Sunday 22 December 2013

The magic of ecodyeing

Inspired by the successful completion of 'Jacqueline's Wrap', I decided to try another version - this time with a fine tissue silk extended hem (Jacquelines' suggestion). I firstly made the prefelt, limiting myself to making a piece just the length of the table. From this yardage I cut four sections - three to join together as the body, and the fourth to cut the sleeves from. When I cut the sleeve holes, I didn't want to waste the pre-felt, so used the four semicircular pieces to make a collar. Before attaching the tissue silk, raw edges were hemmed and the join between the two pieces french seamed - ooh la la! (I'm quite happy with raw edges myself, but I have learned over the years that my customers aren't so comfortable with them!) All of the pattern pieces and the tissue silk were handstitched together ready for felting, and the sleeves were filled with plastic to make sure they didn't felt together. Felting went well, and it was off to the dyepot......aaahhhh, slight problem there. Having decided to liberate a lovely chunk of rusted metal from the front yard to wrap the piece around, I found it would not fit any of my pots!! Yes, I did think to check this first, but made a slight error of judgement...
Matt to the rescue with the Big Boiler!!! Here we are setting it up together, bag of onion skins in my hand. The boiler has now taken up permanent residence in our garden. A lovely feature piece...? Well, it's interesting......
It was a successful pot, with some just beautiful blues and greens emerging. Due to my errrr...... interesting 'no-wastage' method of construction (equates with 'I just made it all up') the sleeves were rather widely set, so it was back into the pot, well, just a steamer this time, with some large marbles bound in it.

This not only solved the problem but looks fab, contributing to the lovely frill effect around the neck (fantastic use of those four semicircles!!)
I actually had my sister in mind when I made this, and when she visited today I got her to try it on, and it looked fabulous. She seemed quite taken with it too, so it looks like those two will end up together! So this has now been the story of 'Kiri's Wrap'!
Melted fabric

Life in StudioSvenja has been very busy in the last few weeks, from working on several entries for the World of WearableArt, to communication and preparing paperwork for a proposed series of workshops mid 2014.  Eleven days straight is the current proposal - yikes! What kind of training can I do to prepare for that?!!

I have also been motivated (by a dressing room filled with bags stuffed with scraps of lace, satin and tulle!!) to create a fabulous piece in a effort to shift it, as I simply can't throw it out! There's nothing like a heat gun for a bit of transformation, and I am liking this effect!! The lovely thing too is, that I can make an absolutely excessive, over-the-top piece and it will be a good thing, as it will be using up this fabric!! One of the creative joys of using scrap pieces is you are happy to try almost anything with it!
Due to the time of year there has been quite a bit of socialising of late, with one of my favourites being lunch at the Regatta with my two crazy Matrons of Honour,  Lyn and Sharyn!!
Yes, that too is on the list of projects - I'll fit it in somewhere!! Sometime.....
Wishing you all a lovely festive season - may you be one with your couch with a fine glass of something!

Saturday 7 December 2013

Ice Dyeing

Today was the final ATASDA (Australian Textile and Surface Design Association) meeting for the year, and it was also an opportunity to see the results other participants in the recent ice-dyeing workshop achieved. Sue got some lovely lines from the cake rack the silk was resting on:
Carissa used cotton, and got these lovely vibrant stripes:

 I'm not sure whose piece this was, but it was a beautifully delicate amalgamation of colours, reminiscent of gem formations in rock.
 And these lovely pieces by Jolanta done on a fine wool fabric have similar attributes. I just love the random nature of this technique.

 Dharma Trading Co has a tutorial on this technique on their website Interestingly, they put the ice on first then sprinkle on the powdered dyes, whereas we sprinkled dye first and then packed on the ice. Other variations to try are crushed ice - more like the original snow that this technique came from. Another technique I have just read about involves mixing the dye with the snow first. Others use liquid dyes squirted onto snow-packed fabric....

There were also other items on display from an eco-dyeing workshop - Lyn Baxter's beautifully embellished fabric has become her journal cover - just delicious!
It was, as usual, very nice to catch up with my textile friends, to enjoy show and tell with them, and to pick their brains on techniques! Thanks to the lovely Lili for sharing her notes with me on a technique I am wanting to explore. Wishing you all a peaceful festive season full of colour and texture!

