Module 3 Chapter 8

Beads

Bead Sampler

I’ve tried to get my bead sampler to reflect all the techniques identified in the learning materials (and then some), so I’ll cut to the chase.

First, I framed up some purple fabric I had dyed in Chapter 3 with calico backing in a rectangular frame using the method I generally use for metal thread embroidery.  Before doing so, I stitched a pleat into the fabric so that I could incorporate some beaded edgings as part of the sample.  In general, unless I was looking for decorative thread effects, I used black Nymo bead thread in a size 11 sharps needle (yes, almost microscopic.  For the life of me, I cannot make friends with a beading needle – I can’t get used to the length of it and keep stabbing my fingers.  I’ve been trying for years.)  I’ve generally stayed with my colour scheme, with a few pinky variations, plus gold, silver and black, and the look I was going for was opulent.

Once I finished making the sampler, I cut it from the frame and laced it over a piece of foamcore.  Image 1 shows the fabric ready to begin, image 2 shows the completed sampler, and image 3 is a key to the sections on the sampler.

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I’ve photographed this in sections to show a detail of each section in close-up.  Please ignore the descriptions if I’m stating the obvious/being tedious.  Image 4 shows sections 1, 2, 6 and 7.

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1. Seed beads sewn on singly, grading in density from the top left-hand corner;

2. Seed beads threaded in sixes then stitched on using fly stitch, carefully arranging the beads while forming the stitch;

6. Multiple sequins threaded on a long stitch using a contrasting silk thread;

7. Overlapping sequins stitched singly in a spiral, overlapping sequins to create a fish scale effect.

Inage 5: sections 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10.

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3. Seed beads and bugle beads, each in two colours, stitched singly in a grid pattern with seed beads at the centre of the grid squares;

4. This one is a bit difficult to see.  It’s a kind of free-floating fly stitch made from seed beads and bugle beads.  This would have made a good edging but I wanted to see how it worked as a space-filler;

5. Multiple seed beads threaded and stitched down in a branching feather stitch pattern – a bit like cypress foliage;

8. Sequins stitched in a grid, using a different arrangement of contrasting straight stitches for each sequin.  I think this has interesting possibilities for stitching coded messages only I could decipher – I could easily get to 26 different permutations if I tried;

9. Randomly applied sequins stitched on using French knots with long tails in contrasting silk;

10. A staggered pattern of purple and silver (not green) sequins stitched down with long gold bugle beads.

Image 6:  sections 11, 12, 16 and 17

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11. Groups of contrasting bugle beads stitched in blocks and in a herringbone pattern;

12. Long purple bugle beads with saucer shaped purple wooden beads threaded on them.  One end of each bugle bead sits close to the fabric; the other end is in the air and is tethered to the fabric with a row of seed beads threaded on the bead thread;

16. Enamelled copper wire in two colours wound around a long darning needle to make a sort of wire purl, cut into lengths and sewn down randomly;

17. Lime green glass beads and pairs of purple sequins arranged concave sides together threaded on a long bead thread and sewn on with a single, long stitch.

Image 7: sections 13, 14, 18 and 19.

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13.  Long purple bugle beads stitched on and then raised chain band worked in silk threads over the beads;

14. Layers of stacked bugle beads decorated with cross-stitches;

18. Very traditional – S-ing with spangles and purls;

19. Some of the wooden beads I painted in Chapter 3 on a long stitch.

Image 8: sections 15 and 20.

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15. Metal washers and bugle beads in a random pattern;

20. Large size heck purl and smooth purl chips randomly stitched.

Image 9: sections 21, 22, 26 and 27.

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Sections 21 and 22 are edgings, and they are mostly more or less self-explanatory.

26. Brass washers with a small piece of metallic silk chiffon arranged over the top, all stitched down with contrasting seed beads;

27.  Interesting square, flat beads I bought in Melbourne (there’s a fabulous bead shop in Smith Street, Collingwood for any Oz-based students) sewn on (they’ve got long, narrow holes through the bead) then shisha stitch worked around the edges.

Image 10: sections 23, 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30.

