March 19, 2016

eco-printing with blackberry leaves (again...)

It's been a while since my last post. I wish I could say it's because I've been so busy creating, but to be honest life wasn't treating me very well the last couple of weeks. I've been tired and lazy. I know a professional blog is supposed to use positive writing, and personal problems shouldn't necessarily be mentioned.

March 8, 2016

eco-printing on paper - N°2

Another eco-print on watercolor paper. (Here is N°1) I used blackberry leaves and privet berries. No mordants were used for this print.

Here are some details

March 7, 2016

red onion skins - experimenting with mordants

In a previous post I talked about my first eco-printing experience, where I tried, among other things, ecoprinting with red onion skins. I quickly mentioned that the beautiful pink changed after dipping the fabric into iron and alum mordant. I thought maybe you're interested in how the colors transformed. It's a pity the wide color range right after opening the bundle was gone after the mordant baths. 

Just after opening the bundle

After dipping the fabric into the mordants. Hello disappointment.

March 6, 2016

eco-printing on paper - N°1

Because my first real eco-printing attempt was such a success, I was very motivated to try it again: This time on paper. I put a layer of plant material on a sheet of paper and repeated this process until I  had a nice little stack - about 12 times. I steamed the stack for about an hour and dipped some sheets into alum mordant, some into iron mordant, and some into vinegar. The results were SO different, depending on the mordant and the paper I used. This one for example had an iron afterbath. Because it's winter, I didn't have lots of different plants to choose from. All I had were privet berries, blackberry leaves and a pine branch. The berry-print turned into a beautiful blue after the iron dip! Little by little I will post the other sheets of eco-printed paper.

I put together a collection of some details. 
The second image shows the imprint of the pine branch.

March 2, 2016

sample - winter leftovers

A few days ago I talked about the weird weather changes we are experiencing this year. The sample I made today gives you a good impression of the color mood around our house. Kind of depressing, don't you think? Here and there you can still find a bit of snow. But most of it is gone. I'm looking forward to spring and it's delicate and fresh color palette. For this sample I used some wool of the brown mountain sheep, and a thin layer of white Kap merino. The fabric square is from a cotton "Malhafa", the traditional clothing of women from the Sahrawi society

brown mountain sheep wool, white kap merino wool, cotton fabric

March 1, 2016

felted scarf with (almost antique) linen fibers

Two years ago, when my husband and I got married, I got something very precious from my grandmother: Linen fibers! Not so special you may think, but let me tell you about them: The clothes they were wearing when my grandmother was young, were made out of flax plants they cultivated themselves on their farm. Linen is extremly laborious to manufacture. If you're interetsed you can read about the whole process here. The linen fibers I got from her are still leftovers from her childhood.

February 29, 2016

sample- imitating nature - snow spheres

It is snowing again. The weather changes are so weird this year! 16°C and sun one day, freezing cold and snowing the next day. I wouldn't mind, if it spared me from those headaches. When leaving the house today everything was covered in white again. So I thought this sample I made some time ago fits todays mood. The wool I used is from the Tiroler Bergschaf. Pretty rough wool, but it works really well.

Tiroler Bergschaf wool

If you have a spare minute you can read here about my passion for felt samples.

February 28, 2016

treasury pouch - bacteria

I made another treasury pouch. For this one I used some hand dyed cotton gauze and black merino wool. The piece of fabric stitched to the backside is some hand dyed bourette silk leftover. It took a bath in the same dyeing pot as the wool I used for this wall-hanging. The yellow button is made out of bamboo. I like the color combination of teal, yellow and rusty dusky pink (not sure what's the best name for this color...).

February 25, 2016

scarf - blue lagoon

I got some turquois cotton fabric from a very good friend this summer. It looks and feels very luxurious, almost like heavy silk! It's so shiny and smooth. I wasn't sure if it's going to work for nuno felting at first, but when making a sample all my doubts faded. I was very surprised how quickly the wool connected with the densly woven fabric. I couldn't help adding some stitching and 2 pieces of hand-dyed wool etamine leftovers to the finished scarf. 

