TIF Challenge March 2

It’s April already and March has… gone – I’m not sure where. I don’t really think I’ve risen to Sharon’s challenge to pay attention to the tiny details during March, but as the month dashed on I thought about dots and spots and decided to try a small piece of shibori, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I tied some buttons into hand dyed muslin, bound some points around them and then bound the ‘tail’ at intervals. I soaked it in soda solution for a while…

tied fabric ready for dyeing

… then dyed overnight in Procion MX marine violet…

dyed fabric ready to untie

… and ended up with this …

shibori fabric

It was exciting to see what emerged, and I’m glad I managed not to abandon this month’s challenge altogether. Shibori is definitely something I want to explore and learn how to do properly. It was magical – and fun :-).

assignment 2 is done!

I knew it had been a while since I last blogged but I was a bit surprised to see just how long. I have a good reason, though – I’ve been immersed in finishing my second assignment for OCA Textiles 1, finally put in the post (just) on time on Monday. It takes ages to get everything labelled and organised for sending to my tutor – I must try to do more of that as I go along. These are the two larger printing/painting samples I finished at the weekend. The top one is a repeating pattern that could go off the edges of the fabric – scrunch dyed cotton fabric, block printed with fabric paints, then stencilled with masking tape stencils in two layers, the first layer applied with a natural sponge, and the second layer applied with a sponge roller. When I’d done that, I thought the purple stripes were too strong against the background fabric, which was quite pale in places, so I painted the whole thing with thin turquoise paint and then rinsed it before setting.

The bottom one is a single unit inspired by log cabin patchwork. It’s all block printed, the ‘log cabin’ with funky foam blocks with holes punched into them, and the round shapes with carved erasers. The fabric is silk, and I used fabric paints as I wanted that brushy texture in the colour.

printed fabric

printed fabric

The next section of the OCA course is fabric manipulation and making an actual object like a bag or a waistcoat, which sounds great, but I must also finish the appliqué piece and get on with the final assessment for City & Guilds. I think if I really pull out the stops I might be able to finish it before my registration runs out in mid-December.


The project I’m working on now in my OCA Textiles 1 course is all about printing and fabric painting techniques. I’ve been carving print blocks from erasers and corks, cutting them from compressed sponge, and impressing them into thermoplastic foam. The paint is acrylic mixed with textile medium.

block prints

I’ve also been experimenting with stencils/masks and silk painting. Just playing and learning. I wish I could spend a bit longer on this but I’ve already extended my deadline once! By next weekend I need to have spent 10 hours designing and printing a short length of fabric for an assignment. It’s a little paradoxical – I’m doing the course to motivate myself, and I know if I weren’t doing it I probably wouldn’t have spent any time this weekend working with fabric and paint. Yet I’m getting frustrated because the time pressure is stopping me from really exploring the techniques.

This was Markal paintsticks brushed over the edges of a heart shaped mask.

masked shapes with Markal

For this sample I sponged colour over hole reinforcement stickers stuck to the fabric, left it to dry, then peeled them off – I’m not sure if I like this effect but I do like the resulting coloured stickers!

sponging over stickers

circles and Craft

I had fun in my reinvented room yesterday, printing and painting with acrylics. I set out to make a background for a piece I’m doing for the Embroiderers’ Guild Members’ Forum Summer Challenge – which is to make a small piece without fabric – anything else goes. Along with it we’re swapping ATCs along the same lines – I made mine already – my first(!) – but I can’t post a pic till after the swap next week. I love circles and using these sponge brushes from Art Van Go, so I got a bit carried away!

sponge brushes
printed, painted papers

The first piece is for the Summer Challenge.

sponge print

Then I discovered I could make some interesting swirly effects by twisting the sponge with different amounts of pressure, so I played around with that for a while. I don’t know yet if I can get this kind of effect on fabric.

sponge prints
sponge prints
sponge prints

Craft magazineLast week I was pleased to find a copy of Craft magazine in WH Smith in Kendal – I’ve been interested in this since the first issue came out but it’s quite expensive (£7.99) and I didn’t want to subscribe without seeing it. It’s full of articles about makers (I loved David Mach‘s Myslexic), and off-the-wall projects (some of these might adapt for my youth club craft session, where fast and funky always go down well). There’s a special feature on dressing up, a look at open source patterns and a whole lot about recycling and refashioning. At 176 pages with minimal advertising, it’s like a small book. I love it – I hope it’s come to the UK to stay.

catching up

Some time seems to have gone by since I last posted. We had a weekend away in Cornwall, and visited the Eden Project for the first time. They currently have a very interesting exhibition of recycled products from all over the world – kNOwtrash. I can’t find it on their web site, but it includes textiles, furniture, accessories and jewellery, and is on till 12 September. I came away with some ideas for my craft session at youth club – braiding with newspaper, jewellery with bottle tops, and flowers from plastic bottles. Many of the items were from groups and collectives overseas, plus some by individual artists including Michelle Brand’s beautiful and eyecatching work using plastic bottles and shop tags. I hope the Eden Project will archive some images from the exhibition on their web site – it was very inspiring.

My daughter Esther is borrowing a few of my samples for an exhibition at her church, so I’ve photographed them before sending them off. These were from a batik workshop with Nell Dale and a feltmaking workshop with Jenny Scott.


felt and washboard

The Glass Queen is a lovely old washboard I found on eBay, she’s perfect for fulling felt.

book cover I had an exciting delivery this week – I’d ordered Tray Dyeing by Leslie Morgan and Claire Benn (Committed to Cloth) from the Embroiderers’ Guild bookshop. Wowowowow!!! It’s only a short book but packs in a huge amount of information and although I’ve done some tray dyeing before I was astonished at the amount of control that can be achieved and can’t wait to try.

I’ve been working really hard this week to try and clear a couple of days to do art as I haven’t been doing much at all with being away and having visitors. I was having fun experimenting with colour mixing on paper, but I’ve lost my impetus and I need to get back to it and back into it.

Only a couple of photos in Cornwall – I’m hoping to get a new small camera soon. This jaunty little seabird by the starry water, at Polkerris, near St Austell, and a random lobsterpot decorating the wall of the inn there.