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23. This edging consists of two types of fringe: an oblong made from bugle beads with seed beads as ‘hinges’ with a straight dangly bit in the middle of each oblong;

24. This is based on the patterned edging on page 32 of the learning materials, with minor variations;

25. This edging incorporates sequins as well as beads – a seed bead holds each of the sequins on the thread;

28. Stacks of three wooden beads – largest at the bottom; the top bead is the stopper in each stack;

29. Pumpkin seeds dyed with acrylic ink then stitched on with straight stitches through a hole made with a stiletto;

30. I made a cage from some mesh I bought from The Thread Studio, and stitched it on around the edges.  The wooden beads (the painted ones from Chapter 3) are rattling around in the cage.

Phew.  That was exciting!

Module 3 Chapter 7

Simple Button Making

Siân suggested in her feedback on Chapter 5 that I consider working with a cooler blue, indigo type of purple together with the lime, as shown in some of my samples, rather than the warmer red-purple I had mainly been using to date and, as I look at these early chapters, I can see that my colour scheme was becoming a bit chaotic, so this chapter and the next represent a transition from the original colour scheme to the new one.  There are example of both here, since I started working on this chapter and Chapter 8 before I read Siân’s comments.  The refined colour scheme is certainly more individual and more contemporary, as Siân noted – by Chapter 9 I’ll have dyed some more fabrics and threads in the more bluey purple.  I’ve been having the usual problems with colour reproduction.  Regardless of what the photographs suggest, there is no royal blue and no banana yellow in the buttons.  They’re all various limes and purples.

Button ‘core’ shapes

Image 1 shows buttons made from a variety of core shapes wrapped with different fabrics and threads.

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Travelling down the columns from top left:

  • foamcore shape covered with cotton quilt batting, than with dyed cotton fabric with a free-motion spiral stitched onto it;
  • small button made from a strip of purple fabric wrapped round and round itself then wrapped with lurex thread;
  • another small button made from a polystyrene ball in a circle of crystal organza gathered around the edge with seed beads stitched randomly over the surface;
  • foamcore shape, again covered with batting, then with dyed cotton fabric with stitched with an all-over pattern of small spirals in lurex thread;
  • triangular foamcore shape covered with batting, then greeny-yellow silk fabric, wrapped with purple lurex threads (it isn’t banana-yellow in real life);
  • another foamcore shape covered in batting then silk fabric and wrapped with lurex threads;
  • a wine-bottle cork covered with nylon tights, then silk fabric and wrapped with purple (not blue) thread;
  • a foamcore shape covered with batting then silk fabric, wrapped with crystal organza strips (see image 2 for intermediate stage) then with different threads in two directions at right angles).

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I’ve generally tried to bias-cut the fabrics relative to the shape being covered to try to get them to mould better.  This was mostly successful except for the green shape with the purple spiral, and that was due to puckering from the stitching.

Dorset button structures

I’ve made a few of these, as Image 3 shows.

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The top left, bottom left and bottom right samples are all variations on the more conventional Dorset button, with buttonhole stitch, laying and weaving all done in pearl cotton over a purchased curtain ring.  The top right sample was made the same way, but I made a long wrapped cord, beginning at the centre, and laid and couched it in a spiral.  The centre top sample is made with herringbone tape I space-dyed wrapped around the curtain ring, then silk ribbon dyed in the same batch more or less randomly wrapped across and around the foundation.  The centre bottom sample, a bit more quirky, has an almost fluorescent lime green, shiny rat-tail braid wrapped over the curtain ring, then beaded using two sizes of seed beads right around the edge.  The laid centre was made from purple gimp, and looks a bit like the face panel from an old-fashioned diving suit.

Toggle buttons

The first set of these, in image 4, are simply fabric strips decorated in some way, wrapped and tied.

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From top to bottom, left side then right:

  • A graded strip of lime green cotton fabric bonded to a woven interfacing, edges decorated with zigzag machining using a purple lurex thread then rolled up;
  • a graded strip of purple silk fused to the same interfacing with edges turned in, then seed beads hand-sewn along the edges, rolled up and stitched (image 5 shows an intermediate stage with the beads sewn on – sorry, it’s a pretty dodgy photo with my shadow in the way);
  • a straight strip of lime (not banana yellow) silk fused to interfacing, edges turned in, rolled, then with a frayed strip of purple crystal organza added in and stitched at the end;
  • purple cotton fabric – a straight strip frayed, a narrower strip of interfacing added, rolled, then a trip of gold kid added and stitched in place at the ends;
  • some purple felt I printed as a collagraph (image 6 – more on this later) cut in a strip, rolled then end stitched in place;
  • another strip of purple cotton fabric I cut to varying widths, frayed, foiled with Vliesofix and gold foil, then rolled and wrapped along the centre with gold machine thread.