February 24, 2016

color of the day - rain in Paris

I lived in Paris for 3 years. I have some good memories about that time. Summer pic-nics with friends, a cinema next door, riding the velib' regardless of the weather, great concerts, museum visits, beatuiful people, busy flea markets and the city-flare are just a few things I miss about Paris. But I have to admit that I'm glad I don't live there anymore. I felt creatively trapped in our 35m² appartement - not able to realize all those ideas I had in mind. Extremely frustrating! And I don't know about you, but from my experience the less I do, the less I want to do, the less I do. Because I couldn't create due to the lack of space I lost inspiration little by little. When moving to Austria, it took some time to regain motivation and inspiration. I needed to force myself to just start doing anything, no matter what! Gladly it worked and the passion which I thought had been lost came back. 

What came out of the dyeing pot today reminded me of Paris. It's strange and magical how colors have the ability to stir up moods and memories. 

hand dyed silk fibers, color inspiration found on tumblr 

February 23, 2016

felt gloves - granite

In the last post I talked about my passion for samples. I especially like imitating textures and colors found in nature. But sometimes it's the other way around: Here it was the sample that reminded me of the surface of a granite stone. I already used the combination of white fabric and black wool many times. I like the high contrast and the texture. For the gloves I used super soft black merino wool and organic cotton batiste. 

black merino wool, organic cotton fabric

sample - imitating nature - pebble

Did I already talk about how much I love felt samples? Well, I do! Over time I have accumulated a huge amount of samples! They help me understand the properties of different kinds of wool, fabrics and fibers. Before starting a bigger project, I need them to calculate the shrinkage, the amount of wool and to determine the quality I want. Sometimes I just do a sample for fun (or to procrastinate a project). I have about 15 other samples where I tried to recreate the surface and texture of a stone. Every sample is different, none of them is perfect, but I don't mind. Those small projects are not about the result. I see them as some kind of inspirational relaxation-excercise with a learning factor. They are about engaging with the subject, reflecting about the approach and experimentation. When I have no inspiration, making a sample helps me finding it again. I always take notes, but because I'm not very organised I never know in which of my many notebooks I wrote them. Still I learn from every piece.

For this sample I used different kinds of undyed, natural wool and an unbleached linen cheese cloth.

February 22, 2016

pillow - blackberry leaves

This is another pillow I made out of eco-printed fabric. For this one I used blackberry leaves. If you're interested you can check out the making-of here. Like the other pillow, I washed this one at 40°C in the washing machine. With the same result - no color changes! I think I slightly prefer this one.

February 21, 2016

pillow - privet berries

This pillow is made out of fabric recently eco-printed with privet berries. Here you can read about how it was done.
I already washed the pillow at 40°C in the washing machine, and the color didn't change or fade a bit!  Not sure about the color fastness of those berries though. We'll see if it will pale over time. 

making of - dyeing the fabric

February 20, 2016

eco-printing - blackberry leaves and privet berries

Even though eco-printing exists since quite some time, it seems to be really in at the moment. There are so many workshop-offers, and the internet is full of tutorials, and pictures of amazing eco-printed pieces of art! I made my first eco-printing experience last summer: I collected some random flowers, branches, leaves and berries, laid them onto a piece of cotton fabric and rolled it up into a loose bundle. I threw the bundle into some boiling water for an hour or so, rinsed it with some cold water so I could open it - et voilà! My piece of fabric had an undeniable similarity with a dirty cleaning cloth. After this first disappointment I gave up.... until this winter! Just the most ungrateful time of the year when you want a variety of what the local flora has to offer. I have no idea what kind of european plants are good for eco-printing. When searching for informations, I read a lot about eucalyptus leaves and a series of other exotic plants that don't grow in europe. All I could find during my walk through the woods were blackberry leaves, a pine branch and some mysterious berries (by now I know they are privet berries!). 

I informed myself about mordants, which of them are toxic and how to use them. I decided to go with a rather harmless iron mordant. I read about the importance of scouring the fibers, by washing them (or even boiling them) in some sopy water. I boiled my cotton fabrics for about an hour in sopy water, and laid it flat on the table, without rinsing out the soap. 

Afterwards I dipped each blackberry leave into the iron mordant before laying it onto one of the fabrics. I wasn't quite sure which side of the leave should touch the fabric, so I varied a little bit. My biggest worry was the thick thorns of the blackberry leaves, which penetrated the fabric. I still don't know how to solve this problem in the future. Maybe by pressing them for some time before using it for printing?

