Friday, January 30, 2015

Chap 3: Transformation of materials

This follows closely on the heels of chapter 2, as the two overlapped more than a little for me. Essentially the unconventional grounds in the last posting and some new ones were transformed with pattern, colour and manipulation to resemble characteristics of natural materials and forms.

I did some natural dyeing of fabrics and paper using red gum bark and  onion skins.

The bark naturally strips off the trees in spring and summer so our driveway is usually strewn with the stuff at this time of the year.   It has been very hot and dry here since Christmas but this week we had 2 days of solid rain just when I decided I would collect some bark!  It actually counted in my favour as normally the bark would have to be soaked for a few days in water before using.  I reckoned that 3 days of saturation naturally meant I could use the soggy bark as it was.  So it was boiled in water for about 2 hours, bark removed, some alum added to the water as mordant and then my fabrics steamed over this for a further 2 hours.

3.1 naturally dyed fabrics with red gum bark
The fabrics came out a pale brown or fawn, no more than I really expected, but any patterning that I'd tried to create with shibori tying techniques didn't come out very well, just an even mottling.  You can vaguely see a ring resist in the foreground.

The onion skins were more successful - boiled them in a net bag for 1 hour, added alum and steamed fabrics and paper for 1 further hour.

3.2 Naturally dyed fabrics with onion skins
My shibori patterns were quite evident and the leaf markings can be seen (left of photo) where I bundled them in the fabrics tightly before steaming.  A good bright yellow dye was produced.

I found some potassium permanganate in the local chemist here for the first time - hadn't found or used it before and go a bit carried away with it.

3.3 Fabrics dyed with potassium permanganate
I loved the ochre colour that was produced, particularly dark on the sample of wool flannel (top right of photo).  I found that it even overdyed synthetic Chux cleaning cloths so I made some twine with those for future use, incorporating torn scraps of teabag in the twists.

3.4 dyed strips of Chux cloth twined with teabag strips
Soil dyeing - A couple of fabric pieces were soaked in soy milk for 1 hour, warming in the sun in a sealed bag then buried the warm fabric in a muddy part of the garden.  The protein in the soy milk will help bind the colour into the fabric.  I'll hopefully leave it there for a month or so unless the brush turkeys get to it first!  Watch this space...

I made some egg tempera which was new to me and tried it on a couple of the momigami'd paper grounds from before.  The grounds had been 'sealed' with gel medium so the tempera sat well on it, interestingly pooling in the creases.

3.5 egg tempera on paper gel medium grounds
The yellow was made by mixing turmeric in the egg yolk, the brown from paprika, and the red (i have to admit) from a Brusho powdered dye.

3.6 egg tempera on paper gel medium grounds (detail)
I liked the transparency of the paints and the ability to create orange from the overlapping red and yellow strips.

Rusting experiments - I didn't have any suitable gardening tools / implements that were rustable so I decided to create my own rust for the paper, fabric and tyvek using a method I learned from an online workshop by Lynda Monk and Carol McFee.  I won't give details as that wouldn't be fair to them but essentially the ferric oxide is created from a reaction of ferrous sulphate using caustic soda and precipitates out on to the paper / fabric.  Add some colouring like tea or natural dyes to the mix and you get lovely patterns.
Once I got started with the 'mess' outside I couldn't stop - must be the chemist in me.

The tyvek works so well with this technique.  The colours were quite dark but I like that.  It was a dull day so took a few hours to dry and I think that was the reason for the browns / blacks.  If it had been very sunny, drying would have been quicker and perhaps brighter oranges and even blue/ greens are possible -

3.7 rusted tyvek paper
3.8 rusted tyvek paper
3.9 rusted tyvek paper
3.10 rusted tyvek paper
3.11 rusted tyvek paper
3.12 rusted tyvek paper
Then tried it with Lutradur, Crash, handmade cotton rag paper and calico fabric - like I say I couldn't stop.