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Then it became really interesting.  I had a variety of fabrics I thought would melt, so I painted some sheets of Tyvek with acrylic ink and also gathered some metallic coloured Lutradur, acrylic felt, tulle, crystal organza, metallic threads and wires.  Images 7, 8 and 9 show the resulting toggles before and after cooking.

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All the beads in this group were zapped with a heat gun.  From left:

  • tapered strip of purple acrylic felt and a wider strip of gold tulle rolled together then wrapped with gold DMC machine thread;
  • tapered strips of green and purple Tyvek rolled together and pinned;
  • tapered strip of purple felt rolled with wider strip of gold Lutradur and then wrapped with gold DMC machine thread;
  • tapered strip of green-painted Tyvek with a narrower strip of purple-painted Tyvek wrapped together and pinned;
  • purple Tyvek rolled then wrapped with enamelled wire with seed beads threaded on it.

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Again, all of these were zapped with a heat gun.  From left:

  • green Tyvek was rolled into a cylinder; purple Tyvek was then rolled around the outside then wrapped with gold DMC thread;
  • strips of green and purple Tyvek were rolled together and wrapped with some silver thread from my stash;
  • green Tyvek and purple Lutradur were rolled together then wrapped with purple lurex Gutermann machine thread;
  • I cut a fringe into the edges of strips of purple and green Tyvek of uneven widths; these were then rolled together, purple Lutradur rolled around the centre, and wrapped with enamelled wire ;
  • green Tyvek and a strip of purple crystal organza were rolled together then wrapped with a length of Madeira silver stranded thread.

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All of these were produced using a soldering iron to make patterns.  I attacked the ends first to secure the shape, and melted the seam.  From left:

  • green Tyvek and a piece cut from a purple chiffon scarf rolled together and pressed with the point of the soldering iron;
  • purple Tyvek with a spiral pattern drawn on it with a gold Sharpie, rolled with a strip of gold Lutradur then incised with a wave pattern;
  • purple felt with a strip of gold foil applied to it using Vliesofix and a not-too-hot iron, rolled then tiger strips drawn into the surface with the soldering iron;
  • green and purple Tyvek rolled together and a sort of check-plate pattern made by pressing the soldering iron into the surface at alternating angles;
  • purple felt and purple Lutradur rolled together, then a pattern of spirals and dots made with the soldering iron.

I did take all of these outdoors to do the ‘cooking’, just to avoid exposure to fumes.  The fabrics were, in order of meltability from greatest to least, tulle (I just had to show it the heat gun for it to disintegrate), Lutradur, chiffon scarf, crystal organza, felt, then Tyvek.  Because the Tyvek melted most slowly, it was possible to control the effect with more precision.  The ones with lots of thread wrapping certainly work better for melting with the heat gun than the ones without – a couple of the samples in image 7 look more like bird droppings than buttons (!).  I can’t say I like the effect of the tulle on the left-hand sample in image 7; it looks like manky old cobweb.  I do, though, like the samples in which the Tyvek has melted more deeply in spots, revealing concentric circles of colour – the sample with the seed beads in image 7, and the fringed sample and the one to the right of it in image 8.  I also like the wired samples where the Tyvek has shrunk away from the wire and left a ‘cage’ effect.  The Madeira silver thread (right hand sample in image 8) does not withstand the heat as well as the DMC machine threads; however, it has produced an interesting ‘antique’ appearance that I like.  I was happy with all the soldering iron samples in image 9.  It’s fascinating watching the metamorphosis, and these are techniques I’ll definitely use again.

Module 3 Chapter 6

Simple Tassels

Well, this chapter was an indulgence!  I love making tassels, and hadn’t done any for a while.  There are only two images for this chapter, showing six tassels each.

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From left to right: tassel made of strips of paper raffia, bound at the neck with silver lurex thread; a more modest sample made from variegated pearl cotton bound with lurex pearl cotton at the neck; tassel made from strips of dyed cotton fabric bound with pearl cotton; tassel with a plaited head – made by plaiting the centre section of a bundle of stranded cottons, then bending the bundle in half and making the neck with pearl cotton; a double-decker rosette tassels made by wrapping variegated cotton around a rectangular frame and stitching along the centre, then folding the strip and rolling it around a twisted cord; (this one’s hard to see) a more traditional tassel made from lurex knitting yarn with a pearl cotton neck and the head decorated with a mesh hood in buttonhole stitch using the same pearl cotton.

