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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Masterclass with Claire Benn

The UK Festival of Quilts was on over the weekend, but it was a virtual quilt show this year. They also had classes over the internet for the first time. I signed up for a Mark Making class with Claire Benn, I have always admired Claire's work and want to try and do more mark making and screen printing kind of work.
The class was for one hour and was on at 8pm on Friday night for my time zone. Here is my Ipad set up waiting for the class to start via Zoom.



I had my work space and tools all set up, waiting to go, it was exciting.



Claire Benn recommended that we only use white fabric and black paint to keep things simple. I used black screen printing ink.



Our first instruction was to put masking tape on our fabric to act as a resist.




Then we followed along with Claire starting with a gelli plate and foam brush.



I didn't take any progress photos after that because I was busy keeping up with everything.

Here is what it looked like finished.


I really enjoyed the class. I left it to dry overnight and I went and cleaned the paint off all my brushes and tools.

The next morning, I took off the tape.


I love it. Claire said that the idea was to try lots of things and eventually you will get to know the marks that you enjoy making and continue on with those that suit your own work.

Of course, this is just a practice piece and not a completed work, but I definitely think I could do more of this kind of thing. I have to start and try it soon though. I have learnt from the past that I can do a workshop and then go home, pack things away and get on with my life and lose the momentum and excitement of the class.

The zoom class worked so well and it was amazing that people from all over the world were doing it at the same time. Claire is a very experienced teacher.

I can imagine doing this sort of class again, so much cheaper than an airfare to the UK and hotel fees etc. That is one of the only benefits of this horrible Corona virus.

Speaking of which, my state, Victoria has now gone into Stage 4 lockdown. All retail and business closed except for supermarkets, banks, petrol stations, doctors and a few more things.
We have a curfew and are not allowed out from 8pm until 5am unless we are coming home from work.
Only one person may leave the house for shopping and it must be within a 5k radius and for one hour only. We are allowed to walk or run for an hour a day with only one other person from the family. We must always wear a mask when outside of our house. There are huge fines for disobeying these rules.
The virus had got out of control and we are having between 400 and 700 new cases daily and 10-13 deaths daily. Too many for the size of our population.
This will go on for 6 weeks. It will be spring before we are allowed out again. I hope this works!

Luckily, I have plenty of sewing to do and we can see friends and family over the internet.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Making Masks

We are halfway through our second stage 3 lockdown because of the Covid 19 virus. As of last Thursday, you have to wear a mask if you go outside your house. I had already bought a box of disposable masks that we have been using, but all of my friends are busy making masks and so I thought that I might as well have a go as well. I do have plenty of fabric! But no elastic! I haven't used elastic in years and it seems to be sold out everywhere.

I had bought some elastic hair ties for my grandchildren recently so I tried to use them.


The hair elastic is quite thick and not quite long enough. I made the dark blue mask first and it's too tight. I made the lighter blue one next and made it an inch wider to compensate for the tight elastic. It was much better but still not very comfortable.

The masks with the pleats are a bit time consuming to make and I noticed that my friends on Facebook were sewing a different design. I tried that next and it is much quicker to make.


I found some hat elastic in the back of the cupboard too, it's much more comfortable than the hair elastic.

The good news is that a patchwork shop has got in a supply of elastic and I have ordered some, so as soon as it gets delivered, I can make some more masks.

Luckily, the virus is not around where I live, it's mainly over the other side of the city but it won't take much for it to spread here unfortunately. We are not allowed visitors, so it's back to zoom and video calls with family and friends, we are only allowed to go to the supermarket, pharmacy, doctor or exercise outside.

I hope we can get on top of this soon, although I am happy staying at home, sewing away. I feel sorry for all those businesses that have had to close and all those people out of work.

Last week, we had a new ducted gas heating system put through the house. It took three men, 3 days to do it. I took a photo of some of the huge ducts that were going to be put in the roof.


