Monday, 23 May 2016

FOG Tuesday - We All Felt It!

We have worked with commercial felt in past sessions, but in our session in May we focused entirely on commercial felt squares and the multitude of ways it could be manipulated, embellished, stitched and most importantly, how it distressed/melted with our heat guns.

Felt comes in a variety of colours and also as printed or embossed felt. The printed felt is quite fun to use and adds an element of extra colour to the piece. We did not try embossed felt, but it is available at Michael’s here in Canada. If you are a little more on the diva side, felt also comes flocked and glittered.

Printed felt, left. Hand cut petals of printed felt,
heat distressed and assembled with a brad.
Add a pin backing and you have a great brooch to wear.
Printed felt, stitched and heat distressed.
One of the ways we altered the look of the felt before stitching and melting was with the use of commercial and handcrafted stencils and stamps.
Jan, commercial stencil, left. Printed with metallic
paint, right.
Gillian, several techniques on all pieces.
Variations on a theme, Commercial flower stencil.
Couched yarns.

Top, felt with added painted fusible web pieces, left, 
and heat distressed, right.
Bottom, hand crafted stamp, glue gun glue on a
piece of foam core, left, printed felt, middle and heat
distressed, right.

Glue gun glue on foam core, left, stamp cut from a
shoe insole, top right. Bottom right, stamp made
from commercial, sticky backed foam stickers.
If you want to maintain some structure with your piece before melting, you can stitch on the felt beforehand. This ensures that your piece will not fall apart. We tried both cotton and polyester threads and both seemed to work.

Diane, Stitched and distressed.
Nan, Stitched and distressed.
If you own, or have access to a Sizzix™ or similar die cutting machine you can cut shapes with your Sizzix™ and then heat distress them with your heat gun. Both craft embossing and industrial heat guns work well, you just need to test beforehand how much heat you need to use to melt your felt.

Leaves cut with a Sizzix die and then heat distressed.
Many synthetic fabrics will distress/melt with a heat gun. While we mostly focused on the poly felt, by Kunin™ and Creatology™.  Both are widely available at Michael’s and most of the dollar stores. Karen did try some polar fleece and it seemed to work very well.
Karen, adding elements to a denim piece, left.
Heat distressed polar fleece, right.
Another way to embellish your piece is to print an image onto fusible web and then iron it onto your felt. Then you can be as creative as you want with stitching and heat distressing.
Chris, Image on fusible web transferred by ironing to the felt, left.
Stitched and heat distressed, right.
While we were using the 9” by 12” inch squares of felt, I guess they really should be called rectangles J, felt is also availed in larger precut pieces and by the yard/metre off the bolt at your local fabric store. Just think of the possibilities with a very large piece of felt.

ECO Alesrt! You should also feel good about using felt as a crafting item as it is mostly made from 100% post- consumer recycled and BPA-free plastic bottles and produces a high-quality fibre at a very modest price.

Until next time, have Fun with Felt. Meredith and Jan

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

FOG Tuesday – We’ve Found Our Marbles

At the April session of FOG we found out just how easy it is to marble on fabric and paper, both having the same prep for a wonderful result.

We tried two different methods of marbling, one using a thickened medium in our trays and the other using foam shaving cream. It needs to be the foamy kind, not gel, to work. NOTE: It is helpful to know some basic colour theory to understand how your colours will mix.

Prep for the first technique. Thickened Carrageenan or MarbleThix

Using carrageenan (available at art or health food stores) or MarbleThix™ by Delta, mix the quantity of dried product to warm water, MarbleThix™ used one TSP of powder to one quart of water. This is best done at least 6 – 12 hours before using. MarbleThix™ is the one that I used. Some did this in a blender; I just did mine by hand in a container. Unfortunately, MarbleThix may no longer be available. We purchased ours from a local dollar store

The second step for prep is to mix up an alum mixture to soak your fabrics and papers. Alum helps the colour to adhere to your product and improve on print quality. Fabric should be soaked in 2 TB of Alum dissolved in 1 quart of water. Paper should use more Alum - 4 TB in 1 quart of water.  Both items need to be dipped in the solution and then dried before marbling. Alum may be purchased in a health food store or in the spice department at your local grocery store.

