Sunday, July 31, 2011

QBL Part 2

There are so many things I want to say about my week at Quilting by the Lake that I have been trying to condense into one reasonably sized post, but today I just gave up and started writing. Jane Dunnewold walked into class Monday morning and we were soon moving from the familiar territory of the basics of dyeing and fabric manipulation to dyeing silk and rayon and making stencils.  By the evening of the first day the common room of our dorm suite--all three of us in the suite were taking the same class--was covered with color, all small samples drying for the next step the next morning:
My fabric is on the coffee table in the upper left of this picture. Most of these fabrics went through an another overdye bath and some even a second overdyeing, and soon some of them were becoming backgrounds for the stamps, stencils, and paint.

"Now is the time to experiment with a color you don't like," Jane said at one point, and so I tried orange with my sun stencil, a color I shy away from using.
This is a piece of silk, although the photo does not pick up the luster. I fell in love with silk during this class, the way it takes dye, the way it moves, the way it shimmers, the way it feels.

Another piece of silk became a beautiful mottled purple after three dyeings, and then took two layers of stenciling, the second layer with a metallic paint. 
One of the assignments was to choose a background with a gridlike pattern and add shape/color to it:
This is a rayon fabric, and I began with adding the colored rectangles and later in the week when we learned how to apply gold leaf, I added that. I think I am ready to add some stitching and see how the gold leaf responds.

We also made stamps and then played with creating a repetitive background pattern.
While we were learning all these techniques, we were also getting a hands-on course in color theory since we had to mix paints to create analogous or complementary colors, according to the assignment.  And I finally understood how a color wheel really comes in handy.  

Another new technique I got to try out was screen printing, and probably due to beginner's luck, I really like the piece. We covered our screens with flour paste, let it dry, and then scratched something into the dried paste. For some reason, I was thinking of all the beautiful tall grass in the fields I walk through with Terra each morning and so drew four grass stems. Jane suggested I print several of the same image on the same sample fabric, just moving the screen a bit each time, and adding another color after a couple of prints. This is the original background that I manipulated and overdyed one more time to get the soft grid behind the grass:
And here is the printed piece:
It was calling for something more--a round moon that I originally thought would be gold leaf, but I waited until I got home to decide and ultimately added two layers of tulle so that you can still see the grass through it.
I am not sure what I will do with this sample yet, but it's good enough to take to another stage.

So here's a picture of Jane "wrapping up" the class, after a very stimulating, busy, exhausting, hot week. (Thank goodness for air conditioning as we broke 100 degrees one day!)
I'll save the analysis for the next post. And if you're still reading, thanks for the company!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Composted fabric

So my little packets of compost bin fabric had been air curing in our barn while I was away and I couldn't wait to take a peek at them. It had been the requisite couple of weeks and there they were, looking rather......mummified:
The next step was supposed to be discarding the grass they had originally been wrapped around and hanging them out on a clothesline to cure a couple more days--no mention of what to do when they were desiccated and board-like. 

So I soaked them in cold water for a bit and began to carefully pull them apart. And now I know what you get when you put fabric in a compost bin--composted fabric.
Perhaps our compost bin is just a bit too enthusiastic, but the fabric had begun to digest just like the vegetable peelings and weeds that had surrounded it. Cotton does, after all, come from a plant and should react the same way. 
One site that I had consulted online had said that bug damage could be a problem, but she optimistically went on to say that a couple of holes would be acceptable for the kind of quilts she makes. This is way beyond a couple of holes. No pictures, by the way, of how her experiment turned out. As a matter of fact, I realize now that there was a curious absence of pictures of the finished products.

Anyway, the fabric fell apart in my hands, just as if it had been in a tomb for a couple of centuries. But when I looked closely at some of the bigger bits, there were some intriguing patterns of a rich brown color that made me wish this had turned out better.
Hmmm. Perhaps if I let it compost only a week, instead of a month. . . .

Oh, and if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

QBL Part 1

I drove off to Quilting by the Lake last Sunday and Jane Dunnewold's New Complex Cloth class with plans to blog during the week. I even took a couple of pictures the first of my work-filled workspace.
But I never got even a few minutes to throw together a blog post. Jane kept us all busy--all the time. Got home last night exhausted and excited about the possibilities in what I learned. More details later but right now  laundry and putting away all the stuff I took with me is occupying all the energy this swampy hot day has left me. 

And if you are still reading, thanks for the company and hope it's cooler wherever you are.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Warning! Yucky Pictures Ahead

As I continue to tumble through this busy summer, quilting and blogging seem to have taken a back seat to visiting kids and grandkids, cleaning for overnight guests, and helping a fledgling growers' market take root, but I have not forgotten the grand experiment. I began to worry a bit about it since the weather has been quite warm and the compost, I was sure, was cooking away. It was actually a bit hard to identify the two packets of fabric and grass among all the rotting veggies, but after mucking about a bit, I was able to get a picture so you can share the entire process with me.

It did look like one corner of one of the packets had started to decompose so it was definitely time to move on to the next stage--letting the bundles cure for a couple of weeks. But since this whole experiment is more serendipity than planned, I had not thought about where this curing would take place. In case you didn't get the full glory of their rottiness, here is a picture of them lying on the ground.

I thought about just leaving them there, but we live in a rural area with raccoons, foxes, and even the occasional bear wandering through, any of which might pick up a strange bundle, not to speak of what Terra, our domestic lover of rotty things, might decide to do with them.

Strangely enough, they do not smell much--a good mix of ingredients in the compost should not smell as it cooks and I guess we were lucky this time, but there is enough of an aura about them that I did not want them in the basement. The barn seemed possible and Tom, who has been my intrepid helper, found some old open weave plant trays to put over them, held down by a heavy bucket. They should get enough air circulation to get the curing process going and yet won't be easily carried off by some curious critter.

So we are back in the waiting period again for a couple of weeks. And if you are still with me, even after those pictures--the next should not be quite so disgusting--thanks for the company!