Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Over - Dyeing fabrics

Earlier this month I dyed some fabric in the clear colours of Lemon Yellow, Fuchsia, Turquoise, Grape, Deep Orange and Kelly Green, you can read the post by clicking here.

We had some more warm weather last week and so I over-dyed the fabric for the first time. I wondered if it would be a waste of time especially over-dyeing with the same colour as the first time.

I was really surprised at the result. I did the over-dyeing over a few days so it wasn't a huge, arduous task and it was also a lot easier because I already had the dyes mixed in squirt bottles and stored in the fridge without soda ash added.

Soda Ash is the chemical that fixes the dyes to the fabric and once soda ash is added to dye it doesn't last very long.

The over-dyed colours were much richer and creamier and I loved the result when over-dyed with another colour as well.

In this first photo the four fabrics on the top were dyed twice with Grape and the bottom four were only dyed once.

Grape over-dye

In this next photo I over-dyed Grape with Turquoise. You can see the grape on top and the turquoise over-dye underneath.

Next I tried over-dyeing fuchsia with Grape, I love the colour.

Lemon yellow when over-dyed took on a slight greenish tinge. The top fabrics are dyed once and the bottom four has been dyed twice.

The first 4 fabrics in the next photo were orange over-dyed with orange and the next 4 photos were lemon yellow over-dyed with orange.

Then I tried orange with a yellow over-dye. The top 4 photo are orange and the bottom 4 are orange over-dyed with lemon yellow.

When I over-dyed lemon yellow onto turquoise they immediately turned green, because blue and yellow make green.

Lastly I over-dyed turquoise fabrics with turquoise and got a lovely rich turquoise colour.

I was surprised at how much better the colour is when the fabrics are over-dyed but of course that means dyeing your own fabric is double the work. What surprised me most of all was how much softer the over-dyed fabric felt compared to just once through the dye.

The next question is whether I want to continue dyeing fabric or not, I am not sure that I like all the work involved. I will have to see how and if I use these dyed fabrics first. The clear colours are much brighter than I am used to, I usually like colours that are a bit more subtle.

The cooler weather is upon us in Australia so that is probably the end of my dyeing for a while anyway. I wonder if I will have used these fabrics by next summer. This is my year of experimentation and I have no idea how I will end up working by the end of the year.

AQC starts on Thursday and goes through until Sunday, I will be there every day. I am really looking forward to seeing all the quilts, the shops and most of all catching up with quilting friends from all over Australia.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Quilters Color Club

I have the book by Christine Barnes called The Quilters Color Club.

Christine Barnes knows a lot about colour, I also have another book of hers plus I receive her newsletter by email.

I have set aside this year as a year of experimentation and maybe a change of direction and so I decided to do the colour exercises in Christine's book.

I must admit that I already know a lot about colour and the colour wheel but I am sure there is even more to learn.

Christine writes about a colour group and then suggests an exercise, she recommends that you do the exercises with a group because that way you find even more colour combinations and that would be good but for now I am a group of 1!

She also recommends that you use an easy quilt block and attach the fabric with a glue stick. Super easy.

The first exercise I did was about Value.

Dark values come forward and light values usually recede, you can see that with the different value star points.

Next I had to make a block with all warm colours and all cool colours.

Warm and Cool
Christine suggests that all warm can be a bit aggressive and all cool can seem too cold.

We then had to remake the blocks but adding one cool fabric to the warm block and one warm fabric to the cool block.

Warm and Cool plus one
Apparently people prefer a mix of temperatures; a touch of the opposite temperature makes the quilt more balanced and interesting.

The next subject was Intensity; we had to make an intense or bright block and a low intensity or dull block.

High Intensity colours come forward and low intensity colours recede although value can over-ride intensity.

It didn't take long to make up the blocks and actually it was fun.

I'll have to make time to continue with the book.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Dyeing Clear Colours

When I did my two weeks of classes with Nancy Crow at the beginning of the year she said that my colours were too greyed and I needed some clear colours. After being with other women and their clear colours for two weeks I must admit that I started to like the clear colours.

I had been meaning to dye some fabrics ever since I got back home but life was busy and I didn't get around to it. Last week we had a burst of beautiful warm weather and I had a couple of free days so I finally got out all my dyeing supplies.

