Spring flowers

The online workshop with Pam de Groot continues – I’ll post an update on this later.

In the meantime, partly inspired by the Josef Frank exhibition, I’ve become a bit obsessed with making felt flowers. As you may know if you’ve followed me for a while, my colour palette is normally quite subdued (and usually involves a lot of blue 🙂 ) but the flowers have really allowed me to take advantage of all the brightly coloured fleece in my stash!

felt-corsages

I’m hoping to have a good selection of these corsages to brighten my stand at the Contemporary Textiles Fair in Teddington later this month.

I’ve also been continuing my work with dress net, exploring other forms. Coincidentally, one of these also happens to be a flower.

net-flower-1

The next step is to make enough of these to create a ball! Two down, 10 to go. 🙂

net-flower-2

Faux chenille and more tulle (or net!)

I’m sad that the five-week course on fabric manipulation with Caroline Bartlett at Morley College that I wrote about last time is over.

I  like the way Caroline teaches. She brings lots of inspiring examples, shows you the basic technique, then encourages you to play and experiment and find things out for yourself. She also discusses the work of other artists to show how the techniques have been adapted and expanded. Debby Brown, my first tutor at Morley, has a similar approach, which is one of the reasons I got started on this whole textiles lark. 😉

Faux chenille

In the fourth week we were introduced to faux chenille, where we stitched through several  layers of fabric, cut through some of the layers and then roughed it up a bit to encourage fraying. (There are lots of tutorials online if you google faux chenille.)

faux-chenille-1 faux-chenille-2

Caroline brought along some great samples to get us going. Sadly, my attempts were not half as successful, even after putting them through the washing machine.

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I probably need to explore this further using different fabrics and colour combinations. 🙂

Working with net

In the last week we were encouraged to work with a technique we’d particularly enjoyed, scaling it up or developing it further.

I’d originally planned to experiment more with modular origami balls, with the idea of making a “puzzle ball”, with different sized balls nested inside each other. However, when I’d tried this at home, the tulle* wasn’t really stiff enough.

puzzle-ball

*Tulle digression: What I’ve been referring to as tulle isn’t actually tulle. I was sniffily informed when I went to MacCulloch & Wallis that tulle is the soft netting used for bridal veils; the stiffer stuff is dress net. While I was there someone else was told the same thing, so it’s clearly a common misunderstanding. Now you know. 🙂

And thanks to Juliet, one of the other students on Caroline’s course, I found out that there are also different weights of dress net. Juliet brought in samples from Heathcoat Fabrics, which sells dress net in weights of 18, 27 and 50gsm. And 50gsm only comes in black, white and cream. This would have saved me trawling round the shops of Goldhawk Road looking for stiff net in different colours! /digression ends

While I was in MacCulloch & Wallis I bought some even stiffer netting with a larger mesh that is used in millinery. This might work for the outer balls with holes in them, but the solid inner ball loses the delicate translucency of the net.

puzzle-ball-3

So in the class I experimented instead with pieces of arashi shibori dress net, curving them over themselves and joining bits together to create shell and jellyfish-like forms.

jellyfish

As usual, it was fascinating to see the great variety of work from the other students. It included this wonderful faux chenille by Frances Kiernan.

faux-chenille-4

And this superb circular pleated piece from rust and indigo dyed fabrics by Ross Belton.

ross-collar

If all this has inspired you, Caroline is doing another course at Morley College next term focusing on shibori, print and heat setting, so do book if you are interested, as it’s filling up fast. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make this one.

Discount on basketry course at Morley

I won’t be able to make this one either, sadly, but Morley College is offering 20% discount on the Creative Basketry course with Stella Harding. It runs on Tuesday evenings, 6-9pm, starting on 28 February for six weeks.  See here for more info on Stella.

The full price is £155, reduced to £124 with the discount.

To take advantage of this offer, email Ruth.abban@morleycollege.ac.uk and copy in gemma.bergomi@morleycollege.ac.uk. They will notify Enrolment Services of your name and discount. You can then enrol by phone on 020 7450 1889 or in person but NOT online.

 

 

 

Tulle origami

What goes around comes around. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve experimented with felt kaleidocycles, felt smocking, and origami moulds for fabric.

Now I’m back at Morley College on a course about fabric manipulation with Caroline Bartlett, whose work I greatly admired at Cloth and Memory {2} at Saltaire. Participants come from varying backgrounds, including handmade paper, print, fashion and textiles, so it’s an interesting mix.

We started by using paper to explore how folding, slicing and cutting can be used to create repeat patterns and then how to translate these into fabric by using darts, pleats and cuts.

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Depending on the fabric properties (transparent / opaque, fraying, thickness), you can create quite different effects.

We’ve also used pleating machines to create heavily pleated pieces, which can later be dyed or discharged as in the sample below.

manipulation-2 manipulation-3

Last time I made origami moulds I used fabric stiffened with PVA or floppy synthetics. This time I used stiff tulle, and was delighted with the result. Here are a couple of pieces that I’ve stitched on.

manipulation-4 manipulation-5

This inspired me to use tulle for origami in other ways.

