Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Project - Discharging Fabric

Today is the third in my series on making complex cloth.  See this post for how I began and last week's post for my second additions to the cloths.

I'm working with three cloths now and decided to keep back one of the four I originally dyed.  After gazing at it for two weeks with no great inspiration appearing, it seemed better to put it away for awhile.  This week I used two ways of discharging (or removing) some of the dye I've put on.  This can be a way to add another layer, more texture and design to your cloth and to make it look more interesting.

*discharge paste - I buy mine from Dharma Trading Company
*bleach pen
*face mask
*steam iron

Discharging with Bleach

After my shaving cream dyeing session, this is what one of the cloths I worked with ended up looking like:

Not bad - lots of color, some texture.  But not real interesting, either, so I decided to remove some of the dye in a pattern using a bleach pen.  I covered using bleach pens more in depth in this past blog - basically, you put on gloves, put the piece of fabric on a flat surface with protection underneath (I put waxed paper underneath), and apply the bleach pen.  If you're covering a large area like I did, you'll probably want to do this outside as there can be a pretty strong bleach smell.

Bleach sometimes takes all the dye out, leaving white fabric, but just as often will leave yellow, tannish, or some other color.  This can be just what you want - make sure to do a test first so you get no bad surprises.

I made a squiggle pattern over the whole piece, let it dry, and then washed it out.  Here's what it now looks like:

One thing you might not know about bleach - it never really quits working unless you neutralize it.  There are lots of home methods for doing this (some people say vinegar works), but the only way to be sure is to use a product such as Bleach Stop or Anti-Chlor (sodium thiosulfate).  I use Bleach Stop from Dharma Trading Co.  It's not very expensive and lasts a long time.

Discharge Paste

This stuff is pretty stinky, so I always work with it outside.  I also use a face mask - I know it's not the kind that you need for keeping out fumes.  You don't have to go that far with the paste.  It just helps me not smell it!  Basically, you just paint it onto the fabric, stamp it, stencil it - whatever.  You wait for it to dry and then steam iron it until all (or the amount you want) of dye has been discharged.  One of the nice points this product has is that it doesn't take the dye out until it's been dried and you've steam ironed it.  So if you goof or decide you didn't want to discharge in that pattern after all, you can wash it out and start over.

When we last saw the reddish/pink fabric, it looked like this:

I wanted to break up some of the solid areas, but leave the shibori circles, so I dabbed on discharge paste with a small piece of sea sponge.

When it dried, I steam ironed the piece until all the dye had discharged and I had white areas.  Here's how it ended up:

Hmmm.  Definitely interesting!

After doing a form of arashi shibori with the blue fabric, it looked like this:

I decided to retie it in a more traditional arashi form and apply the discharge paste as I would have applied dye.  To do this type of arashi, you need a long pole so I taped three of my short poles together.  You want to have the tape lie as flat as possible since you'll be pushing the fabric over the tape.

Place a corner of the fabric in the middle of your pole and tightly roll the fabric around the pole.  If you have a large piece of fabric, you'll want to tape the corner to the pole.

Tie one end of artificial sinew around the top.  Wrap the fabric at even intervals - the interval size will change the pattern you get so experiment.  Tie the bottom.

Stand the pole upright and push the fabric down as far as you can, while also twisting it around the pole.  It takes a little coordination and a lot of muscle!  I was able to remove one of the poles after it was all pushed down.

I then painted discharge paste over the whole piece and let it dry.

Take the fabric off the pole and you get a cute little tube!  I love the texture when it's unwrapped, before ironing.  I've seen some very nice shibori fabric art where the artist left it unironed to keep this texture.

On this piece, I only ironed over it real quickly - this way I took some of the dye out but not all the way down to white.  This is the result:

I love this one!  This closeup shows the pattern.

Next week I'll use stamps, stencils, and thickened dye to add yet another layer.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Inspiration - The Bead Museum

Update:  The Bead Museum's collection and library will be moving to the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, California.  It should be ready for viewing there in December 2011.

