I love water soluble printing ink. It is fragile, yes, but you can do a lot with that fragility, working in to areas to change the textures, and to move the colour around to lighten and darken.

I like to transfer a lot of the work I do on paper into work on fabric. Anything done with a water soluble medium will, of course, be useless for an applied art piece like a bed quilt, but can work interestingly in art for art’s sake.  

My CQ journal quilt theme for 2017 is ‘Text’ and I am going to look at different ways of getting text on to fabric – changing the approach quarterly. The method for January, February and March is print and the medium is water soluble ink – totally in the spirit of experiment.  For January, I used a set of wooden blocks from Colouricious, (the blocks I used are not in the shop at the moment).  This (reversed) image shows a Gelli print, which gives lovely texture because of the water based medium, and shows how you can, on paper, go back in and push the ink around.

As well as a brush, I used a baby wipe to remove colour and gained a great by-product.

I printed directly onto fabric, trepidacious of making a mess that would be impossible to clean. It didn’t go too badly, for me. I am like the Schultz character Pigpen normally, with my own Sod’s law – whether it’s mascara, dye, paint, or even food: if it can go everywhere, it will go everywhere! This time I got away with it!

What I got was that lovely texture with a ‘distressed’ feel. What I hoped for, and got, was migration from the fabric to the thread. I used MadeiraViscose in White, and got my own spontaneous variegation. 

I also got variegated fingers which, miraculously, did not transfer my prints, as if in a Miss Marple story, all over the house!

Will post the continuing process soon.

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Another small book of spring

Today I have hung washing from the line for the first time in weeks, and emerged from a week of flu into brilliant sunshine. Yesterday, I was alone and had to poke my nose outside for the sake of the dog, who, as I fought with the weather-tossed door of the polytunnel, abandoned me anyway, to wait by the door of the warm house, as if to say “What are you thinking, woman-mine???”

What I was, and am, thinking is…..I need sun. If I cannot find it in the sky, I will find it in scraps of fabric and my bead box.

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a tiny tutorial 

I am in this month’s Pretty Patches magazine – an interview by the lovely Janet Ravenscroft.  At one point it was thought that a ‘How To’ might be included, but that didn’t happen so as it was prepped, I thought it might as well appear on this neglected blog!

A Little Textile Book

Begin by looking through your scraps collection for a piece large enough to fold into several ‘pages’- A4 or larger. It is fun to choose fabric you don’t like or if you have been dyeing, something you think is a ‘fail’. It will transform under your hands!  The piece I chose is about 32 x 36cms.

Alter the fabric in any way you please – print, stamp, stencil and collage it, but don’t build thick layers. This is the perfect opportunity to use up tiny scraps of fabric and the last fragments of foil.  I had spring in mind, thinking of new growth, of daffodil and crocus, so chose accordingly. It is helpful to have a theme, or a limited palette to help govern your choices. I enjoy the freedom, texture and serendipity of frayed edges and hanging threads, tearing rather than cutting, and using up scraps of heat activated adhesive such as Bondaweb, to hold fabric in place, or stitching rather casually!

After completing the initial surface design, the pages can be formed by making simple cuts and folds. For your first try, fold into quarters, (if you enjoy the technique, try out different combinations of folds on paper before you cut into your fabric). Measure and mark the appropriate fold lines onto the back of the fabric. A Frixion pen is great for this as the marks iron away. You will then make cuts along some of the lines as shown in the diagram.fold-and-cutPractice on paper, to make sure that it all folds as you desire. When I am trialling different cuts and folds, I mark one side of the paper on every page to make sure that I can always fold wrong sides together. You can make charming paper books by this method too. I chose to cut across the width, giving the pages portrait orientation. If I had wanted landscape pages, I could have made cuts lengthwise. Begin folding from one corner and accordion across and up to the next ‘line’ wrong sides together each time. You will end up with a neat(ish) stack of ‘pages’.

Press the stack well and then enjoy the best bit! At this stage you can look at each ‘page’ and decide whether to embellish each one further. I love beads and feel that they add to the tactile nature of a fabric book, which is a small, precious delight. Gather things that might work around you to pick from in a relaxed way.img_1093

Once all the pages are finished use heat activated glue to bond pairs of pages together, aligning the book neatly, as you go.  To make a book cover, measure the closed size of your book, not forgetting to including the depth of the spine, and add a scant one cm to the dimensions. Cut a stiff base for the cover from pelmet vileness, or the perfect medium Fast2Fuse, which is heat-adhesive. Cut a decorative piece of fabric, (or joined pieces) 2.5 cms larger than your stiffening medium, place the two together with even margins all the way around, and bond using heat activated adhesive. Mitring the corners is easiest done by doing your best with the heat bonding, then finishing with tiny mattress stitches.

