Ice Dyeing

This last week I have been experimenting with ice dyeing. It’s not the most obvious thing to be doing in the tropics but a good supply of ice cubes and crushed ice instead of snow works very well.

Ice dyed fabric

Ice dyed fabric

There’s a good tutorial on ice dyeing on the Dharma Trading website and I used this as my guide. Basically the ice covered fabric needs to sit on a rack in a container where the liquid from the melted ice and dye can drain away. I looked around to see what I could use and found that some old flower pots in the garden were ideal and some round, metal kitchen racks were the prefect fit to go inside the pot.

fabric arranged on a rack in the pot.

fabric pre-soaked in soda ash is arranged on a rack in the pot.

The pot is deep enough to allow a good layer of ice to cover all the fabric. I found that a mixture of ice cubes and crushed ice worked very well and didn’t melt too quickly.

the fabric layered in the pot and covered in a mix of ice cubes and crushed ice.

the fabric layered in the pot and covered in a mix of ice cubes and crushed ice.

On top of this I sprinkled the powdered dye. I use Procion MX fabric dyes for all my dyeing, and when applying the dye to the surface of the ice using a small nylon sieve helps give a more even distribution of colour. Using more than one colour gives a more interesting effect, but I found that some colours worked much better than others and you need to make sure to add enough dye powder to give the fabric a good colour.

a mix of blue and golden yellow dyes

a mix of blue and golden yellow dyes

red, fuchsia and gold dyes, looks good enough to eat!

red, fuchsia and gold dyes, looks good enough to eat!

I left these to sit overnight to allow all the ice to melt. Here I used a colander suspended over a pot and this also worked well.

The last traces of ice slowly melting

The last traces of ice slowly melting

I left the fabric to sit overnight until all of the ice had melted. Then comes the fun of seeing how the fabrics have turned out.

The results are unpredictable and beautiful as the dyes blend and mingle almost like watercolours to create delicate and subtle colour variations.

reds, pinks and yellow

reds, pinks and yellow

darks greens and blue

darks greens and blue

To avoid having white or very pale colour in the background you can also use a piece of fabric that has already been dyed. These fabrics will be wonderful for art quilts, appliqué, or even some contemporary patchwork or quilting design and I can’t wait to use them.

Beautiful greens

Beautiful greens

Festival of Quilts 2010 – Part 1

I’ve just returned to Brunei from my annual trip to the UK and my second visit to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. This year I didn’t attend any workshops as the ones I was interested in had sold out by the time I was able to register, so that meant I had plenty of time to look around and enjoy the wonderful display of over 1,000 quilts from all over the world.

 For the first time I had two of my own quilts in the competition, here I am with my quilt inspired by the Borneo rain forest. The other quilt was my hand appliqué birds and flowers design which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

I attended the gala dinner on the opening night of the festival, and little did I know it, but the quiet unassuming Japanese lady who was sitting at our table with her two daughters was the winner not only of the Miniature Quilts competition but also the Best of Show announced at the end of the dinner. Her piece ‘Mission Impossible 2’ a foundation pieced and reverse appliqué Mariner’s Compass design with 128 points was a true example of precision and perfection and a very deserved winner.

Mission Impossible 2 by Kumiko Frydl

As I had a bit of time on my hands this year I volunteered to help with the SAQA exhibit  ‘Art meets Science’ with its very diverse array of quilts inspired by the theme. There was everything from a vibrant close up detail of a butterfly wing to an artistic interpretation of the H1N1 virus. I enjoyed meeting some of the other SAQA members while I did this as well as chatting to people who came to view the display.

While I was there, Alex Veronelli the Product Manager for Aurifil threads shot this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU1NBKzvGDM which shows the quilts in much more detail so that you can see the intricacy of the designs and the quilting.

What struck me most about being at the show this year was the friendliness and camaraderie of so many of the people I met, whether it was going along the corridors of the hotel, sharing a table at breakfast or lunch, walking to the exhibition hall, going round the various booths of the exhibitors or attending the SAQA coffee morning. It made the whole show a very positive experience and I feel I made new friends as well as meeting up with old friends.

Needless to say I took this opportunity to stock up on threads and fabrics. Living in Brunei I generally have to rely on buying over the internet so it is a luxury to actually be able to look at and feel the fabric I buy, and to have such a fantastic variety of threads in all weights, colours and varieties all in one place. For the fabric I concentrated on original hand dyes which are much harder to buy over the internet as you really need to see them to appreciate their uniqueness. I kept telling myself I should look for colours other than greens and browns, but as you can see I didn’t do a terribly good job, although I did find these beautiful vibrant red and pink hand dyes as well as the subtle grey and blue fabrics.

