Monday, March 22, 2010

A Winter Of Surface Design

I promised myself a winter of surface design, and I've kept that promise; what a joy it's been! I've gone through a lot of yardage and made a lot of fabric that I'm now itching to sew into, but so far, this is the piece I'm most proud of.

35 1/2" x 48"

This length of fabric contains three layers of surface design. The first layer was hand-dyed in a jar, in MX fiber-reactive dyes. The second layer is a stamped image created with thickened black MX dye. The third (and last) layer, the one most recently applied, is a crackle finish which employed the flour-paste resist technique I tried out last week

The paste was applied, left to dry and then broken and crazed.


I used Neopaque textile paint in brown, thinned with water, to create the crackle effect.


I'm thrilled with it. The next flour-paste resist I do, I will pre-soak the fabric in soda ash so that I can use thickened dyes to paint the crackle- the hand will be more pleasing, I think, though the fabric paint is soft and pliable.

Disappointingly, this piece falls just short of the size requirement for the FABRIC 2010 : Handmade Designs on Fabric for Quiltmaking contest, but now I know how to recreate it on a larger scale, if I can.

So this weekend, I took my last ten or eleven yards of muslin, cut them into six pieces, and did this to them.

Two-and-a-half gallons of jar-dyeing love, filled to the very brim. Still pushing myself to work larger (after all, larger pieces of beautiful fabrics tend to inspire larger pieces of art), each of these six these pieces measures at least a yard and a half wide by 108" from selvage to selvage. 

Cotton muslin, pre-soaked in soda ash, twisted lengthwise with LOTS of great help from my husband, and soaked in six different dye colors starting with lemon yellow at the bottom, bright orange next, then fire engine red, magenta, deep purple and finishing with turquoise stuffed into the very top of the jar. 

As anyone who has slopped a large load of laundry out of the agitation cycle of a broken-down washing machine knows, dripping wet fabric can be physically challenging to muscle around. I'm managing nicely, although this stuff is heavy, and the fabrics are starting to come out of the washing machine and go onto the clothesline as I type. 


This morning I'm incredibly grateful for the wet studio- I could NOT have done pieces this size in the kitchen sink without risking a terrible mess. In the photos below, the selvage edges are those on the right and left of the fabric.

(folded almost double across my clothes line, this is the largest piece and the first one that went into the jar)

(the second piece into the jar)

(the third piece into the jar)

The other three pieces, in shades of blues and purples, are in the washing machine right now. I'll post photos of them in my next blog article

I won't really know exactly what I have until I iron them out and have a chance to really examine them but any other treatment they get will need to come later in the spring- the rest of the week will be devoted to making quilt sandwiches and sewing and hopefully, by the end of the week, I'll have a completed piece of quilt art.
In the meantime, happy creating!
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