Sunday, April 28, 2019

My art is on my sleeve

I am travelling to London soon so I wanted a jacket to take with me. I was unable to find one that suited my needs so I decided to make one. I thought I should put some of my textile art on the jacket so this is what I did.

I chose a regular jacket pattern and altered it for my own purposes. I used my machine to draw the flowers on the sleeves and also the large front pockets (big enough for a phone to not fall out). I used a dress making marker to draw the flower centers where I wanted them to be so they weren't all in one straight line. Then I used my machine to stitch the stems and petals free hand. It was a lot of fun and I am happy with the way it turned out.

I can truly say that I am wearing my Art on my sleeve, now.

Another quick project I made was a new camera bag. Yes I still use a camera and not just my phone for quality photos. I wanted a cover that fit exactly so it didn't take up too much room in my bag.

I went through my stash and found a piece of suede leather that would be suitable for a camera case and soft enough to stitch by hand. I looked through a pile of leftover textile pieces I have made to use as decorations for my case. I used some heat transfer foil on the bag and also glued on a few leftover textured bits. I hand embroidered these pieces to the leather to make them secure.

 I used a piece of velour for the lining as it would be soft and not scratch the camera. When all the stitching was finished I went over everything with a couple of coats of matte medium to stop them wearing out too quickly. This made the suede look like leather now and it is very tough. I am happy  with my travel projects and am looking forward to finding lots of textile art to admire in London.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A woolly textile picture

I recently gave a talk at a lovely knitting group about textile art. Inspired by this I had a go at making a textile piece using my vary limited knitting and crochet skills. I started at the top of the piece because I knew I wanted the sky to appear smooth and it would allow me to set the size of the finished article. I used the tension guide on the blue wool to work out how many stitches I would need to cast on for the size I wanted to make. I knitted a few rows and luckily my tension was the same so I could keep going.

I knitted the sky and the first layer of hills. I changed wool and needles and continued down the background using rib to make the appearance of rows of crops. Some sections were crocheted instead. For each new section of knitting I cast on stitches through the previous layer so the whole thing was all one piece. I used casting on or off here and there to make uneven edges to each block. Some of the wool was textured, like the pale green which is knitted. Later on I used little pieces of wool to stitch the details like trees, sheep, grass and hedges. When it was all finished I blocked it and then put it in this frame I made.

The  way I framed this is easy and something I have used before for textiles. After you have made the frame it is easy to use a few stitches through the canvas layer to hold your textile in place.  You can put your name and signature on the back too. My knitted piece was heavy so it is stitched all around the edge to hold it inside the frame.

 I start with an artist canvas. I turn the canvas over and use the back so I make sure my artwork will fit into the space on the back.  You can use any depth of frame but deep frames will suit bulky work better.

To cover the staples and edges of the canvas on the back and make it look neater I usually glue some thick card over the sides, back and down onto the canvas as there can be a gap between the canvas and the wooden frame. This hides the staples best but if you press hard they will be visible.

Next I like to cover the card with a decorative finish. I used texture paste on this sample. When I use a paste or gel I use it thickly to hide the edge of the cardboard on the canvas and the staples. Sometimes I use the paste all over the canvas layer too if it will be visible. When it is dry the whole frame can then be painted with acrylics in any colors you wish.

Another choice of finish is to cover the thick card with torn pieces of tissue paper. Like the texture paste this can be painted when dry or if you use colored tissue you wouldn't need to paint it. I don't usually put the tissue over texture paste (it's a waste!) like this sample where I changed my mind on the finish I wanted. 

Both the texture paste and tissue paper finish can be highlighted using metallic waxes like rub'n'buff or Viva Inka Gold.

On the frame above, I didn't use the card and just covered the edge of the frame with glued fabric. I glued the fabric to the sides and then covered the back and tucked it into the gap between the canvas and wood. 

This frame was covered with coarse texture gel or sand gel and painted black. It has been sprayed with green mica spray when dry. I painted the inside of the frame white to make a border between the black frame and the black textile. From a distance it gives the appearance of a matted picture.

 This is an old artwork where I used a deep frame for my mixed media work. I glued on chipboard scrolls from the scrapbooking industry and then painted the whole frame with a thick coat of gesso. Before the gesso dried I used a heat gun to make bubbles in it. It was later painted with metallic paints and wax.

The whole piece.

This is the first time I used the back of a frame for my artwork. It was simply covered with book paper and then tissue paper. You can still see the staples and folds of the canvas so that is why I started covering them up with card. Sometimes you may want to leave them exposed. The choice is yours.

Monday, April 1, 2019


I really love making landscapes either in textiles or with paint. Last year I did quite a few lessons from the WOWbook series put out by D4Daisy publishers, written by Maggie Grey, that I haven't shared yet.

