Making cards

At the beginning of January I launched a range of new scrap bags to try to clear out some of my stash of indigo shibori and ecoprinted fabrics. I’m pleased to report that they have been very popular – I’ve already had to restock the indigo bags.

However, some scraps were too small to include in the bags (I wanted the minimum size to be 15 x 15cm (6 x 6 inches)). So I thought I would use them to make some cards. I ordered some card blanks with windows and stuck in some of the smaller pieces of fabric.

fabric cards

The card below was made from a cotton/silk upcycled top that I dyed with indigo but didn’t like the result. Most of the garment I tore up to put in the scrap bags but I thought this stitched detail from the neck area worked well in a card.

fabric card stitched detail

However, there was a problem with the iron on some of the ecoprinted fabrics leaching out through the wet glue. You can see this in the top left-hand corner of this card:

ecoprint card

And also below the bottom left-hand corner of the panel on this card:

ecoprint card

The glue I used was slightly diluted PVA, and I pressed the cards between baking parchment while they were drying to avoid them crinkling up.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how to avoid this problem, eg by using a different glue?

Otherwise I might have to stick to just making indigo cards.

indigo card

 

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More homegrown indigo

I’ve now got a good crop of flowers on my Japanese indigo, but before they all started developing I did another harvest of the leaves – almost 200g in all.

fresh indigo leaves

Unlike last time, I didn’t do any aqualeaf indigo, as I wanted to see if I could get a stronger colour with the reduced indigo, so I needed every leaf I could get! 🙂

This time I overdyed a linen top that I had previously ecoprinted with peony leaves. It felt a little too minimal, so I thought that a pale indigo background might lift it a bit.

ecoprint linen top white

I dipped the top three times, leaving it to oxidise in between. The result was slightly darker than last time, but still quite pale and delicate.

indigo dyed ecoprint linen top

I’m drying the flowers to get seed for next year’s crop, but I’m also going to see if any of the plants survive the winter in my London garden. They are still growing – but it has been a very mild autumn so far. I’ll have to see what happens when the frosts arrive!

Thread 2016 at Farnham Maltings

thread flyer

I’m very excited to be one of the exhibitors at Thread…A Festival of Textiles at Farnham Maltings on Saturday 24 September. I’ll be selling my latest indigo shibori and ecoprinted scarves, along with a selection of upcycled hand dyed indigo and ecoprinted garments. And the infamous bargain bucket of samples and seconds may also be putting in an appearance as I get ready to clear the decks before Christmas!

With around 45 exhibitors alongside a programme of talks, workshops and demonstrations, it promises to be a great day out for textile lovers.

A day ticket costs £5 in advance or £7.50 on the door, but you could win a pair of tickets here! (Closing date is this Friday.)

By lucky coincidence, the Textile Society is organising a talk at Farnham the day before. It’s by Diana Harrison, whose memorable piece at the Cloth and Memory {2} exhibition at Saltaire a couple of years ago was made up of handkerchiefs laid on the floor to resemble paving stones.

In the video below she talks about making her famous Box quilt.

Interview with artist featured in Quilts 1700-2010: Textile artist Diana Harrison from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

So it’s going to be a busy textile weekend!

Sneak preview of ecoprinting project

I’m currently working on a very special ecoprinting project, the details of which I can’t reveal yet.

But it’s meant I’ve been spending time experimenting and sampling, and I can’t resist showing you some of the results. I’m particularly pleased with some of the prints given by garden weeds, most of which I never knew the name of. I now have to stop ESP from weeding the garden! 😉

The photos below include rose and cotinus leaves as unifying elements, each combined with a different plant.

rose cotinus and rosebay willow
Rose and cotinus leaves with garden weed
Dock flowers
Rose and cotinus leaves with dock flowers
Sycamore seeds
Sycamore seeds
Cranesbill leaves
Cranesbill leaves

The sampling has led to some other new discoveries, like this vibrant green print from Robinia pseudoacacia.

robinia pseudoacacia

The colour didn’t really fit in with the project, but I’ve used the leaves with sycamore seeds and dock flowers on a scarf now in my Etsy shop.

ecoprint-robbinia-sycamore-2 ecoprint-robbinia-sycamore-3

And here are some other samples that I won’t be using in this project but may use in future.

Pelargonium flowers
Pelargonium flowers
Fig leaf
Fig leaf
ecoprint heuchera
Heuchera leaf

Starting with Photoshop

A few months ago I mused about whether I should learn how to use Photoshop so that I could get some of my designs digitally printed rather than making everything by hand. This would enable me to make larger pieces at more acceptable prices.

This week I finally got round to doing a two-day class on Photoshop for beginners at Morley College. It was a very popular class, with most of the participants wanting to learn Photoshop to improve their photos or restore old prints. And it turned out that I already knew the tutor, Estelle Vincent, as we had been located next to each other at Lambeth Open at the Portico Gallery a few years ago. Small world! 🙂

We covered a lot in two days, but what was most useful for me was learning about layers, filters and flipping/rotating to produce repeat patterns. Here are some of the patterns I created.

The first was a section of an ecoprint of eucalyptus on silk.

