Casting baskets in glass

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that Ever Supportive Partner (ESP) has accompanied me on many jaunts and tried his hand at a few textile ventures, such as dyeing with safflowers at the World Shibori Network conference in Oaxaca in 2016.

So now it was payback time. ESP has done a couple of glass courses recently and was keen to go to a four-day masterclass at the International Festival of Glass. He suggested I accompany him.

I was a bit concerned at first, as the term “masterclass” usually implies that you need some experience to be able to attend. However, I found a class with Georgia Redpath that looked right up my street, making beautiful geometric moulds for cast glass. So after checking with the organisers that complete beginners were welcome, I booked.

Unsurprisingly, I was the only person in the class with no previous experience of working with glass. But Georgia made me feel very welcome. And her work was as stunning in real life as it was on her website.

georgia redpath cast glass georgia redpath cast glass

When casting glass, it takes time to heat up the glass and then let it cool gradually. This meant that our glass would not be ready to collect until a few days after the end of the class.

So we started with a group exercise, where we each made a couple of small moulds from card. These were then cast together as two group moulds so that we could see the process and the end result during the class.

We each made one mould with a star-shaped base and one with a circular base.

card moulds for glass casting card moulds for glass casting

These were grouped together and silicone moulds were made.

silicon mould for glass casting silicon mould for glass casting

Then another mould of investment plaster was cast from the silicone mould.

plaster mould for glass casting plaster mould for glass casting

These plaster moulds are then filled with glass and put in the kiln.

group exercise glass cast group exercise glass cast

I love the clean geometric lines of Georgia’s work, so I made a small geometric mould as one of my samples.

geometric glass mould

However, I also wanted to incorporate the work that I do as a fibre artist, so I made a couple of small coiled bowls from some dead lily leaves I found in the hotel garden(!) and a 3D stitched kantha piece. These were cast in Gelflex rubber rather than silicone, as it is more viscous and less likely to seep through holes in the fibres.

bowls for glass casts gelflex moulds of bowls

Here are the plaster casts of the rubber moulds. It was amazing to see the amount of detail picked up, right down to individual stitches.

plaster moulds of bowls moulds for glass casts

We then calculated how much glass was needed to fill the plaster moulds and left them for a couple of days with Georgia to be put in the kiln.

It was very exciting to return a couple of days later to pick up the glass casts. Unfortunately, on one of the bowls I had underestimated how much glass was needed, so there was a small hole in it.

glass cast bowl with hole

But I’m still pleased with the detail picked up in the glass. And the others were equally detailed – on the stitched piece you can even see the weave of the cotton muslin as well as the individual stitches.

cast glass embroidery cast glass bowl geometric cast glass

I have limited facilities for coldworking (finishing them off by rubbing down and polishing) but I’m extremely happy with them even as they are.

It was a great workshop, and Georgia is a very enthusiastic and encouraging tutor. It’s made me think more about moulds and negative space and how I might develop this in my work. So thanks to ESP too for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

Georgia’s studio is at the Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge, where you can see lots of other stunning examples of studio glass in the British Glass Biennale, which runs until 28 September 2019.

Willow bark basketry with Maggie Smith

I’ve just returned from a three-day workshop on willow bark basketry with the wonderful Maggie Smith. Having worked with neither willow nor bark before, I was slightly worried, but Maggie’s work is fabulous so I couldn’t pass up the chance.

baskets by maggie smith baskets by maggie smith baskets by maggie smith

We started by learning how to strip the bark from willow, with a knife, willow brake or by pounding. Easing the bark off around joints or knots without tearing it can be tricky!

maggie smith stripping willow

But by lunchtime on the first day we had all started to pile up little rolls of bark. The colour of the interior was amazing, ranging from pale yellow to chartreuse green to deep orange. However, this colour does tend to fade as the bark dries.

willow bark stripping willow bark rolls

Maggie told us to discard any preconceived ideas about what we wanted to make and study the bark very carefully to see what was suggested by the marks and texture.

willow bark exterior willow bark interior

I liked the arrangement of holes on one of my pieces of bark so decided to make a pouch consisting of a random weave container wrapped in a whole piece of bark.

The next day we learnt how to cut the bark into even strips, and I started making my random weave piece around a sawdust mould.

willow bark random weave willow bark random weave

Then I cut the whole piece of bark to length, punched holes in it and wrapped the container, stitching on a handle to keep it in position.

willow bark random weave

I left it to dry overnight and the next day managed the tricky task of removing the mould without damaging the bark!

As I had a bit of time left, I also made another coiled piece, using different widths of willow bark strips.

willow bark coiling

Here are the two final finished pieces.

willow bark baskets by Kim Winter

And here are some of the wonderfully diverse and inspiring pieces produced by other students in the class.

willow bark baskets willow bark baskets

Even better, I managed to add willow bark to my cordage collection!

willow bark cordage

 

Cyanotype workshop

Cyanotype is a photographic printing process made without a camera. Objects are placed on a light-sensitive surface and then exposed to ultraviolet light. The result is a cyan (blue) silhouette – hence the name.