Both alum and carrageenan are used in the production of food products so are very safe for use, even for children.

Lastly, you need to choose the type of inks, dyes or paints that you will use to float on the thickened mixture in your trays. We found what best worked for us by trial and error. We tried alcohol inks, different qualities and brands of acrylic paints, Liquitex Acrylic Ink and Dye-na-Flow™ by Jacquard.

I tried alcohol inks that sank to the bottom right away. I did not try acrylic paint and found that my best results were with Dye-na-Flow™. It is used on both natural or synthetic fabrics and papers.

Now comes the fun part.

Pour your thickened mixture into a tray. The mixture should be clear in colour. Start by dropping your colour onto the surface – making blobs of colour and then dropping additional colours into that blob, giving some interesting results.
Jan's pieces
The middle one was Liquitex acrylic ink.Right and Left are Dynaflow.
Next, drag a skewer or other tools through the blobs and your pattern starts to appear. Once you are satisfied with the results, place your dry, alum soaked fabric or paper onto the surface of the newly coloured mixture. With fabric, it helps to hold the two sides and drop in the centre of the fabric first, then the sides. Lightly pat the surface of your fabric or paper trying to get all the colour on the surface to adhere.
Jan's - on paper.
Once that is done, carefully pick up your piece from the surface and put aside to dry. If there is any colour left on the surface, run a piece of paper over it, leaving it clean to do your next design.

Meredith - the three stages of marbling.
 Tp Left -Drop colour onto the surface.
Top Right - Drag through the paint.
Bottom - Finished print, this on is on Dupioni Silk
Meredith - the three stages of marbling.
 Tp Left -Drop colour onto the surface.
Top Right - Drag through the paint.
Bottom - Finished print, this on is on Dupioni Silk
Meredith - finished fabric.Top left is the Dupioni Silk, the other three are cotton.

Prep for the second technique. Shaving Foam

Spray the foam shaving cream onto your surface or tray and drag a straight edge across the surface to create a smooth even surface. (If anyone has found an unscented shaving foam, please share the brand name with us.)

Next drop your colour onto the surface of the foam and drag a skewer or other tool through your drops of colour to create your pattern. Once you are satisfied, place your fabric or paper onto the surface, tap it down and then pull your print. Lay the print on a solid surface and using a straight edge, drag the remaining shaving foam from your print.

Inexpensive acrylic paint, food colouring and inks are three good products to use on the foam. The foam can be reused several times, however, if colour is left on the foam it may affect subsequent colours that are layered on top.

Diane - Foam print on paper.
I need to get the finished result and post.
Karen - finished pieces, right, all on glossy photo paper.
Bottom left, a dragging tool that Karen made.
Top left - shaving cream tray.

Have fun with this, it is quite addictive. I’m certainly ready to make additional pieces and have purchased a larger foil tray to that I can do some larger pieces.

Fruits of our labour.

As always, we enjoy your feedback. Cheers, Meredith and Jan

Monday, 11 April 2016

Dabbling with Derwent Inktense Pencils and Blocks

In February we delved into the world of faux batik, using Elmer’s Blue Gel Glue as the wax. The light colour blue was an advantage, especially on white fabric. Several of us drew our designs freehand, while others traced over a design and added or subtracted lines as necessary. White cotton was the fabric of choice, but Karen tried her hand using denim and it turned out very well.
Elmer's Blue Gel Glue - Faux Batik

Faux batik, inktense colouring and final stitching.

Leslie's Poppy Head Photo and Faux Batik in progress.

Once the designs were drawn there was a waiting time for the glue to dry and then we coloured the designs using the Derwent Inktense Pencils. These are quite pricey, but a sharp eye on Amazon or Ebay can get you some decent pricing. These pencils are quite amazing, with rich vibrant colour.

Derwent Inktense pencils are our best watercolour pencil ever! You can use them dry but mix them with water and WOW! the colour turns into vibrant ink. Once it’s dry the colour is fixed and you can work over the top of it, and, because it permanent it’s great for using on fabric such as silk and cotton!” Derwent website.

Once the glue and pencils are dry, you wash out the glue, leaving white lines similar to a batik.
Faux Batik, colouring and lines, final stitching.