Thursday 5 December 2013

Wild Things and Eco Dyeing


Last week, I packed up a picnic, picked up my mother and her friend from TAFE, and headed off to Mt Coot-tha Gardens to visit Sharyn Hall and Wendy Bailye's exhibition Wild Things. What a fantastic display! Beautifully colour themed, it was a sight to behold, and I didn't escape without a new book, Felt Passion, as well as some primo olive oil soap to try for felting. So much inspiration!!! It was also a chance to visit my fathers memorial seat, on my parents' 48th wedding anniversary. A bittersweet occasion. I love this photo of these two friends supporting each other, in many ways, as they have since they met at college 11 years ago, when Dad was still here......
I've spent some great time in the studio this week. After gathering some more plant material from Jacqueline's garden for a special dye project, I laid out 2 silk satin scarves with agapanthus flowers, geranium leaves and flowers, croton leaves, lily-pilly leaves and seed-pods, garlic flower, conifer, eucalyptus leaves, gaura flowers, rosemary, and some melaleuca leaves and pods. I also threw in some onion leaves in the wrap-up, as well as in the water. One scarf was wrapped in a copper pipe, and the other in a steel plate. I really tried hard this time to take note of what did what, taking photos of the layout, and paying attention as I unwrapped! Pam de Groot, you would be proud! A lot of material acted mainly as a resist, but this still adds a great dimension. I was really pleased that I actually got the image and the colour from the agapanthus flowers! Can't show you the results till next week, as it is a gift, and I don't want to ruin the surprise.
My next experiment in the studio was in wild felting - using fleece rather than combed top as I normally do. Inspire by a workshop by Vilte that I sadly did NOT attend, I wanted to create an almost sheepskin rug look. I was lucky to have a great variety of fleece to experiment with, but after a bit of a shamoz first attempt, I found that these latte coloured English Leicester locks worked a treat - and turned out a lovely creamy white!! I used resists in the second attempt to try and retain the hairy look, and am thrilled with the result. I have visions of using this with the truckloads of bridal off-cuts I now possess to create a very interesting WoW entry....!!! The other entry in leather work progresses well - I have actually done most of the main pieces, and am now dealing with the details.
The new addition Pegasus overlocker got a tickle and seal of approval from Barry from Sewmac this week - SO pleased! So really, StudioSvenja is complete! I am loving the time I have been spending wandering between the two studios. The freedom to play, everything there on hand - have I reached Nirvana?!!! As Barry said - you have arrived!!
Last night I took the boys to the graduate fashion exhibition at MSIT. I was most pleased to see that one of my favourite designs, using shibori, was awarded one of the Australia Japan Foundation Awards. 
I can't wait until it's my turn to see my work walk down the runway!!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

White Gum Wool

Welcome to StudioSvenja, Pegasus overlocker!! It's made it just that little bit more full, but I am so happy to have it!
Progress continues within both studios (and really, the house in general!) on the latest WoW piece. Leather moulding in one, and leather sewing in the other. RSI in one hand already. Oh dear!
My main reason for posting tonight though is to share with you a couple of interesting sites. You may remember I have previously sent down some felted garments to Tasmania for display purposes.
These were for Nan Bray, who runs White Gum Wool in Oatlands Tasmania. I first stumbled across White Gum Wool when trying to source superfine merino roving for a workshop, referred by Mandie Chandler at Ewe Give Me The Knits, if I recall.
"The story behind White Gum Wool is one of mamas and babies, of diversity and abundance, and of ethics—for the land, the animals and the people involved in making this yarn.
And the story includes you, because you, or your grandmother or friend will create something beautiful and lasting from this magical fibre.
White Gum Wool sheep are raised on a single farm, in the high midlands of Tasmania.  They graze in mostly native pastures where they can find the plants they need to keep healthy.
Mamas teach their babies how to forage in this landscape, hanging out in family groups of grandmas, mamas and lambkins.  Sheep are highly social animals, and keeping families together means the sheep are just plain happier.
The abundant, diverse landscapes are healthy, too—they are real ecosystems doing what ecosystems do best—turning sunlight and water into energy through a squillion different animal and plant pathways.  No fertilisers, pesticides or fungicides are used in growing White Gum Wool."
World Of Wearable Art | Luxe Travel Report | World of Wearable Art AwardsWhite Gum Wool was recently featured on ABC's Landline programme, and it was a really interesting story, and a lovely opportunity to get to know Nan! Take a look and learn about her radical approach to wool farming.
The other site I wanted to direct you to is Wendy Moyer's blog. A fellow WoW designer, her blog is a beautifully written and visually delicious exploration of her adventures in textile and costume design. I met Wendy at WoW the year her design Iggy, aka Abracalypse Now, left, was an engaging and successful entry in the awards show. As someone going through the same process, I greatly enjoy her descriptions of her journey. From what I've seen so far, I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing her and her latest design at the next WoW show. Well, I hope I'll be there!
What the hell is going on with my fonts, I hear you ask? I don't know. I did art. This is the best I can do with technology. It hurts my brain to look at these things that I can't fix, so I just concentrate on the fabulous things I can do. NMP - Not My Problem!! 

Sunday 24 November 2013

Ice dyeing experimentation

I'm a bit sad that college finished this week.On Friday I gave my presentation to the Textile class, which comprised a powerpoint presentation on textile technologies. I chose to investigate phosphorescent fibre, based on my discovery of this fabulous piece called (No)Where (Now)Here by artist Ying Gao. This work incorporates several technologies - photoluminescent fibre, eye tracking technology and tiny motors. Click on the link to see it in action.



Saturday morning I attended a workshop organised by ATASDA, where the delightful Lyn Baxter introduced us to the simple but fascinating technique of ice dyeing. It was a lovely relaxed morning, and I am very pleased with the results of my experiments. They are not as lovely as Lyns' samples - I think they might need a little more ice to get the same effect she did. However, I think the spots of dye powder are another interesting effect. 