The process was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842, but the most famous user was probably the botanist Anna Atkins, who published a series of books of cyanotype prints of algae.

I was intrigued, then, to attend a cyanotype workshop at the weekend with Helen Dixon at Bainbridge Studios, to find out how the process is being used by modern day artists.

We started by preparing our own light-sensitive paper by coating it with a mixture of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate and leaving it to dry in the dark.

coating cyanotype paper

Helen had prepared some paper before the workshop, so we used this to experiment with photos we had sent in advance. The photos had been converted to negatives, and we made a few prints changing the UV light source and the exposure times.

After exposing the negative, the parts of the paper that were exposed to light look much darker. When we washed the paper with water, it turned blue.

rinsing cyanotype

The colour will continue to intensify by itself (rather like indigo oxidising!), but you can speed up the process by spraying with hydrogen peroxide.

spraying cyanotype with hydrogen peroxide

This is the original photo I sent, of a hazelnut cluster. Below it is the negative that was produced.

hazelnut clusterphotographic negative

And here are the results of playing around with resolution, exposure times and light source.

cyanotypes of hazelnut cluster

Unexpectedly, you sometimes get a better image with a lower resolution photo.

We also made marks with pencil and ink on acetates and exposed those.

acetates for cyanotype cyanotypes from acetates

After lunch, we continued experimenting with different objects, but this time we put a sheet of glass on top and put them in the sun to expose them. Even though it was overcast, this worked very well.

exposing cyanotypes

Here are a couple of pieces I made using plant material – on the left are gingko leaves and ferns, on the right is grass.

cyanotype plants

And here are a couple of pieces I made using torn strips of tracing paper.

cyanotype tracing paper

It was a great workshop – and gives me another blue technique to add to my repertoire! 🙂

 

Indigo shibori workshop for felters

Last weekend I ran a workshop on indigo shibori dyeing for the London branch of the International Feltmakers Association, of which I am a member. I’ve attended previous IFA workshops on felting and natural dyeing, and the participants are always enthusiastic and engaged, so I knew I was in good hands!

I wanted participants to experience the difference between synthetic and natural indigo, so we began on Saturday by setting up three vats. The first was what is known as a 123 vat, popularised by natural dye guru Michel Garcia – this was made up of 1 part indigo, 2 parts lime and 3 parts fructose. The other two vats were made of synthetic indigo in different concentrations.

To start with we focused on clamping and binding shibori techniques, and soon everyone was having fun with pegs, marbles and lolly sticks, while the more adventurous grappled with some plastic pipes and string to produce arashi shibori.

In the afternoon we moved on to stitching. Because this is more time consuming, it meant that keen students could take their pieces home to finish stitching in the evening so it was ready to dye the next day.

stitching shibori

There was time at the end of the afternoon to undo the first bound and clamped pieces and the makeshift washing line outside soon began to fill up!

shibori washing line

On Sunday the we continued to experiment with different techniques (sometimes combining more than one) or fabrics, learning how the same technique can look very different on different fabrics.

pole wrapped shibori unpicking shibori

We also found a more photogenic place to hang our work. 😉

indigo shibori indigo shibori indigo shibori indigo shibori indigo shibori

At the end of the day everyone had a good collection of samples to take home and seemed very happy!

ifa shibori samplesIFA shibori workshop

Workshops and American Museum Textiles Fair

I thought I’d already posted about these events but it was actually on my website and newsletter, so sorry about the short notice!

Workshops

Next week I’m running a couple of workshops for beginners on felting and ecoprinting. The venue is The Old School, School Lane, West Kingsdown, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 6JN, just off the M20. For more information and to book, please contact Judith Yarnold, judithyarnold@gmail.com, 01474 852669.

Introduction to felting

Tuesday 21 August, 10am-4pm

Felt is one of the oldest known fabrics in the world. It’s made by wetting layers of wool roving and rubbing and rolling with soap until the fibres interlock to form a robust fabric. This one-day workshop introduces you to the basic felting technique.

In the morning you will start by making a flat piece of felt to learn the basic technique. You can decorate it with yarn, silk and other embellishments.

In the afternoon you will make a 3D object (a small bowl) by felting around a resist. Again, you can decorate this in various ways.

We provide: All materials, but please bring an old towel and a plastic bag to take your work home with you

Numbers: Min 5, max 10 in class

Cost: £60 to be paid up front + £6 for materials to be paid in cash to the tutor on the day

When: Tuesday 21 August, 10am-4pm. There will be an hour’s break for lunch. There is a small shop that sells food about 5 minutes’ drive from the venue or you can bring your own.

Introduction to ecoprinting workshop

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Ecoprinting is also known as botanical contact printing or bundling. It involves making a bundle of leaves in fabric and steaming or simmering in water or dye. In these conditions, certain plants leave their imprint on the fabric.

We will be working with silk in this workshop, as it is one of the easiest fabrics to use with this technique. In the morning we will go on a foraging walk to look for leaves and other foliage to use for ecoprinting. Then we will come back and make a couple of small samples using iron as a mordant. They will steam or simmer during our lunch break.

