Sunday, 4 September 2011

Playtime with Phil

As promised, now that I have almost fought my way out of the long grass of 'to-dos' after the Festival of Quilts, here are some of the things we got up in the short 4 days we had together.  It was a wonderful mad experience dashing from one thing to the next and without the proper time to follow through on some aspects - but what fun!
Two of the prepared boards
 First, preparing the collagraph boards.  These two contain corrugated cardboard, sequin waste, string, tissue paper, masking tape, grasses, scrim and rice.  Below are the results a couple of days later.  The print on the right has a dash of extra colour added.

Individual print offs
Below is a print with two of mine and one of Phil's boards.  I will have this framed.
My favourite

Then we tried a bit of spray discharge.  I love the work of Clare Plug in New Zealand.

We used Domestos household bleach which I thinned a bit (mine in the cupbard was the gel version), put in a spray bottle and then used to spray on black fabric: one piece pole wrapped and the other a scrap that Phil had tied on the back shibori style.  I think we retied the fabric for a second spraying because the first try was too open.  The success does depend largely on the quality of spray bottle - this one was inclined to splutter large drops along with the misty spray but maybe that is what some people might like.  We also sprayed from one angle to try and highlight the folds.  We have shared the two pieces.
Pole wrapped - this had marbles trapped between string at odd intervals

Piece on the left is done. The 3D effect is wonderful - that is a flat piece of fabric!  The piece on the right is ready to go with those self-cover buttons tied inside.

After this we had a session with my old, very out of date kit of blueprint fabrics (1993?).  The top two are with lace laid over and the bottom left has buttons and the bottom right feathers. Had this been a fresh kit the results would have been much, much crisper with more white/blue contrast.  I had previously made one with a freezer paper stencil with cut out letters ironed in position.  Interestingly the letters were printed out as solid black letters in a Word document and the black ink has increased the resistance to the sunlight.
Blueprint fabric squares
Lastly we tried a bit of foiling using 606 spray fusitive.  This is a sister to 505, the basting spray, and is the glue without the paper.  It worked with the usual foils that are around but it also worked with gold leaf - the kind I'm told you can buy in Chinese food shops.  It didn't work with faux gold leaf that I bought in the local craft shop as it is a sheet and tears rather than disintegrates - if you know what I mean.
Various experiments with 606 and foiling
I wish we had had more time to fine tune this, but it definitely has potential both used through a stencil and as a blast/puff for a misty effect.

Well, that's it folks - hope you enjoyed what we got up to and are inspired to try one or two of these techniques.  Blue print packs can still be bought (Dharma have them) but if you are brave the formula is available on line and you can prepare your own fabric (any colour) or clothing, etc.



  1. You two were very productive in your four short days together: so wonderful that you both share a keen interest in experimentation with fibres. This is the kind of thing our text'art group gets up to at our meetings, and we will have to table your ideas for the upcoming season. Exciting techniques and exciting results!

  2. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I can't believe you only had four play days together. Looking forward to seeing how these fabrica re-appear.

  3. What fun you must have had. Definitely a few things I'd like to try. And what lovely results with the collograph.

  4. Oh, and we did some rust dyeing as well! It was interesting to see how some things worked better than others. I soaked the fabric in white vinegar and did not clean any of the pieces of iron of any rust that had formed. I have heard you can get different results this way... I did, though, throw onto the fabric all the rust 'dust' that had formed at the bottom of the bag I store the pieces in. Did it work? Difficult to say.

    I need a control experiment of just using the dust.


  5. These are lovely. What a great four days they must have been. Next year I shall be at the FOQ (if all goes well) - hope there's some more play days planned for then.

  6. Thank you for the inspiration and interesting new techniques...who knew? I did not know about Collagraphy before...and a new vocab word, too! I have been rust dying for a few years and love the effect, although, it can break quite a few needles when quilting as the metal particles become part of the fabric. So organic and easy!

  7. ooo but this looks wonderful!! we sure get up to wonderful things when left to our own devices!!! lovely inspiration from you to us - thank you!

  8. Very inspiring!!! Thanks so much for giving us the scoop and congrats on the wonderful results! We found with the rust dyeing that a good sprinkling of fine iron filings worked amazingly well and was the most consistent. Linda F has some nice results from this combined with shibori stitching patterns done at the cottage retreat We will have to try this collography for sure.

  9. The strange thing is that I had been making blue prints with my granddaughter on her visit in July because I had found this old packet of prepared fabric squares. So I saved some for when Phil was there. At the Festival there was a big double quilt consisting entirely of blue prints of photos of Shackleton's expedition to the South Pole - and now I see classes being offered on making blue prints! There is a revival going on.

    The beauty is that you can add the chemical mixture to any fabric - regardless of colour (or printed pattern) and it will not affect the original colour or print - they will show where the white areas would be if you had started with white fabric. In otherwords anywhere the sun hits the fabric it will turn blue and those areas blocked out/resisted will remain unaffected.