Work in Progress – silk yoyos anyone?

I like to have a few pieces going on at the same time, so here’s another one I’ve been working on. These are silk “yoyos,” as they are called, fused to acrylic felt and stitched. They’re not attached to this panel (an old piece I gessoed over) at the moment, as the next step is to felt 50 or so tendrils that will be inserted in the centers of the yoyos, as in one of the sample pics below. I’ll probably make the tendrils all black though. Not sure the white of the silk and natural fleece really gel.

Testing out the composition. 36" x 12"
Shiny! (Silk from Dharma Trading Co.)
I made a few sample boards trying out different variations of the "yoyo" with tendrils.
I do a lot of thumbnail sketching to work out composition.

From Fabric Sample to Fabric Goodness – Texturized Silk Bracelet

Here is a silk bracelet also made from fabric dyed at the Surface Design class at the KC Art Institute.  Another Christmas present, this time for my sister. The bracelets is long enough to wrap around the wrist twice.

hand dyed texturized silk bracelet


Here is the silk after dyeing (I think I added some textile inks with a roller afterwards; must be what the straight lines are). I read about a simple, but effective way to texturize fabrics on silk or rayon scarves and thought I would test it out. Wet silk was accordion-folded, then repeatedly twisted until it formed a tight ball. Rubber bands were wrapped around the bundle. Then it’s simply left to dry thoroughly. I found it easiest to put it in the end of some cut-off pantyhouse and drape it over my space heater (a kind that does not set things on fire; important point).

resist and over-dyed silk, textile inks added



This was a simpler technique than another shown below. Below shows silk that was wrapped on a bottle to dye and then steamed in vinegar, which smelled delicious, of course. I think this makes it more “set,” I think.

example of shibori dyeing. The polyester mason's line resists the dye, so only the exposed fabric is affected.
This silk was stretched like this with for months on a display board, but still keeps it texture.

They Keep a’ Coming

shibori dyed rayon with dyed silk and metallic stitching
hand dyed rayon and organza bookmark
shibori dyed cotton bookmark side 1
clamp resist dyed cotton bookmark side 2

Work in Progress – untitled vessel

To take a break from the bookmarks and to show you something I am actually working on, here is one of my wall hanging vessels from a few years back that I am redoing. This is the first stage: threading. We’ll see how much layering I’ll do. You can see I’m starting to build a decent thickness in the upper right of the detail shot. The string hanging down has the needle on it right now, but in the end there will be many strings hanging down like that with seed beads on the ends. So goes the idea at the moment. It’s a good piece to work on late at night when I’m too tired to really think and when I’m finished for the night, I just hang it back on the wall!

slow going - rayon thread on slip cast earthenwarebuilding up the layers
building up layers

More X-mas Bookmarks – Shibori Dyed & Image Transfer

Both of the base fabrics here were dyed using shibori techniques., ie. a resist is used in various ways which keeps the dye from penetrating the entire fabric surface, creating patterns. The berries on the second bookmark are image transfers from Before the First Touch, a pen and ink illustration I did toward the end of my residency at the Bonfills studios.

Here the fabric was folded and wrapped on a small pvc pole with string. The string (must be poly or acrylic) resists the dye, leaving the white lines. Dyed organza was wrapped around the bookmark and stitched.
shibori dyed bookmark with image transfer
Shibori dyed cotton.

Twas a crafty Christmas – felted and stitched bracelets

The idea for felted bangles was not my own. I saw them in Felt Jewelry: 25 Pieces to Make Using a Variety of Simple Felting Techniques and thought it would be a simple, but fun present to make. You simply felt a smallish area of wool and cut out the shape you need. But then I had the leftover cutouts for the wrists and I hate waste. Since I was working with somewhat contrasting colors, I used the waste as linear details. Made it more time consuming, but it made it more my own and added a nice detail. Wanting to play with variation, I purposefully made them slightly different shapes and sizes. Need to work on the cleanliness of my machine stitching, but that will come with practice.

