only need one pot. I know I could have done them in the microwave in the bags but I am not really fussy about microwave dying.
The curls I have already separated are small Blue Faced Leister curls, my favourites. I divided the curls into three bags and added some vinegar water and three different greens to them. I used Dharma acid dye 461 Avocado, Prochem 716 Moss, and Prochem 735 Shamrock.
I forgot to take a picture of the curls but you can see these bags haven’t been cooked because they look like white locks in a green liquid. The colours don’t look very different at this point. Makes you wonder if you have gone to a lot of fuss to make three bags of the same colour. Time will tell.
I didn’t want them to be sitting on the bottom of the pot because they might melt. To prevent that catastrophe I put some ramekins in the bottom of the pot to keep them up. Empty tuna cans would have worked too.
I cooked them at a low simmer for 30 min then checked them.
Two of them definitely needed more cooking so I popped them all back in for 15 min( I think, or maybe it was 30 min) and checked again.
The third one was clear. I decided to let them cool in the bags and only one had any colour left in it by then but it wasn’t much.
I rinsed them, spun them out in the salad spinner and put them out onto a wire rack to dry. and this is the final result; three different greens.
So had to get a good picture of the true colour. The top right and bottom left are the same curls but look so different as the sun came out from behind a cloud and the room brightened. Their true colour is between the two. I like the way the locks are not solid colours. It gives them more life and depth of colour.
Using bags in a pot of water is a great way to dye lots of different colours at once. It’s especially useful when you don’t want huge amounts of any one thing. Who hasn’t been tempted by those little bags of colour at a sale or in a store? They are usually expensive. This way you can make your own. It’s a great way to try making your own colours by mixing your dyes and you don’t have to commit to having a huge amount until you know you like the outcome. Use a permanent marker to write down your proportions of dye right on the bag so you can replicate the colour later.
So this happened at my house recently. When it snows, what do you do? Snow dye, of course!
Luckily, I had just gotten a bunch of silk scarves that needed dyeing. I put them in a large plastic tub with grates underneath to keep them above the muck that occurs with this process. The scarves were soaked in soda ash solution before I put them in the tub. I tried several methods of scrunching up the scarves so the dye would be unevenly applied, sort of a cheater’s shibori. This process is very serendipitous and if you want the colors to stay separate, use separate tubs.
Then I scooped up a bunch of snow and put that on top of the scarves.
Next I added fiber reactive dye powder (and a bit of acid dye). Sorry for the bad photo. I tried to keep the colors over where the two scarves were. Of course, it migrates where you aren’t expecting it. From left to right:
cerulean blue, turquoise, sapphire
antique gold, pewter
daffodil, purple haze (acid dye)
scarlet, cabernet, oxblood, fire engine (last three acid dye)
I always get excited to see what I have the next day. The snow melted overnight and I had already removed the scarves on the far right before I remembered to take a photo. You can see the dye in the bottom of the tub is very dark and that is why I use the screens. This process does waste dye powder and I think I over did it this time and used too much. But I don’t like a bunch of white in my scarves and I like deep, rich colors. That’s my excuse 😉
Then the rinsing and washing out of scarves happened. Followed by a lot of ironing. These never look very good until they are completely ironed. Then you can see the color changes, some of which are subtle.
There are two of each main color and I am showing these as they were in the tubs from left to right. I’m calling these two iris.
These are called Monet’s Garden.
These are a bit more golden then they show in the photos and I have named them Dawn Mist.
These two are from a combination of purple acid dye and yellow fiber reactive dye. I wasn’t sure if the acid dye would be strong enough but I really like these two, named Northern Lights.
The last two were mainly acid dye with one fiber reactive. I was a bit disappointed with these two but hubby says that he thinks some people will prefer solid colors. We shall see. I named these two garnet. I will be taking these to Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center to sell in their gift shop.
Which colors do you prefer? Have you tried snow or ice dyeing? Always fun to see the results!
I seem to be in picture mode. I wanted to do something with water but not necessarily as the main feature. I thought about a beach and that was my intention as I started but as was looking for pictures and some of the cliff-top pictures really took my eye.
