28 February 2012

Another Report from My Dyecation

It's been a labour-intensive day today, and I'm pretty knackered, so I'll just illustrate part of my day with a few images and words, and return with more images and text tomorrow or in a couple of days.

Setting up my work space for mixing dyes

Protecting myself as well

Primary colours mixed and ready to use
(lemon yellow, fuchsia and turquoise)

Sixteen ice cream tubs of yummy fabrics batching away. 

Four of the tubs contain 'mystery fabric', i.e. fabrics that are coloured with leftover dye. Now I have to wait patiently until tomorrow before I can rinse them out.

See you again soon! - Annika

27 February 2012

A Start

Today I finally got down to some actual dyeing. I must admit I was quite unprepared for all the preparations I needed to do before I could start my dyecation (dyeing + vacation). I still have a few things I need to get before I can start on the big project, but I did do a warm-up exercise today.

I've had some Emo Tutotanto liquid fibre reactive dyes (a Finnish brand) in my stash for a while, and I've been suspecting that the're well past their use-by date. So I decided to put them to the test. I chose the darkest colour, navy blue, and mixed a very dark value, which I hope will help me decide whether the pigments are destined for the bin or not. Keep your fingers crossed!

Preparations: scrunched-up, folded, twisted and soy wax printed fabric

Dyed fabric batching

The fabric in the foreground was printed with un-thickened dye, just to see what would happen, but I'm not too sure it's going to work. The dye has spread quite a bit already, obscuring the printed flowers. It'll be interesting to see what it looks like tomorrow. Everything is batching at the moment so I'll have to wait until tomorrow before I know whether the dye worked or not.

Thanks for dropping by, and do return soon for more reports from my dyecation. - Annika

24 February 2012

Fun and Games Coming This Way

It feels like it's been ages since I engaged in any creative activities. I've been working, struggling with a number of everyday annoyances, tired, and also away from home. Last week I enjoyed an extended weekend with my folks in Ostrobothnia. I did some knitting there, and that sums up my creative activities for the last 10 days or so. Mind you, I had to be pretty creative with that knitting of mine, because I didn't check the gauge (I normally do!), and I discovered too late that the slipover was threatening to become too small. Yes, there's a reason why the instructions always ask us to check the gauge..

Slipover, back piece blocked

But now fun and games are coming this way: I'm off work for a week, and I'm planning to experiment with fabric dyeing. I have two different brands of fibre reactive dyes lined up: Procion MX dye and EMO Tuotanto dye (a Finnish brand). More about this soon. Right now I'm in the process of gathering my tools. I've bought a whole bagful of plastic bottles of different sizes and raided my cupboards for old plastic ice cream tubs. A friend is helping me out with the ice cream tubs. She got out her own and asked around for more, and has even generously offered to buy and eat ice cream during the weekend so that I'll get even more tubs. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Procion MX dyes awaiting their turn

Notice the clever bowl/plate: I got that from another friend, after I had been plant-sitting for her while she was away on a trip. It's made out of a flat piece of wood that opens up like a cross between a bowl and a plate when you lift it up.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more to come soon! - Annika

13 February 2012

Untried Thing No 3: Fabric Medium + Watersoluble Media

Here's my third and final Untried Thing for this time: combining watersoluble media with fabric medium on fabric. Again, my inspiration is Design Matters TV (DMTV), and I learned this technique from Linda Kemshall.

Combining fabric medium and watersoluble media such as e.g. watersoluble crayons and Inktense pencils can be done in different ways. In my library I also have a couple of videos where Kerr Grabowski demonstrates how to use on fabric what she calls 'fugitive media', i.e. media that wouldn't stay on fabric unless you combine them with some sort of binder. The difference between Linda's and Kerr's methods (at least in the videos I have access to) is that Kerr uses a silk screen to trap the pigments under a layer of medium, whereas Linda uses a brush. I want to try both methods, but I decided to start with Linda's. As I see it, if you draw on fabric and want to make sure that your marks stay exactly where you put them, you should use the silk screen method. However, if you want to blend colours on the fabric, you want to use the brush method. Also, with the brush method it is easy to limit the area that will be stiffened with medium to where the actual image is. With a screen the medium will also cover the areas around the image.

The technique is very straightforward. You draw an image on fabric, which has been stabilised with freezer paper, using some kind of watersoluble medium (pencils, crayons). When you're happy with the image, you apply fabric medium over it with a brush, covering the whole image and blending the colours. The medium will stiffen the fabric about as much as an ordinary fabric paint would. Here are my samples:

Inktense pencils

Neocolor II watersoluble crayons

Graphitint pencils

I haven't tried washing any of my saples yet, but I'll get to that too eventually. In Linda's tutorial she used Inktense pencils with good results.

