one felted cushion front

From the painted silk…

painted silk

To the fleece laid out on the reverse…

silk and fleece

through several hours of rolling, rubbing and throwing, to the front of a cushion-to-be.

felted piece


detail 2

Now I’ve just got to find all the work I’ve done for this assignment, and get it sent off to my tutor. Weaving next!

time to do the ironing

About 20 years ago I bought a big bag of silk cocoon strippings from a lovely fibrecraft shop in a barn in Elterwater in the Lake District, sadly long closed, and for a while played happily with this magical stuff that needs only an iron and water to turn it into a papery textile. I used to add scraps of fabric and paper, silk fibres and sequin waste and embedded lace, bits torn out of magazines and coloured tissue – the sericin left in the cocoon strippings is strong enough to hold all kinds of things, though it works best if they’re light and flat. Mostly I used this for cards and made a couple of wall pieces and then I ran out of steam and other things took over, but the silk stayed in a box on the shelf.

I hadn’t thought about it for ages till Alan reminded me how much I used to enjoy it, so last weekend I got out the ironing board and spent a couple of hours ironing away – I have to admit that creative ironing is almost the only kind I ever do.

I tried incorporating a few different materials and some were more successful than others. These samples include bits of felt, merino fibres, thowsters’ waste, bamboo fibres, sari yarn and a lacy fabric.

silk paper

I like the way the sari yarn bleeds dye into the surface (at the bottom of the biggest piece, and the little piece on the left in the middle). The felt and merino fibres were the only things I tried that didn’t bond so well; at least, they need a high ratio of cocoon strippings to stick to, and you get loose bits and ‘floating’ layers. That could be a feature, but it makes the textile more fragile.

silk paper

In the next sample I carded about equal quantities of silk and merino for a while to mix them. I like this effect.

silk paper

Bamboo fibre and synthetic lace fabric both bond very well.

silk paper

I like the fact that you can do a lot of experiments in a relatively short time, which is good when you’re not feeling very creative, and a little silk goes a long way. There are lots of lovely possibilities.

I unwrapped my rusty calico soon after the new year, not a finished piece of fabric really – I don’t think it stayed wet enough, but a start for some overdyeing, anyway. I like the marks on the left. I’m ordering some silk so I can try pole-wrapping that now I’m here to keep an eye on it.

rusted calico

seaweed bundles

First of all I hope it’s not too late to say Happy New Year, I can’t believe that was a week ago already.

The kinds of seaweed lying around on the beach here at Crossapol when the tides goes out seem to vary from day to day. I’ve been thinking about gathering some for making cold-dyed fabric bundles as shown in India Flint’s book Eco-Colour, but most of it is in large and heavy bunches and would require the kind of forethought that seems to be beyond me at the moment, such as taking a carrier bag along. However, yesterday there were some kinds of thin string-like weed, easy to carry and great, I thought, for wrapping bundles. I collected a small assortment and brought it home.

kinds of seaweed

I laid out most of the branched pieces with bladders on a piece of damp habotai silk …

ready to bundle 

… then rolled it up and wrapped it with the long flat pieces. There were a couple of little bits of the flat stuff left and one that is like string with just the odd bladder along its length – not branched, so I concertina-folded another small piece of silk, laid the flat weed inside the folds and wrapped this with the stringy piece.

seaweed wrappings

I sprayed the bundles with a mister, put them into a glass jar, covered it with a bit of plastic, and have put the jar outside for a while. India says at least a week and a month isn’t too long. I will check them daily in case they start to go mouldy but hope I can resist opening them up for a fortnight or more. My hands were a bit orange after I’d done this but as this is new to me I don’t know if that indicates anything about the final outcome.

ready to cure

Nothing to do with seaweed, but I couldn’t resist sharing these lovely fibres, merino and bamboo, in the colours of the winter machair with some sunset thrown in, which I got in my Christmas stocking, complete with bog myrtle soap bought at the Farmhouse Café here on Tiree. I’m told it’s good for eczema so I’m hoping it will be kind on the hands if I use it for felting.

fibres and soap

still here – just

September and October have flown silently by and it’s only just over a week till our move to Tiree. If I had time to think about it I’d be full of trepidation, but as I still have masses of packing to do, and there are a few other little chores like the quarterly VAT return to get out of the way meanwhile, I don’t suppose I will have any time to think at all.

Not content with my inability to keep up with one blog, I’ve started a second one as well, Tiree journal, (and I’ve been neglecting that one too). I don’t plan to separate life and art or anything like that, but I do want to keep the focus here mainly on textiles, and I know I’ll also want to keep a record of this adventure we’re setting out on, or I’ll forget.

Not much to report on the art front, but here is a little piece of silk, an experiment in ‘painting’ with stitch resist, made before I packed up the equipment. I am so looking forward to getting everything out of boxes at the other end and getting back to making.

stitched resist sample

Thank you to everyone who’s left a comment in the last month or two – if I didn’t reply, I apologise. It will be lovely to be able to catch up with you all soon. Just a few ferry journeys between now and then…

tiny steps

It’s funny how sometimes you seem to be making giant strides and things are falling into place all around you, and other times every tiny step (or stitch…) seems like a huge effort and then you stop altogether for a while. June has been one of those latter times for me, and this is all I’ve done, creatively speaking, since last time I blogged.

gathering calico

I love these effects (and of course I immediately want to dye them!). But I need to go much further and, for that, time must be set aside and guarded.

Plenty of other things have been happening, with work, family and life in general – good things, but time consuming. However, I was determined when I started the OCA course to not let the stuff that happens get in the way of spending at least 15 minutes on textile work each day, and I haven’t been doing that. I miss a day, then two, then a week…

Well, I wrote this to motivate myself and for a bit of accountability so I’m heading off to my workroom now, but before I go, a shout out to any members of the UK Embroiderers’ Guild who read this. Members have set up a web ring and a Flickr group to share work and celebrate being part of the Guild. Please join in and spread the word in your branch and region :-).