I had a lot of fun with this WOWbook 2 lesson as it is entirely hand stitched. I never used to like hand stitching at all but after I had children I found it very relaxing in the evenings. I still do.

This second WOWbook 2 lesson is based on  a photo transfer of a paper painted background. More details of the technique can be found in the book.  After doing the transfer I added a little more colour in select areas and then hand stitched the details. Loads of fun and not something I would have thought of on my own.

This next picture is a journal page I painted last year. Although it is abstract I thought it looked like an Australian landscape and wondered if I could do something with it.

After I did the photo transfer lesson from WOWbook I thought I finally had a way I could transfer my picture to fabric so I could stitch it. I first used a photo program to alter the original picture and change some of the colours. I was able to remove the stitching line from the center with the same program (I use Paintshop Pro).  I used my machine to stitch all the objects I could see in the original picture. I saw balloons in the circles in the sky and a fishing shack in the rectangle on the shoreline. It was an interesting experiment that then got me wondering what would happen if I turned the original upside down.

This is the upside down version of the original painting. I significantly lightened the colour to make a very different landscape. I used Pan Pastels to make some areas darker but it is still the same picture underneath.  Again I used simple machine stitching for the drawing of the image.

Next I went back to the computer and altered the original picture to make a sky. I cut some artist canvas to fit in my printer and printed the picture straight onto the canvas using a photo setting on the printer. It fed through my Epson printer without any problems as the canvas is quite stiff.

 The colours came out a little differently, especially the sky which was a lot lighter than I thought it would be. I decided to add colour to the right hand side of the print so I used an alcohol marker to add the green on the right. I used my machine for the drawing using only dark brown coloured thread. It was quite easy to stitch through the canvas as it is really only stiffened fabric, no stabiliser needed. I added some fence posts using mulberry bark cut to shape and after stitching everything I added wire between the fence posts.

I have enjoyed this little exploration of one technique. Sometimes one thing sparks an idea for another and you just have to keep going. I hope you get inspired to do your own versions of a landscape.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Amazing Angelina film

Over the last couple of years I have been going through my stash of things I bought at craft fairs and trying to use a lot of it. I have moved my sewing studio twice so I keep seeing these experimental materials. Late last year I found my pile of Angelina film.

It is a coloured film that is sometimes cut up into shreds and sold as Angelina fibre. I prefer the effects of the film so I decided to experiment with ways to use it.

Angelina when heated will stick to itself. You can heat it with an iron or a heat gun for different effects. I like to set my iron to silk as any hotter makes the film melt too much and go a copper colour all over. If ironing use baking paper or a craft sheet to protect your iron or it will stick. If using a heat gun take it outside or make sure you use a mask to protect your lungs. I usually double it over so it is a little thicker and easier to stitch with a machine. This sample was first heated with a heat gun to make holes then ironed flat.
The heat gun makes the film bubble and shrink as in the sample on the right (single layer). It also concentrates the colour. The sample on the left is the same film but only folded in two and ironed.
You can also layer different colours and iron them together. It will all melt into one large piece of film. On the right you can see the bubbles formed when this sheet is then heated with a heat gun.

The colour of the background you place your altered film on changes the way the metallic colours show up. On dark backgrounds you see more of the coppery colour but on light backgrounds you can see the colour of the film.

 You can also trap the fibres between two sheets of film. Simply lay fibres on one piece of film then cover with another and iron or heat gun it.
 You can also trap other items like confetti sequins and glitter.
Here I have trapped a skeleton leaf between two different colours of film. The pink side was an extra layer of film that I crumpled before I ironed it onto the already trapped leaf. I also turned my iron up a little to melt the pink layer a bit more than usual.