I'm very excited about this technique as there is so much potential in it. Be still, my heart!

Thanks for visiting: I hope you too will be inspired to try this! - Annika

12 February 2012

Untried Thing No 2: Drawn Monoprints

I've wanted to try drawn monoprinting ever since I learned the technique from Laura Kemshall on Design Matters TV (DMTV) quite a while ago. I went out and got the necessary acrylic retarder but, as so often is the case, I didn't have time to try it immediately and forgot about it. When I went through my stash a few weeks ago I found two (!) different brands of acrylic retarder. Apparently I'd forgotten about the first one when I went out and got the second one. Not to worry, now I have two different brands to compare. I tried them both for my drawn monoprints.

You may be wondering what a drawn monoprint is. Well, it's a cross between a drawing and a monoprint. A monoprint is a print which you basically just pull once. Sometimes you can also get a second print, which is referred to as a ghost print. In short, to do drawn monoprints, you simply ink up a printing plate (a transparency or a sheet of Perspex/Plexiglass) with the help of a brayer or paint roller. You then float a sheet of paper or a piece of fabric on top and make marks with e.g. a skewer or pencil. The marks will transfer to the paper or fabric, along with the 'background noise' that is characteristic of this technique. The acrylic retarder is important if you want to use acrylic paint, as the paint otherwise dries too quickly for this technique. Fabric paint can be used as it is.

On paper I used Winsor & Newton acrylic retarder and Liquitex Slow-Dri blending medium with black acrylic paint and both worked well. The first brand, which was a lot thicker than the other one, gave a little drier print, whereas the Liquitex medium, which was more liquidy, gave a wetter and darker print, which seemed to work better for ghost prints. On fabric I used black fabric paint. The ghost prints I tried were more successful on paper than on fabric.

Drawn monoprint with acrylic paint and W & N acrylic retarder

Ghost print of the above print

Drawn monoprint with acrylic paint and Liquitex Slow-Dri blending medium

Drawn monoprint with fabric paint

Drawn monoprint with fabric paint

I love this technique. It's easy, perfectly addictive and gives great results. Try it!

Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned for more Untried Things!

11 February 2012

Untried Thing No 1: Perfect Pearls Pearlescent Pigment Powders

As you know, my 7 Days, 7 Untried Things Challenge didn't come to a very good start, and I'm afraid that it's still not ready to take off completely. However, I'm thinking a 3 Days, 3 Untried Things Challenge might work for now, so today I'm presenting Untried Thing No 1: Perfect Pearls pearlescent pigment powders. (Don't you just love the alliteration in that one?)

Perfect Pearls is a mica powder produced by Ranger, which is acid free and non toxic, and it has a built-in binder so you don't have to combine it with any other medium, unless you want to. You can find more information about the product here.

I also have a similar product in my stash, which I'd forgotten about when I bought the Perfect Pearls: Pearl Ex powder by Jacquard. The first question that I wanted an answer to was therefore: is there a difference between the two? The answer is yes. Perfect Pearls has an built-in binder, whereas Pearl Ex needs to be combined with a separate binder. Since this is the case, I decided to use Perfect Pearls on paper with water to activate the built-in binder, but to save Pearl Ex for later experiments with acrylic and fabric mediums on fabric, and possibly paper too. Stay tuned for those later. I need to get more supplies before I can conduct my experiments... (What an excellent reason to go to the art shop.)

I tried Perfect Pearls on both white and black paper and discovered that the metallic shine is much stronger on dark paper than on light. However, if you want to add extra lustre to colours, you are better off with light paper. I used the powder both as a glaze and a paint. The difference is simply in the amount of water you add. Less water creates a more opaque metallic paint. I mixed the powder with both plain water and watercolour. I love the shimmery colours you get when you mix the powder with watercolours. I also mixed a glaze which I applied on top of watercolour pencils, Inktense pencils, Graphitint pencils, ordinary coloured pencils and pastel pencils. All worked well and gave slightly different results. The glaze took on the colour of the watersoluble pencils. I also used wax crayons as a resist for a thin wash of Perfect Pearls, and I loved the effect of black resist on black paper. I also realised that it was time to try another two untried products that I have in my stash: Versa Mark Watermark stamp pad and Versa Marker Watermark pen by Tsukineko. These left an invisible mark on the paper, which was magically revealed when you dusted dry powder over it. One is used with stamps and the other is a pen you can draw with. The dry powder needs to be fixed with a spritz of water.

So these are my findings so far, and here are a couple of pictures from my sketchbook:

Perfect Pearls can also be combined with embossing powder, shrink plastic and polymer clay, but I'll leave those for another time. I'm very pleased with what I've discovered so far.

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll visit my blog again soon! - Annika