Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: Sewing Pottery by Machine by Barbara Warholic

 Many years ago, I aspired to become a potter.  Alas, after trying out the process in Junior College, I decided I was not cut out for it – the clay was very hard on my thin skin, and it was an exceptionally messy medium!  But I have always loved the graceful shapes of pots, bowls and vases that are typical of clay and ceramic creations.  Fast forward 46 years to 2012 – I had become an avid reader of blogs, particularly those written by my fellow fiber artists.  Sometime in the fall of 2012, I found a wonderful tutorial written by Sherrie Spangler on her blog, which helped me get started making coiled fabric bowls.  At first it was just a ‘stash buster’ project – a way to use up my ever growing collection of fabrics, and offer a new product at the craft fairs where I sell.  But over time, it has become a real avocation for me!  I love the process as well as the finished product, and that is always a plus for me.
Last summer, I found a book at a fabric store I was visiting, called “It’s a Wrap II” by Susan Breier, and that set me on a path to learn more about how to create various shapes along with embellishing and finishing techniques. 
Recently, I came across “Sewing Pottery by Machine” by Barbara Warholic, and it really got my interest, because she teaches techniques for creating shapes that combine two bowls to create a pot or vase, even pitchers!  I immediately ordered the book, and read it through as soon as it came in the mail. 
I decided to try her methods making a vase-shaped pot, and set about to see if I could follow her directions.  I will not go into detail here, as I do not want to divulge her secrets, but I will tell you that her directions are easy to follow… however, I did find a couple of steps to be a little more difficult than I anticipated.  The process involves constructing the bottom of the structure, then the top, and making both components the same diameter so as to join them.  I followed her directions for the top, making the number of rows she indicated at the angles she listed in the directions, and ended up with a top portion that was about an inch wider than the bottom.  I ended up ripping out several rows in order to make both diameters match, so the vase came out shorter than I had planned.  The last step, stitching the two components together, is a little cumbersome, but I can’t envision an alternate method, so I used some trusty tools to help me stitch it together.  Here is my finished pot:

Lessons learned:   Make the match of the top and bottom diameters your priority over  following the directions to the letter.  Once I ripped out the rows back to the diameter on the top that matched the bottom, the project progressed without a hitch.

Conclusion:  I can highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to make fabric pots.  There are other books on the shelf that teach bowl and basket making techniques, and I can recommend trying one of those for basic shapes, but “Sewing Pottery by Machine” is an excellent guide for advanced  shapes.  I found my copy used on-line, but have also seen it in fabric shops. Published 2011 by Martingale & Company.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Shadow Printing

Lynda here again. I was introduced to shadow printing in Lynn Krawczyk's new book, Intentional Printing. She explains that shadow printing is a great teacher for those of us who are learning to layer images. This technique creates sort of an ombre effect.

Start with a piece of fabric - I started with this white on white that already had a pattern on it.

Print over the complete piece.

Then go back and print again, but not on the top third of the fabric.

Then print again over the bottom third until you are happy with it.

I found this process really freeing. There is something about over printing - not worrying about smudges.  I really liked that piece, but I thought I'd try it with some paint cloths that have been waiting in the wings for me to play with.

This time I got out my whip with blue screen printing ink.

 However when I was finished I didn't think the blue had enough contrast so I added red.

Let's try the other paint cloth.

With this one I added white screen printing ink with one of my "new" potato mashers.

And a closeup

That was so much fun! I really like the look. I'll definitely be playing with this technique in future projects. What about you? Have you tried this?

See you next Friday with a technique from Fabric Surface Design by Cheryl Rezendes.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What to do with the fabric - part 2

Remember the striped fabric I made in February?

I thought it might make a nice Kaleido-block to play with:

Now that it is one interesting piece, but  I am still thinking what it wants me to do next. Will leave it on my designwall for a while until new inspiration will come!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Reviews - It's all about paint

Hi, Lynda here. I love dyeing. However, there are times when I just don't want to mess with all the steps from prep to clean up.

In my library I have two books that focus on painting instead of dyeing. I wanted to share them with you today and then for the following two Fridays I'll be showing you some techniques from these books.

The two books are Fabric Surface Design by Cheryl Rezendes, and Intentional Printing by Lynn Krawczyk.

Intentional Printing is a brand new book from Interweave.  When I received this book to review, I questioned whether there could be anything new that I didn’t already have in my library. I was pleasantly surprised!

I really love Lynn’s writing style. I felt like I was in Lynn’s studio sitting around talking about printing. An easy read, I devoured the book in one sitting! The title describes what is in the book: Intentional printing It’s not about printing as much fabric as you can in one session. It’s about setting your intention. Lynn’s approach to printing really opened my eyes and made me think of how I was creating my art. While reading I was nodding my head. She was talking to me!

After that first chapter she moves into the nuts and bolts of printing including tools and setting up the workspace.

Printing Tools

The next three chapters include her fabric-printing techniques, handstitching, and layered printing. Even though some of this information was not new to me, her approach was different.

Fluid Printing

I absolutely loved her chapter on layers. I love layers, but I’m often afraid to push myself to add more. She takes the reader step-by-step through the process showing her fabric as she adds more layers. She gives her readers much needed tips to push through the anxiety.

