Thursday, July 18, 2013

U of A Surface & Textile Design course

Lucky me, last week I got to go to the world's coolest summer camp!

As part of the University of Alberta's Residential Interiors certificate program (which I'm still gradually completing), they are offering a handful of courses as one-week intensives (instead of a weekly evening class), including Surface and Textile Design. Our instructor for this very hands-on studio course was fibre artist Lesley Stafiniak. We learned wet-felting, needle-felting, shibori, batik, and silk-painting techniques, watched a documentary about natural dyes, and discussed pattern creation techniques. My mind is still buzzing with all the possibilities.

For the projects we painted onto silk habotai, we used Procion H and gutta as the resist. The yellow didn't want to stay in solution, so all our colours were a bit off after steam-setting and washing. Here are my three silk projects: a colour wheel, a mandala drawn from scratch using tracing paper, and a repeat pattern. Other students did gorgeous, inventive work for their repeat patterns, but I wanted more time for my other final project, so I used a folk pattern used in hooked rugs that I could draw in my sleep instead.

My colour wheel before steaming and rinsing.
The pencil marks will wash out eventually.
My notes on sketch paper - the process felt like titration, only of colour instead of pH.
My mandala turned into a spiderweb, complete with a spider in grey gutta in the centre.
My alcohol dewdrops didn't quite turn out, because I had let the dye dry before adding them.
The texture you see around the outside is salt - this is before steaming and washing.
My lamb's tongue pattern, drawn in the traditional way by tracing around the toes of my shoes. I used black gutta for this one. After painting, before steaming and washing.
After steaming and washing - see how the lime green turned to mint? By this time I knew the yellow would wash out, so I'd colour planned it accordingly with my daughter's wardrobe in mind.
My favourite work from the course was shibori, done with synthetic indigo on cotton pima. I was able to bring some extra cloth (a bedsheet) from home to do some extra pieces to exhaust the baths. Here are a few of the photos I snapped with my phone during class:

Synthetic indigo in its reduced state, before adding to the final vat.
It needs to be reduced to be water-soluble and bind to the cloth. 
Arashi (pole-wrapped and bound) using ikat tape. 
After unwinding the sample from the pole.
Ori-nui using quilting thread. It needs to be really tight to get bite-marks. 
Finished ori-nui sample.
An attempt at sekka (snowflakes) using triangular folds and elastics around the corners,
on one of my exhaust-bath experiments. Didn't quite work but I like the pattern.
The kumo (spiderweb) pattern, scaled way up using a large marble and ikat tape.
This exhaust-bath experiment was repeated for the top third of my final project.  
This is my final project coming out of the second dip.
That yellowish-green you see is the indigo oxidizing before our eyes.
My final project after three dips, before unbinding.
Unbound, and the top third capped (not properly) and stitch-resisted (not tightly enough)
before a single dip of just that part of the cloth.
Completed final project.
Ne-maki, itajime, ori-nui, mokume, and tsujigahana techniques are all represented.
When I get it back, I'll embellish it with a bit of embroidery.
You'll notice that none of the indigo samples went really dark - to get that, you need more dipping and drying between dips than we had time for during the course. I also made the rookie mistake of machine-washing and -drying some of my samples, and they lost a fair bit of contrast as a result.

PS: I have many more samples than are shown in these photos. My plan is to vat dye another couple of cut-up bedsheets, then piece them back together to create a sampler quilt. (Now that our queen bed is only used for guests, we don't need all that bedding, so this is a great way to creatively repurpose it for use on a king-size bed!)

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