Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bark, bark and........more bark

After a busy time with friends and family over Christmas and Boxing Day, I've finally come out of the kitchen and into the garden. As many know you'd be much more likely to find my better half tidying up the garden but I ventured out. I started sweeping up but then got distracted (of course), and decided to collect some of the bark for future dyeing.

At this time of year the bark just falls off the gums in sheets, making a complete mess of the place but giving you wonderful patches of different colour on the tree trunks. I try to appreciate this when I look out on the debris in the pool!

I collect the bark in old plastic fruit baskets that have holes in them to help the air circulate while it dries, and then they are stored in the garage until I need them. Once you're ready to dye the bark gets soaked overnight in water before boiling the next day.
This reminded me of the piece of silk dupioni I mentioned previously that had been steeping in a mixture of lichens and ammonia for over a year. I brought it out from the back of the cupboard yesterday and got a pleasant surprise.

The fabric had been rolled up and tied along the length repeatedly then scrunched up to fit in the tub in a shibori manner - a once-off creation, I think!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Texture trials

I just received confirmation of my booking to go to summer school next year and I'm so excited, I can't wait. It'll be 4 years since I was last there but I still have the work we did (of course) using stick people as inspiration, albeit still unfinished (of course). We haven't booked our flights yet but the important part is done!

I'm looking at texture from my sketches in more detail but got a bit sidetracked last week by Maggie Grey's online workshops from her new book. Those of you who are following these (and I know there must be a few) will recognise my textured panels
They use papercasts and liquid Sculpey set in a background of gesso. I then sewed the panels together using a ladder stitch through the zig-zag edging to form the 3D 'book' below. I say 'book' because as yet it doesn't have any pages. I plan to make some paper, perhaps with some leaves or plant material embedded. The photo below is closer to its true colouring of metallic olive and gold.
Now to get back to that texture work from the sketches....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Sketches

After having looked at so many trees and bushes in the botanic gardens and concentrated on their weird and wonderful shapes I went back to our local pond and took this photo of the lily pads floating.

I tried to sketch using various different media, studying the colours initially and then being a bit more free with my interpretation. On page 89 below, I simply stamped with acrylics and some tinted gloss medium, and overlapped some outline shapes to give an idea of transparancy.

On page 95 below,I created more surface texture with pigmented expandable paint and stamped on the back of cellophane to give shine and a bit of layering.

Page 91 uses oil pastels and ink washes while page 93 uses Pantone markers in a very stylised way. The back of the marked page is interesting too where the ink has come through.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Natural dyes

I was preparing some pages in my sketchbook by colourwashing them and came across some old jars of natural dyes that I'd prepared about a year ago in a workshop with ATASDA. The workshop had been about dyeing natural materials (wools and cellulose based fabrics) with dyes prepared from Australian vegetation.

gumnuts from various eucalypts

One dye I came across had been made from eucalypt leaves (of course, what else in Aus) so I thought I'd briefly describe how we made it in case anyone is interested:

About 250g of dried leaves put in a net bag (to make the straining easier) and placed in a 15l lidded saucepan with approx 10l water. Boiled for 1 hour. The bag was removed and an optional mordant added - in this case 30g (50/50) mixture of iron sulphate and alum. The sample pieces of fabric were added and boiled for a further hour before being removed rinsed and dried. The photo shows how this dye was taken up differently by a group of fabric swatches (silks, cottons and linens) in the workshop.

Getting back to the sketchbook, the dye was still pretty strong in colour and I had to dilute it down quite a lot for the pages. Most of the dyes were of a green, brown or yellow hue as you'd imagine I guess but occasionally you'd get a lovely pink and not from red flowers.

Sadly, I found that the wonderful purple/blue jacaranda flowers here only give a boring brown dye.
I found a pot at the back of the cupboard that had fabric swatches steeping in a mixture of ammonia and lichens - amazing markings - more on that later!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sculptures by the Sea

Last weekend marked the last few days of "Sculptures by the Sea" in Sydney, one of the world's largest outdoor exhibition of weird and wonderful sculptures that is held each year along the Bondi coast. To tell you the truth I have not managed to see it in person yet but my husband and daughter spent last Friday there and supplied these pictures.

This is the 12th year and there are over 100 sculptures on display on grassland, cliff faces, down on the beach and even suspended over the sea. They are, of course, open to the elements so have to be pretty hardy but I think that's half the appeal, to look and touch these pieces of art with the sounds of the sea and birdlife around you.

Obelisk by Leonard Sabol
On the Beach by Tim Kyle (resin and pulp)

Ordinary Extraordinary by Ivan Lovatt

Development by Chi Phan (recycled steel and enamel)

Alice in Wonderland by Rod McRae
(steel, polystyrene, resin and bronze)

They're all up for sale so if you can see Andy Warhol in your back garden get in touch!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Module 1 Sketchbook

I've never created a blog before (as I'm sure will become transparently obvious) but I've taken the plunge and started this to record my textile ups and downs as I work on my Diploma for City and Guilds' through Distant Stitch with Sian Martin in the UK.
As with previous modules for the certificate I have taken a while to 'find my groove' and start filling my sketchbook. My other bits and pieces of life got in the way.......
Anyway, here are a few typical pages from my small A5 sketchbook, looking at vegetation, trees, seeds, and other such green (and not so green in this city down under) things...
pages 8,9
pages 10,11
pages 14,15
pages 18,19
pages 28,29