I used a nice thick piece of wool prefelt that I bought at the Almont Fiberfest a few years ago. It is 4inches by 6 inches, 10cm by15cm I think it is wet felted on a flatbed machine. It is course wool and more solid (felted) than the thin needle felted prefelt we usually get. It is much closer to being felt. I would love to get some more but don’t know where to find it. If you know let me know.
I start with what is farthest away, sky and water. When I do sky, it’s always cloudy and I have to do a google search to remember if the sky is darker or lighter near the horizon. The wool I used for the water has a few bits of sparkle in it. I think that’s what is making the white dots in the picture.
Then some land and the rocks. I used a mix of 3 grays so the rock wouldn’t be flat.
Added the lighthouse and the path
Then I used throwers waist to make the white water around the rocks and some whitecaps. At this point I gave it a light felting mostly to sink the silk into the felt so it didn’t look so much on the surface. . There was still more needling to do though. I added the top of the lighthouse and started the stitching.
And as usual when you start stitching you start unstitching. The grass stitches here were much too small. The path needed changing as well as being far too straight it was much too wide. you can see how all the extra stabbing pulled the piece in even though I was poking up and down and not sidewise. I stretched it out.
Back to stitching. I am using 4 colours for the grass, 2 shades of gold and 2 of green.
I added some small blue dots for flowers.
Then the foreground grass
Then some french knots for more flowers. I used a couple of shades darker blue for the foreground.
This is a close up of the stitching.
That’s a lot of pictures but I hope you enjoyed seeing the progression. Stitching really helps a picture pop. And as I promised picture without Sheep. I can do it. LOL
So a week has gone by since I wrote up this post ready for the 4th of February. After a comment from a friend, and looking at it after a break from working on it, I decided to fiddle with it more. First I ripped off the path it was far too white, I remade it with some light gray. I did want it to be distinct but not a lightning bolt from Zeus. I added a tiny little dock, not easy but that’s what I get for working small. And the sky was too much open space so I added some birds, again very fiddley. I did add some slight shading to the lighthouse but it doesn’t really show in the picture the wight really reflects.
Mr. Mer had so much fun with last weeks’ stretching and mirror blog that, if you don’t mind, he would like to do another one. But he was very insistent that he needed to hit the wool before the next shoot.( He wanted to increase his bulk, especially in his upper arms and quads. I am not sure why a mer-man needs quads but ok, fine. I did some quick colour blending with the hand carders to help him out.) Unfortunately this past week in Ottawa has been overcast with grey clouds, drizzle and today, more snow. So not the best weather for colour blending but I did my best.
While I worked, I figured I should explain to him why we can have problems with the muscles in the neck and into upper shoulders.
“Think of your head as a bowling ball balancing precariously on a short Dowel. To help keep it from falling off there are two sets of cords at the front and 2 sets at the back.” I said as I brought wisps of the green colours from his fishy parts up to integrate it with his low and mid back. Then as I continued to explain, I added a yellowed skin tone base and more definition in his arms.
The front cords are called SCM (Sternocleidomastoid) which is one of my most favorite muscles in the whole body!! You have one on either side of your neck and they are amazing! Their name tells you where they are going and where they have been. They attach on the skull at the mastoid process, It’s a bump behind your ear, then head inferior to split and attach to the superior medial clavicle and the superior border of the Manubrium which is the top bone of the sternum. But wait, this muscle gets even better! When you use (Contract) only one of the two you get Ipsolateral contralateral rotation!!! Is that not the coolest thing ever!!! Ok that means that it tips your ear towards your shoulder and then rotates your chin in the opposite direction. Now you see how cool it is!!
Balancing with the two front cables (SCM) are the 2 back cables called Levator scapulae. They’re cool too. They are the elevators of the scapulae (shoulder blades). The inferior attachment is to the superiomedial scapula and the superior attachments are to the transverse processes of the upper 4 cervical vertebra. Think of them as like the Darth Vader of muscles. They can get the Suboccipitals or upper traps in trouble then look all innocent and claimed they didn’t start all the unhappiness.
Levator scapula is located under the upper traps muscle, which you can see draping over the upper back and shoulder.
The felting needle indicates the area of the superior attachment to the transverse processes of the upper four cervical vertebrae.