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Some more baroque examples.  From left: a machine-made tassel using lurex knitting yarn for the skirt, with the head machine-stitched in shiny rayon machine thread to match the neck, suspended from a twisted cord; another machine-made tassel using silk string and silk ribbon for the skirt and lurex machine thread for the head; strips of dyed silk and shorter strips of crystal organza for the skirt with a beaded crystal necklace – for this one, I layered two strips of fabric, machined down the centre, then folded the piece of fabric in half lengthways, cut the ‘fringe’, and gathered the machine stitching then rolled it up.  The next one is made from purple stranded cotton with contrasting gimp wound over it, then having bound the neck, I tied knots in the gimp.  This one looks like neon tubing.  The next one is more simple, made from assorted lurex threads with a twisted cord as the head.  The last one is made from rat-tail braid and lurex knitting yarn with a contrasting neck, then a beaded overskirt added for fun.

Module 3 Chapter 5

Cord making

A. Machine Stitched Cords

I did acquire a cord making foot for my newish Bernina machine (the Husqvarna is now my Sydney machine), and it works well.  The samples in images 1 and 2 were made using various thread combinations top and bottom, with a variety of cores.

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From left to right: (first two) black double knitting as core with two variegated machine threads top and bobbin; yellow silk roving and black lurex knitting yarn as core, with machine thread (on top) and purl cotton (on bobbin); pink chenille and pearl cotton with metallic machine threads; gold lurex tubular ribbon stuffed with knitting yarn with magenta pearl cotton; strips of navy tights with variegated pearl cotton; enamelled copper wire with pearl cotton and machine thread.

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From right to left (first row): Strips of dark blue plastic shopping bag with variegated machine threads (very springy); black paper raffia with lurex machine threads (very stiff); strips of purple felt with variegated and lurex machine threads; lurex knitting yarn with metallic machine threads; (second row) torn fabric strips with variegated machine threads; yellow silk roving with metallic purpose machine thread; random-dyed silk string with variegated machine thread; mixed thread core (pearl cotton, gimp, metallic thread) with variegated machine thread.

Image 2 isn’t a very good photograph – image 3 gives a better impression of the variety of machine stitched cords, all coiled together.

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B. Twisted Cords

It was easier to introduce variety into the twisted cords, given the possibilities of making them in different weights.  Images 4 and 5 show a selection.

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From left to right: pearl cotton and metallic rayon in a lime green monochrome; a thicker cord with gimp and tubular ribbon twisted together; silk string, silk roving and silk bouclé; random dyed silk ribbon and gimp; all the stranded cottons in my colour scheme; textured yarns from a random pack from The Thread Studio; stranded cotton, lurex knitting yarn and silver thread.

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From left to right: torn dyed cotton fabric strips with machine cord; paper raffia, pearl cotton and silver thread; a continuous strip of felt (complete with corners) with metallic rayon thread.

C. Knotted, Plaited and Wrapped Methods

The first set of samples in this section, shown in image 6, are my attempts at the various knotted cord methods shown on page 22 of the learning materials.

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From left to right: simple knotted cord; two examples of looped braid edge or Pawnee braid; three examples of a continuous twist chain (the black sample is repeated half-knots, the lime and purple samples are square knots with different cores); double ridge hitching or alternate chaining using two contrasting cords.  Images 7 and 8 show some close-up detail.

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The Turk’s Head Knot was a challenge but eventually I got the hang of it.  Image 9 shows a handful of samples.

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From left to right: random-dyed silk string; rat-tail braid; a tiny one from cotton cooking twine; a large, flat one in rat-tail braid; another tiny one in gimp; and a rather odd one made from a twisted cord itself made from silk string.  It’s a skill I’m very glad to have acquired.

A selection of plaited cords appears in image 10.

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Left to right: simple three-cord plaits made from some of my machine cords; one machine cord with two lengths of rat-tail, three different dyed silk strings; rat-tail with two much finer threads; a three-cord plait in gimp with one of the cords pulled up tightly; two gimp cords with one of threaded seed-beads (my favourite),a six-cord plait of rat-tail braids in different colours; and paper raffia with two thin lurex threads.  Image 11 shows details of some of the more interesting samples..