I put the privet berries on another piece of fabric. 

Some onion skins, black tea, and blackberry leaves on the third one.

Here they are - ready for a bath steam:

February 18, 2016

a colorful scarf

You may have noticed by now, that I don't use many colors in my projects. I can't quite explain why. I like colorful pieces of art, crafts and clothing made by other people, and colors play an important role in my personal life, but for my projects I have some kind of blockage when it comes to using a lot of different colors at once. No idea where this comes from! If you count black as a color, I usually use about 1-3 colors in one project. 
The day I made this scarf I sort of longed for colors. It felt like a chocolate-craving, only that it wasn't chocolate I was craving, but colors. I didn't think upfront what colors I was going to use but just let myself go. I was spontaneous! It was fun, but to be honest, I was a little bit stressed all the time, constantly asking myself if the colors fit together. In the end I was very pleased with the result! I experienced that letting myself go colorwise spured my creativity. I hope to become braver in the future, because honestly - what's the worst that can happen? That I don't like the result? Well, it happend before. I'll get over it.
The scarf is nuno-felted and the fabrics are all dyed by myself. I used some green cotton gauze, purple pongé silk and orange chiffon silk. The wool I used was mostly hand dyed merino wool. I stitched some linen and cotton fabrics to the scarf afterwards.

hand-dyed wool, hand-dyed silk, cotton fabric, linen fabric, hemp thread

February 15, 2016

wall-bag N°1 - blue moon

Wall-bags are my favorite felting projects! I don't know if it's because making them is so much fun or because of how much I like felt (and other fabrics) on walls. Probably both. I believe that they, even more than paper (may it be prints, drawings, paintings, photographs) take away the cold and empty feeling of walls and give a cosy, homey touch to the room. The functional side is rather secondary, because you can't fit a lot of stuff into them. But I still like to have the option to use it as a wall-storage for tiny things. 
The left side is felted with some hand dyed merino wool. I made one large piece, fold it in half and stitched it together with an hemp thread, keeping out 2 areas for the pockets. I cut the slits after the stitching. For the right side I used black kap merino wool. If you want a soft and smooth surface, but a very stiff felt, kap merino is your choice of wool! It felts so well, and shrinks so quickly! Just watch the amount of water and soap you use - because if you use too much of both, you may experience the wool "running away", and your project getting bigger instead of smaller. For the blue half-circle I used some hand dyed schappe-silk fibers. They look like a batch of wool, but are a little bit softer and shinier. For the border of the half-circle, I cut about a dozen pieces of linen thread, and fixed them by stitching around with a hemp thread. I tried as hard as I could to create an even line, but it got quite bumpy. The texture is very interesting though. For the big blue pocket I used the bourette silk I dyed earlier

hand dyed bourette, hand dyed wool, hand dyed schappe silk, linen thread

February 14, 2016

color of the day - blood-red

Today I dyed some raw wool locks. I haven't found the perfect way of dyeing raw wool yet. If I use undyed raw wool for felting, I don't bother washing it beforehand, because all the dirt goes away during the felting process. When it comes to dyeing I don't want to throw the dirty wool into the pot. So I try to wash them with as little friction as possible, and without soap, so they don't felt together. I do so, by soaking them in water for about 12-24 hours, slowly stirring every few hours. This gets off most of the dirt, but still not all of it. To get out the excess water I put it into a spin-dryer afterwards. Red in all it's different shades is my favorite color at the moment. I wonder if there is a deeper meaning to it?

old polaroid, hand dyed raw locks

February 13, 2016

nuno felted poncho

This is probably the biggest felting project I did so far. Here is a link to the pattern that inspired me. I used black merino wool and hand dyed black silk fibers as well as thin black and beige crinkled cotton fabric. It took me a few hours to cut out and stitch together the black and beige cotton stripes. But it was worth the work, because then I didn't have to pay attention if everything stayed in place during felting. Even though I did a few samples, the hardest part was to guess at what stage during the felting process, with how much distance and in what size to cut the button holes.