In the afternoon we will unbundle the samples to see the results and then lay out a larger piece (a silk scarf). While this is steaming we will experiment with hapazome (flower pounding), another method of using plants to make marks on fabric.

We provide: All materials, but please wear old clothes and bring an apron

Numbers: Min 5, max 10 in class

Cost: £60 to be paid up front + £15 for materials to be paid in cash to the tutor on the day

When: Wednesday 22 August, 10am-4pm. There will be an hour’s break for lunch. There is a small shop that sells food about 5 minutes’ drive from the venue or you can bring your own.

American Museum Textiles Fair

Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD
Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August, 10am-4pm

Spend the weekend browsing antique, vintage and world textiles as well as yarns, and makers’ suppliers at the ‘home of quilts’ in the South West. I will be bringing my latest batch of upcycled indigo shibori and ecoprinted garments and accessories.

 

RHS Plant and Art Fair and hapazome workshop

I was hard at work last week replenishing my stock of ecoprinted scarves for the RHS Plant and Art Fair this week.

With botanical art and photography competitions, talks and demonstrations on ikebana and Japanese garden design and of course some wonderful plants, this should be a great show.

And with this heatwave we’ve been having, I’m getting some great prints.

The RHS Plant and Art Fair is at RHS Lawrence Hall, London SW1P 2QD. There’s a late event tomorrow evening 5-9pm, then it’s open on Wednesday 11am-8pm and Thursday 11am-6pm.

Then on Sunday I’m running a hapazome workshop at Brixton Windmill’s Art in the Park. Hapazome is the technique of leaf (and flower) pounding, where you pound vegetation on fabric or paper to leave an imprint.

Here are some samples I’ve made for the workshop.

Let’s hope that people aren’t too busy watching the World Cup final and/or the Wimbledon men’s final to turn out!

Felting workshop with Charlotte Sehmisch

Around five years ago I first came across the work of felter Charlotte Sehmisch, who makes amazing “cellular” felt structures.  But it wasn’t until last month that I managed to attend a workshop with Charlotte herself in Belgium, organised by Vrouw Wolle.

charlotte sehmisch

I wasn’t sure about the wool I had taken with me, as the materials list, which I received very late, specified “500g of merino or mountain sheep (both fleece)”. “Fleece” in this context means batting, but I didn’t have 500g of merino batting to hand, so I took some rather coarse mystery batts that I’d picked up at a stash sale. I did find time to do a quick sample square and found that it felted quite quickly, but that was all I knew about it!

charlotte sehmisch samples

Charlotte had brought both 2D and 3D samples with her – we started on the 3D pieces. You can probably guess that the layout involves multiple resists. Because I was using coarser wool, I made my resists larger than everyone else’s, so my piece was by far the largest in the room.

After laying out and felting comes the tricky cutting part – where, how far and in what direction! There were some rather nerve wracking moments, as I’d miscalculated the width of some of the “ribs”. But after firming up, shaping, and hardening with gelatine, I was quite pleased with the final result.

charlotte sehmisch workshop piece charlotte sehmisch workshop piece

This was another excellent workshop organised by Vrouw Wolle, although the weather was unseasonally hot and humid so not ideal for felting. And although I’ve previously experimented a bit by myself with cellular felting (you can read about it here and here), I learnt a lot from Charlotte.

The workshop was part of a veritable felt jamboree over the whole weekend, with several other renowned tutors including Judit Pócs, Andrea Noeske Parada and Leiko Uchiyama running other workshops. There was also an inspiring exhibition of work by students from the Felt Academy, along with an excellent textile market.

Annemie Tibos
Henny van Tussenbroek
Keetje van de Koogh
Ann Mariën
Marleen Piron
Textile market

Last week I finally had a go at making a sample starfish using the technique I learnt with Charlotte. At least, it was going to be a starfish, but I decided to make it with just three legs to test out the principle, in case it didn’t work. And then during the fulling it seemed to be more interested in developing into some kind of alien creature!

charlotte sehmisch sample piece

As you can see, there is lots of potential for experimenting with this technique! 🙂

 

Corsage workshop and felt swap

Yesterday I ran my second felt workshop at the lovely venue of Know How You in Beckenham. This time we were making felt corsages. Two of the participants had attended my first workshop for beginners at the same venue, so that was an encouraging sign that I was doing something right!

felt corsage workshop

It was a lovely group, very enthusiastic and creative. After choosing their colours, everyone set to work making a spike and laying out three layers of colour before felting them all together.

Then came the decision about cutting – how many petals and how many edges to finish?

corsage workshop corsage workshop corsage workshop

The end result: a very impressive array of exotic felt blooms!

felt corsages

Special mention must go to Amanda’s lemon drizzle and poppyseed cake – it certainly helped the afternoon go with a swing!

Last week was also the deadline for the latest felt swap. The theme this time was “connections”, and my partner was Agnes van der Tier in the Netherlands.

Agnes made me a very clever bracelet, with intertwined cords and pretty hand stitching in lovely shades of blue.

felt bracelet

For Agnes I enclosed three small slate paddlestones with felt and joined them together.

Agnes said that her house has a slate roof so it fits in well!