Tuesday, August 21, 2012

decision has been made

This blogpost is a difficult one for me. I love to take classes to extend my knowledge of all fiber related subjects and I was really happy when I found OCA. However I discovered that the method which is compulsary for these OCA courses does not work for me. To be honest, instead of growing in my art I feel very restricted in what I am allowed to do, even to the point of suffocating. I have given this a lot of thought and came to the conclusion that it is better for me to stop with the official part of this course. Yes, I am fully aware of the importance of sketchbooks for some people, but this is only one method of learning and this method does not work for me. I will continue working through part 3, 4 and 5 and I will post my results on this blog, but just as a record of personnel growth. I will not continue in filling the sketchbooks and I will not be sending in material for official assessments.

Monday, August 20, 2012

project 6, stage 4, raised and structured surface textures continued

Some more samples of creating texture on fabric. For the first sample I did an arashi shibori (pole shibori), wetted the fabric and let it dry on the pole. When it was completely dry I removed it from the pole, placed it on a piece of fusible web and ironed it in place. I have to admit that this picture is not my best, but I hope you can see enough of the pleated effect I got.
This same technique can be used if you want to paint your arashi shibori. Normally with arashi shibori the closest you get to the pole the lighter the pattern on the fabric becomes. With painting the fabric you can get an even result on the whole piece of your fabric.

 The second sample looks like a tied shibori, but it is not. I used a grill tray which had holes to poke a piece of fabric through and ironed a piece of fusible web to the back. This gives roughly the same effect as tied shibori, but is quicker to achieve.
 This third sample is tied shibori. To start I had drawn circles on the back of the fabric with a pencil, stitched through the pencil lines, pulled and knotted the threads. In this sample all the circles had the same size, but it can also be done with different sizes of circles.
 This fourth sample was made by scrunching a wet piece of fabric and iron it like it was. The pleats and folds are completely irregular. To make certain that the fabric stays like this I hand stitched with small stitched close to the edges of the folding lines. In this sample I hand stitched, but machine stitching is also an option which gives a slightly different effect.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Project 6, stage 4, raised and structured surface textures

This blogpost is all about fabric manipulation to create texture. There are many ways of achieving this and with this blogpost I will show you some of the samples I made. Actually I made enough samples to fill 3 blogposts or maybe even more. The first picture shows two different ways of gathering fabric together. The row at the left is done with rows of even stitches: thread above the fabric in the same place. This gives a similar effect to all the rows after the threads have been pulled. I prefer the row at the right more. Here the rows have uneven stitches: thread above the fabric is not in the same place. The effect of this is more variated than the even lines.
 The next sample is made from different layers of fabric. Each has a distinctive different color. A grid has been stitched over this and with a seamripper the top layers of the fabric have been cut open. In this sample I cut away all the top layers, but it can also be done in such a way that certain parts are only cut open through the first layer and other parts through more than one layer. Fraying the fabric a bit helps to show more result.
 For the red sample I took advantage of the fact that this red knitted polyester fabric looked different when you compare the front and the back of the fabric. I placed the back of the fabric facing up when I placed a smaller circle front facing up on top of it. The next step was to stitch a spiral through the circle and cut in between the stitching lines. To get the best effect of this I had to trim away some of the fabric next to the cutting lines. This technique I had never used before and I have to say that I really like it.
 The final sample of this blog post is a combination of different textured fabrics, folded, scrunched and pleated at random before stitching it down with a thread of pearl cotton. The big stitches are part of the texture. On purpose I made 3 of those samples because I wanted to see how they looked like when they were painted and dyed. I know that some of the fabrics are cotton, but I don't know whether they have been treated or not. Results of this will be in a future blog post.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Project 5, stage 3, applique

There are many different types of applique, you can use hand applique or machine applique. Different stitches can be used for them as well. For this stage I made the following samples:
The picture above shows a Mola. This is a technique by which you cut open the top layer (or layers) and push them under the toplayer. With small stitches you then stitch these edges. It is a technique originally developed in Central America using geomatric shapes, but nowadays other types of shapes are used as well. If you want to read more about the Mola art, here is the link to an article on Wikipedia. In this sample I used two different pieces of commercial batiks and the shape of a turtoise as main object.

In this other sample I combined 3 different types of applique: satin stitch, raw edge applique and hand applique using the buttonhole stitch. For the vase I used a close zigzag stitch, also known as satinstitch. For the stems I used raw edge applique. This type of applique leaves the edges of the fabric 'raw'  and some fraying might show up. There is a straight stitch close to the edge of the fabric. For the flowers I used a hand appliqued buttonhole stitch. This stitch shows more than the machine stitching and plays a definate part with being present, it adds some more definition to the piece. With applique you can make it more easy for yourself by fusing the fabric down. This can be done with bondaweb, wonder under or whatever brand you like. I like to use a simple glue stick. During the years I have used different brands of glue stick for this and none of them had a negative impact on the stitching I did later on.
In a later blogpost I will show some more samples, using sheers. My sheers are in my studio, but I am not home at the moment. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Project 6, stage 2

Normally I work with natural fabrics, either hand dyed cotton or commercial batiks, sometimes with raw silk. For this excercise I wanted to use some - for me - unusual fabrics so I paid a visit to a local thrift store and came home with a collection of synthetic fabrics. Most of them were polyester, or a blend of polyester, some were tricot and I added some velvet to it for more variation. The task for this stage was to develop some design ideas by combining the different fabrics and looking for relationships in texture, color and weight. As it are samples - the largest is 11" long - the designs are simplyfied.
For my first sample I combined black velvet ovals with 2 different pieces of blue fabric: a knitted one and a smooth silky one. I wanted to combine different textures in one design and at the same time different shapes, or shapes in different sizes: 

