At the end of week 10

July 27, 2009

 From the studio week 10

The view from the studio. When is that tree going to lose all its red leaves? There’s very little change.

I arrived back at Sturt after a very full weekend in Brisbane raring to go. It has been a very mild week with much happening in the garden. There’s also been much happening in the studio.

 I decided to “open” the studio to outside visitors when classes weren’t in progress and to also open the studio so that students can come at any time. The studio has been humming. We’ve had a constant stream of very interested visitors and the studio has had more than one student in each day. In fact it was nearly a party atmosphere on Thursday. It is a very exciting place to be.

Proteas above the fire place

Judy, one of the Tuesday ladies, maintains a beautiful bunch of proteas on the shelf above the fireplace. There has always been a  bunch since I arrived.

I have had a productive week and have also done some serious “playing”. The doubleweave circles continue to grow. It will be great to finish them. I’ve also done a run of 3 scarves, bumping my knee on the loom for most lifts. This warp had been dyed several weeks earlier using a variation of a procion dyebath. After I had dressed the loom, I discovered that it was made for short legged weavers. I just don’t fit into that category! I did manage to get them done in the one day though and was very pleased to see the end of them.

Two rayon chenille scarves

I did the last dyeing over the red fabric that I’d dyed using commercial dyes on the wrapped “Silver Dollar” tree which is really “Argyle Apple”. I completed the final stage in the circle over dyeing with its leaves. I managed to get a reasonably deep tan using an alum/tannin mordant and am reasonably satisfied with the result.

Argyle Apple fabric.

Inspired by the open fireplace, I continue to explore burning the silk/stainless steel bookmarks. This time instead of burning the fold edges, I put the folded bookmark’s edges in a flame proofing mix. I remembered that a treatment could be applied to cloth that would inhibit burning from my textile teaching days, many years ago. It took some digging to locate the formula in an old textile text book. It involves the use of borax and boric acid. I’ll put the recipes in a separate page. I was sceptical whether it would work. The first test where I folded and held the bookmark in the brew, worked but as I hadn’t performed an absolute resist I was not totally convinced. The second one involved the use of a clamp and immersion into the brew. As I put it in the candle, I could see that these areas didn’t burn. I wouldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t burn in a proper fire though!

Burning the bookmark

The two bookmarks

The top bookmark shows portions of unburnt fold lines. This one was held and emmersed into the “brew” and as a result the resist wasn’t totally effective.

The bottom bookmark was clamped and then emmersed resulting in very clearly defined negative space where the flame retardant chemical didn’t access.

At the end of week 9

July 21, 2009

View from the studio at the end of week 9

This week was an extremely busy one. I had 7 students in the Winter School and they really worked hard. I had set up a “round robin” with 12 looms dressed, each exploring a different aspect of woven shibori, both warp and weft. They also had the opportunity to explore shibori on a variety of yarns and in a variety of techniques including differential dyeing, discharge, permanent pleating and devore (though no one got to this). A large number of samples were produced: some quite beautiful but all with potential. One weaver, Belinda, took the opportunity half way through the week to apply the knowledge she’d learnt and complete a project. It turned out to be a very beautiful scarf combining woven shibori and huck lace. It was a great workshop with a great group of people.

Some of the samples produced during the Winter School

There were maany samples produced. These are a selection of some.

Belinda undoing her shibori scarf.

Detail of Belinda's scarf

Belinda set up the loom and wover her scarf in huck lace using alpacca with weft shibori in 2 days. She dyed it with a crammed pot method on the last day. Luckily it was a cold day as the scarf cooled quickly so she could undo it quickly. There was great excitement in the undoing. While the shibori effect isn’t greatly in evidence in the photo, it certainly had an effect on the way the dye sits on the surface. The end result is exciting: interesting fabric with a great handle and interesting colour patterning.

The first daffodil

All week, I watched and waited for the daffodil to open. Each day there was a bit more colour and  finally it was.

The path to the back door of the studio

The gardens are beautiful. This is the path to the back door of the studio.

I did manage to get the 3 scarves dyed that I’d woven the previous week, thanks to surplus dyes and discharge paste.

At the end of week 8

July 12, 2009

View from the studio, week 8

How scary is this? Week 8 and that means that I am at the half way point. There’s so much that I want to get done and I know that I am going to run out of time.

This week started off with a visit from Trudy Newman. That’s her in the photo. Her sweater matches the lavender. She stayed overnight on Sunday and so was here to be in the photo on Monday morning; the day when I have set for taking the photo.