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My wrapped cords are in image 12.  These were fun to do – it’s amazing the variety of effects available.

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Here we have: furry cord with a felt core with thin lurex thread tightly twisted through it; a twisted cord made of fabric strips with contrasting silk thread unevenly wrapped around it; machine-made cord with a tights core wrapped in both directions in gimp; a twisted cord in lurex knitting yarn wrapped unevenly with shiny rayon thread; and a wrapped cord using a method Effie Mitrofanis taught me – threads emerge from the core in turn, wrap the core tightly for a short distance, then return to a core when a different thread is removed to do the wrapping.  The threads used in this sample were gimp, stranded cotton, variegated pearl cotton, and Nymo with seed beads threaded on it.  Image 13 shows further detail of the ‘Effie’ cord, which I think is rather fun.

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Module 3 Chapter 4

Decorate with stitchery

Hand stitchery

I enjoyed having the opportunity to try a variety of different hand and machine stitchery techniques in this chapter, and to indulge some of my stitchy inclinations with regard to methods and materials.

The sample in image 1 was stitched with a variety of threads in analogous colours on hand-dyed cotton shirting.  The running stitch spirals produce an effect somewhat like Kantha embroidery.  I like the textured surface which results.

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The image 2 sample was inspired by one of my architectural photographs.  It consists of three parallel lines of chain stitch in tints and shades of one hue, with seeding.  I was trying to make it look sculptural.

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The sample in image 3 was an absolute pain to stitch.  It’s shadow embroidery in silk and rayon threads on random-dyed chiffon.  The thing which made it problematic was the chiffon is so fine that I couldn’t see the threads.  Once I hooped it, put it in a floor frame and began stitching two-handed under a maggy lamp, though, it all came together.  I think it looks like invertebrate fossils.

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I really had to make a spiral galaxy sample.  I began the image 4 sample by Vliesofixing chopped chiffon to a dyed cotton shirting background.  The stitching is random cross-stitch in strongly contrasting threads.

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The image 5 sample really was an indulgence.  The background was made by weaving strips of dyed and monoprinted silks together.  I fixed the strips in place to a cotton background by tacking around the edges and also tacking the intersection points.  It’s really a sampler rather than an integrated design, and I wanted to make it quite sparkly.  The top left-hand spirals are damascene circles with some or nué couching for colour.  The top right is an attempt at a stylised acanthus spiral, with couched gimp, detached chain and fly stitches.  At the lower left is a spiral with seeding stitches in lime green silk and another with couched purls (silver and violet) and in the lower right corner is one of the wrought iron images in couched pink twist.

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I think the image 6 sample is probably the most successful.  It’s an attempt at representing a spiral staircase with the step treads suggested with bullion stitch in violet, the edges of the stair treads in lime stem stitch, and some lime running stitch in a matching but heavier silk thread for elements of the balustrades.  The aspects of this that I like are the sense of movement (I think this comes from the eccentric composition and the choice of limited stitch and colour palettes) and the sense of being drawn into a vortex.

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Machine stitching in spirals

I’m not new to free motion machine embroidery but have a new machine, so did need to get used to the settings, and particularly needed to work out how (and how much) to alter the bobbin case tension for cable stitch.  I backed each of these samples with a tear-away stabiliser.

The sample in image 7 is a large and continuous spiral in cable stitch, beginning at the centre each time with a different colour and a different weight of thread.  Most of the heavier threads are pearl cotton.

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The image 8 sample consists of a lot of overlapping lines of spirals like the telephone curly cord, stitched on a monoprinted fabric with a similarly curly design.  The lines of spirals are in cable stitch, worked in analogous colours, including some variegated threads, at varying angles to each other.

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The next sample, image 9, consists of a variety of small overlapping spirals in a variety of threads, including a thick fluffy single-ply thread, a boucle and various variegated threads, in cable stitch and whip stitch.  I particularly like the effect of the whip stitch in variegated pearl cotton.

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Image 10 shows a technique I haven’t tried before.  The inner part of the design is made of three spiralling shapes (out of the six which would have formed a circle) worked in thread painting using tints and shades of violet (the threads are a redder hue of violet in reality).  The surrounding circle is in granite stitch, emphasising the tiny circles created by the stitch.  The lightest tint of violet in the middle of the spiralling shapes is a metallic machine thread but the glitter doesn’t really show on the photograph.