February 11, 2016

color of the day - black

From my experience dyeing black with acid dye is not so easy. My first attempts were really disappointing. I just couldn't get rid of the purple shade. I told you here that I always use dye in the correct proportion to the fiber - usually 50ml of liquid dye for 100g of fiber. Well, not with black. I figured that I need more dye to get a deep black color. I think the ratio is about 1,5:2 instead of 1:2. As you can see, it worked really well for the silk fibers. The bourette fabric, was pre-dyed in a yellow tone, knotted up shibori style, and thrown into the dye pot as well. You can't really tell from the picture, but believe me, it became a beautiful black too. There is a catch though: The fibers didn't soak up all the color from the pot, so the water wasn't clear in the end. I decided to throw in another piece of wool, with a squint of vinegar. The result is some light grey. Maybe I'll show you someday. 

silk fibers and bourette 

February 9, 2016

small treasury pouch (bourette and linen fabric)

Another treasury pouch. I already told you about my passion about those little bags here. I collect leftover fabrics to create those pouches and sometimes I cut off a piece of a larger fabric (like I did here with the linen fabric you can see in the background). For this pouch I also used a leftover piece of hand dyed bourrette silk and some black and red cotton leftovers. The single fabric pieces are sewn together with the machine, the rest was stitched by hand. 

hand dyed bourette, linen fabric, red cotton fabric, hemp thread

February 1, 2016

scarf - amethyst

A long time ago, I dyed some old cotton fabrics with the "Dylon - Antique grey" dye. Out of curiosity I threw in a piece of white pongé silk. While the cotton fabric turned to a beautiful greenish grey, the silk came out purple. Purple is my least favorite color, so I was not very pleased. I have a big stack of light fabrics, perfect for nuno felting, at home. Mostly cotton, but also silk and linen. Some of those fabrics are so pretty, that I don't dare using them. I'm just too scared to mess them up. Usually I make felting samples before starting a piece, but with a lot of fabrics I have just enough for one project but not for samples. Same with this piece of silk. But because I don't like purple, I wasn't scared to create something with it. I used some very soft black merino wool, some hand dyed blue and green wool, and a very small amount of orange wool, just enough to create one fringe. I'm so happy with the result! In combination with the black wool, I even like the purple. The scarf is extremly soft and smooth on the skin and has a lot of funky fringes.

January 29, 2016

pencil case - raw wool from the Jura-sheep

Another small treasury pouch, which can be used as a pencil case. The wool is from the Jura-sheep. A farmer who lives about 6 km away owns a few of those beautiful sheep. The wool felts extremly well and I love the raw look of it.

January 23, 2016

color of the day - mediterranean sea

I'm not a summer person, but I'm a holiday person! There is a huge difference! I hate being in a city during summer, I don't like working when it's hot outside. But I love traveling (to a place with water to jump in). This old polaroid, I took a few years ago during a summer vacation in the south of France. I stayed one month in Toulouse with the man who is now my husband. One day we went on a roadtrip to the mediterranean sea. We didn't take the highway, but idyllic small roads. We stopped to pick up some fresh grapes, which we ate in the car, windows down, enjoying the wind on our sunburned skin, listening to cocorosie. Those memories keep me warm on a cold day like today.

January 20, 2016

color of the day - khaki with red

This piece of bourette silk is an example of a not wanted not expected outcome. I wanted a brownish shade but instead it's khaki with some red. One of the reasons why it's so far away from the desired color is, that I already mixed the red powder with water a few weeks ago. The red liquid turned into a clotty jelly that didn't mix well with the other colours. I can't say I don't like the result though. 

bourette silk

January 12, 2016

ocean blue treasury pouch

This small treasury pouch was made with the dyed wool from the previous post. It's nuno felted with a piece of unbleached linen cheese cloth and sewn together with hemp thread. Stitching on felt is really meditative by the way. I believe the wooden 'button' is a leftover from a necklace. Because of my inability to throw anything away, that may be useful some day, I kept this little guy for ages in one of my little boxes. Since I was a kid I loved small bags and recipients to put my stuff in. I have a fairly big collection at home. Most of them are empty though. I don't possess enough treasuries to fill them.

hand dyed blue wool, unbleached linen cheese cloth, wooden button, hemp thread