Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nuno-Felting at OFFF

Nuno-felted scarf
For the past few years (the last weekend of Sept.), I've attended OFFF (Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival) with my friend Dean, who's a weaver.   In the past, I've purchased huge bags of dyed wool rovings, which gives me a great selection for machine needlefelting with my Embellisher.

I still did some shopping at this year's OFFF, but the big highlight was the nuno-felting class I took with Carin Engen, a wonderful fiber artist from northern Cal.  Nuno-felting is still a relatively new technique, where wool fibers are felted onto a silk base (or chiffon, gauze, scrim, or other light, open weave fabric), resulting in a beautiful puckered texture (see below).
Back of scarf folded over the front.
Unlike traditional felting, the entire base fabric is not covered.  Instead, the roving is carefully placed on the silk base to create a design, both from the colorful wool itself and the puckers that will result.
The beautiful puckers and gathers on one edge of the scarf.
A big sigh . . . now that I've learned this new felting technique, how will I find the time to fit it in with all the other fiber and mixed-media arts I love to do?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Going back to October . . .

Gelatin Monoprinting

I was the "presenter" at the October meeting of my mixed media group in Portland. [Each month, a member "presents" (teaches/shares) the workshop, which lasts about 4-6 hours.]  My topic was gelatin monoprinting.

The night before the meeting, each person made a gelatin printing plate, made from plain gelatin and water.  I doubled my batch, using two boxes of Knox plain gelatin (4 envelopes each) and 2 cups of hot water.  After refrigerating overnight, I had a nice thick rectangle of gelatin, about 9" x 11".

Some people leave their gelatin plate in its pan, but I take mine out for printing.  It begins to develop cracks and other interesting lines and marks without the confines of the pan holding it together.

The next step is to paint on the gelatin, then use strips of newspaper to create a design.  The paper strips act as a resist, so the areas they cover won't be printed.  I was thinking about one of our family's favorite children's books called "Barn Dance," and I painted a low, full moon illuminating a grassy orchard.  Here's my first print on watercolor paper:

Note the stick-straight lines in the trees, made by using torn strips of newspaper.

[Click on any image to choose another size to view.]

Before pulling any more prints, I misted the gelatin plate with water and wiped off the remaining paint with a paper towel.  I repainted the scene, but drew the trees with my fingers this time (instead of using strips of paper), removing paint like this:


and here were the resulting prints:

First print on white PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric

2nd print made from same gelatin plate, after adding more paint to that still remaining on the gelatin.                                 
(I love Jacquard's Lumiere paints!  That's what I used to get the luminosity in the blues and  greens.)
  By now, the gelatin plate was getting these interesting cracks and crevices, which give texture and character to the prints I was making.  The plate would last a lot longer, but was taking up too much refrigerator space.  So I went all out, covering the plate with paint as I composed this desert-in-spring scene:
 Note the large crack about 1/3 from left side, and the pockmarks on the green foreground.

While it's not my favorite print, this ones does have some interesting sections.  I like the brush marks in the blue sky, and those in the lower left corner.  The colorful dots will become flowers.  Threadsketching and quilting might bring it to life!
 This was my third experience with gelatin monoprinting, and the best so far.  I learned much more this time; it's a fun & exciting process and is very forgiving.   I can't wait to try it again!  But first, I want to quilt these pieces, which I'll show when they're done.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Wow, so much for good intentions when I last wrote that I'd post every Sunday!  Looking back, I think I can honestly blame it on the cool, wet spring we had in the northwest.  I think we even broke a record by June 4th by surpassing the normal rainfall totals for the entire month in the first 3-4 days.  I can't be sure, though, because I was on Maui.  

What can I say?  I needed sunshine!  My friend, Terry, invited me for 10 days in paradise, and not being one to disappoint, I decided to go and keep her company.  She lives upcountry, which means not down along the crowded coastline, but higher up the flank of Mt. Haleakala, an extinct volcano.  At that higher elevation, one is treated to panoramic views and cooler temperatures, courtesy of the trade winds.  And paradise it was -- beautiful flowers, ferns, palm trees, a spacious house, open to the breezes, a private pool, and to top it off, Terry gave me the master suite!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day -- Sunday -- Must be "Blog Day!"