We love the new heating system; it is working very well. Now we have just have to wait for the gas account and see how much it is costing to run.
 Up until last week we had the electric under-floor heating but it was costing too much to run. The bill for last month was $3,000 for one month!! We had enough of those ridiculous charges. It was always an expensive system but it was such a lovely warmth that we put up with the higher bills during winter but the electricity prices have been going up and up. I looked up our past accounts and 3 years ago, the July bill was $1,000, 2 years ago it was $2,000 and now it's up to $3,000. It was beyond a joke and we just weren't prepared to pay that huge price anymore.

Sorry, if this was a bit of a boring read for any readers but I get a book printed of my blog every year and I wanted to document some of what was happening in 2020. Goodness knows, it's nothing like the year we ever expected.

I am actually busy quilting a couple of quilts but the rules of the competition are that the quilts cannot be shown anywhere, so they'll have to be a secret for now, sorry.

I can show you the backing fabrics.


I have just finished with the red one and I am using the purple one at the moment. I'll do the one in the middle after that, but there is no hurry for that one.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Australia Wide 7 Success

I have been a member of the Australian  and New Zealand Art Quilt Group, OzQuilt Network for a year or so now.

When we first went into lockdown at the end of March, I decided to try and make a quilt for their next touring exhibition, called Australia Wide 7. The quilts tour to various galleries for two years and are quite compact, only 40cm or 16" square.

The Blues by Linda Steele©2020

I was absolutely thrilled to get the notice that my quilt was accepted to be part of the exhibition. Apparently, they received 83 entries and 37 were accepted.

I didn't take many progress photos but I did find one where I was deciding on the placement of the circles.

Placing the circles

Here is a detail photo.

The Blues, detail

It was an honour to be selected, especially as I am one of the new kids on the block, art quilt wise.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Circle Series 6

I've continued to work in a series with my circles theme, although I must admit my interest is waning. I don't think they will translate to some larger work, but you never know I suppose.

I've actually gone back to my number 4 in the series, I was never happy with the result.

Circle series 4


I decided that the reason was that the background triangle shapes were too large and so there was no difference in scale between the background and the circles.

I made another with a background of smaller shapes. It took a lot longer to put together.

No 6 background
 I used the blue colours because I was sick of the pink and green.

Circle series no. 6
It's ok, but I don't love it. Maybe the stripes just set off the circles so much better than triangles.

Here is a photo of all six in the series. How funny - I'm starting to like the first one again!

Circle Series


I also made another little paper collage out of my gelli printed papers.

Paper Collage
 The little collage is small, only 7" wide and 4" high but they take a surprising amount of time to make. I wish I could say that I whipped it up in 10 minutes because that what it looks like, but in reality, it was more like a couple of hours!

The bad news here in Melbourne is that we are experiencing a second wave of the virus and last week we went into 6 weeks of lockdown again.
This time I want to get more sewing done and not so much of the playing around and experimenting.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Playing around with Sun dyeing

I have been playing and around with my Sun-dye paints when the weather is fine. Sun dyes are a thin paint made in Australia that can be used as a paint as well as using it for sun printing.

I painted a piece of fabric with magenta and sprinkled some salt over it and sat it in the sun to dry. It is winter here in Australia so the sun is weaker and you get a softer result than you would in the hot summer sun.

Magenta with salt

I pin the painted fabric to a stretched canvas that still has its plastic on it so it won't blow away if a wind springs up.

This is what it looked like after it had dried and I washed the salt off.


It looks nice but I would find it hard to use like it is, so I painted it again the next day with some Flame red and Wattle yellow. Now I could imagine being able to use it.


The salt resist gives it some texture instead of just being a plain fabric. I can imagine using sections of it for applique.

I was seeing what sort of texture and effects I could get. Next; I tried pleating the fabric and letting it dry. It is more rough folds than pleating actually.

Pleated fabric

This is the result.


I like the effect and could imagine it as a background or in a landscape quilt.

I tried some stencils next, I didn't give the stencils much thought, I just grabbed whatever was on the top of my pile.



Once again, I over painted them.



I could imagine being able to use them. It's amazing how much better they look when you crop just a part of the fabric, it gives it a new life.

Finally, I tried some stamping, I had to wait for the stamp to dry before I painted over it.


This seemed much too graphic for me unless I was doing something very modern. I tried again with a softer contrast.


Yes, probably more suited to my taste. That could easily be cut up for leaves.