Wet felted merino wool, stitched
wet felted shetland and merino wools, stitched

The Most Custom Bookmarks in the History of, Like, Ever.

I didn’t have much to post in December, but I was in fact busy making Christmas presents. I took a surface design class at the Art Institute in the spring, coincidentally taught by my boyfriend’s mother, Besty Knabe Roe. So I had all these fabric samples and no idea what to do with them. So I found something to do. Pretty much the only thing I didn’t do was weave the fabrics themselves, and if  it’s a felt bookmark, then I did make the fabric. I’ll post these a few at a time. Probably too time-consuming to sell commercially, but they were fun exercises. They are humble bookmarks, but I belive the family enjoyed.

hand dyed felt, silk & rayon with metallic stitching
shibori dyed (clamp resist) rayonresist dyed cotton (gathered stitching), hand dyed felt & organza
resist dyed cotton (gathered stitching), hand dyed flet & organza

St.Lukes – felted wall hanging

This piece I started as part of a live demonstration at Paint the Town – St. Lukes Hospital’s annual benefit in late September. I demonstrated wet-felting, as most people probably haven’t seen this done, or know anything about it. The initial idea was to finish a piece at the benefit, but even with a lot of prep work, it just wasn’t feasible.

The main shape was wet-felted, which was completed at the benefit. The pink dots were blended into the back of the piece with a felting machine, or embellisher. Originally, I was going to just put pink dots on each of the sections, but I added the stitching for contrast and texture. I sort of tried to come up with a name for it, but I always thought of it as the “St. Lukes piece,” so might as well leave it at that. It’s approximately 24″ accross.

St.Lukes - hand-dyed shetland wool wall hanging
St.Lukes detail
Machine needle-felted spots and metallic stitching

This is also backed with a commercial felt for hanging on the wall.

The colors are hand-dyed from Shetland wool. I have a thing for hot pink and (especially) purple lately, which might sound bizarre to those who have known me for years. What can I say? I have no logical answer for you. It does not stem from K-State (those who know me well should know that!). I avoided purple for years due to my anti-sport and superfluous school spirit policies.

Glacial – Felt/Ceramic Wall Hanging

I finished this in October, but I’ve been bad at blogging lately. I’ve been having problems getting accurate photographs of the fiber work.

The main section of Glacial features natural colored fleeces from the farm, wet-felted. The “buttons” are pit-fired earthenware with amorphous, needle-felted wool attached to each. It is backed with a commercial felt fabric (ie., not craft felt) to hang on a wall. It’s about 18-20″ across.

Glacial wall hanging
Natural colors in Shetland wool
Glacial wallhanging detail
Pit-fired buttons with amorphous wool "nubs" (I don't really know what to call them).

Carding my brain away…

This weekend I was down at the farm. I dyed a batch of purple wool and spent many, many hours carding. So much so that when I drove home after sunset Sunday night, the clouds in the sky looked exactly like the bits of fleece I had been carding. Like exactly, down to the “crimp.”  Rembember hair crimping in the eighties? Pretty much looks like that but it occurs naturally to a degree is some fleeces.

For non-fibers folks: Carding is a process that gets all the fibers going in the same direction, which must be done before wool (or any fiber really) can be spun into yarn and then into textiles. I am a lucky duck and have access to an electric drum carder (or du-da-duh, Supercarder!), as  seen below. Each batch is called a “batt.” So over the weekend, I carded something like 17 batts, which doesn’t sound like alot, but then again, some batts have to be carded up to 4 times each if I’m blending with another fiber. I was blending some angora bunny into the purple this weekend, for example. It also takes much longer if  I’ve over-agitated the wool in the washing and dyeing process, which tangles the fibers. Apparently I have a problem with that.

I cannot even imagine doing this with a non-electric carder or god-forbid, old-fashioned hand carders. That would simply not happen. Anyways, I know I had promised a blog on the carding process, but this is all you get right now! Deadlines loom!

drum carder
Supercarder or medieval torture device? Well, I have had a few bleeders when unattentively poking fingertips with the metal spines.