Rather than being so erratic about posting to this blog, I'm going to follow my friend Karen Bates' example     ( ) and (try to) post every Sun.  Most aspects of my life feel erratic these days; maybe I should have written New Year's Resolutions!  But since that date has come and gone, I decided that my REAL new year begins on my birthday, which just happens to be tomorrow, Feb. 15th.  

Today I will set some goals for my year, and on top of those, I chose two words as my theme for the year:  "Focus" and "Finish."  I have problems in both of those areas and really want to work on them.  As I write this, I had a vision of thin, sheer organza (representing my themes, "Focus" and "Finish") floating down over my "block" of goals!  That's interesting . . . I may have to make make that in fabric -- a strong visual statement of my goals and intentions for the year that I could see throughout each day.

Back to TODAY.  Lots to get done:  working on the shop samples for the two new classes I'll be teaching at Greenbaum's Quilted Forest this spring/summer:

 "Seaside Village" (by Dyed and Gone to Heaven)

I loved this quilt as soon as I saw the pattern because it feels so summery.  I have piles of fabrics pulled together and will begin cutting and piecing this afternoon.

  My other new class has no pattern; it came straight from my head and a desire to share many of the surface design techniques I've learned (many were self-taught).  It will be called "Surface Design Sampler" and will meet for 3 hours once a month, for 3 months.  I'll cover fabric painting, stamping, stenciling, foiling, rusting, etc. for art quilt backgrounds, plus monoprinting, and painting on unusual surfaces (Color Catchers, batting, etc.).  We'll learn to use new products -- Texture Magic, TAP (Transfer Artist Paper), and Lutradur; discover 3 techniques for image transfers,

and create lacy effects with painted fusible web, Angelina fibers, and organza (right).   We'll do one mini-project at each class, then put samples of all our new techniques in a handmade canvas book.  Wow!  I'm EXTREMELY excited about this new class!  (can't ya tell??)

And to finish up my multi-post series on Fabric Marbling . . .  I continued to practice, and here are more results (below) , made with a fresh batch of fabric treated with alum -- much better at retaining their color!

And a few made by my friend, Kristen.  These two were done earlier, with the older alum-treated fabric from last summer, which is why they're so washed-out):

(aqua + black, left)

 (purple + white + black, right)

When the Fiberexplorations group met last Mon., Feb. 8,  we had 3 pans set up containing methocel base, so most members got to experiment for themselves (with mixed results).  Aren't there always challenges?  This time, the droplets of dye kept dropping to the bottom of the pans, rather than floating on the surface as they're supposed to.  Nevertheless, we got some good prints, but sorry . . . I didn't think to photograph them!  Once everyone left for the night, I continued experimenting and got some muddy prints (from overmixing the floating drops of dye), but I did get this one I really liked.  Because of the large pan, it took more than 1 precut piece of fabric:

That wraps it up for this Sunday.   

Be sure to spread the love today; the world needs it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Improved Marbling

Let's see if I can keep this post brief for a change . . .

Here are the results of my marbling experiments from last week, when I used a methocel base.  (In my previous post, I showed photos of the drops of paint spreading on the surface of the methocel base.)

1st print

 2nd print (red "cells")

3rd print:  I got my daughter, Lauren, interested, and she moved the blue and yellow dyes around to get this print.  Nice!  I did more marbling later in the week, but to keep things interesting last weekend, I put aside the methocel base for a few days and pulled out my screenprinting supplies.
I have one Thermofax screen (featuring maple leaves) that I got from Marcy Tilton (; the others are from a different technology -- Photo EZ screens.  I purchased those from Ginny Eckley at Quilt Market 

      Screens for  . . .  screenprinting!

             Screenprinting on watercolor paper                 

Screenprinting on canvas, muslin, painted fabrics, and used Color Catchers 
(disposable dye-trapping cloths  -- used
when washing new, bright clothing items
or any fabrics that might bleed)

My Great Thermofax Deal
I bought a Thermofax machine from craigslist last fall, but I can't use it.  The price was incredible; now I know why.  The lightbulb it requires (which "burns" the image onto the screen) would cost me over $300!  That's because they're so rare.  It seems that my Thermofax is not the same "common" model that most screenprinters and tattoo artists use.  My other option is to ship it to a dealer in the midwest (and it's HEAVY); he can reconfigure it so that it takes the more common lightbulb (still around $100).  Whichever route I take, we're still talking at least $300. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Better Late than Never???

