Saturday, 18 October 2014

FOG Tuesday – Creating with Crayola™

Ive said this before when discussing our FOG Tuesday activities, but it bears repeating, Who knew that a group of women could have so much fun for an entire day...with a shiny new pack of Crayola crayons, some fabric, paper, heat guns, rubbing plates and more? Well we were those women last Tuesday at FOG.

It started with a short show and tell of some things that Jan and I had tried before the session and ended the day with a myriad of brightly coloured and very creative pieces, some requiring some additional embellishments, and some nothing more.

Methods seemed to group into direct application of crayon to surfaces, or the application of the crayon to a surface that was then transferred to another surface.

Sandpaper Transfer
A technique that has been around for some time, though new to me, was to draw images onto sandpaper with the crayons and then heat transfer to another surface, in this case fabric. Donna did a great piece and I think that the sandpaper image is a keeper as well. It was interesting to note that in some of the samples we tried before the session we found that the wax residue in fabric crayons tended to melt into the surrounding fabric causing a ghosting image, while the Crayola crayons did not.

Wax Paper and Melted Crayons

Diane and I attempted another tried-and-true application and that was to grate/break crayons onto folded wax paper and melt with an iron. These created stained glass type pieces that I think will work well as the front to cards or perhaps journal pages.



Coloured Fusible Web 
and Crayon Rubbing
Jan came up with an idea to colour the sticky side of fusible webbing with the crayons. She then put that piece over a rubbing plate, rubbed an image onto the fabric and then fused it to a piece of fabric. Her rubbing plates were from Scholar's Choice though similar ones can be purchased from Cedar Canyon Textiles

Shalinder did a piece based on this method and used punchinella to create some additional surface texture to her piece. The fabric she used had raised metallic motifs which added a lot to the overall effect.

This technique left the fabric with a nice hand which will make it great to use as a base for additional hand work, beading, embroidery etc.
Metallic Motif, Crayon Rubbing, Punchinella Design

Melted Wax and Mono-prints


Karen used her heat gun to melt crayons directly to some canvas and then pulled crayon mono-prints from the melted wax. 

I think that there will be more exploration of this technique by all of us.

Melting wax in a protective box.
Debbie utilized a box to melt broken crayons to a canvas and then stamped into the wax with a large red rubber stamp. Just a side note - if you are grating or breaking crayons to melt use a box to contain the bits as they are easily blown all over the place with your heat tool. (You can ask my sister if you dont believe me.)

If you are interested in a fun craft to do with your kids (or adults) Crayola now has a new set of crayons called Crayola Meltdown Art Set. Adult supervision required.


Sandpaper transfer and
Tsukineko Fabric Inks
Chris did a lovely fall themed piece using several painterly techniques, though the base piece started with a sandpaper transfer that you can just see below the surface.


We didnt reinvent the wheel, but we had a great time colouring it!



Until next time...Meredith and Jan

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

FOG Tuesday Collage Exercise

As usual our day started with our collage exercise using supplies on hand and creating a small collage in 30 minutes.

This month the Design Principle was Rhythm and Movement.

Warm Up Collages
Design Principle - Rhythm and Movement
Use of this principle allows the viewers eye to move around your piece.
For example, the colours of a piece can convey rhythm by making your eyes travel from one coloured component to another.
Lines can produce rhythm by implying movement. For example lines may be wavy, rippled or straight.
When elements are repeated, or arranged in a pattern, rhythm and movement is created in the art piece. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

FOG Tuesday – Silk and Wool Paper

FOG started the new season with a foray into paper made from a variety of fibres including silk and wool roving, silk cocoons, fire star and silk hankies. In addition we added moss, Angelina™ fibres, thread waste and anything else we could think of.

While there are many methods out there to make silk paper, we chose a simplified version which required hot boiled water, a container, netting or J Cloth™, a watered down medium and a bit of elbow grease. We used a variety of mediums including acrylic gel, semi gloss and matte, Jo Sonjas™ textile medium and good old fashioned Stiffy™.

The process begins.
While your kettle is boiling, lay down a piece of netting or J Cloth™ in your container and start laying on a layer of silk or wool fibres, carefully pulling from your roving a thin, wispy pieces. Once you have one layer, add some inclusions (if desired) and lay on another layer in a different direction. (This is very similar to the steps you would take if you are wet felting).


Once you have made your layer, place the other piece of netting or J Cloth™ on top and carefully add your boiling water with a spoon or sprayer.
(Pouring directly from the kettle may move your layers around, so use a light hand.)

This cat litter tray was perfect for the project.
Once it is saturated, press down with your hands or a brayer to ensure that all the fibres are sticking together. Roll the layer up and squeeze to remove as much of the water as you can.

Dip your roll into a 5 parts water/1 part medium, squishing it several times until saturated and then squeeze out as much as possible. Remove the top layer of netting or J Cloth™ to reveal your sheet of paper.


At this point, you can fold over the edges to create straight or firmer edges. Cover with netting (J Cloth™) again, roll up and re-dip into the medium mixture. Remove the layers of netting (J cloth™).

We are very lucky in Calgary to have Legacy Studios quite near to us to purchase many of the fibre related supplies that we used in these projects.

Lay to dry and then use as you please. These pieces can be run through a printer, hand or machine embellished with stitching or beading, cut into pieces for use in other projects or used as pages of a journal.

Several of Jan's pieces.
Left: Merino Silk, commercial stencils, spray inks.
Centre: Very thin piece of merino/silk blend paper, coloured with coffee,
mounted on freezer paper and run through an HP printer.
Right: Hand dyed silk tops.