I am liking the sun dye paint and will definitely keep using it.

But now a part of me wants to try dyeing fabric again! I said that I wouldn't dye anymore because I hate all that rinsing out afterwards. But I have seen another way of dyeing that is more controlled instead of just bunching it up in a bucket.

I have a couple of projects that I have to finish but once they are done, I'll give this other method of dyeing a try. I'll just use the dyes that I already have and give it a go.

I'll let you know how it works out, but it won't be for at least another month.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Flour paste resist

I have been trying lots of surface design ideas while we've been in lock down. I don't know why, I suppose it's a distraction from everything that is going on.

I followed the instructions in a book called Art Cloth by Jane Dunnewold.

I mixed up a paste of equal parts of plain flour and cold water, 3/4 cup of each.

It was the first time I had ever done it, so I got out a piece of hand dyed fabric, some gelli printed fabric and some commercial fabric as well.




You put the cold water into a bowl and gradually add the flour, mixing it up until it resembles a pancake mixture in consistency, not too thick, not too thin. I used equal quantities of flour and water and used it that way.

I pinned down the fabric to hold it in place. I have a homemade printing board that is slightly padded and I also used a painting canvas that still has its plastic cover on it.

I spread over the flour paste, I didn't know if it was too thin or not but in the end it seemed to work.




Pretty scary looking isn't it?

I left it to dry for 24 hours. It's winter here in Australia so it definitely needed 24 hours to dry.
As it dries it shrinks, shrivels up and becomes very stiff. Luckily, I pinned it or it might have turned into a ball of fabric.



When it is completely dry you bunch up the fabric, creating cracks in the flour paste. In the book there was a warning not to overdo the cracking and in the small pieces I did overdo it, probably because a 6" piece of fabric was easy to scrunch.

After you scrunch it and form the cracks, you paint over it. Many people use dye in this step and then you need to use soda ash to fix it and then when it's dry you have to do all that rinsing to remove the excess dye. I didn't want to do that.

I used Sun Dye paint which is an Australian runny acrylic paint, sort of like Dye na Flow paint. It's heat set so you don't need to rinse it out.

I painted with black mostly and some magenta on a couple of fabrics.



The Sun Dye paint likes the sun especially and we only have a really weak sun at the moment so I left it to dry for 24 hours.

The next day I put the fabrics in a bucket of cold water and rubbed the fabrics together to loosen the flour. That bucket of water ends up very gunky. Apparently, you do not want to pour the gunky fabric down the sink, so I poured it onto the garden.
Then I put the fabrics in another bucket of clean, cold water and they rinsed out very quickly.
To completely clean them, I washed them in the washing machine. You always use cold water with this technique so you don't end up with glue!





I was happy with my results. I think I cracked too much though because when I see what the professionals do, their cracks are very fine and spindlier. The magenta ones were a fail, I must have cracked the flour paste too much because they came out solid magenta, as if the paint had run underneath the flour.

The top photo was only a 6" piece of fabric and I decided to see what happened if I added some green paint over the top.



That worked, so I was very happy with my experiment and think it is something I could use in the future, especially as flour is so safe and user friendly without having to use any chemicals.

Blogger has changed a bit and the settings are different to use, hopefully there won't be any issues.

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Inspired by Nature Collages

My Inspired by Nature on-line class is finished now, but I have done a couple more paper collages using my painted and gelli printed papers.

Banksia Collage

The above collage is of a Banksia Ericifolia that we have growing in our backyard. I was happy with it until by chance I changed the photo to black and white and realised that I don't have enough value contrast in it. I should have thought of that before I glued it down!

The next collage is of a Grevillea that we also have growing.

Grevillea Collage
I actually had fun making them, but it almost almost seems like I am playing around and not getting anywhere with some new work.

I made myself try out a collage in fabric. I have been painting and gelli printing fabric as well as paper and have never tried to use it.

I decided to use a paper collage that I had already made as a starting point.

Paper collage of gum leaves.

I made it bigger than the paper collage, the fabric one is about A4 size.