I have the book by Linda Johansen called Fabric Dyers Dictionary and she mentions the names of clear and muted procion dyes.

 I had to order a couple of the colours from the USA because they weren't readily available in Australia not that I could find anyway. The book is fabulous with lots and lots of colour recipes. I was going to use Linda Johansen's method of dyeing but in the end I used the Elizabeth Barton method that I have used before and had already written the step by step notes for it.

With Elizabeth Barton's method you make up the dyes and store them in squeeze bottles, because they have no soda ash added to them the dyes can last for a few months stored in a fridge.

I dyed one metre lengths for the first time, I have only dyed fat quarters before and it was a lot more dye and a lot more work especially as I was dyeing four values of 6 different colours.

I let the fabrics batch in the sun outside because dyes love the warmth.

How naive I was; I thought I would quickly dye the fabrics in the morning. It took me all day! I always underestimate how long things will take.

I was exhausted. I rinsed them a couple of times and then let the fabrics soak in buckets of water overnight. That always speeds up and lessens the amount of rinsing time.

It took another day to rinse, wash, dry and iron the fabrics. I used 4 values of 6 colours and so I ended up with 24 metres of fabric. It's a lot of fabric, no wonder I was tired. It is much easier to buy that much fabric, but it would still take quite a while to wash and iron 24 metres.

Here are the results,

Fuchsia and Kelly Green
Deep Orange and Turquoise

Lemon Yellow and Grape
You use so much water and there is so much cleaning up and you have to be so careful not to splash dye everywhere, I was complaining to myself and saying that I will never dye fabrics again.

The results are always so satisfying though. I still have left over dyes and seeing as they are already mixed I might just over-dye the fabrics that I have just dyed.

Nancy Crow always over-dyes; she says the colour is richer and creamier. I'd never heard of anyone doing that before but I was reading a book on colour and art quilts the other night and she also said that she always over-dyes.

Even though I said that I would never dye again, I will cut the metre lengths in half and over-dye one half in the same colour and the other half with a different colour. I am interested to see the results and seeing as the colour is already mixed it won't be such a big job.

I will never dye so much fabric in one go again either. I have only kept 8 containers and that is all I will dye in any session. Maybe if I keep the process more manageable and fun and it won't be so exhausting.

There are a couple of sunny days forecast next week.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Playing with colour and contrast

In my last post I showed the little abstract quilt I made that was supposed to be about winter ice.

Winter Ice 1

It was for our art quilters group where we had been talking about contrast and I wanted further practice with abstract piecing. I was only moderately happy with it. The straight line quilting was something new for me and to tell you the truth I found it a bit boring. It's much more fun filling in with feathers and other curvy patterns.

As I examined the little quilt I thought that the lines were too horizontal to be icy and so I whipped another little quilt. This time I tried to add some more value in the background as well. Instead of an ombre fabric background, I added light, medium and dark fabrics.

Winter 2
I didn't bother to quilt this one although it is pieced. I liked the extra angles that I had included but I felt the two central upside down tick shapes were competing as a focal point.

I read somewhere that it is better to include only light and medium values and a hint of dark or the opposite, all medium and darks and a hint of light. So I had another try at it.

Winter Ice 3

You can see that I used only lights and mediums in the shapes and a hint of dark in between. I still had the competing focal point though and it seemed a bit dull and ordinary. You might also notice that I gave up on the piecing and to be quick I fused the pieces on.

I had another try, I only had the one focal point now and I added some different colours.

Winter 4
It still wasn't right, I felt that the pinks were too warm and I had lost the icy feel. That meant that I had to do it again but this time I made it easier still by gluing down the shapes with a glue stick!

Winter 5
This last one had the one focal point, more icy colours, more diagonal shapes and values from light to medium with a hint of dark. I was pretty burnt out by the time I was finished but looking at them now, the last one is probably the most successful.

What do you think? I'd love to know.

