Kumihimo and Wire

Typically when I use wire for my kumihimo work, I use 20 gauge plated copper. If you are familiar with wire and done any work with it you know that 20 gauge is right on the edge of the readily finger malleable gauges. Getting ‘perfect’ tension with this gauge is always a challenge and you must be ready to show the wire (after acknowledging it superiority) who really is the boss!

On a traditional maru dai shorter lengths can be mastered. For longer pieces, however, the need to readjust the counterweight often leads to unwanted bends in the wires or a misaligned braid and always a few tension issues. A solution presented to our local weaving group a few months ago for another problem led me to my solution. I just needed a much taller mau dai with a few added features and I was on my way.

I am very pleased with the braids shown. The tension in both comes close to rivaling braids of silk.

P.S. These braids are in the Member’s exhibit at the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas (www.weavetexas.org) June 2nd thru June 4th at the Sugar Land Marriott hotel.

Getting Back To It

May 9 2017 013

Crepe de Chine

Been busy this spring focusing on things other than my botanical printing. Have printed a few since the end of last year but some of them ended up looking like I had completely lost my ‘mojo’. The leaves I had dried or frozen just didn’t look like they were coming through for me. There were a few gems, however, that I was very pleased with.

May 9 2017 012

Silk Habotai

May 9 2017 015

Silk Habotai

May 9 2017 028

Crepe de Chine

May 9 2017 022

Silk Habotai

I just started using crepe de chine. I like the softness of print that you can get with silk chiffon but sometimes it is too soft. Crepe de chine still results in soft images but they are a bit bolder.

Also acquired some silk charmeuse. Have printed one and am very pleased. It is still resting before the wash. Will post the results later.

Asia Society

Very fond of bamboo art and finally had a chance to get to see the Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art exhibit at the Asia Society.

Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art
28 January 2017 – 30 July 2017
Featuring a selection of works from 16 Japanese artists, including rare wall-hung installations and works never before seen in Houston, ‘Modern Twist’ both engages and educates audiences about a vibrant cultural art form.

The pieces were absolutely stunning. Easy to see how they took several months to a year to create.

My husband went with me to the exhibit and he was as fascinated as I was by the complex and beautiful work. I may be able to get him to go see them again before the exhibit closes.

Indigo Project Complete (Almost)

Project Complete

Finally, all the dyeing (for the items I had) is done for the ‘big project’. The picture shows them still wet and they took over 2 days to dry. Fortunately, I had a nice large plastic cover to protect them from my feathery visitors. Now they just need to be untied and let rest for several days before their first washing. I’ll try to remember to take a few pictures to share the results. They can then join the others, already done, for their final wash and pressing (groan – I know there are those who think ironing is a great way to get instant gratification but I’m not one of them). Anyway, I now look forward to working on my personal projects; shibori and indigo dyeing is included.

Natural Dye Experiments

Haven’t had much time to do any eco printing recently but still had the need to do ‘something’. While reorganizing my studio spaces after the new flooring, I came across some botanicals I had stashed for a play day. I had a lot of acorns and a pile of avocado pits (I had to take out of my freezer to make room for food. Can you imagine!). I also had a stash of pomegranate rinds.

I had purchased some linen and used aluminum acetate as a mordant. The first things I ‘cooked up’ were the pomegranate rinds. They were covered with water and simmered for an hour or so. I got a nice brown solution. I ripped off a piece of the linen and simmered it in half of my pomegranate solution. After an hour of simmering I let the fabric sit in the pot for a day. After drying the fabric sat for a few days before washing.

pomegranate feb 2017

Pomegranate

I read that tumeric will become a bit more lightfast when combined with pomegranate. So I added some tumeric to the rest of my pomegranate solution. The fabric simmered for an hour, sat in the solution for a day, was dried and allowed to sit for a few days before washing. To test the lightfastness, I have torn off a strip of fabric from the sample. Half of the strip is laying on a north facing windowsill. The other half of the strip is in a dark drawer. Will check them in about 3 months.

