Monthly Archives: October 2013

Module 1 Chapter 6

cut and fold designs in bonded fabric technique

For Chapter 6, I used the paper form of transfer adhesive.  In Australia, Bondaweb is known as Vliesofix, and, strangely, most people pronounce it like ‘flies’ rather than ‘fleas’.

Before beginning work with fabric, I painted some sheets of Vliesofix.  I had read (can’t remember where) that inks work better than paints, so I used the same Art Spectrum acrylic inks that I had used to paint my paper.  Here are the painted samples, in Image 1:

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The blobby sample on the right is an attempt to mix my complementary colours on the one sheet.  The reddy-orange, a strong pigment, tends to overwhelm the turquoise whenever I do this – it happens again later in this chapter.

And so to fabric samples.  I found that while it was easy to cut the backing fabrics (mostly cotton homespun to size, once I began experimenting with sheer fabrics and others without much body, such as Bemsilk lining material (which I think is acetate), it was generally easier to cut the fabric slightly oversize, apply a square of Vliesofix, and then cut neatly around the Vliesofix to give a square of the correct size.

I began by reproducing a couple of my favourite cut and fold paper samples, as Images 2 and 3 show:

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For these samples, I have used printed and plain cotton homespun, dupion silk, and Bemsilk lining.

Images 4 and 5 show further developments along these lines.  The sample in Image 4 takes the cut-out shape from the sample above and adds a sheer cross in pale turquoise glass organza.  This fabric is too pale and too sheer to knock back the reddy-orange shape very much.  The residual glue on the organza gives it an interesting texture.

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Image 5 shows a sample with a symmetrical applied negative shape viewed through an asymmetrical window.  The top layer is just translucent enough to show a hint of the symmetrical shape behind.

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making a decorative bonded fabric with ‘bits’’

Image 6 shows my first attempt at bonded fabric set up on the ironing board (on baking paper), ready to add the top layer.  I used blue chiffon as the base layer, with tiny bits of other silky blue and green fabrics and snippings from the loose end of one of my skeins of Oliver Twists One-Offs, and the top layer was a green chiffon scarf.  The two chiffon colours blended well to make turquoise.

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I tried two of these samples: one with sheer fabric (chiffon) top and bottom (Image 7), and one with a ‘solid’ fabric (Bemsilk) on the bottom and chiffon scarf on the top (Image 8).

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It’s difficult to gauge the effect of the red sample from the scan; photographs are not much clearer.  The sheer-top-and-bottom sample is more effective.  Even so, the red sample worked well with the cut and fold technique, as Image 9 shows:

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more cut and fold samples

At this point, I became intrigued with the effects I could obtain by layering sheer fabrics, tissue paper, painted Vliesofix and playing with symmetry and asymmetry, as in Chapter 4.  First, I decided to see how the painted Vliesofix worked on complementary and analogous colours.  Image 10 shows these trial samples being set up on the ironing board, and Image 11 shows the samples once ironed.

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The reddy-orange pigment is sufficiently strong to show up as red on the turquoise fabric; the effect on the analogous colour is quite subtle.   I like the way in which the ripples in the painted paper have transferred to the fabric.  The reddy-orange painted Vliesofix has transferred well to the sample shown in Image 12, which also incorporates a bonded shape cut from painted tissue paper.

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In the sample in Image 13, though, the turquoise-painted Vliesofix has been overwhelmed by the stronger reddy-orange pigment of the background fabric, and appears as a darker, neutral colour.  The top layer of this sample was cut from metallic organza, from The Thread Studio.  I particularly like this one – I think, because of the subtlety of the translucent overlaid glue and fabric, and the richness of the background.

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This is an effect I was also trying to achieve in the sample shown in Image 14, which superimposes two asymmetrical shapes.  Having tried bonding tissue paper (Image 12), I thought that the fibrous, lacy Japanese paper might also work well with fabrics, so this is what I have used for the window shape.  The orange crystal organza is applied over the Japanese paper, and changes the colour without affecting the texture.  I like the effect of the organza over the paper.

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More bonded fabric with ‘bits’

I had a lot of small offcuts of fabric with Vliesofix attached (and some painted Vliesofix scraps), left over from my cut shapes so decided to try sandwiching them in the fold of an oblong of the pale turquoise glass organza.  I though if I stripped off the paper and put some offcuts facing up and some facing down, there would be enough Vliesofix in the whole assembly such that I wouldn’t need to apply a sheet of Vliesofix to the organza – and so it turned out, as Image 15 shows:

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The glue-up and glue-down scraps appear quite different, with the glue-up sides looking frosty.  I’ll save this piece for later.

Image 16 shows me holding this piece up to the window – it looks quite interesting against the light (perhaps a bonded fabric such as this would work as the basis for a lampshade, with some stitch and possibly other embellishments).