It might seem like a fairly pointless exercise to some but I actually think that it was a valuable learning experience. You can read all you like about colour and design but you don't really know unless you try it out.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Principles of Design - Contrast

The Waverley Art Quilters are studying the book Connecting Design to Stitch by Sandra Meech. This is the third and final year that we will have studied the book as we will have finished the book by the end of the year. We have art quilters at all stages in our group from beginner to advanced, so this has been a great way for the beginners to learn about design and it never hurts for the more advanced quilters to have a refresher course.

Last month we were reading all about Contrast. Contrast is very important in design because it highlights the centre of interest and affects the rhythm, balance and unity of a quilt.

One of the most obvious ways to achieve contrast is by value; value is the amount of light or dark in a colour. One of the best ways to find out if you have enough value contrast is to change your quilt photo into black and white.
 Most people have smart phones these days and you don't even need to take and photo and convert it to black and white with the modern phones. You just click on the black and white button in the camera app and you see the image through the phone.

I have a photo of a little quilt I did years ago and at first glance you might think that it doesn't have enough value contrast.

Summer by Linda Steele
When you look at the photo in black and white you can clearly see the value contrast.

Another way to achieve contrast is by size, I put different size fish in my Life on the Reef quilt to add interest.

Life on the Reef detail
Just for interest I looked at my Life on the Reef quilt in Black and White and although there is some value contrast I think I could have improved the quilt with even more. The bottom section has a definite lack of contrast.

For my Art Quilters project I wanted to continue my practice with contemporary piecing and so made a quilt where I was thinking about winter ice. The contrast with this is obviously value contrast; it is only small about 16" x 12"

Winter Ice ©2017 Linda Steele

Bye for now,

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Crazy Patch Swap 2017

I belong to an online Crazy Patchwork group called the Southern Cross Crazies, we are a pretty quiet group with busy lives but every so often we have a swap or some sort of activity. I decided to participate in the latest one because I am doing a lot of machine work at the moment and I thought it would be nice to have some handwork to do.

There are 6 participants so I had to make up 5 crazy patchwork bases and send them off to the next person on the list. They choose one block to work on for the month and then they get sent onto the next person to work on.

Here are the blocks that I made up, I used silk fabrics.

 It can be hard to photograph silk because it reflects light back onto the camera. They look better than in the photographs.

I received Patti's blocks in the mail, some of her blocks were green and some were cream. I chose a green block.

Patti's base block

She was quite specific in that she wanted cream thread on the green blocks and green thread on the cream blocks.

It took a lot of the decision making away when you can only use one colour. I managed to finish it quickly, well ahead of the allotted time.

Patti's block complete
I think that it looks pretty, I've been a bit worried that the lace flower motif is too big for the spot and it takes the eye away from the centre. I've been torn about whether to leave it or not and in the end I have decided to keep it. If she really hates it she can remove it and put something smaller.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Abstract Art

I have been busy working through an online course on Abstract Art with Lisa Call. I first met Lisa last year at the Fibre Forum in Ballarat where I did a 5 day Working in a Series class with her. You can read about that here. I caught up with her again at the Nancy Crow classes in New Zealand earlier this year.

This is a year of trying out new things and so I thought her Abstraction class would be ideal for me. I have learnt so much about the abstract artists of the 20th century; it has been a very time consuming but wonderful learning experience.

Every week we learn about a different style of art and then she gives us a challenge to complete and at the end of the week she critiques our work. There are only two weeks left of the class now.

I thought I'd show some of the work I have done.

In the second week we had to find a landscape photo and use it as inspiration. I picked a photo of trees.

Here is my abstract composition based on the photo.

Another week we had to work on non-objective art and think about variety, balance and repetition.

This is what I came up with.

A couple of weeks ago we had to copy an abstract expressionist artist to try and understand what they were doing. I have spent the entire course also trying to piece everything so I had to modify the design so it could be pieced in the allotted time I had.

I chose Gravitation by Kandinsky.

I thought it looked fairly simple until I started to try and piece it. I didn't like the brown background so I changed that as well.

I have really enjoyed the class and it's a shame that there are only two weeks to go. The work by the other participants has been fantastic, some are quilters and some are painters. I have learnt so much from Lisa's critiques of their work as well.

As you can see I haven't quilted anything and as they are only exercises I probably won't but I will never look at abstract art the same way again.

Bye for now,