acorn/tumeric-pomegranate feb 2017

Acorn-Tumeric w/Pomegranate

To the left of the tumeric fabric, in the above photo, is the fabric I dyed with acorns. I had 2 gallon sized zipper bags full. I put all of them in a pot, covered them with water and simmered until I had a beautiful dark brown solution. Using a third of the solution I simmered a piece of linen for about an hour. I let it dry and sit for a couple of days before I washed it. I don’t think the photo shows what a wonderful golden brown the fabric became.

avocado pits/acorn feb 2017

Avocado Pits-Acorn

In the photo above, to the left of the acorn fabric, is the fabric dyed with avocado pits. I had about 50 avocado pits which had started to develop a nice mold. I covered these with water and simmered them for about an hour or two. I used about one third of the resulting solution to dye this piece of fabric. This fabric was also allowed to rest after drying for a couple of days before washing.

In all the examples, the plant material was processed in a stainless steel pot. The solution was obtained after straining off the plant material. All the solutions used were diluted with water to allow for the fabric to move freely in the dye bath. The fabric was also processed in a stainless steel pot.

avocado/acorn/tumeric/pomegranate feb 2017

Avocado Pits-Acorn-Tumeric w/Pomegranate
Pomegranate

I think all the colors came out beautifully. I’m ready to do more.

At Last!

A few years after moving into our house, I set up a home maintenance piggy bank. Anyone living in a house will know exactly what it’s for; houses are greedy things. The house was new and automatically came with, at that time, carpeting throughout. In a couple of years everyone knows what happens to that kind of carpeting, so we began to replace the carpet on the first floor with nice hard, easy to clean surfaces. Many years went by and the second floor became my studio space as well as storage space for show supplies. The place was packed full. Every time I looked at those floors, with their now really old and yucky carpeting, I didn’t know how or when I was going to get those floors redone.

Old flooring (ugh!):

new floors before

Finally, last fall I made a decision; it was now or never. So I called in our flooring people and we looked over the situation. It was suggested that they could find some packing help for me. I considered it very seriously but then thought, I would have to be with them all the time anyway to help sort so why not just do it myself. There were 3 rooms involved. With all that was in those rooms there was no way they could be done at one time. I started with the main studio and largest room. I packed and moved and packed and moved. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw the room so empty. The room was now ready to be done and the work started immediately after the first of the year. They leveled and installed the flooring in a whole lot less time I took to pack! I told them to come back in 2 weeks to do the other 2 rooms. So now I unpacked (and half put away) and then packed and moved and packed and moved.

new floors packed 1

new floors packed 2

Once again the installers leveled and installed the flooring in slick quick time. The floors looked great. The walls looked like crap. Painters came in. Now there are 2 rooms with fresh paint. I’m still trying to get things unpacked (in all 3 rooms) and put back where I think they should be.

Actually, there were a lot of ‘wins’ from this exercise. I managed to clear out, while packing, things no longer used; some will be sold, some will be donated. I am doing the same thing while putting things away; finding more things to ‘re-home’. Now maybe I can get back to working on my projects. Lots to do for me and lots to do before the CHT conference in June.  I’m ready for a lot of creative time.

A quick peak at the floor:

new floors

These kinds of projects just make one feel righteous!

Japonisme

Another wonderful workshop at the 2016 International Quilt Festival. This one was with Houston’s own Ginny Eckley. What a talented artist she is as well as a great teacher. Our topic was ‘Japonisme’: the Japanese influence on art nouveau. This was my first foray into silk painting and silk screening. These things are way outside my comfort zone. I was, however, determined to give them a try and see what happened and what techniques I could, perhaps, transfer to my current endeavors.

Below is my test piece. The goal was to find out what colors worked, the required saturation and their effect on one another.

Below is my second and final piece. I decided to go for minimalism: color and details. Someone in our workshop had done, for her test piece, a sample using dark grays. I liked the look but wanted the colors even lighter. Because my colors are so muted they were difficult to photograph. The upper left corner is a green gray. The lower left corner is gray. The fabric was then washed with a pale yellow. My butterfly had a little too much ink on it but it turned out okay after I added a few bits of yellow and orange to the body.

IQF 2016 Japonisme 2

Not sure these processes are in my future but, who knows, I may be able to combine techniques in a way I hadn’t considered as yet. And the workshop was worth getting up at 5:30!