Left: Silk paper with moss inclusion. Donna
Centre: Silk hankies with silk fibre inclusion. Meredith
Right: Silk cocoons. Chris

FOG Tuesday Collage Exercise

This month’s collage exercise was based on the Design Principle – Unity and Variety.

It’s interesting the further we delve into Elements and Principles of Design that they all start to meld together. How cool is that?

Warm Up Collages
Design Principle - Unity and Variety
Unity creates harmony by using similar elements within the composition and placing them in a way that brings them together. For example, using all circles (unity), but varying the size (variety). Other examples to suggest unity would be the use of repeated colours, textures or patterns.

Variety adds interest by using additional elements within the composition. For example, varying the colour of the circles (variety) but keeping all the circles the same size (unity). Too much variety of elements may result in a busy composition.

The key to a great composition is to find just the right balance in your work using both unity and variety to their best advantage. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Serendipitous Opportunities For Creativity

Recently on our evening news there was a short story about a local charitable organization called Art à la Carte which has been operating in Calgary for 20 years. Their mandate is to “bring art, conversation, and joy to long-term patients by transforming sterile hospital rooms and treatment areas into places of greater comfort and hope.” (From the Art à la Carte website.)

A very few short days later we were contacted by one of their coordinators asking if the Fibre Optics Group would be interested in providing some backless hospital gowns to be used as table décor for their annual fundraising event in September. It was a serendipitous moment that had to be acted upon.

I suppose that I must have made clothes for my dolls growing up but it was my mom who provided my sisters and me with wonderful hand knit sweaters and hand sewn clothes for our dolls. Later in her life she rescued, cleaned, repaired and clothed dolls each year to donate to the Kelowna Firemen’s charity to be given to children at Christmas.

Hospital Couture


Making the hospital gowns for the Gowns without Bounds event in September was a neat way to remember that significant detail about my mom and her life.


Jan and I tied the last bow today and they are ready for delivery.


Visit Art à la Carte’s website to learn more about their programs, how you can donate or volunteer.

Monday, 21 July 2014

“Must have” gadgets for the fibre artist in your life

Just before Christmas I did a blog posting about two neat tools for mixed media projects and promised that I would do a subsequent post on my favourite tools for fibre related projects. While I don’t fancy myself as a gadget kind of gal I do have a few “must have” gadgets on my Chatelaine that are very useful for quilting, surface design and fibre related projects.

What is a Chatelaine you ask? Historically it was a grouping of small items that a housekeeper or lady of the house (a chatelaine) would have attached at her waist or neck with keys, scissors, hanky or other items useful to her every day needs.  Over the years these have morphed into use as a sewing tool complete with scissors, needle cases etc. Some were made of silver and very elaborate, some quite plain as mine strung on a piece of soutache cord, but never the less just as useful. Google Sewing Chatelaine images and you’ll see quite a variety of them. On a similar note, a Housewife or Hussif were small sewing kits often carried by soldiers in the field to mend their uniforms or sew on loose buttons.

Sliver Gripper Tweezer™ 
The first “must have” comes from my favourite Canadian store Lee Valley ToolsThe tool is the Sliver Gripper Tweezer™ that comes with its own handy clip so that it can be attached to your Chatelaine.

They are invaluable to those who paper piece to get rid of those tiny pieces of paper that just won’t give way; for taking out teeny tiny machine quilting stitches; and if you were my dad, removing slivers. These are modestly priced, well made, and from the US.

Gingher Snips™
My second “must have” are my Gingher Snips™, well worth what I paid for them many years ago ($8), but are still worth the price at $12 - $27 depending on where you live or if you have a coupon.  Just 4” long, sharp and light weight; they have a loop on the top so that they can be strung onto your Chatelaine. I also like that they have no thumb hole and are easy to pull out and return to their topper with one hand.

LoRan Needle Theader™
Lastly is the LoRan Needle Theader™ by Dritz. This threader is much more robust than those with the tiny piece of wire that always pulls out with one good tug. It is not useful for small eyed needles, but great for threading embroidery floss/perle cottons onto a larger eyed needle for hand stitching. Once again, this handy tool can be strung onto your Chatelaine for easy access. These are reasonably priced at about $2.

There is no affiliation to any of these companies – I’m just pleased to share with you the tools of the trade that I find very useful.

What’s your favourite sewing tool of all time for quilting, hand stitching, surface design or fibre arts and why?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Lost Art of Ribbon Work

Project and close up shots of leaves, bud and flower.
Jan and I just completed the spring session with the Calgary Public Library and presented “The Lost Art of Ribbon Work”. Each participant received a kit, complete with wired ribbon, linen backing and a frame and learned to stitch a simple boat leaf and Jewel Weed flower and put it all together in the frame.

Ribbon flowers have been around for a long time and along with other artistic pursuits, was a skill learned by young women.  In France, one centre of fashion, women could earn a living making these flowers, leaves, rosettes and other ribbon trims sold to design houses and women to embellish hats, gloves, lingerie and headbands.

The 1920’s saw quite a resurgence of the use of these types of decorations.

Republished by Dover Publications in 1986.
Along with this came an interest in The Language of Flowers, where each flower or colour of flower had a particular meaning related to love, death, sorrow or happiness.

We showcased a sample board of other flowers and leaves, which surprisingly are very easy to make, many only requiring a few inches of ribbon and a few stitches to shape and hold them together. The Calgary Public Library has many books in their collection and videos and on line tutorials for making ribbon flowers abound on the internet.

Sample board of ribbon leaves and flowers.
We will be teaching again with the Calgary Public Library this fall, presenting two new projects at 13 libraries throughout the city. 

Registration for these sessions will begin towards the end of August so watch for the new program guide. We hope to see you there.                                                   Jan and Meredith