It's been awhile since I've posted, but since this is mostly for myself (and a few friends), I know it's no big deal.  I don't have any advertisers threatening to drop me because I'm an inconsistent blogger!

The problem with not staying in touch is that when you finally do, there's so much to catch up on!  So forget that; I'll just post some photos of what I've been doing lately.

My interest in hand-marbled fabric was rekindled when I visited one of my customer's websites and bought a few pieces of her beautiful cloth (  (If you decide to purchase any of Suzi's marbled fabrics, tell her Joanna sent you!)

I've dabbled a bit in marbling, so decided to demo the technique at our January Fiberexplorations meeting.  Dud!  I showed the technique using shaving cream as the base (spread like frosting on a cookie sheet, about 1" high).  The inks, specially made for marbling by Jacquard, are applied in single drops onto the base, then swirled, raked, etc. into designs with a thin bamboo skewer.  Except that with shaving cream, the colors are pulled down into the cream, rather than staying on top.  Here are some results:  (click on any photo to enlarge)

I forgot to mention an important point:  to retain the colors and designs on your marbled fabric, the fabric must first be prewashed w/detergent in hot water, soaked in a solution of alum, hung to dry, then lightly ironed.

Cotton PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric works best, though a nice watercolor paper can also yield beautiful results. 

[For specifics, check the instructions that come with the Jacquard kit (from Dharma), a book on the subject, or online.]

I used the Dharma kit* and The Weekend Crafter book Marbling:  Easy & Elegant Projects for Paper & Fabric by Laura Sims that I found at SCRAP in Portland.

I had lots of alum-treated fabric left over from last summer's Sisters Arts Stroll, where Dean and I taught folks the age-old craft of flower-pounding.  That's what I've been using in these marbling experiments, but CAUTION:  my book says any unused alum-treated fabrics should be washed out if not used within one week!  And the Dharma catalog says:    "Alum + Heat = Rotted Fabric!  
Oh well, I used them anyway.

In this 2nd example, the same base was swirled some more and fabric applied, but it's even further mixed-in with the shaving cream, so the colors are more pastel.

Sorry, my fellow Fiber Explorers!  But if you'll humor me at our Feb. meeting, I promise better results using methocel as a marbling base!  That's what came with my Jacquard kit.

*the Dharma kit is Jacquard's  "Mini Marbling Starter Set" and contains 6  1/2-oz marbling inks (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black & White) -- fun to mix your own colors from these, using a color wheel!  PLUS alum, methocel (for the base, instead of shaving cream!!!), and basic instructions.  All you need to get started for $12.25.

I spent all of last weekend marbling and screenprinting fabrics.  Here's a look at what the marbling inks dropped onto a methocel base look like before they're swirled, etc.  (Here, I'm using an old 9x12" baking pan.  Always use separate utensils and containers for fabric dyeing, painting, marbling, etc. and keep them separate from those used for food prep and cooking!)

Preparing for my first marbled design:
It may be hard to discern what's going on in this picture.  It's an old aluminum baking pan with lots of scratches and dents on the bottom, then blobs (actually single drops) of blue dye beginning to spread, and because I used a flash with this photo, you can see the shadows of each "blob" underneath.
After I swirled this paint, laid the fabric on top of it and got my marbled "print," strips of newspaper were used to remove leftover dye from the methocel's surface. Some of the dye sinks to the bottom of the pan.  That's okay -- all we care about before laying out our next sequence of inks is that the methocel surface is clear of ink!

Preparing for my 2nd marbled design:
 Here, single drops of red quickly spread till each bumped up to it's neighbor, forming square shapes.  The pigment moved to the outer edge of each square, leaving barely any color in each center, so I added a second drop of red.
These 2nd drops didn't spread much; you can see the red "nucleus" of that drop, only slightly spreading.  (I'd hoped the 2nd drop would fill in more red in the center of each square.) 

Unpredictability . . . one of the joys of marbling!

And the blue you see?  That's ink that has sunk to the bottom of the pan, from the first marbling print I made (previous photo).  It just weirdly shows up in this photo where auto-flash was used. 

Wait till you see this print!  (think "cells" )

While you're waiting for my next post, here's a great link that Suzi (from Marbled Arts) posted on her blog:    
 (Talk about some creative ideas!!!)