Mishka didn't really have much of an opinion to offer on the matter....

The weekend was rounded off with the last visit to Gallery 159 for 2013, to see the Baltic Mini-Textiles Exhibition, supplemented by selected works from ATASDA members. The delightful vision of Janet in her summer finery on the stairs was the first thing we saw!

"A total of 70 works in miniature, from the collection of the Museum of Gdynia, Poland have been brought to Australia by TAFTA at the instigation of Jolanta Szymczyk.  The exhibition continues to 15th December, 2013.  Textiles from the Collection of Dana McCown will be sold in conjunction (ideal for Christmas presents).  The International Baltic Mini-Textiles collection which has been touring Australia for nearly two years through TAFTA, will have their final showing atWARWICK ART GALLERY, Warwick Qld from February 6 – March 16, 2014. This is the last opportunity to view these remarkable works provided to Australia by the Museum of Gdynia Poland. The exhibition tour has seen the works shown in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia as well as several venues in Queensland. Jolanta Szymczyk, instigator of the touring concept will be joined by Janet De Boer O.A.M. at the opening in Warwick; for details see".

With the regular barman Peter away, Matt and Liam stepped in to fulfill barman duties for us all - much appreciated, boys!       This left Janet free to make sales - yahooo!!
The exhibition was lovely, and although I had seen it before, like Janet, I saw new things this time. Two of my favourite works were these two delicate pieces...
 I also loved this sea creature inspired piece.

At the end of the week, I managed to catch up with Jacqueline and give her the eco-dyed nuno-felt wrap that I had made for her - see my Facebook post for the story and pics. She looked absolutely gawdjuss in it, and if she weren't internet shy I could show you!
I also picked up a new addition to the stable this week - a Pegasus Industrial Overlocker!! Just have to make some room for it now......
 Work also progresses on the WoW entry for 2014 - in leather once again. After the main entry, I hope to make another trio of garments for another entry as well. After all, for the first time in many years, I have school holidays in which to work on this!! Yaaay!!!

Sunday 10 November 2013


After TAFE on Friday, I swung past bridal designer Wendy Makin's work room to pick up some fabric scrap bags that were getting under their feet. Well, as I said to one of the girls, "It's like looking at footpath fruit - I don't need it, but I feel like it deserves a good home!!" Eight bags later, and I could barely close the kombi door! 
By 11:30 that night, Callum and I were 6 bags in and exhausted. 
Saturday morning I kept on sorting, and re-sorting the treasures. There's so much tulle, I'm trying to think of what kind of a WoW entry I can make with tulle?!! Speaking of WoW, congrats to them for receiving valuable government endorsement and funding to take the concept global!!

This was breakfast this morning - a fritatta made with the leftovers from last nights' delicious pizzas,  cooked in the still hot brick oven! Dericious!!

I finished my design assignment this morning, (motivated by my desire to clear the felting table so I could make a sample piece). Initially inspired by the paintings of Georgia O'Keefe, we were instructed to find other images that tied in and inspired us further - I was led to voluptuous storm clouds and the amazing sculptural work of designer Yiquing Yin, hence the title Cloudlines. As previously noted, I am not satisfied with my illustrative skills yet, but I am happy with the project overall, and with what I have learned. I enjoy practicing sketching, and this year's round of WoW designs should be the best looking ever!

Today I made prefelt yardage and stitched it into a garment which I will felt tomorrow, and eco-dye with plant materials from my mothers garden, as well as some lovely rusted horse shoes from her Uncle Larry's farm in New Zealand! It is a simple garment design based on a wrap my mother has, and she suggested it as a good way to utilise my dyed silk and felt work. I thought it would be nice if my sample piece could be a gift for her, and even more so if it were dyed by her own beloved garden. I also wanted to have an eco-dye bundle to unwrap for my TAFE class on Friday when the come to visit StudioSvenja! Hope it works out!!

Saturday 2 November 2013

Fashion Sketching

It's a love/hate thing. It's hard when you want to be so good, and yet you're not. On the upside, it would appear that simply practicing does assist in improvement, although this is a challenging journey in itself. Every time you draw a really rubbish arm or a completely gumby face, it knocks you back, but when you draw a lovely leg, it's two steps forwards!!
Trying to loosen it up on the drawing board.
I'm trying to complete my design assignment, and although my current version is acceptable, I just want to do something really fantastic and lively! It's hard to loosen up, but I just want that vital sense of life in my work rather than the static template look.

Matt Cat!
The fabulous wooden box I picked up at the markets which I now use as my TAFE toolbox was suffering a few stress injuries, and needed some reinforcements, so dear Matt screwed it back together as well as dressing it up with some lovely corner pieces! Lovely work!!
 I hope to progress a little further tomorrow, as well as working on my WoW design for 2014, which has started to come together this week! I'd like to enter the WETA Workshop Costume & Film section, as I'd love to win the prize of 4 weeks in the workshop - squeeee! Wouldn't mind doing an Avante Garde piece as well....... and maybe South Pacific again..... Back on the treadmill, indeedy!!