Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dyeing a wool felt blanket

I have been reading the blog over at and then we set it on fire and in December they were talking about dyeing wool blankets. Of course, "dye" and "wool" grabbed my attention and I happened to find a cream wool blanket at the thrift store this week for $6. (In truth, I was pretty sure it was wool, but it had no tag so I did a burn test when I got home to make sure.)

I wanted to try to "confetti dye" some pieces, similar to Carol R Eaton's confetti dyed cotton fabric. Of course she was using Procion dyes on cotton, and I am using acid dyes on wool, but I didn't think it would be much different. Acid dyes are a bit more potent than the Procion dyes, so I expected fairly strong colors.

I cut a bunch of 16" x 16" pieces for some projects and also had some long strips. I soaked these in a mix of vinegar and water then wrung them out and put them in a bucket.

I plan on steaming the fabrics in plastic wrap bundles, and since I have nice new ivory counter tops in my kitchen, I set up a burner plate on a table in the backyard. (Yay for mid-50 degree weather in December!)  I needed to color and wrap my fabrics outside anyway, since I was using loose dye powder.

Here are my dyes, gloves, mask, mesh strainer, and plastic wrap.

Here is my burner, steam pot (for crafting use only) and a wool piece on two joined pieces of plastic wrap.

I sprinkled dye powders on the damp wool using the strainer. I found the strainer holes too big and got a lot of blotchy spots. Next time I might add a layer of cheesecloth (or similar) to slow down the dye sifting.

With dye sprinkles.

I put a piece of plastic wrap on top and then rolled it up in the plastic wrap that was underneath the wool. Here it is after steaming. It's pretty dark and I don't love the color combination.

On some of the confetti pieces, the backside was nice, but I find this one a bit boring.

I don't have any more "before" pictures of the other confetti sprinkled pieces. For this one, I did not put plastic wrap on top before rolling, I folded it in thirds, then rolled it, and then wrapped it in plastic wrap.

It looks pretty cool but I think it would be better if I used less dye.

 Back side:

This one looks like a 70's shag carpet to me. This one was folded in half, then rolled, then wrapped in plastic wrap.

 Back side:

I planned to steam all my packets at the same time and I was concerned that the confetti dyed pieces might be a disaster so I switched to liquid dyes. (1/2 tsp dye to 4 oz water and about 1 tbsp vinegar, which was probably not needed since the fabric was soaked in water/vinegar mix).

 Squirt, squirt.

Then I folded it and squeezed it to distribute the dye. I opened it to make sure there were no blank spots, then rolled it up with the plastic wrap trapped in the rolled fabric (like making stromboli). 

The results.

 This one was red and yellow squirts, which became orange during steaming. When I squeezed it, a bunch of extra dye came out and I mopped it up with the small rectangular piece below.

Leftover orangy-yellow dye from the piece above, plus some added Chartreuse.

These long strips were folded in half longways, then rolled or folded to become a small packet. Each side got squirted with a different color dye.

Here are all my wrapped fabrics ready for steaming. I steamed them about 45 minutes (with the lid on), and let the pot and fabrics cool for an hour afterwards.

I wasn't worried about them felting, so I rinsed them while they were still fairly warm. All of the liquid dye fabrics did not have any excess dye in them (their rinse water was clear). The confetti dyed fabrics had a lot of excess dye and I rinsed them in the sink for a bit.  I threw them all in the wash machine on delicate cycle with some Synthrapol detergent, then dried them in the dryer on low heat.
After steaming
After steam dyeing the packets, I made a pot of black dye and dyed a long narrow piece black.

I am looking forward to playing with these, but it will probably be a month before I have the time. (And I still have about 1/3 of the blanket left for some future project).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Making a stencil

I was at the thrift store a few weeks ago and they had this cool fabric with an oval design. I thought their price was too high so decided to take a picture of the design with my phone.

Then I decided to use the photo to make a stencil.  Here is my computer printout and the sheet of Mylar I am using for the stencil.

This Mylar is very thin so I am a little worried about paint getting underneath it, but I think I am going to use Shiva oil sticks (with a stencil brush) on it so that shouldn't be a problem.

Here is my pencil sketch on Mylar. I improvised a little to make it about 7" x 10".

 I cut little "X"s with an Xacto knife, then cut the shapes out with curved manicure scissors (the only curved scissors I had in the house).

 Here is the result.

I liked the pattern so much, I made another one with smaller shapes.

Friday, December 27, 2013

More Gel Skins

I decided to try just making a skin with the Tulip dimensional paint and no other medium.  I used a lot of paint thinking if the lines were close together it would be easy to peel off.

When I tried to peel it off, the paint was very stretchy and it looked really bad and deformed. (And it was hard to peel).

So I decided to put clear gloss medium over them. It was way easier to apply than the soft gel I tried last time since it is pourable. I used a palette knife to spread the medium.

With the medium on it, wet.