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Module 3 Chapter 3

Fabrics and threads

Colour scheme

For the fabrics and threads in this chapter, I used Procion MX dyes in colours which I mixed to suit my colour scheme.  The colours used were: lemon yellow 8MXG and turquoise MXG (to make various hues of lime green) and magenta red MXB and ultramarine (to make various hues of violet).

Fabrics

I used a mixture of cotton and silk ready-to-dye fabrics which I obtained from Kraftkolour.  The fabrics were: cotton shirting, habutai 10 momme, tissue silk (chiffon) 3.5 momme, and I also bought some mulberry silk tops, some habutai ribbon and pongee silk string.

Threads

I had various threads in my collection which were potentially useful in terms of my colour scheme, but also bought some machine threads (silk, cotton, rayon and polyester).  Because I wanted to dye some threads, I also bought a couple of skeins of Oliver Twists Silk One-Offs in a natural (off-white) colour, and used some white pearl cotton in the dye bath.

Other items

There were various things in my collection – herringbone tape (which went into the dye bath), enamelled copper wire, purls, metallic twists, beads, and I bought some undyed wooden beads as well, to paint.  Image 1 (dyed one colour and then overdyed) show how the beads turned out.  Because they were varnished (it’s impossible to buy raw timber beads) I figured it might make sense to use glass paint, and this worked, although the beads tend to stick together.

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Colouring fabrics

I used the method in Dyeing in Plastic Bags by Helen Deighan to dye my fabrics and threads.  This made it much easier than the dye pot method I used for Module 2, and produced much more saturated colours in my dyed fabrics.  Image 2 shows a bird’s eye view of some of my fabrics and threads drying on the airer, and image 3 shows the finished, washed and ironed fabrics in batches of analogous hues of both my colours.  Interestingly, the cotton fabrics tended to take up the blue elements of the mixed dyes more than the silk fabrics.

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I tried both the dip dyeing and random dyeing techniques.  Image 4 shows work in progress.

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The lower left photograph shows the silk tops brewing.  I’m planning to make some silk paper from these later on.

Image 5 shows dip-dyed and random dyed fabrics and threads drying on the airer, and image 6, some of these pieces after washing (with Synthrapol) and ironing.

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The dyed threads and silk tops are shown in Image 7, and Image 8 shows them sorted out and wound on dolly pegs (to keep them out of trouble), together with some hanks of dyed silk string.  The violet silk tops look like boysenberry ripple ice cream.

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Image 9 shows other threads withdrawn from stock, or purchased.

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Monoprinting onto fabrics

To make monoprints on fabric, I used acrylic paints mixed with Liquitex fabric medium.  The method I used was as for Chapter 2, and the prints very obviously belong to the same family as the prints on paper.  It is, though, quite challenging to lower the fabric onto the gelli plate without smudging the print or ending up with the fabric hanging halfway off the plate.  As with the paper prints, I cut stencils from paper – the process is shown in image 10.

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Images 11 to 17 show the other monoprinted fabrics.

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Module 3 Chapter 2

design work: spiral ‘warm-up’ exercises

Colour

I decided to go with a lime green-red violet colour scheme because I really like the Romanesco broccoli (image 2 in Chapter 1) and some of the more reddish-violets in the basket and in one of the Andromeda photographs.

Papers

Image 1 shows a variety of papers (cartridge and tissue papers) coloured in the range of my lime and violet colour scheme.  I used Art Spectrum acrylic ink to colour the paper – it gives good, dense colour, is relatively affordable and I can buy it locally.

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I tried to make these as interesting as possible by:

  • mixing colours on the sheet using a sponge;
  • saturating the sponge to leave areas with bubbles of excess ink which dried very dark;
  • painting slightly darker spirals onto sheets I had already coloured using a foam brush;
  • creating a resist using an oil pastel in either the self-colour or the complementary colour before painting the sheet with ink.

Since making the coloured papers for this chapter I have discovered Tissuetex (abaca tissue) which had high wet strength relative to ordinary tissue so I’ll use some next time.  I did find, however, that if I plastered the tissue paper to a plastic freezer bag with the ink, then left it to dry before removing it, that I could avoid making coloured pulp instead of coloured tissue.