As you can see from the photo I also bought a lot of threads, a good selection of Aurifil, plus a few by Superior, YLI, Oliver Twists and Madeira. Again I was mostly drawn to browns and greens which I tend to use so much of in my work.

In the next part I will post some of the photos  of quilts I took whilst at the exhibition.

Fabric Painting

In my last post I wrote about how I had been doing some fabric painting recently for some new projects. It’s strange how things work out because after not having done any painting for a long time, suddenly in my Yahoo challenge group the theme for this month’s challenge is ‘Playing with colour’ and altering fabric by some method such as painting or stamping. I couldn’t wait to get started but after a long dry patch we’ve been having wet and stormy weather so it hasn’t been ideal for drying fabric.On Sunday, the sun finally came out for a bit and so I got my paints out to try painting some more sky, and then the next day I experimented with making sea, jungle and sun printing.

set-up-and-ready-to-go

To protect my work surface I covered everything with an old shower curtain, as the paint gets everywhere and is difficult to remove. I mix my paints in foil dishes and use a plant mister to dampen the fabric before painting. My favourite book on fabric painting is Mickey Lawler’s Skydyes and I used her directions for painting my sky by blending  ultramarine and cobalt blues to create a more realistic effect. In one dish I blended ultramarine with a dash of cobalt and in the other cobalt with a dash of ultramarine. I misted the fabric quite liberally and then used a  brush to apply the paint in broad stripes.

wet-sky

This picture shows the wet fabric and you can see quite clearly where I have applied the two different blues. As you can see from the next photo the fabric dries much paler.

sky-dry

The next day I moved on to sun printing and creating a ‘sea’ fabric.  For the sea I again followed Mickey Lawler’s directions although this time I also I added a layer of opaque pearlescent white to the dampened fabric which gives the finished piece a lovely sparkle. For the painting I used various mixes of emerald, ultramarine and cobalt.

sea-wet

I sprinkled the wet fabric with course salt and purposely scrunched it up with a few creases going across the width, then laid it out to dry in the bright sun.

sea-fabric

I was pleased with the way this turned out, the ridges have created lines which have the appearance of rolling waves and the salt gives the effect of sea spray.

The hornbill in the photo below is one that I have just completed using my last batch of painted fabric.

hornbill-and-painted-sky

I used some of the leftover ‘sea’ fabric to try sun printing and again following Mickey’s advice I chose some delicate leaves to make the prints. She says that soft leaves work better because they lie flat against the surface of the fabric, so actually for this I hunted around the garden and grabbed some creepers that were growing wild near one of the garden walls.

sun-printing-wet

The wet fabric and leaves out in the sun, and below the sun printed fabric.

sun-print-leaves

My final experiment was to add some ‘jungle’ to one of my pieces of sky fabric. This time I used a sponge to apply the paint. I only wetted the lower edge of the fabric where I wanted the colours to run into each other, and I used a little less water with the paints. I aslo used salt again and dried the fabric in the sun but on a tilt which gave an interesting effect with the salt.

sky-and-jungle

I created this intending to use it just as a background for a new hornbill design that I’m going to do, but I was so pleased with the way that it turned out that I now want to design a new wall hanging around it. I already have an idea so I will write about it soon.

Rain Forest finished

rain forest inspired wall hanging

rain forest inspired wall hanging

I have finally finished my rain forest design. I added a creeper made from some chenille like yarn along the top edge of the quilt which I allowed to twist and curl naturally and stitched in place using invisible thread and a free motion zig zag stitch.

I quilted along the outlines of the foreground trees to make them stand out more and then did stippling in the background using a fine polyester thread for the leaves and invisible thread for forest floor and fallen leaves. I then used a variegated cotton thread and a random stippling pattern in the borders.

Detail of creeper and background

Detail of creeper and background

Yesterday I finally received two parcels which I had been waiting for, one of mostly fabrics and the other with threads and notions. The colours of some of the fabrics are a bit brighter than I normally buy but I am thinking about doing some flower designs. They make a nice changes from the browns and greens and  darks which I usually seem to buy, can’t wait to get started.
my new fabrics and threads

my new fabrics and threads