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Module 1 Chapter 5

selecting fabriCs

For some reason, it is very difficult to obtain reasonably fine, pure cotton fabrics.  There is a lot of something around called ‘polypop’ in a wide variety of plain colours – this has a fairly high polyester content, mixed with cotton.  It used to be possible to obtain pure cotton in plain colours in three weights – lawn, poplin and headcloth, and I was after lawn (or voile would have done).  I did manage to find something called homespun (pure cotton and slightly heavier than lawn but more open weave than poplin), so bought lengths of this in three colours related to my colour scheme (turquoise/teal and reddish-orange), as in image 1:

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Several of my fabrics came from my stash.  I’ve got a lot of dupion silks in different colours, so of course these had to go in.  I also bought two pieces of polyester lining material (‘Bemsilk’) which are shown, with the dupion, in image 2:

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Several of the dupion silks are shot.  The appearance in the photograph depends very much on the orientation of the fabric in relation to the camera.  The one on the lower right hand side looks more red viewed end-on.

I had some chiffon scarves, ribbon, other bits of chiffon, crystal organza and metallic organza in stash, as well as fine gold tulle, all of which are more or less variations on my colour scheme, so supplemented these with some glitzy red tulle, pale turquoise glass organza and two pieces of hand-painted gauze from The Thread Studio, as shown in image 3:

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I also assembled some threads in my colour scheme, as shown in image 4:

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Again, these were mostly ex-stash – a selection of rayon and silk threads (on cops) which I bought from the Embroiderers’ Guild shop a while back, some pearl cotton, spools of silk, some soie d’alger, and some metallics.  I bought some Danish flower thread and some coton  à broder, and two utterly gorgeous hanks of Oliver Twists One-Offs (an indulgence – these are an object of lust!)

Decorating fabrics

For variety, and because I like the shape, I decided to make a second stamp, based upon the new motif I developed for Design Sheet C, Chapter 3, which I said at the time reminded me of a Bogong moth.

Recently, our quality newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, moved from broadsheet to tabloid format, and we cursed roundly (we all know how the format of the paper influences the quality of the journalism, don’t we?).  It turns out, though, that a section of the SMH fits neatly into a large-size polythene freezer bag, and the whole makes a really good ‘printing table’.  The printed fabrics can then be left taped to the surface to dry.  Here are some of my fabrics drying in the kitchen window (image 5):

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My first attempt at decorating fabrics was not an unqualified success.  I did try mixing fabric medium with the acrylic paint.  I found that if I mixed the two products in the ratio specified in the medium instructions, the resulting mixture would not adhere to the stamp, so I tried with less medium, and this worked better.  Image 6 shows the first batch of printed fabrics mounted on my pinboard:

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Some of the colours in this photograph appear a bit weird – the pink-looking fabric is really  more coral than this, and the pink-looking print on the turquoise fabric is a bright orangey-red (see image 7).  I haven’t used flash for any of these photographs, and think this distortion has occurred because of the way the natural light caught the shiny fabrics and paint.  For once, the colours in the scans (below) are (mostly) more reliable.

I found it very difficult to control the amount of paint on the stamp when dipping the stamp into the spread paint.  Some of the prints appeared very ‘plasticky’ – please see images 7 and 8:

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The paint overspill on image 7 looks like shadow lines – the effect is quite interesting; I’m not sure I like the texture, though.  The cotton was very well-behaved during the printing process and the images are mostly reasonably clear, although I haven’t managed to control the paint very well – see images 9 and 10, for example:

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The polyester lining material, too, was quite easy to print (image 11):

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The dupion was a bit more difficult, because of the surface texture, but this produced some interesting effects, as image 12 shows:

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Prints on the chiffon fabrics generally worked well (images 13 and 14):

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I made an interesting discovery while scanning these fabrics: where the paint has bled through to the back of the fabric, the pattern is often more interesting (more subtle and ambiguous) than the front – see, for example, the back and front of the fabric in the two parts of image 15 (it really, truly isn’t that calamine lotion colour!).

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The one thing that bothered me when selecting fabrics was that I couldn’t find a reddish-orange.  Everything was either orange or red.  Some of the oranges were reasonably dark, but were still orange.  I decided to try printing a random pattern in red on my orange homespun with a sponge to see whether I could come up with something with a print which was subtle enough for the eye to blend to a reddish-orange.  I was quite pleased with the result (image 16):

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The sponges I used to print this piece got me wondering whether there was a better way to apply paint to the stamps, so I decided a week after the first batch to print another batch of fabrics using the sponges as a sort of stamp pad.  I was very happy with the results, shown en masse in image 17:

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The prints are generally clearer and less plasticky-looking, as images 18 and 19 show:

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This time, I thought I’d be a bit more adventurous about mixing paint, so I introduced some gold paint in addition to the turquoise, teal and coral coloured paints in my colour scheme, and also tried experimenting with mixing colours on the stamps, on the fabrics, and even mixing shapes, as shown in images 20 to 25:

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The prints are clearer and more consistent, and I like some of the fainter, partial prints where the paint didn’t quite cover the stamp sufficiently to transfer an entire print to the fabric surface.  Image 26 shows an example of the texture of the dupion silk combining with the printed shape to form a more interesting surface:

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I think, on the whole, prints in the second set are more subtle and interesting than the first set.  Apart from the technical aspects of printing on fabric, a very important thing I have learned from this exercise is that it can be useful to try the same technique in different ways on different occasions, as my brain keeps working on the process between times.

Module 1 Chapter 4

Cut and fold design shapes in black paper

Symmetrical shapes

To say I enjoyed Chapter 4 would be an understatement.  There is something very seductive about “what would happen if I …” when thought with paper and scissors in hand.  To begin with, for the black paper shapes, I stayed with an even simpler version of my simplified Toulouse cross (sheets 1 and 2), and the compass rose variation (sheet 3):

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It was interesting to see the shapes which formed when I made the same cut from the opposite corner of the folded square.

Sheet 4 shows some cuts from folded squares with one additional diagonal fold, making a triangle.  This was a useful approach for ‘window’ shapes:

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Asymmetrical shapes

Then, as Sheets 5 and 6 show, I cut some asymmetrical shapes.  The first example on Sheet 5 was cut from a symmetrical fold; the others, from either one initial asymmetrical fold and a subsequent symmetrical fold, or from two asymmetrical folds.  I didn’t draw a diagram for each one but did indicate the fold axes so that it was possible to replicate them (more or less).M1C4Sheet5

On Sheet 6, I quite like the ‘Y’ shape (why?) and the one under it, which looks a bit like a stylised bee.  The more radically asymmetrical the folds, the more interesting the resulting shape.

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Other folding methods

Then, seizing my opportunity from the instruction: “try other folding methods”, I decided to see what shapes would result from a few origami folds.  I found the simpler the fold, the better the result.  The shapes cut from the square base and the folded water bomb base I think worked quite well.  I particularly like the shape cut from the hexagon base  which is, of course, asymmetrical.  The bird base, too, yielded an asymmetrical shape, but it really shouldn’t have – this resulted from trying to work with too many layers of paper.  The KISS principle applies to shapes cut from origami bases, I decided.

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Cut and fold designs in coloured papers

Symmetry – design variations using layers of cut paper shapes

This was even more fun, as I got to play with all the different types of paper I painted in Chapter 2.  The captions are above the scans.  Again, I’ve used my Toulouse cross and compass rose designs as a starting point but there are some departures in there too.

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b)

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c)

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d)

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e)

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f)

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g)

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h)

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i)

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j)

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All of these designs have three layers except for sample d (an interlace design).  There is a mixture of positive and negative shapes in here.  I thought the negative shapes in samples h and j worked quite well.  I like the samples which use painted newsprint or magazine paper (better, I found, not to have the print the right way up as it can be a bit distracting).  Sample I uses some of the paper I printed using the rubber stamp in Chapter 2.  I’m not sure about this one – the print obscures the lines of the design a bit, although as an abstract shape it does have some interest.  It looks better ‘in the flesh’ as I am still trying to work out whether I can make my scanner distinguish between subtly different shades of red, reddy-orange and orange.  I’m finding I can make some adjustments in a graphics editor to bring the scans closer to the originals.

Asymmetry – layers of symmetrically cut paper shapes

Sample k is made from three layers of one of my shapes placed asymmetrically.  The asymmetry is emphasised by varying the distances between the centres of the shapes:

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Asymmetry – layers of asymmetrically cut paper shapes

Samples l,  m and n are composed from layers of asymmetrical shapes.  Sample n also makes use of the negative space resulting from the gap between the coral coloured cut-outs, which I have placed asymmetrically relative to each other.  I quite like this one.

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m)

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n)

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Asymmetry – layers with negative paper shapes

Samples  o, p, q and r also use negative cut paper shapes.  Sample r also contains a symmetrical shape, set behind the printed paper (pale green tissue paper; probably insufficient contrast against the pale turquoise background):

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p)

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q)

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r)

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Asymmetry – layers with asymmetrically cut paper shapes

The last three samples use the same asymmetrical shape placed at an interesting angle to each other.  I cut the shapes in sample t separately, scaled down from the shapes in sample s – this was not very successful (it was more difficult than I anticipated to replicate one of these fairly complex asymmetrical shapes) so it turned into a bit of a ‘spot the difference’ exercise.  Sample u is not really a separate sample – it’s the cropped centre of sample s.

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t)

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u)

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