Faux Batik, Inktense Pencils, experimentation with fabric
medium and water.

Karen's denim piece

In March we continued with a different Derwent product, their Inktense Blocks, equally as gorgeous in colour with a slightly different application method. Our goal was to enhance some of our faux batik pieces from February and create some new pieces in March with free motion machine quilting and use a variety of rubbing plates or freehand drawings and colour with the inktense blocks.

Rubbing plate, rub Derwent Inktense Blocks over the cotton,
free motion machine stitched.
Free motion stitching, inktense blocks and pencils,
detailed experimentation notes.

We had not done any work with sewing machines before so it was great to add another tool to the toolbox and explore this for use in future mixed media and fibre projects.
Jan stitching - free hand drawing with derwent inktense blocks,
free motion machine quilting.
In both sessions, in addition to the Derwent products, there was much experimentation with the use of water and fabric mediums to see if there was any magic formula that made the colour extend further, be brighter or how they moved on the fabric.

Faux batik, inktense pencils, experimentation notes.
I tried my hand with the inktense blocks and working with old cotton felt, a dryer sheet, machine stitching and a heat gun. Haven't used that in a while. I quite liked the effect, but will use synthetic felt next time to add an additional distressed look.
Free hand drawing on dryer sheet with inktense blocks,
free motion stitching, heat distressed on
vintage cotton felt.
Free motion stitching on dryer sheet and heat
distressed on vintage cotton felt. Where you can
see the yellow brown colour, the heat gun
turned the inktense blocks that colour and the colour
did not allow the dryer sheet to distress.

Working with these products was a lot of fun and I'm certain that we will be revisiting our use of the sewing machine again with the group.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Ah, plush, lucsious and meltable!

Knotted  Braid
It is January and cold....well it should be cold, but we have been having a wonderfully warm winter. And, after a busy Christmas and New Year's period we all needed an easy, yet creative day.

Just for a change, our warmup embroidery was changed slightly - to a knotted braid. This is the way many have made friendship bracelets over the years.  It can be used in embroidery as well and everyone was able to create a colourful braid sample.

Great start to the day!

Velvet embossed with rubber stamp

  After this, we moved on to embossing velvet.  Velvet can      simply be embossed with a hot iron, and a rubber stamp.    Just spray the stamp and place the velvet, plush side down  onto the stamp, and iron it (without steam) for about 30  seconds.  Different types of velvet will produce differing    images - the best type being rayon acetate velvet.

Pigment ink embossed velvet

Of course, we took this further, as an embossed image is not permanent. We used pigment ink pads to ink the stamp and then embossed the velvet.  The image is now permanent and you can add a contrasting colour to the velvet to enhance the image.  We also had some information from the net to use paint, but this really damages your stamp.  

We used rubber stamps, but clear acrylic polymer stamps will also work, as long as they are the high quality ones (generally made in the USA). The cheaper ones will melt, so don't use those!

Pigment ink stamp
Pigment ink stamp

Pigment ink stamp

And, finally we had to try yet another technique.......

Acrylic Paint & soldering gun
Using a stencil, we used acrylic paint on the velvet and then used a soldering gun on the painted sections of the velvet to add some additional texture.........lovely results!

Acrylic paint and soldering gun

Velvet stencilled with acrylic paint

Some of us just liked the look of the stencilled velvet with no further actions.  Velvet seems to look great no matter what you do to it. It retains that rich luscious texture!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Vintage Vogart Panel

Merry Christmas from Jan and Meredith
Join us in 2016 for our continued mixed media
madness and fibre arts activities.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

FOG Tuesday - Bead-azzled

Our December FOG session was a wonderfully calm warm day for December, which turned out to be a great help as we had a lot of people making beads with the heat guns and we were able to do that outside.

We started as usual with our embroidery stitch warm up. Our stitch for the day was the Danish Knot Stitch. This is an easy knot and thoughts were percolating around which project to use it on by using it to create some texture, particularly when it stitched in groups.

Next we started making beads. There was a plethora of materials provided for those who got kits and no one was able to use everything!  
The basic process is to wrap your material around a knitting needle or bamboo skewer. Depending on the material, you can glue it, or use a heat gun to bind the materials together. Possibilities abound, limited only by one’s imagination. As you can see from the photos, many different types of beads were created.