I peeled them off after they dried overnight. I like the gloss (liquid) medium better than the soft gel. The soft gel showed marks from the palette knife so the clear parts look very textured. The gloss medium is very smooth and therefore looks more clear. There are some air bubbles in places though.



Black, you can see some of the air bubbles when held to the light:

I like these better. It still takes a lot of medium to cover them, but they look pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have been enjoying the holiday season and have had some great moments of joy with family and friends.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gel skins

I was reading Julie Fei Fan Balzer's blog and her attempts at making gel skins with fluid acrylic paints and Golden mediums. You can see her post here.  I decided to give it a try using Jane Davies' original example with Tulip dimensional paints and Soft Gel Gloss (see Julie's blog for a link to Jane Davies' youtube video).

It worked pretty well. The Tulip paint is very dimensional compared to the soft gel and it took a fair amount of soft gel to cover all the Tulip paint.

I definitely like the smaller tubes of Tulip paint compared to the big bottle. I bought a big bottle of the black and it was a lot harder to get a smooth line compared to the smaller tubes.  I am thinking of trying this with just the Tulip paint and skipping the gel medium. I think as long as the lines were dense and close together that it would still peel up pretty well.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fabric collage

I am working with layering fabrics for an art piece, but I don't know if I really need to make it three layers like a standard quilt. I plan to do some free motion stitching, but the canvas is so stiff that I don't think a layer of batting will have any affect. So I am calling this a "fabric collage" since I don't consider it an art quilt.

I am mainly using fabrics that I painted on Saturday which I showed on yesterday's post. As you can see the bottom piece curves in at one end so I end up cutting it to be a rectangle. The fabric layout in this photo is the one I use. I haven't attached the three small rectangles in the middle yet.  I pinned and then sewed down the edges of all of the pieces using a straight stitch.

Here is the piece with the fabrics sewn down.  I do think I need to add the three small rectangular pieces is the middle.  In addition to the painted canvas and lace, I also included a piece of Setacolor painted polyester organza (center panel), and some ice-dyed cotton (at bottom, right side towards bottom, and 2 pcs on left side).

My original plan for the big canvas piece I used as a bottom layer was to eventually cut it and attach it to some 10" x 10" canvases, but I love how this turned out and it will remain one large piece.  I hope to do some free motion stitching soon!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Visit to Simone and Sabyl's studio

I haven't posted much this week. I am still having computer issues and am stuck using the laptop. It looks like my old computer has bit the dust, per the Geek Squad, so I may be getting a new computer for Christmas.  I can't wait to have a "real" keyboard and my photo editing software back.

On other news, my husband got a job in Kearney Nebraska that starts in August. If anyone knows artsy people and places in Kearney, please let me know.  In the mean time, I need to downsize my studio before we move in roughly six months, and I plan to put some craft packs and other stuff on my Etsy site starting in a few weeks.

I have been working part time since September so between my part time work, fixing some stuff around the house to put it on the market, and working on a project I want to submit to Cloth, Paper, Scissors, I didn't post at all this past week.

Finally, Saturday I went for an art day at Simone and Sabyl's studio. It was nice to have six hours of time to play and visit with them.

Here is one of Sabyl's works in progress. I don't know which side is up. I like it this way but think it is supposed to be rotated 90 degrees to the right so the dots are in the lower left corner?

And this is the piece she was working currently working on.

Simone was working on a linoleum print plate for a printmaking call for entry that is coming up. This is so darling!

I didn't really have a game plan for what I was going to work on. I wanted to work kind of big, but didn't want to have to carry a big canvas or piece of paper to the studio. I took some canvas fabric and some other fabrics I had laying around and my acrylic paints.

This canvas piece is about 20" x 30". It actually has four sections, not three. I painted 1/4 of it turquoise, a 1/4 red, 1/4 yellow, and 1/4 Process (pink or magenta?).  (I recommend lightly misting the fabric with water before applying the paint, to help it flow across the fabric). While they were still wet, I folded the fabric and pressed each of the colors together.  Some of the paints transfer and created an interesting texture and color on each section.  The blue one seemed to only pick up the red so I did finger paint some yellow and pink on it, then folded the blue section in half onto itself to spread those colors. This fabric looks way better in person than it does here.

For this canvas piece (roughly 18" x 24") I painted spots of different colors in places but it looked blah, so I folded it in half and rubbed it to transfer some of the paint.


Similarly, I painted this matelesse fabric with each of the four colors and mushed them together. Again, the blue was kind of one note so I finger painted some yellow and pink on top, but it doesn't look too hot. It looked much better on the canvas material.

This technique was a great way to get interesting color mixing on the fabric.

While I was at it, I watered down the same paint colors, and dipped some lace into the colors. I also did a piece of muslin, but the picture wasn't very good.

I now have a lot of coordinated and interesting fabric to work on a fabric collage. I will add some other fabrics from my stash for contrast. I think some of my Setacolor painted organza would be nice.