Glendale, Arizona has been fortunate enough to be home to one of two bead museums.  The other, in Washington, DC, closed its doors in 2008.  Now the sad news was announced that financial difficulties have finally caught up with Glendale's museum and they will shut down March 12th.   If you have ever wanted to be inspired by a visit to this definitely inspiring place, now is the time to do so.  It's been the home to a vast collection of beads ranging in age from 15,000 years ago to present time, from cultures past and present around the world.  It also houses the Gabrielle Liese Research Library, education and outreach programs, and a wonderful bead store.

I visited for the last time to view the current show, The Family Jewels, exhibiting costume jewelry and beaded garments from early Victorian times to the 1970's.  It's definitely worth seeing.

The first garment to greet you is this Victorian wedding dress with beaded trim from 1894.  My photos don't do justice to how gorgeous it is!  In case the waist looks a "bit" tiny to you, the bride had a 20 inch waist - oh my.  If I was down to my lower rib cage, I still wouldn't make that!

I love the texture of the fabric and had to work very hard to not touch.

This amazing beaded dress was made in Hong Kong in the 1980's.  The beads are pearls, glass, and metal.

The dragons and phoenixs on the sides are exquisite.

 There are many beaded bags on display - I've been wanting to make one for years now, but somehow never get around to it.  While I loved the art deco designs, I think these two from the 1930's were my favorite.  They're so elegant.

If you're planning a visit, they're open Wednesday through Friday from 10 - 5 and Saturday from 11 - 3 and the admission is a very reasonable $5.00 - for more information see their website here.  Remember, it's your last chance to be inspired here!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Just A Hint .....

Our backyard wildflowers are finally starting to bloom - just a hint of what's still to come. 

They seem a bit late this year.  The little daisies that escaped from a garden center pot a few years ago began blooming in January, as usual.

But the wild poppies,

desert lupine,

toads wort,

and African daisies are just beginning to bloom.

And the peach blossoms on our desert white peach, which may be the most delicious, honey sweet peach I've ever tasted.

This all has inspired me for my next quilting project - I'll have a tutorial and patterns for you next week.  Until then, here's just a hint ....

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Project - Shibori Dyeing

Well, it's Week 2 (see here for Week 1) of my complex cloth project and I decided what to do with two of my fabrics for a second step.  Being so inspired by Itchiku Kubota's kimono work, I wanted to work shibori into at least some of my cloths.  Two of them stood out as good candidates.  The brightly colored orange/pink one because it was a little brighter than I wanted it to be and the blue one - both weren't really that interesting and could do with some spicing up before I started printing, stamping, sewing, etc.  There are many shibori tying methods.  For these two, I decided to do ne-maki, ori-nui, and arashi.

*marbles or small stones
*nylon upholstery thread
*PVC pipe - I'm using a small amount of fabric, so I used a smaller diameter pipe.  The size of pipe will change how it turns out, so experiment.
*waxed linen string or artificial sinew (available from leather goods stores or on-line art supply companies)

Soak the fabric in a solution of 1/2 cup soda ash to 1 gallon water for about 20 minutes.

Orange/Pink Cloth

This is the cloth after I finished with the shaving cream dyeing last week:

First, I tied lots of small marbles into the fabric for ne-maki.  Put a small piece of the fabric around a marble or small stone and tie below it very tightly with strong upholstery thread or artificial sinew.  The plan here is to get a ring - it didn't quite work this time, but that's the plan.

After every several wraps, pull tightly on the thread.  Tie in a tight double knot when finished.  What you are doing is making a resist - the thread will resist the dye and keep it from reaching the fabric underneath.

I also added two rows of ori-nui.  To do this, use a running stitch of doubled strong upholstery thread and sew very small stitches in a long line.  Make several (at least 4) of these lines parallel to each other.  Leave about a three inch tail of thread at each end.

Pull the threads (all threads of one row at once) and gather them up as tightly as you possibly can.  Tie them together in a knot next to the fabric.  Again, you're making a resist - hopefully the fabric will be so tightly gathered that dye will not be able to reach the inner portions.

I then put the fabric on a rack over a tub and began to paint the dye on.

The main reason for doing this instead of dipping the fabric into the dye is to limit how much dye gets onto the fabric and soaks into the areas you want to be resisted.  To make ne-maki and ori-nui work well, you need to paint close to the resist but not right up to it, letting the fabric wick it up further.  I didn't do that this time - mostly trying to be fancy and get double rings from the ne-maki and a darker trail from the ori-nui!  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  This time it didn't work out as I planned, but it turned out very interesting.