Once completed, the bead was coated with Triple Thick by Americana to add a glossy finish to the bead. This product is a thick varnish which can also be used like glue. After the first coat the bead can be rolled in seed beads, or micro beads, while the coating is still wet. Once the first coat is dry, another top coat can be added to really seal in the beads. Another finishing touch was to wrap around the bead, by itself or with seed beads threaded onto the wire.

Some of the materials used to make our beads included: Tyvek, plastic film, plastic sheet protectors, shrink film (in clear and matte), security envelopes, origami paper, newsprint, abaca mesh and paper, angelina (or Textiva) film, Angelina fibres, polyester fabric, wire, dryer sheets, needle felted organza, sequin waste, organza fabric, painted Lutradur, painted fusible web, tissue paper, felt sewn with a decorative stitch, and corrugated paper.

These will be great to use on mixed media or fibre art pieces or in jewellery.

The possibilities are endless and we really only scratched the surface, in spite of the quantities of beads created.

We finished off the day with a present to everyone of an organza ribbon necklace for that special bead!

Monday, 9 November 2015

FOG Tuesday – Adding Texture and Dimension with Modeling Paste

The October FOG Tuesday was spent experimenting with the application of dimensional molding or modeling pastes on fabrics and other substrates. Depending on the brand used, these pastes are called by different names.

These are a few that we tried:

The key word to look for in the description of the products is “flexible”. Several of the products cracked when the fabric was folded. Some of my samples have cracked but have not flaked off the fabrics. The more flexible the product remains on your fabric, the more it will accept hand or machine stitching.

We also tried a variation of a mix suggested in Stitch with the Embroiders’ Guild Magazine. This consisted of Poly Filla, white acrylic house paint/primer and white glue. We finally decided on a mixture of drywall compound, Poly Filla and white glue as the mixture that added some flexibility to the drywall compound. We did not really see the need to add the white paint, as it diluted the solution too much. The Poly Filla was useful in making the mixture the right consistency, as the white glue also thinned out the drywall compound. While this did work, you need to mix it and use it the same day as it tends to harden overnight. A couple of our members found that by mixing this compound with a runnier gel medium that it worked quite well.

Any of these products can be mixed with a colourant. We tried inks, walnut ink, craft acrylic paint and Lumiere™ paints to name a few. Remember that any liquid will change the consistency of the product, so start with a light hand.

To apply the products to the fabrics you will need a credit card to squeegee the product through your stencil of choice, commercial or hand cut. Thermofax™ screens DO NOT work. Be certain to have a dishpan of water nearby so that you can put your stencils in right after use so that the products do not dry as the stencils could be permanently damaged.

Below you can see several items that we used as stencils.

Brass dry embossing stencils, sequin waste, commercial stencil, plastic canvas.

You can also use ConTact™ paper masks as a stencil. We cut the stencils using Jan’s Sizzix Big Shot™. You will get both a positive and a negative stencil to use. Peel the backing off the mask and place sticky side down onto your fabric. Lay a stencil over the mask (sequin waste works well) and draw the product over the stencil with a credit card. It also worked well to lay down the sequin waste, and then use a stencil over top of that.
Sizzix Big Shot, ConTact Paper stencil, positive and negative ConTact paper stencils.

We also tried spreading the mixture over hand stitching, and also stamping into it. These created some very unique textures. The stitching was visible through the compound, but more subdued. The stamps did not produce a clear imprint, but definitely created additional texture. Again, remember to immediately wash your stamp.

We tried this process on a number of different fabrics and they all appeared to take the product quite well.

These are a few that we tried:
  • Decorator fabric samples (finally a use for some of the 400 I have sitting in my hall)!
  • Cotton Canvas
  • Acrylic Felt
  • Interfacing
  • Lutradur
  • Burlap
  • Cotton
  • Timex
  • Hard paint canvas

Diane's on Black Interfacing, Margaret's on Decorator Fabric Sample, Gillian's on Lutradur-like Fabric.
Jan's Samples
Modeling/molding paste is certainly one way to add texture to your artwork. The ease of colouring it with inks and paints makes it easy to use, and gives you lots of options for adding it. There were lots of possibilities suggested to take this technique further!