Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Jewellery Making Class


What do you get when you run a jewellery making activity with 15 children aged 4 - 7 during a special off-curriculum learning college experience? This week's results included many furry monster brooches and some funky beaded bracelets and rings, a lot of fun and rather a lot of mess! Nothing that couldn't be cleared up quite quickly, though. I am impressed by the strong ideas and opinions of these lovely children. Some of them are remarkably adept at grasping the techniques involved while others need more support, but what a lovely, lively and enthusiastic bunch they are!
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Friday, 11 June 2010

Pin Stand

I have Helen Deighan's book about coiled pots and dyeing, and actually bought the wherewithal to make one (or more) from her at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year, but the energy hasn't been there since to get around to making one.

Blogland showed me a variant, and I was really lucky to win this delightful textile bowl in Shelley's blog giveaway earlier this year, and it has been in constant use since it arrived as a to-hand con tainer for my sewing equipment. One of its strengths is that it can double as a sort of pin cushion or pin keeper, as I discovered yesterday evening. Thanks so much, Shelley, for your creative kindness x

I had a lucky spell around then, because I won another giveaway - a lovely multimedia piece by Helen Suzanne Alexander who also has a website here. She made it up into a lovely sketchbook , which is going to be a pleasure to use -

at the moment it is waiting for either a special project, or else for me to finish my present book. Thanks so much, Helen, - I so appreciate your work.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Eucalyptus-dyed Silk

I promised the results today, and here they are. Above, the fabric on the far left is the plain white habutai as I bought it. The middle piece is that which I enfolded with eucalyptus leaves before steaming for 45 minutes, then steeping overnight in the water I had boiled more leaves in. The piece on the right is that which just had the overnight steeping. The colour overall is a charming peachy-gold cream, a little like caramel or coffee. It has been hot here today and I could not face ironing the silk, but it dried on the line incredibly quickly.

Above is the darker cloth which has come out paler in this shot, but you can see the patches of deeper colour where the leaves lay against the silk. They are not clear images but darker patches. I think I must repeat this experiment without the overnight soaking in the dye water.
Here, the fabrics are reorganised with the undyed again to the left, then the overnight-soaked cloth and last on the right, the silk which was pleated with the leaves and then steamed before steaming.

The effects are subtle (though less so than the photos suggest) but lovely and would probably sit well with indigo-dyed material as well as rust-dyed - I must dig out my samples to confirm this. I have another length of habutai steeping in a glass jar on the windowsill, with the remaining leaves and their coloured water, to see what the sun will do to them. It was a great experiment to have done with some lovely results, and I am looking forward to playing some more. It's like magic to pick leaves off the ground and colour fabrics with them.
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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Armchair Travelling and Dyeing

This morning I was looking at Facebook, and my cyberpal Jude mentioned some lovely cloth available in a BigCartel shop, like this, which I absolutely love but can't afford to treat myself to at the moment. One thought followed another and one click followed another, too. Our next door neighbours have a pretty tree in their front garden

which is currently strewing leaves across our lawn and drive.

I thought about using them to dye some silk of my own, and went to gather some up. I have habutai silk which has been washed ready for dyeing, thinking of an attack of the blues - or indigo dyeing. So I hunted and Googled for information, and decided to more or less follow India Flint's recipe and jumped right in. I took the silk to the garden and spread it out on the grass, then folded it in concertina pleats, layering in the leaves. I added it to a bowl of water and vinegar, and proceeded to cook it in the microwave. Unfortunately the microwave was feeling it's age and conked out after a while, so I had to think again. This time I put my precious bundle on a colander to steam it over a saucepan to steam it, which made me think I could kill two birds with one stone and so I gathered another couple of handfuls of eucalyptus leaves off the lawn and put them in the water to separate out the pigment.

The boiling and steaming is done, so my original piece of cloth is now soaking, together with another piece, in the coloured water, leaves still in place. I'll leave them there until tomorrow and then we'll see what effect this treatment has had. As you can see, the leaves have coloured the water, and the silk had also taken pigment from the leaves in situ. I risk losing the transferred colour, I suppose, in the steeping, but it's all an experiment anyway.

The good news at present that the microwave was just having a hissy-fit and is now working again - it must be 34+ years old and mechanical, and they just don't make them like that any more!