The felting needle is a little high but is trying to indicate the inferior attachment which is to the superiomedial scapula
Today we are going to look at Levator scapulae. Which is used when you stare (it stabilizes your head); at your artwork, the computer, a good book or where your needles are heading so you do not stab yourself. The longer you work without remembering to take a break, the grumpier they tend to get. Luckily, there is a stretch for them. Think of it as “visually checking to see if your armpit smells”. You are just looking out of the corner of your eye. You don’t have to get your nose into your armpit (that would be very uncomfortable). You may have to adjust the position a bit depending on the section of the muscle that is tight. Some patients find it feels like the correct stretch when they are looking out of the corner of their eye towards their thigh rather than their armpit.
Now if Mr. Mer will stop hamming it up with dramatic death scenes we can break down the stretch for you.
Make sure you move only in comfort. A feeling of pulling is fine but not a feeling of pain. If pain starts, back up just a bit on the movement. My teachers suggested it was preferable to do the movements separately, tip and then rotate. Add the pulling with the arm if needed. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds but stop if it is uncomfortable.
Mr Mer has been felting with his right hand and has been finding tension building in the Right Levator scapula so he tips his left ear towards his left shoulder. Make sure both shoulders are down and relaxed (they will sometimes try to help by coming up. That isn’t really helpful) If you need to keep the shoulder from cheating sit on your Right hand or hold on to the seat of the chair with it.
While keeping your ear close to your shoulder rotate your head so you are peeking out of the corner of your eye at your armpit. Sometimes you will find the feeling of the stretch by looking more at your thigh that is ok too.
If you feel like you would like a bit more intensity to your stretch, you can use the hand of the arm you are looking towards and gently rest it on your head. If you feel like you would like to increase the stretch try a gentle pull diagonally, down towards the thigh.
Adjust the angles until you feel the tugging of the stretch from the top of the shoulder blade to the upper neck. Sometimes you feel the edge of upper traps on the top of the shoulder. It’s still a good stretch but you’re one muscle over from the one you are looking for. Keep adjusting ear tip and head rotation and add a bit of a tug until you find that “AHHHH” spot.
Mr Mer says he is feeling half relaxed and will do the other side after the blog is done. “Don’t forget to use your Mirror to check your shoulder isn’t trying to be helpful and sneak up while you are doing your stretch”
Sometimes in the planning stage of a project we can spend a lot of time web surfing, looking at information for what must be only minutes but strangely seems to have been hours when I consult the clock! Mr. Mer and I hope this stretch may help if you too get lost in lots of great idea generating hours on the computer!
I got my ha finished…Yay… So naturally, it is raining. Oh well, I know the cold will come.
Rub, rub, roll, roll. You know the drill. once it shrank enough I popped it onto a hat form to see how it was doing size-wise. It is very hard to photograph because it is so dark and the silk by and large disappears once it is wet.
Top view, it looks a bit raggy around the brim but it isn’t. It has silk wrapped around it and it has shrunk up making wrinkles. Except for one spot at about 11:00. I will have to sew or needle it down.
Side-ish view, You can just see the silk colour.
It is on my high dome block. It is much too tall but I like the slope of the crown on this one better. the height I want is the block in the back but it is much flatter on top. It is loose on the block too. So more rolling. It didn’t take much rolling to get the right size around but quite a bit to get it short enough.
and then it was time to roll the flower
I pinned it in place so it will dry rolled up nicely.
…..two days later and it’s dry. I am taking pictures quickly because I need my table to wrap presents. I have tried to brighten them on the computer so you can see them better.
It looks good but trying it on it’s a bit tight. Then I realize why, my high dome is a 22 and my other one is a 23. I need the 23 to allow for my braid. So I turned on the steamer and got it hot and stretched it out to 23 using the right size block. Now it fits properly.
here’s the inside or underside however you look at it. again the dark colour is hard to see but I think you can see the texture of the silk with the Nuno felt.
the felting is finished but I think I will shave it to see if I can bring up the colour of the silk more. I still need to make a couple of leaves out of this felt and sew the flower so it stays rolled up.
I hope that for the next post I will have something else to show you but also the hat with the leaves and maybe even on my head.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. It has been great to be able to stay connected to you all through the internet. It has really helped keep me sane through this stressful year of the pandemic. I will see you in the New Year.