 Another way to apply the film is to crumple it before you join it together. If you crumple it a lot you will get the rough texture you see here.
 It is possible to make impressions in the film using rubber stamps or wooden block stamps. In this sample I mage a multi-coloured sheet of film then inked up a rubber stamp. I placed the stamp ink side up on a hard surface and carefully put the film sheet on top. After I covered it all with baking paper I pressed hard with my iron. The ink makes the design stand out more but you don't always have to use ink.
 Here I have used a borrowed wooden block stamp to make the impression. It wasn't clean so some of the paint came off onto the back of the film. It looks very different on the light and dark backgrounds.
 One of my favourite ways to attach the film to fabric is using fusible web. You can get it with a paper backing (usually called Vliesofix, Bondaweb or Fuse-Under) or without. I prefer the paperless fusible as it is usually cheaper and I never use the paper anyway. Simply layer one piece of fabric, one piece of fusible and one piece of film, cover with baking paper then iron. You will end up with a very smooth metallic fabric.
You can stitch your Angelina to fabric before you alter it if you wish. It changes the way it reacts. When heated it shrinks a bit but if stitched down that doesn't always happen.  This sample was layered then stitched together before I ironed it.
In this sample I laid sari silks on my ironing board then placed a piece of fusible web on top. I covered it with one piece of flat film and one piece of crumpled film. When I ironed it all together it became one piece of fabric. The different colours of silk make the film look multi-coloured.
 Some of my more exciting (to me) experiments came later on. This sample was fused to fabric with the iron and fusible web. I then put it through an embossing machine to get quite a well defined embossed metallic fabric. It was bit shiny so I used watered down brown acrylic paint all over it and let it almost dry before wiping it off. This gave a distressed, less shiny look that I really like.
 This piece of fused film was given a coat of crackle medium. When it dried I painted it with white acrylic and again left it to dry. As a final finish I sprayed it with mica spray because it was too bright. Although hard to see in this photo you can see the shiny background through the cracks.

 On another piece of fused film I used a stencil and texture medium to make a pattern. The middle area has the texture medium applied with a palette knife. I also tried a light coat of gesso on the left side that I drew a design in with the end of my paint brush. When dry it was also given a spray to add more colour. All of these medium stuck to the film without any problems so I think you could use any acrylic mediums you fancy.

 After all of these experiments I had a pile of different pieces of film. I stitched them all onto this background and added a lot of detail with hand and machine stitching. It was very difficult to take a photo where you could see the details so I apologise for the bluriness.
 This photo shows how shiny it is.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A few thoughts on design

I don't believe in following rules when I make art but there are a few design techniques that I do use so I thought I would share with you a textile art piece I made and how I did the design of it. I also do the same thing when I art journal or paint.

I usually begin with an idea or challenge suggestion to start my piece. Sometimes I will do a quick sketch if I need to work out how to do it but most times I do not. For this piece I went through my stash looking for something to use for a textile art piece.

I found the photo transfer leaves that were left over from another project and the coloured metal pieces, painted with alcohol inks, that were also left from the same project. I decided to use them so that was the beginning of my colour choices. The leaves and metal were rusty red, orange and yellow so I looked for a suitable background.

 I found this blue background that I thought looked good with the oranges and reds. It is a paper towel that was placed under fabric I was dying. It had been dyed and also has splashes of paint here and there. I also found some scraps of green fabric that were also leftovers. I wasn't sure if I would use all of these things but they were my starting point.

I laid the metal pieces in wavy rows and stitched them down using a variegated thread on my machine. I made sure to stitch along the edges and over all the points of the metal so they wouldn't scratch my hands later on. I have done similar designs on paper so wanted to try this with stitching.

 Next I decided to add more stitching lines in a brown to compliment the metal strips. I then felt I needed to add some light tones because the whole thing was a medium tone, so I did the white stitching and couched white cord to the piece. I used the machine to stitch some grids over areas of the background that I didn't want to save. The grids also help to lighten the piece.

I laid the leaves I was going to use on the background so I could see how it looked before stitching them on. I put them off center as I don't usually like to place the focal point right in the middle of my work.  I decided that they were blending into the metal strips too much. I placed a darker leaf on the piece and thought it looked better than the light ones. I usually try to use light, medium and dark tones in my work. It makes a nice contrast and dynamic picture.  I chose the leaf shapes I wanted and then coloured them with alcohol inks to make them dark.

The reason I chose these leaf shapes was because I liked the way the stems looked. The taller middle leaf is fairly straight and the two leaves on either side have stems slightly tilted towards the center leaf. It looks more interesting to me than the three straight leaves in the picture above.  I did not attach the leaves yet because that will be one of the last things I do.

 I used the scraps of green fabrics to fill in some of the areas I wanted to cover. I did this by laying tracing paper over the design and tracing the stitched lines that outline each area. I tried to space the colours around the piece so they weren't all bunched together. I usually try to add three pieces of each colour but on this occasion I did four of each colour and it still worked for me. There is only 3 dark green pieces here but you can see below I added a 4th piece because there was a bit too much blue in the center of the piece. I always make changes as I work. I machine stitched all the extra bits down so later I could add a little hand stitching. I now hand stitched the leaves on. 

I started hand stitching by adding straight stitch in some of the gaps between the stitched lines. Then I got some beads out in the same colours. I placed the large beads on the piece first. I used the square beads that are similar in colour to the leaves in three spots around the background. This makes the leaves integrate into the whole piece better, rather than being the only dark tone. The other beads were added one colour at a time so they could be placed around the background where I thought they looked best. My piece is now finished.