I painted the rest of the fabric with a much wider brush.  Oh - I used Safari Gray if anyone's wondering.  When the dye is in place, put the fabric in a seal-able plastic bag and leave for 12 to 24 hours.  Be careful that any parts you don't want dyed aren't sitting in a pool of the dye.

Rinse, cut out the thread (very small scissors and a seam ripper work well), rinse again and wash.  This piece is a lot more interesting now!  It'll be fun to continue with for the next layers.

Blue Cloth

For this piece, I decided to do an arashi fold.  Arashi means "storm" - it often looks like wind driven sheets of rain.  There are lots of different variations, depending on how you twist and tie the fabric and the size of pipe or pole you wrap the fabric around.  This is the piece after last week:

First I twisted the fabric diagonally (you can also do this horizontally or vertically) and wrapped it around a piece of pvc pipe.

I tied it into place with artificial sinew,

and then squished it together as closely as I could and wrapped it again in a back and forth pattern.

I painted darker blue and a purple in stripes (again on a rack over a tub) and put it into a seal-able plastic bag.

Again, much more interesting!

Next week I'm using discharge methods to take dye off the fabric in certain places.  There are a couple of good products to do this with.  And until then I'll be pondering again on what my next steps will be!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Inspiration - The Kimono Art of Itchiku Kubota

"What I respect, admire, and love the most are the aspects of nature.  The sun, moon, stars, clouds, snow and rain, mountains, rivers, trees and plants, the brilliance of gems -- all natural phenomena provide the source of ideas."  1979, Itchiku Kubota

Ohn - Mt. Fuji

It's hard to even begin describing the art of Itchiku Kubota.  It feels like there just aren't the right words to use when talking about the masterpieces he created on silk.  He used dye, stitching, embroidery, and inks, bringing life to his visions of color and light in ways that leave one in awe.  To start understanding how he did this, one must look at the journey his life took.  Along the way I've posted a few pictures of his work.  Clicking on them will take you to Gwendolyn Magee's Textile Art Resource Guide's view of the closeup shots, showing the intricate details.  Her site has more of the kimonos, all with closeup links, so be sure to take a look at it.

Kubota was born in Tokyo in 1917.  When he was fourteen, he apprenticed to a kimono artist and began learning the different dying and embellishment techniques used on silk.  At age 20, on a visit to the Tokyo National Museum, he saw a silk remnant dyed with a technique used in the late 15th to early 16th centuries known as tsujigahana.  By the 1900's, this technique was a lost art.  Kubota was so moved by this experience, he vowed to rediscovered its methods.

San - Burning Sun

World War II intervened, however, and Kubota became a prisoner of war in a Siberian camp.  His later work, San - Burning Sun, uses the colors and light he remembers from that camp.  On his release in 1948, he returned to his quest.  After years of work, he came to the conclusion there were too many technical problems involved with recreating tsujigahana as it was originally practiced and developed his own technique using modern silk crepe fabric and synthetic dyes - he named it Itchiku Tsujigahana.  An interesting explanation of the basic steps can be found here.

From Win

Kubota's last years centered around creating his Symphony of Light series.  He envisioned it showing a landscape that flowed from piece to piece, beginning with Spring and ending with Winter.  Using eight foot non-functional kimonos, Kubota completed 30 of the envisioned 75 pieces by the time of his death in 2003.  Today, his daughter and son continue his work.

In 2009, a touring exhibit of his completed Autumn and Winter kimonos made stops at the Canton Museum of Art.  A review found here has an example of how three Autumn kimonos are viewed in sequence and a San Diego Union-Tribune article here has more examples of kimonos in the exhibit.  A video promoting the tour can be watched here - it's definitely worth viewing to here Kubota talk of his fateful viewing of the tsujigahana dyed silk remnant and get a few peeks at the exhibit.

And while it's not the same as being there, the exhibit catalog is still available on Amazon here.

As I contemplate (yes, still!) my next layering technique for the complex cloth I'm working on, I could have no better inspiration than Itchiku Kubota.

Happy Creating!  Deborah