She ends the books with nine projects including this Reclaimed Intentional Banner.

I really love this book. If you'd like to win it, comment on my blog post at
before 8 am CST Saturday (that's tomorrow!)

Fabric Surface Design by Cheryl Rezendes has been out for a year. With fabric paint the process is so much simpler than dyeing and Cheryl believes you can get similar results. She was really going to have to work hard to sell me on this.

On her  “Designing with Original Fabrics” pages, she includes pictures of clothing she has made using these techniques with paint.  For each piece of her wearable art, she explains in detail the fabric used and her techniques. They are absolutely beautiful like the one below.

For each project she gives a supply list, step-by-step directions, detailed pictures, and additional ideas for exploring the technique. Here are a couple sample page spreads.

Basic Fold and Color

Stenciling with Shiva Paintsticks

She includes a helpful list of textile paints and how each can be used (sunprinting, spray painting, etc). A great resource for beginners.

Interspersed between the chapters are artist profiles and samples of their work. Several of the artists are new to me, but many are my favorites. I love being introduced to fabric artists! This book is an encyclopedia of fabric surface design using paints. I was amazed at not only all of the techniques, but the beautiful results.

So for any of you who have not wanted to tackle using dyes or maybe you want to introduce your kids or yourself to fabric surface design using fabric paint, both of these books are great additions to your surface design toolbox.

I'll see you next Friday for the first of two posts on painting on fabric. I look forward to hearing about your experiences too.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What to do with the fabric - part 1

Hand-dyed fabric is by far my favourite fabric. But I always feel a bit uncomfortable how I could use the fabric at its best advantage. What does the fabric tell me to do with it, an everlasting process. This month, I want to share some projects where the fabric is not only the base, but also the centerpoint in the work I made. Especially because people often ask me: 'But what do you do with all that hand-dyed fabric...'. And yes, I have some stash ;-), we do need a palet to choose from!

This riverview was made last year from a picture. But in fact, it's not only the picture but the fabric that plays an important role in this setting, a snowdyed piece with lots of drama in it:

I was careful for light and dark placement, as you can see at the photocopie on the left.
By starting the intense stitching, I was happy with my choice:

I absolutely love the piece in this stage.
After finishing it, I  learned another important lesson: 
If you want the fabric to play an important role, it needs 'emptiness' to shine! 
So be careful what you put on top of it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Ann Johnston's Grand Finale

Judith again but for the last time.  Here are the surface designed fabric I made with Beth in February using Ann's suggestions for hoses, chains, and ropes.  Oh my!

 This first one was wrapped around a chain diagonally, scrunched up, placed in purple dye for 15 minutes, then soda ash was added to the dye.  Here is a picture of it batching.

 One yard length, salvage to salvage width, cotton fabric.
The purple dye was an overdye. The original dye was a soy wax pattern on a silk screen.  It was just too ugly!  But with the purple on top of it, I see koi under ripples of water.  What do you see?

  One yard length, salvage to salvage width, cotton fabric.

Okay, this one is still horrible but I think it can be added to and improved.  This was a rope wrap.  Notice that the texture is not as strong as the pattern made by the chain.  Just like the first piece, this is an overdye of a particularly ugly piece.  For some reason I thought scraping straight dye powder onto fabric would give a great affect.  Not so much.  The texture overdye did soften the strong splotches.  I think I need to stamp an equally strong pattern in an equally strong color to counteract the fushia.  But now I at least have a great background for all the foreground clutter I need to add.  I am open to suggestions.  Here is a wonderful detail short of the texture.

This last one is my most and least favorite. As a whole fabric piece, it does not work but the detail shots are wonderful.  I can either add something and make a better whole cloth design or I can cut it up and use it as is.   Do you have a preference or suggestion?

One yard length, salvage to salvage width, cotton fabric.
This is another overdyed piece.  The original had the soy wax circles with blue and orange dye paste spread on with a credit card.  You can see some of the lines from the applications.  I then wrapped it around a hose, scrunched, dyed, soda ashed, and batched. Ugh but here are the detail shots.

I hope that: 1) I have inspired you to try some of Ann's techniques and 2) don't throw away a "failure" but try, try again.  It may just need a second or third or fourth technique or overdye.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Second Finish

Hi, Judith here again.  Here is a second yard of fabric that I started in February and finished this month.  Again, it is a linen-cotton blend and takes the less strongly than a plain cotton would. Sorry the first picture is blurry.

To tell you the truth, I can't remember for sure how I did this first layer.  I thought that it was another flat dye with orange on one end and turquoise on the other end.  The color is moved into the middle with your hands--same as the first technique yesterday but with two colors rather than just one.  But the more I look at it and the mottling on it, the more I think it is a parfait dye.  What do you think?

I really like it but it is not complex enough to stand alone so on to a second layer.

I used a notched foam brush to paint rows of soy wax.  Here it is half done.

Once completely waxed, I low-water immersion dyed the yard with dark navy and a splash of boysenberry.  I really love the finished fabric.  Here are a couple of detail shots.