Apply heat activated adhesive to the top and bottom of your page stack and then iron your pages into their cover. Decorate the cover as desired! I simply added a title with Sharpie Marker and added a few more beads and stitches.

The variations are endless – try landscape and portrait orientation, add embroidery to the cover, a button and cord closure, or elasticated band.

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Merry Christmas

What with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc, not to mention real life, this poor old blog has been very neglected in what has been a busy and bloggable year. Must try harder in 2017. 

Nonetheless I wish you all a very merry Christmas and the best beginnings to the New Year. I leave you with a seasonal sketch – a reindeer drawn in ink and painted with Brusho.

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18 Copyright

I belong to the Sketchbooks and Experiments for Textiles Facebook group and enjoy joining in with their regular challenges to post a daily image of current work. I combined the February challenge with getting on with the previously mentioned NWCQ challenge for 2016, which is to work on the theme of pattern – a broad and enticing concept.

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Working daily on one subject enables you to make many lateral leaps and find your own vocabulary.  Sometimes it feels tedious, and then something fresh develops.  NB. DEVELOPS….. Many people feel disappointed in their work, (of course I do too, sometimes) but often that is because they don’t DO the work – they are disappointed in advance as it were!  DO the work and your artistic muscles, along with your hand and eye coordination will develop.  Once you couldn’t drive a car, then you learnt, then you drove everyday, maybe you even began to enjoy driving!  Art is similar, but more rewarding.

I have drawn, painted, printed and digitally altered for most of February, but in the last couple of days, treated myself by moving into textile translations of some of the pattern developments.  I particularly liked this print –


and these drawings –

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which led on to – FullSizeRender

I added a Stewart Gill silver, using a Fineline applicator.  Really pleased with the ease of using both items.

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Sketchbook Sketchbook Sketchbook

Waiting for a studio refit amongst other goings-on so in a bit of pickle space and equipment wise.  Luckily, a sketchbook takes up no space at all.

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Pattern is the North-West CQ group theme for 2016 and Judy Fairless gave us a headstart with a great day spent trying lots of methods of translating an original source into pattern. I am going to use two seashells as source material and began by doing a simple pencil drawing.  Things move pretty quickly though when you get enthused and pattern is endlessly fascinating and inspiring.  Here is just a sample of the directions – drawing, tracing and foam-printing, using pencil, fineliner pen, expanding paint, Brusho, and printing ink.

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Did a walkthrough about rust with Jen Collier for our MBAG chums.  Rusting does take up a fair bit of space, as a drippy, stinking, oozing gunky palaver, but you can get such amazing results, it’s worth the trials.  I have done a fair bit of fabric rusting but had to try out lots of techniques on paper to share with book-artists.  Despite my dislike of the process, it is a great way of adding non-archival character to a flat surface.


teaRustbooklet 4booklet 2

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More Chairs

Working with the many quick, and in a workshop not deeply thought through, prints.  There is treasure to be found. Each page of my sketchbook adds to my understanding of the theme and why it stuck in my mind, of the different mediums, of colour, of placement, and of how to develop my ideas and thoughts further, especially towards textile pieces.

A monoprint with pattern and colour added  afterwards with Brusho.

A person in the chair – taking advantage of the water-soluble print medium, by working into it with the end of a paintbrush  dipped in water and used to scratch marks.  reminds me of  Henry Moore – Woman on the Underground – just a little! I am not comparing my work to HM!

A fragment of a print based on knitted stocking stitch applied to a gessoed page – thinking about sitting and knitting.   More sitting and knitting – the page coloured with Brusho and then a monoprint worked on Deli-paper adhered so that the paint comes through lightly.

Monoprint  using water-soluble medium, brusho applied very lightly so as to disrupt the print a little.   Collage, applied prints, stencilled lettering.
  Lines, as if it were a school-chair, (not that I ever had to do lines. Ahem!) words thinking about sitters who have gone, written onto page and covered by print onto Deli-paper

  Monoprints, Brusho, collage and white pen.
 Candle-wax resist and Brusho.

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