Original ecoprint of eucalyptus on silk

After changing the colour with a filter and flipping and rotating:

Repeat pattern created with filter

A similar process starting with a section of sycamore ecoprint:

photoshop-sycamore-before photoshop-sycamore-blue-repeat

Then I experimented with some indigo shibori. I didn’t bother changing the colours with filters this time.

photoshop-swirls-beforephotoshop-shibori-swirls

photoshop-kuno-before photoshop-new-kuno

It’s fascinating to see how different the patterns look when repeated on a larger scale, which is something I could never achieve by hand. And using different filters to create different colourways adds even more potential.

Lots for me to think about here!

Busy weekend ahead

Please cross your fingers for good weather this coming weekend, as I’ve got two outdoor events coming up!

On Saturday I’m taking part in the Abbeville Fete, a great mix of street stalls, fancy dress parade, live music, dog show and other entertainment that also raises funds for charity. It will be your first chance to see my new range of upcycled indigo shibori tops, along with ecoprinted tops and my latest batch of scarves – some examples below.

I’ll be sharing a stall with Kes Young of Heart in Art Workshops, who makes wonderful mosaics, so it should be a great combination of colour and texture!

The Abbeville Fete is on Saturday 25 June, 12-6pm.

Then on Sunday I and my fellow felter Carol will be donning our Women of the Cloth hats and running free drop-in felting sessions at the Brixton Windmill Festival. The theme of the festival this year, the 200th anniversary of the windmill, is “trades and professions”, and as well as us felters there will be a furniture maker, blacksmith, bricklayer and of course millers and bakers.

flowers-phone-case

Brixton Windmill Festival is on Sunday 26 June. It starts with a parade from Windrush Square at 1pm, marching up Brixton Hill to Brixton Windmill for the festival in Windmill Gardens, 2-4pm.

Crafty Fox Night Market at the Geffrye Museum

It’s been a busy Christmas selling period so far. My two weeks with Women of the Cloth at Sprout Arts went really well, with my new line of upcycled ecoprinted clothes and accessories proving very popular!

ecoprinted garments ecoprinted garments

They were so popular that I had to make some more halfway through – and as I write this post the steamer is bubbling away once more as I try to restock for the Crafty Fox Night Market at the Geffrye Museum this Thursday.

Crafty Fox is well known for running very popular, well-organised craft markets, so I’m looking forward to my first time as a stallholder, along with 70 other designer-makers. I also love the Geffrye Museum, which explores how the home and fashions in interior decoration have developed over the years. There’s a candlelit concert on the same evening as the market, so the atmosphere should be suitably festive!

As well as my ecoprinted items I’ll also have lots of indigo shibori scarves, but not much felt, due to limited space.

This will be my last market before Christmas, but some of my indigo scarves will be available at Diverse Gifts until 4 January, and there’s always my Etsy shop (this will be closed on Thursday while I’m at Crafty Fox).

The Crafty Fox Night Market is at the Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, London E2 8EA on Thursday 17 December, 4-9pm.

Ecoprinting with mordants and natural dyes

Feast or famine: I haven’t posted for a while, so today you’re getting a long photo-heavy post! All the garments featured are upcycled, bought from charity shops or auctions.

With most of the previous ecoprinting I’ve done I have not mordanted the fabric. I’ve used mostly silk and wool, which are protein fibres and tend to print OK if I bundle them with a piece of cloth soaked in iron. The vintage cream silk dress below, for example, was not mordanted in advance – I just used maple leaves and an iron “blanket”.

maple dress

So I extended this method to other silk garments that were already dyed different colours. The scarf below was a strong lime yellow, and I printed it with different geranium (cranesbill) leaves. I picked the leaves from the garden of lovely embroiderer Lucy Goffin, who makes beautiful bespoke structured garments and also runs the fantastic Marchants nursery with her husband Graham.

ecoprint geranium scarf

This is an orange silk skirt printed with maple leaves. The orange was quite dark, so the print is quite subtle.

ecoprint maple skirt orange 2 ecoprint maple skirt orange

And this was a pale pink silk blouse printed with larger maple leaves.

ecoprint maple pink blouseecoprint maple pink blouse 2

Just as experiment, I also printed an unmordanted yellow cotton T-shirt with sycamore leaves. As well as the shape of the leaves, I love the shapes produced by the long stalks – so you will see quite a few sycamores featuring below!

ecoprint yellow sycamore tshirtecoprint yellow sycamore tshirt 2

I then mordanted a batch of garments with alum, and dyed them with natural dyes before ecoprinting on top.

This is a cotton apron dyed with oak leaves and printed with sycamore leaves.

ecoprint apron

This T-shirt was dyed in the oak leaves after the apron, so it was a paler brown, before printing with maple leaves. The maple leaves were quite thick and waxy, so they seem to have acted more like resists than printing themselves. You can also see very clearly the effect of using an iron blanket, as I mistakenly forgot to include it in one part of the bundle! I may have to overprint this with something else.

ecoprint maple tshirt ecoprint maple tshirt2

Finally, it was back to silk. Here’s a silk top dyed with onion skins and printed with sycamore leaves.

ecoprint onion sycamore ecoprint onion sycamore2

Another silk top dyed with pomegranate and printed with sycamore leaves. Both the onion skins and the pomegranate gave very similar golden yellows after dyeing (sorry – forgot to take any photos), but I simmered the pomegranate bundle with the sycamore leaves for less time, so it’s brighter.

ecoprint pomegranate sycamore ecoprint pomegranate sycamore2

The cotton apron picked up more details from the leaves than the cotton T-shirts, and the silk was even better, perhaps due to the relative thickness of the fabric?So many combinations and permutations to try!