Simple two dimensional shapes

For this section, I began by interpreting the observed spirals in my research images, then found that the paper designs which emerged were creating their own inspiration, so some of these shapes are a generation or two removed from the observed images.  I’ve photographed these in twos and threes, so will write about them a page at a time.

Image 2 – the left-hand spiral represents a bird’s eye view of Queen Victoria’s dog’s spiral.  The bottom spiral is similar but the violet pieces are based on a smaller circle, exploded and cut into to imitate the acanthus leaves.  In the right hand example, I have displaced the spiral off-centre and have rotated the spiralling shapes relative to each other.

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Image 3 – the left-hand sample has spiralling arms made of squares of crimped lime-green paper arranged by size.  The right hand sample is based on the first sample in image 2 but with a greater degree of ‘swirl’ and with some sections of the spiral removed so that the violet background appears to swirl too.

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Image 4 – the left hand spiral is a further development of the acanthus idea, with a balance between the violet and lime colours.  The lower spiral is based on the lower spiral in image 2 (without the teeth) but I have reversed the orientation of the violet spiral elements so the centre is now at the edge of the circle.  The right hand spiral was inspired by the Romanesco broccoli – I wanted to see what would happen if I cut spiralling lines in each direction with the number of lines as consecutive numbers in the Fibonacci series.  It doesn’t look much like broccoli but it does have a bit of movement.

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Image 5 – in the left hand sample, I have cut out right-handed (lime) and left-handed (violet) spiralling shapes and interwoven them before sticking them down, then have outlined the violet shapes with gold ‘stitches’ to make them stand out.  This is my favourite – the interweaving and the asymmetry lend it a bit more movement, I think.  The other one is based on a simplified spiral staircase.

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Image 6 – these are two quite similar samples, each with a single spiral made from small pieces of contrasting paper.  I like the spikiness of the one on the left.

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Having made a few circular samples with flat, cut paper, I was ready to try some rolling, folding and pleating.  Some of the elements in image 7 relate to my research images; others don’t, but it was interesting to get a bit more dimensionality into the shapes, and I like the tissue paper ‘string’ – it’s very versatile for making shapes.

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Simple three-dimensional shapes

For reasons I cannot fathom, ordinary grey-brown corrugated card is not so easy to obtain here, unless one wants a sheet 2 metres wide and 40 metres long.  Most of the cardboard used in packaging is double-faced.  I did manage to salvage a small amount from a parcel and have supplemented this with card with finer corrugations purchased from craft shops.  Some of this was a nice, natural brown; some was black or white, and some of the white I coloured with acrylic inks.  Consequently, the spiralled shapes in the images do not look particularly harmonious, but it was useful to be able to interleave some of the different colours to emphasise the form of some spirals.

Image 8 shows some rolled examples similar to those in the learning materials.  I like the looseness of the one on the right hand side.

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The image 9 spiral I really like.  I cut a circle, then cut it into six spiralling arms.  These are glued to the paper at the centre, then each arm was curved to suit the direction of the corrugations.  I’m keeping this idea for my accessory.

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Images 10 and 11 show a collection of spiralling shapes in various colours and combinations of colour.

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Designs using monoprinting method

For these monoprints, I used a gelli plate rather than glass, and have built up layers using the range of colours in my colour scheme.  For some of these prints, I made stencils from paper and placed them on the gelli plate before rolling out the paint, as well as drawing into the paint with foam brushes, Catalyst wedges, a paint shaper and my fingers, so there is a mixture of positive and negative shapes on some of these prints.  Images 12 to 23 show the results.

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A brief diversion (I)

Cutting stencils from paper for the monoprints gave me the idea to make a collagraph plate from spirals cut from various types of paper.  I have not tried this before so it seemed like a good opportunity.  Image 24 shows the collagraph plate.  I haven’t printed from it yet – it needs sealing first, so I’ll post images of the prints later.

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Spiral drawing using a computer paint programme

I did have a go at making spiral drawings using both Corel Draw and Micrografx Picture Publisher.  This was fun– each of these two programmes works quite differently, and the spirals are made by using specific effects in the software.  Images 25 to 32 show the results.  I rather wish I’d made notes while I was playing with these – there’s no way I could ever produce them again.  Some of them, while they appear to be spiralling, are actually circular designs.  Interesting.

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When I was young I had a spirograph.  It was tremendous fun and produced some great designs which would have been adaptable to stitch.  There are a few spirograph websites but the results aren’t very interesting so I haven’t reproduced any here.