Fabric Collage
I enjoyed making it and I really like using my painted and gelli printed fabrics. They almost seem a bit like watercolour to me. I don't know if it was a fluke, but they didn't fray on the edges. Maybe the paint sealed the edges?

That gives me inspiration to keep going and try doing some new work using fabric that I have created. It's a shame that it is winter here now and not so convenient to paint fabrics. Still, I have a couple of ideas running around my head!

Bye for now,
Linda


Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Working in a Series - June

I am persisting with my circle series this year. I wanted to change the colours though, I was sick of the pink and green.

I got out a slightly different palette one night and left it ready for me to begin the following day. I had decided to stick with the hot pink as before but instead of the yellow green, I went for turquoise and mustard.


The next morning I didn't like the colours as much. I decided to just use the turquoise and add a couple more blues.



I wasn't so keen on the triangle background that I had done last time, I felt that it didn't work well with the circles.

Series 1, no 4

I went back to black and white stripes, but this time I pieced the stripes in the top third differently.



I was going for a group of circles to cover that join in the fabrics.

Series 1, no.5

You can see that I had to add some orange spots, it looked too plain to just use the blues. I actually quite like it. I am surprised that it doesn't look top heavy and out of balance. Maybe all those stripes underneath the circles add some perceived weight!

It's just a fused top, no stitching around the circles or any quilting. It's just a design exercise and I don't want to waste time finishing it off unless I need to.

I wonder how many combinations of circles I will come up with?

Bye for now,
Linda

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Crayons on Fabric

I am thinking of trying some new techniques with fabric. Trying out some different painting and mark making on fabric and papers for some art quilts. Before I run headlong into it though, I wanted to test some of the products.

 I can only test what I have at home and I am not buying anymore unless I find I really love them or use them a lot.



The picture above shows the crayons that I have. Caran D'Ache Neocolor 2, which are water soluble crayons, Crayola Fabric crayons, Faber-Castell crayons and Shiva Paintstiks.

I have used the Shiva Paintstiks very successfully on quilts before and 10 years later they still look just as good as when I first used them. But I put them into the test anyway. The only drawback to Shiva Paintstiks is that they are oil paint in a stick form and if you get any on the floor or clothes it is there forever. They form a skin on the top and you have to cut the skin away to use them again and that's where little bits of paint can end up in the most unexpected places.

Here is my fabric with the crayons drawn on.

Crayons before washing

1. The top two red marks are the Shiva Paintstiks.

2. Underneath that I brushed the Neocolor 2 with water.

3. Then I brushed Neocolor 2 with textile medium.

4. Then Neocolor 2 ironed.

5. The Crayola Fabric crayons are recommended for synthetic fabrics but I thought they would be ok on cotton too.

6. The Faber-Castell crayons are ordinary craft crayons.

The last two (5 and 6) I painted textile medium on the bottom half to see if it made a difference.

I dunked them in cold water and gave a little rub as well. Then I dried and ironed them.

Crayons after washing.

1. The Paintstiks were hardly changed which was pretty good because you are supposed to heat set them with an iron first and I forgot to do that.

2. The Neocolor 2 with water was fine but a little duller and lost a bit of colour.

3. The Neocolor 2 with textile medium didn't lose any colour and was quite vibrant.

4. The Neocolor 2 that was just ironed, washed out a lot. They are water soluble crayons so I guess they are not supposed to be used without water or textile medium.

5. The Crayola Fabric Crayons were much more vibrant with the textile medium applied.

6. The Faber-Castell crayons that are not even fabric crayons were still ok when I used textile medium with them.

I thought that was the end of my testing, but I happened to see a post on Facebook where someone was recommending crayons on Fabric and said that they are fine on fabric if you heat set them with an iron.
I hadn't tried heat setting with an iron so I quickly did another little test.

Heat set Crayons


Heat set Crayons after washing.


The Crayola Fabric Crayons fared the best. But once again the Neocolor 2 are water-soluble and so are not supposed to be used without water or textile medium.

I am not sure how much I will use crayons on fabric but at least I know how to use them the most effectively now.

A few years ago, I did a test using Inktense pencils on Fabric and I found that they worked the best with textile medium. By the way, that Inktense post from 2012 is my most read post ever.

Bye for now,
Linda