Friday, May 28, 2010

Out and about in Ely

I was invited to join Julie and Jackie for a day in Ely, Cambridgeshire.  It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed a little stroll along the waterside. 

The babylon-gallery had an textile
exhibition by Stitch-links. 

The three of us had different favorites, mine was the work of Liz Hunter, indigo dyed rusted pieces of fabric, some with added rusty objects. 

Marilyn Carter had some lovely layered pieces too.  This one is called 'Power of Money' and had layers of sheer fabric with printed Euro, dollar and £notes with added hand stitching.  For some reason it was quite hard to keep my hands off this :)

Sheila Cahn's work had multiple layers of hand-dyed fabrics, stitched and slashed. 

It was a very varied and interesting exhibition.

Next door to the gallery is the Peacock Tea Rooms and we popped in for a cup of tea and a sandwich.  Emma joined us, she had spent ages stuck in her car because there was a problem with railway signals and the barriers wouldn't go up.  Just to keep her company we had to have cake!  After a long lunch sharing links, tips and gossip, Julie and I had a leisurely walk back to the railway station. 

On the platform there is a delightful shop which reminded me of East (Covent Garden) but tons cheaper.  I purchased these Indian Print Blocks for a song. 

I also received three gorgeous presents, I am embarrassed to say I hadn't taken anything of mine, so until I have returned the compliment I won't show you my goodies. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unique Cottage Farm Studios

It was 'Sheep Day' at the Unique cottage farm studios We saw sheep being sheered, and my didn't those ewes bleat for their lambs and vice versa. The ewes were left bald but the little lambs only had their rear ends shaved.

After the indignity of the shearing shed they were all put into a small paddock to find each other. I felt quite sad as they all bleated and called to each other. The two lambs laying in the patch of dirt were the last to find their mums.

There were demonstrations on felting, dyeing wool tops and yarn, spinning and weaving, and hand knitting. You could also make a stained glass hanging of a sheep.
I have wanted to make a felted bowl for ages so when I saw these being shown, I had to go and ask a few questions. Enid and Jane from the 'Unique Textiles Group' very kindly taught me how to make one. Mine needs more felting and the petals are a bit wonky, but it's a great first piece. It doesn't look quite the same at the moment, Kizzie took a liking to it and ran off with it, but a bit of soapy water will put it right.

I asked one or two questions at the dyeing table too, and now I know how to dye wool tops without ending up with a matted mess.

Robin Atkins free download book

Robin Atkins has decided to retire one of her books and has made it available to everyone as a free download. Go to for your copy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

UNDERCOVER - The evolution of underwear

The exhibition in the main gallery at 'The Hub' is underwear. It is fascinating to see the sort of undies my gran wore, as well as those I wore once upon a time. There were some spectacular corsets, this green taffeta and lace one was very Moulin Rouge, but in fact was made in 2007 by 'Miss Katy'.

The side view shows the true colour, the amount and quality of the work in this corset is incredible and I can see that wearing one of these would change your character. (photo is borrowed from Julie)

This red two piece is from 'Butress and Snatch', made in 2004 but using lace and pompoms from the 1890's.

I would have loved a pair of these in my younger days. They looked very comfy and wearable and such great fun. These are from 'Carol Malony' Spring 2009. Made from Guipure embroidery, lace, net and mesh. The collection was inspired by traditional sailor tattoos.

The Triumph International Reform Corset from 1912 was my favorite garment in the exhibition. Made from soft cotton with tucks and pleats but no boning. This wouldn't look out of place today worn with jeans or a nice skirt.
The Hub kindly gave permission to take photos for personal use, I only had my mobile phone with me so these aren't the best quality, Julie had her camera so it will be well worth a visit to her blog.

The roof gallery at the Hub has 'Visual Thinking' from the Textile Study Group. This exhibition is about the creative thinking process and has a selection of sketch books alongside artefacts, photographs, installations and drawings. I found it very inspiring and came away wanting to get out my sketch books after a creative lull. I didn't take any photos of this exhbition so you will have to go and see it for yourself :) It is worth a day out to see work from Sarah Burgess, Mary Sleigh, Ann Wheeler, Rosemary Campbell, Jan Miller, Sian Marting, Mary Youles, Jenny Blackburn, Kay Greenlees, Gavin Fry, Janina Evans and Alison King.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fabric painting day

I spent a couple of hours painting some fabric samples using Colorhue fabric dyes. These are highly concentrated and easy to use, meant for silk painting but I have used them successfully on cotton. I got mine from Rainbow Silks in the UK

The pink/orange piece was splatter, then painted and splattered again whilst the fabric was still wet.

The pink/gree/blue piece on the right was painted, then placed on a piece of clingfilm. I scrunched the fabric, sprinked salt onto the green area and then left it to dry overnight. The salt didn't pick up the dye in the way I expected but I like the speckles.

The (landscape?) piece on the left was painted and then I sprinkled long grain rice onto the green areas and left it to dry. If you click on the photo you will be able to see the texture from the rice.

The green and yellow fabric was created by wetting the fabric and painting a very watered down dye on. Then I scrunched the fabric and threw split peas on top.

The little bottles of dye are expensive but are so concentrated that they go a long long way. I added at least 50% water to the dye and I wet my fabric before painting it. The are easy to use and don't need fixing but I ironed mine to be sure. I used cotton poplin and the fabric feels exactly the same after dyeing as it did before. Each of my sample pieces is A4 sized, approx 11 1/2" x 8 1/2".

Diane expressed surprise that the dyes could be used on cotton so I cut one piece in half and really scrubbed it using detergent and hot water. It faded quite a bit, losing more yellow than blue. This isn't a problem for me as I will be using my fabric to make atc's, but if I needed the colour to be more permanent I would use procion dye instead.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

dye bleach hydrogen peroxide

I dyed this fat quarter a week or so ago. I have been trying to dye with indigo and orange (procion) but struggle with the mud effect. This one wasn't too bad if a little boring. I cut the piece in two and pole wrapped half, then added full strength bleach (domestos). I only left the bleach on for a couple of minutes, rinsed and dunked the fabric into a bucket of water with hydrogen peroxide 3% (about 125mls to 2 litres of water) to neutralise the bleach.

This one was a mixture of orange rust and brown rose, and was subtle to say the least. I pole wrapped 1/2 of the fatQ, soaked it in a bucket of water and then sponged the neat bleach on and left it for 15 minutes. Rinsed and neutralised. I guess this one will be overdyed too...