I don’t have a huge amount to show in the weaving line this week. I have managed to weave 3 scarves but I haven’t got around to pulling up the resist threads. I have finally completed the dyeing of the next Meeting Place piece. I have put on multiple layers of dyes including eucalyptus, discharge and about 3 layers of procion. I wanted to embed the image more into the cloth this time and have flattened the contrast with the multiple layers of dyes. It isn’t the colour that I originally intended, but I think that I have taken it as far as I want. I’ll complete it fully before I post the full image . It is much darker than what the image shows.

Close up of the next work in the Meeting Place series.

 This week has seen the preparation and warping of looms ready for the Winter School; and yes, more loom maintenance. I discovered one loom frame tied up with string, so that resulted in the start of that loom’s major overhaul.

Great excitement this week: I received copies of Queenslanders All Over by Joan Burton-Jones and I am very honoured to have images in it…..right after a forward by our Prime Minister and before the table of contents. WOW!  It’s a very beautiful feels good, it looks great and it’s got a whole lot of interesting people in it (and I’d say that even if I wasn’t in it!) Joan has kindly supplied me with an overview of her book that was written to celebrate Queensland’s 150 birthday.

The outcome of over four year’s research by Joan Burton-Jones, Queenslanders all Over was awarded a community funding grant by the Queensland Government Q150 Committee and the book was officially launched in Parliament House by State Premier Anna Bligh in Brisbane on 24 July.

This book contains almost 130 original stories gathered from across the State. Stories of enterprise, mateship, community, larrikin humor and courage abound, from the frontier spirit of early pioneers and unsung heroes to household names in Business, Sport, Tourism, the Arts and Sciences. 

The storytellers speak about their working lives, how they came to live here, their families and communities, their hopes and dreams, and about the different areas in which they live.

The concept for this book was rooted in the firm belief that the fabric of society is dependent on the strength, unique qualities and interdependence of all its threads.  The stories in the book represent a cross section of human threads that make up the social and cultural fabric of Queensland.

It can be obtained through leading (Queensland) book stores or online through Bond University Bookshop   Ph: (07) 5595-4050 

 Cover of "Queenslanders All Over"

Today, Sunday is a very auspicious day. I am on my own: no sharing of refrigerator and no top shelves in the cupboard! Sina has finished her residency and they are on their way to New Zealand for a holiday before they continue their explorations of Australia. I wish them well. They’ve been fun to share with and it has been an interesting experience going back to college day’s sharing.

Tonight was also the start of the Winter School with students and tutors starting to arrive. Dinner was a very low key affair. No doubt tomorrow will be full on.

At the end of week 7

July 5, 2009

From the studio on week 7.

I have had a wonderful week that included a visit from my daughter Helen. She arrived on Monday afternoon and left early on Thursday. We played tourist on Monday afternoon and Wednesday. It was great having her here. She’s in this week’s photo from outside the studio.

Helen and Sina at Fitzroy Falls

We played tourist for one day. The sun was shining but it was cold! Sina came along with us for a girl’s day of exploring. We drove through spectacular scenery to the coast and then home again though more spectacular scenery.

I was the only one brave enough to put a toe in the water.

In addition I have got some work done. I have continued exploring dye recipes. In particular I am keen to investigate how natural dyes and synthetic can be used together. The piece of “ginger” finally got overdyed. The rest is quite pleasing. As previously stated, it had been dyed using wood shavings and one of the silver dollars with not very inspired results. I overdyed it using a variation of the procion dyes. The process involved soaking it in a soda solution overnight, painting on dissolved dye and allowing it to dry without wrapping in plastic. There was very little dye lost. The soda did form a white crust while it dried though which tended to become powder when the ties were being removed. While the result is good, I didn’t really appreciate the undoing from a health perspective. Potentially the same result could have been achieved with a different recipe.

The "ginger" untied.

In continuation of the work that I’ve been doing with natural dyes, I decided that for the next dye project, I would use a different angle. This time I used the silver dollar tree that is behind the cottage. Instead of harvesting the leaves though, I wrapped the tree, carefully pushing the fabric into the bark and binding it in place. Then I mixed up some procion and poured/painted it onto the tree. The result is “interesting” with patches of white and some quite interesting colour markings. I think the train of thought behind the piece is much more interesting than the result though. Next I am intending on overdyeing using the actual leaves in a dyebath. That will take it full circle.

Wrapping the tree

Pouring dye on

The fabric at the end of stage 2.

I am now well over halfway on the first piece of doubleweave circles and have begun weaving a set of 3 scarves that will be used to experiment with different dye/discharge recipes. It’s great to have the opportunity to play and evaluate the different processes. Having a day off from the intensity of the circles seemed like a good idea.