Thursday, April 26, 2018

Future possibilities in my fiber art: which way do I go?

Almost there! One of the three ruanas is complete except for sewing in the tag. And the other two are cut and pinned, ready for sewing. The one hanging has a black cotton weft. The one on top on the ironing board has a black tencel weft. It amazes me how much more vibrant the tencel weft is vs. the cotton one. I don't know if it is a function of the fiber choice, or the fact that there was an 8 hour difference between when I dyed the warp for each one, and I might have gotten different concentrations of dye in that time frame. In any case, I think I like the feel of the tencel weft better than the cotton one. It is a bit smoother, cooler to the touch, and drapes a bit better.

I'm loving the results, but I'm looking forward to being done with this project. I want to move on to something new. In May, I'll be doing a weave along with a group on Facebook, exploring a 4 shaft pattern in the Echo and Iris style of weaving. I'll post pictures of that as I go along, so that will make sense in a bit.

I also have all sorts of things that I want to explore. I want to do some more needle felting. I'm thinking maybe some landscapes, based on the photos that I take when I'm out on my hikes. Or, I love doing abstracts, and just playing with the colors. And, I think I want to use that medium to do some self portraits, as well.

And, I also want to play with nuno felt. I fell down that Pintrest rabbit hole the other night, and I'm itching to give it a try. I love the idea of vibrant drapable felt, that I could make into wearable art garments. (My inspiration board for felt is here:

And speaking of garments, I also want to pick up my sewing again. I haven't done much of it since I gave up the historical recreation group that I was part of. I'm thinking of making some simple summer tops to start with, and maybe some dresses. My body has shifted with menopause, and much of my current wardrobe doesn't really look flattering on me any more. I think I want to express myself in something I can wear that I can be proud of. And then, once I have my pattern dialed in, make myself some wearables using my own woven fabric, and perhaps the nuno felt.

I can sort of see the direction that my art will be going. I just need to let myself play long enough to explore the possibilities!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Hand painting a ruana: Don't get cocky!

My latest project on the loom is a warp painted ruana. It is going to be gorgeous! But it has been a struggle, mostly because I got cocky and missed little details.

So, it started well. I sat down with my client, and we batted around ideas and picked colors. I usually do my warp painting with about 4-5 colors of dye, but she picked out 10 colors. We figured out how to put them together, and off we went.

When I had the dye and the yarn, the measuring began.
And then, the dyeing. Here was snag number one. I usually dye with foam brushes, but I forgot that I only had enough for 6 colors of dye. And I was working with 10 colors this time. And I started dyeing after stores closed. So, I shrugged and got eye droppers, which I had plenty of. Annnnnd dyeing took a bit over 8 hours, non-stop. Eye droppers are NOT the way to go. Lesson learned. It turned out, but that was quite the marathon.

Also, see the strips of cut up plastic bag that I tied on the ends of the warp chains in that middle picture? I use a permanent marker to write numbers on them, so I can keep track of the order of the warp chains. That helps me get them back onto the loom in the same order that I dyed them in. Lesson two: use Sharpie, not the knock off brand even if it is near to hand. Because the knock off brand washes off in the rinsing process, and then you have a puzzle to solve when you take the chains to the loom!

Lesson number 3: It is quite ok to use your top loading washing machine to soak your warp chains when you are rinsing them, to get the excess dye out. But for the love of God, do NOT turn your back and let it flip over to agitate mode. Luckily, I had put the chains in lingerie bags, so it wasn't a total disaster. But I had some serious untangling to do to separate things back out.

Lesson number 4: Double check which reed you have on the loom before you start sleying it. I got halfway done, and realized I had the wrong one in. I had to take the old reed out and lay it across my lap, then one by one transfer the threads into the new reed. Again, nothing I couldn't recover from, but a pain in the neck! And it would have been an easy catch if I had looked before I started.
Thank goodness for the warping trapeze! It took some patient work to straighten out the tangles from my previous goofs as I beamed the warp on, but I did eventually get everything on the loom under even tension.
From there on out, things have been much easier. I've got enough warp on here for three garments. I'm using black cotton for the first weft choice, purple cotton for the second, and I'm currently weaving black tencel for the third.

So, all's well that ends well? This is turning out beautifully. But boy, have I said a few words along the way!!