 The next sample I nicknamed 'Easter eggs'.  It has a printed tricot as base on which a smooth blue and green curvy cut fabric is placed. In between the long narrow shapes are oval shapes (the eggs) cut out from a  multi colored tricot. Both the curvy lines as well as the placement of the ovals represent movement. Again this piece is made from colors which all belong to the same colorgroup with some yellow and black accents.
 This red sample was difficult to photograph. Background is a reddish polyester which has stitched embroidery on it. I placed 2 blue lines on it as contrast using a smooth polyester. To emphasize the contrast - this time in texture - I added 2 rectangulars of a knitted bright red fabric. The two red fabrics show harmony with a contrasting stripe to make it more alive and balanced.
 The next blue/green sample is not my best, but it shows different aspects. I used a thin - almost transparent blue textured polyester combined with a textured light green polyester. Both pieces of the background are the same shape with a rounded cut bottom edge. To connect the two pieces I placed curved strips of the fabric on the opposite site. This way I created a repetition of the shapes and the colors.
 And my final sample for this part is a combination of two red fabrics, a highly textured ne for the background with a dark embossed velvet strip horizontally over it. As a contrast I used black and white spotted tricot strips placed vertically. The strips are all of a different length, some smaller, some bigger than the background. This way the piece really shows movement and your eyes travel over it.
Some observations:
- because they were all (small) samples it is not possible to show a lot of detail in them
- combinations of colors or fabrics which at first hand you would refuse, can turn out really well
- in the past I have used synthetic fabrics for making garments. In those days I did not like them and making these samples confirmed this, I still prefer working with natural fabrics.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Project 6 - research

This project is about fabric manipulation and starts with a research project. There are many different types of fabric and many techniques to create or to design them. In the old days when the world was much smaller the fabrics were made from fibers available locally: wool, linen, cotton and if you were wealthy and could afford it: silk. Nowadays with modern technology many fabrics are (partly) made from synthetic fibers. It depends on the materials used in the fabric, how you can dye or paint it. In my sketchbook I have samples of different types of fabrics. In this blogpost I will write a bit more about shibori.

Shibori is an old technique of using resist in different ways to create patterns on the fabric. One of the countries who have a long history in shibori is Japan, but there are also examples of pre-Columbian shibori found in Peru. The oldest known Japanese exampleof shibori is from the 8th century. Shibori can be tied around a pole, stitched, clamped and pleated in many ways. Each way of applying shibori has it's own name.
This is a picture of a kimono made between 1930-1950 using a stitched and bound shibori. The material used is cotton. Each design has its own name. On this kimono a woodgrain and butterfly design have been used.
This picture shows another example of shibori. It is a pleated sheer organza by Karren Britto. And to show that shibori can used in other ways besides garments, have a look at these pictures:

This is a lampshade made from 100% polyester by Hiroyuki Murase.
And a shibori cushion cover made from 100% polyester by Ando. The fabric used for the last two pictures is polyester. When polyester is steamed it will stay into the threedimensional shapes

Friday, August 3, 2012

Project 5, Stage 4

For this stage a bigger sample had to be made. Mine turned out to be 16"x14". As you can see it is a repeated version of the onion print I did on paper for project 4. On purpose the onions are placed in different positions, the prints become more dynamic this way and the use of the fabric is more versatile. I limited myself to 5 rows of 4 onion prints, but this kind of print can go on forever.
This sample is done on a cotton/bamboo blend and I left the background in the original color. With this print many variations are possible. I am thinking about changing the size of the onions, mix big onions with smaller onions. Use different colors while printing, some can be red, others can be purple or pink. The background can be in different colors, either matching with the color used for the prints (pink background with red prints) or the opposite (yellow background with blue prints, creating an overal greenish effect). There are many ways of playing with this composition.
Another version could be big onions in a row, followed by a row of small onions. In my opinion this composition would be more static, but that can have it's use as well.
There were many samples in my design ideas. My preference goes out to the unusual, more lively/organic shapes. That is the main reason that I choose this design for the bigger sample. Another reason is that when people see this print, they will look again at it when they realise that the stamp was a sliced onion.
This kind of print shows best on a smooth fabric like a cotton, or in this case a cotton/bamboo blend. I think that the effect of the onion print would be lost on a sheer fabric. The print is rather subtile and light in certain areas and the overall effect would be lost on sheers. The different prints are close enough to form a connection, but still represent the individual shape of the onion. Some areas show more background but that is because the shape of the onion is not the same width and hight everywhere.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Project 4 and 5 extra experiment

Although project 4 and 5 are finished, I just had to add these 2 pictures. All the other techniques I have shown were techniques I have used before, but this one was a real experiment. My friend and I experimented with using gunpowder to create these results:

The first picture is of a piece of fabric, the second one is on paper. In both cases leaves acted as masks. Last year when we visited Art-a-whirl there was an artist who sold very interesting canvasses. When we talked with her, she told us, that she used gunpowder to create the images. A Google search lead to a YouTube movie which showed a Chinese artist working with gunpowder as well. This was the only information we were able to find, but the idea of experimenting with gunpowder was still on our to do list. No idea where I could get - or better said: if I could get hold of - gunpowder in the Netherlands, but I am in the US at the moment and it is easy to buy here.
To protect the driveway - and have a base to work on - we placed a piece of countertop on the driveway. Taped the fabric and paper on it (it was windy), placed leaves on top of this, sprinkled gunpowder on it, covered it with some cardboard and set it afire. How much gunpowder was needed, was a matter of trial and error. The pictures are from the second and third attempt.
If you want to try out this experiment as well, be careful with it. Make certain that you have open space around you, a bucket of water close by and no children or pets around. Don't know whether I will experiment with this again, although I have to say the results are great :-)