3.13 rusted Lutradur Crash
3.14 rusted cotton rag paper
3.15 rusted cotton rag paper
3.16 rusted cotton rag paper
3.17 rusted cotton calico fabric
 The fabric samples were initially very dark and strong in colour even dried and heat set, but once they were rinsed the patterning and colour were reduced.

I did some 'transforming' of the momigami'd paper surfaces in chapter 2 (photo 2.3) to make them resemble particularly resin in red gum bark and green vegetation.
This was done by adding first expanda print, texture mediums and heavy structure gel medium, and then paints (Goldon fluid acrylics, alcohol inks and waxes)

3.18 paper surfaces before transformation (left) and after (right) 
3.19 paper surfaces before transformation (left) and after (right)
Finally I did some bleaching out of the potassium permanganate fabrics using lemon juice and some surface monoprinting.

3.20 Potassium permanganate dyed cotton bleached with cut lemon
I tried crushing aluminium foil to make a textured surface on which to roll printing ink and use it to monoprint on to my fabrics 3.21) and then inked up one of my textured paper surfaces itself to print with 3.22)

3.21 inked foil used to monoprint on cotton fabric dyed with onions (left) and on bleached pot permanagate dyed cotton (right)
3.22 inked paper ground (left) used to monoprint on pot permanganate dyed paper (right)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chap 2: Collect and Transform

 "A long time coming" is an understatement for this work but finally I'm making some record of the materials gathering exercise for Module 6 and the challenges of recycling.
To be truthful, I am not a fan of recycling man made materials like plastics in textiles so I found it extremely difficult initially to get into this module with enthusiasm. I decided to go with the focus in my Chap 1 cultural research  ie Indigenous Australian fibrecraft and concentrate on using plant fibre paper, bark and waste vegetation whenever possible.  Incidentally the Chap 1 research will follow in a later posting.

So my "shopping bag" of collected raw materials included:

2.1 paper sources
  • a variety of paper envelopes, wrappings, tissue paper, paper bags, photos
  • vegetation - fruit peelings, onion skins, egg shells, fallen eucalyptus leaves, bark, palm fibre and leaves, banana leaves, seeds, raffia
  • other miscellaneous - fruit bags, tea bags
and much as I detest tyvek I included some only because we had 6 large empty bags of swimming pool salt lying around the garage.

2.2 Tyvek bags
Here are some of my examples of basic stitched grounds that I made:

2.3 Momigami'd basic paper collages backed with pelmet vilene ready for later stitching and adhered with gel medium so that they could be painted easily.
Much of the Indigenous fibre work begins by making twine from stripped bark and branches so I felt compelled to 'twine' whatever I could recycle.

2.4 twine from momigami'd brown paper bags
2.5 more paper twine couched onto a backing of emulsion painted cotton with vilene backing.
Did I mention that twining is hard and takes forever? I suppose if your incentive for making it is to produce a fishing line so that you can eat I can appreciate why you'd spend hours doing this in the bush but phew....great respect...

2.6 cut and pieced stitched patchwork of water photos and those salt bags - some tucks and fragment of orange fruit net bag added for interest.
2.7 woven strips of palm leaf in net fruit bag
2.8.1 photo strips of vegetation behind a fence stitched on palm leaf with couched paper twine
2.8.2 This was the sample above after it began to dry out and I thought the twisting / curling added to it
2.9 Stitched ground of used teabags
2.10 Stitched ground of dried onion skins using water soluble fabric
2.11 Stitched ground of rafia strands using water soluble fabric (grid not apparent in photo)
2.12 cotton rag paper previously handmade by my daughter, eco- printed with eucalyptus leaves
The prints were done by sandwiching the fallen leaves in the paper sheets (previously soaked in a dilute vinegar solution and towel dried) and clamped together between 2 wooden blocks.  The clamped bundle was steamed over a pot of water for 1-2 hours containing a little alum as mordant.  Strictly speaking eucalyptus leaves are self-mordanting but I wanted to be sure of reasonable prints.

2.13 Stitched ground of eucalyptus leaves using watersoluble fabric, loosely woven with raffia fibre twine
2.14 Red gum bark pieced together with recycled linen thread using knotted insertion stitch