First I tried making a hyperbolic parabaloid in tulle, but it was too floppy to work properly.

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Then I moved on to a ball-like construction. I had tried this with other fabric previously – the picture below shows the paper version at the front and two fabric versions behind.

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The African wax print fabric was stiffened with interfacing, so it had the same body as paper. The white version on the right was calico which I had tried to stiffen with machine stitching. The stitched surfaces were a bit firmer, but the overall structure lacks the body of the paper version, being curvy rather than angular.

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The tulle version, however, was stiff enough to hold its shape – and because it’s transparent there are intriguing views of the other side of the structure (which make it a bit tricky to photograph!).

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Another origami technique that was new to me is crumpling, a technique pioneered by Paul Jackson.

The qualities of tissue paper that make it ideal for crumpling are difficult to reproduce with fabric. I tried it with a slightly less stiff tulle, but it’s much too floppy (tulle on left, tissue paper on right). I’m not sure tulle will work for this – I may need to rethink the fabric.

manipulation-12

I’ve also just started experimenting with tulle shaped using arashi shibori techniques – could be interesting!

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As I mentioned at the beginning, the class contains students from many different backgrounds. One of them, Frances Kiernan, brought in an amazing flag book that she had made from some of her prints.

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I’d never heard of a flag book before this but I think it would be a wonderful way to display samples!

A bit of stitching and smocking

I suspect many people reading this will, like me, feel the need to be doing something with their hands during dead time, such as sitting on a bus, or when apparently otherwise engaged, such as watching TV.

For me this is usually shibori stitching on scarves before dyeing them, but I’m having a short break from indigo dyeing after the pre-Christmas production line. Call it an indigo detox if you will. 😉 So I’ve had to find something else to do while watching the second series of The Bridge on Saturday nights.

As wet felting is not really an option (ESP objects to soapy splashes from wet bubble wrap), the alternatives are usually knitting or crochet. However, I’ve been looking at a lot of Japanese boro recently, especially this board on Pinterest. And I suddenly remembered that I have a large stash of shibori samples that I made at Morley College when just starting out. So I thought I would try patching some of these together, but using the kantha technique for stitching through several layers to create a 3D effect.

kantha boro1kantha boro2

I’m not quite sure where this is going yet, but if anything comes of it I’ll let you know!

colette wolfI was also inspired by a post on Stitch in Science about American smocking (among other things). American smocking differs from English smocking in that it’s not done on pleated fabric – the fabric is manipulated directly by the stitching. It’s explained in Colette Wolff’s comprehensive  The Art of Manipulating Fabric, which I bought a couple of years ago but as usual got sidetracked onto other things.

Seeing the photos in Avril’s post brought to mind the origami tessellations I’d looked at when I was experimenting with pleating – and I had a eureka moment about how the fabric could be directly manipulated rather than relying on paper moulds and steaming. It seems I’m not the first to make the connection between smocking and origami – I just don’t know why it took me so long. 😦

Here, for example, is a piece of lattice smocking I did which, when held up to the light, could be an origami paper tessellation.

lattice smocklattice smock light

I’m not sure where this is going either, to be honest, but I would love to work out how to use this in shibori dyeing in some way, and also experiment with using felt as the medium.

Looks like a busy start to 2014! 🙂

More on pleats

There’a a whole new world out there. When I went online to get other ideas for possible pleat moulds, I came across some very advanced origami tessellation techniques. And I realised that some of the techniques used by artists I’ve previously written about, like Polly Verity, could be adapted to make pleat  moulds.

However, their folding skills are far more advanced than mine – I got very confused in discussions about iso, 64-pleat grids and 12.12.3 tessellations!

Then I came across this piece about the Miura Ori map, a type of origami pleating that minimises the stress on paper where folds intersect and is also easier to fold and unfold (anyone who has ever tried to refold a map in a confined space like a car will know what I mean!).

So in class this week I made my own Miura Ori mould from cartridge paper, plus a longer parallel pleat mould, and used them with synthetic fabrics and the heat press.

First, I steamed some sheer polyester organza in the Miura Ori mould and then put it in the heat press, still folded with some disperse dye paper on either side. As you can see, the dye did not penetrate very far through the fabric folds:

 

I also repeated this with the diamond pleat mould:

 

Then I dyed the fabric in the heat press before steaming it in the mould:

 

Similarly, I dyed a piece of shiny polyester in the heat press and steamed it in the longer parallel pleat mould. Unfortunately, I clamped the fabric and moulds between two plastic rulers to keep it straight before putting it in the steamer – mistake!

 

Finally, I steamed a couple of pieces of cotton muslin coated in PVA in moulds, before clamping them and putting them in the indigo vat. Obviously, dunking the fabric in more liquid means the pleats are lost, leaving just the dye pattern where the indigo penetrated: