More Glue Resist

Experimented with the glue resist again. Each of the pieces  above is approximately 18″x26″; the one in the middle had dye applied once, the one on top and the one on the bottom have been dyed twice. The one on the bottom is silk/rayon velvet, so the colors look richer; otherwise, the fabric is cotton.

I have some different ideas for these designs. One involves couching the prickly pear cactus shapes in dyed yarn. I’d like to layer these pieces so they flow into one another. We’ll see; conceptualizing is always easy, problem-solving a way to bring the idea into reality is another matter entirely!

Glue as Fabric Resist: I’ve Been Schooled

School Glue (i.e. glue that kids can use because it washes out of everything) as a resist is something I’ve wanted to try for a while. Jane Dunnewold recommends it in several of her surface design books.

Just make sure you use school glue. I used Elmer’s School Glue.

I took a simple prickly pear cactus design I’ve used for other projects, reduced it and drew it onto a piece of transparency plastic, then used my overhead projector to draw the repeated design onto a piece of cotton sateen. I first gave the cotton a coat of Jacquard’s No-Flow, a starchy liquid you can put on fabric, which when dries allows you to apply thickened paint/dye with little or no bleeding.

I applied the glue with a dental syringe. I bought a case of syringes from a dental supply company; they have a curved tip, which makes it easier to apply paint/dye. Here’s the glue-as-resist before it dried:

Dried glue on cotton is visible once it’s dry; but I also did the same thing to a piece of rayon/silk velvet (I’ve never used this fabric before, wanted to give it a try), and the glue was practically invisible on that fabric once dried.

I then added some liquid dye concentrate I made from my Procion dye powders, then added a small amount of the liquid dye to print paste to which I added some soda ash….which automatically makes the dye ready to “fix” to whatever natural fiber to which the dye is applied.

There was little bleeding of dye, and this is how the cotton fabric looked once I’d painted it with thickened dye:

The yellow “sun” was unintentional, that was a blob of yellow dye that landed, luckily, in a convenient spot.

This is how the silk/rayon velvet looked:

Once washed in hot water, I lost about 50% of the color in the cotton piece, though it still looks pretty cool:

But I lost less with the silk/rayon:

The velvet had a somewhat frustrating nap to it, and I had to kind of push the pigment into the fabric…so I wound up applying more dye. I applied less dye to the cotton, as it had a smooth surface.

I think the combination of No-Flow AND a resist agent was a bit of over-kill. I think next time I’ll use one or the other, but not both.

I want to use less print paste next time, and thus get more dye–and less paste, which carries the dye but offers no pigment–into the fabric.  Without the dye bleeding.  Also, I may just soak the fabric in soda ash water ahead of time, pin it to a work surface, let it dry and then maybe apply a dilute solution of No-Flow with a sprayer.

I think dye sticks to fabric better when the fabric has already been treated with sodium carbonate. That’s usually how I dye fabric, when I’m applying dye to fabric to create an intentional design (as opposed to creating yardage, then my dyeing strategy is slightly different, or when I’m screen-printingt: in that case, there’s a lot of force applied to squeeze print paste onto fabric, much more force than a mere paint brush).

I find that when I apply dye to fabric already treated with sodium carbonate, my finished piece–once it’s out of a hot-water spin through my washing machine–has lost little of it’s original color.

Plus, when you add dye to print paste with sodium carbonate already in it, the dye starts “fixing” immediately, regardless of whether or not it’s been applied to fabric. So, if you dilly-dally, you might spend a lot of energy painting with thickened dye that’s exhausted.

This was my first time using glue as a resist. I like it.  It held up well.

I plan to over-dye both of these pieces soon. I’ll try to use glue or No-Flow but not both. We’ll see!

Spring Planting Frenzy

Another bi-annual plant sale put on by the Master Gardener’s program at the Cooperative Extension has come and gone; I managed to stop at 14 plants (2 were zinnias for the patio, so they don’t really count). The line started early, as usual:

The sale supposedly runs from 8:00AM–11:00AM, but virtually all the plants are gone in the first hour.

A few days before, in anticipation of having more plants to put in the ground, I dug bricks out of the patio to extend one of my beds:

Slowly but surely, every year I have a little more shade, which means more opportunities to put plants in the ground and have them survive the brutal summer; most plants need some shade in the morning or afternoon, few can handle full-on sun all day long. The green bush above is a Wonderful pomegranate, the tiny tree to the left a desert-adapted peach.

I picked up a variety of plants at the sale: lavender, a columbine that supposedly does well in this climate, some moss verbena….they all went in my newly extended bed. I try to plant stuff that’s good for birds, bees and butterflies:

This is some of the plant matter I yanked out of the ground:

I also planted 2 mission fig trees: you can see one here, hooked up to my crude soaker hose, the light green plant in the back is a wooly butterfly bush, they get quite large and have funny orange-globe-shaped flowers, kind of like globe amaranth.

I’m pooped now! And a bit sunburned.

Update on Projects: Lots of Pans in the Fire

As Murphy said, If something can go wrong….it will. This past 2 weeks I’ve run into a variety of mechanical snafus: my sewing machine had to go back to the shop, again; I got a new front door installed, but in the process my front door light now doesn’t work; my car broke down today (the alternator, I think).

That said, I’ve been working away at some small projects.

I’m not sure how I feel about building frames; my sister gave me the idea to build a couple of right angles as a sort of “template” for building picture frames. Here’s the template, which is 2 right angles squared with a roofing triangle, and glued to a piece of plywood:

I then cut out the pieces for the frame, which if I decide to glue it together, will be glued and clamped one right angle at a time around the template above:

I don’t know how I feel about the frame at this point. I guess I felt a frame might make my fabric art look more legitimate; but now I think it may look better if I put a fabric binding on it and hang it from a hanging sleeve, like my other pieces.  I mean, is a frame really necessary?

I’ll be thinking about that question! Luckily, I can experiment; nothing’s set in stone.

Meanwhile, our 4–6 weeks of spring here in Tucson is in full bloom, at least my patio says so….

…and my wildflowers say so too! I have some tidying up to do and new plants to put in the ground before scorching temps hit next month.

The next few days I’ll be working on some curtains for my friend Mark, who’s in a wheelchair now for 10 years after a bike accident; he loves the Beatles, wants curtains for 2 windows with some Beatles fabric, and right now the project is a pile on my ironing board:

The San Francisco Giants meet the AZ Diamondbacks this weekend, and those games are on the part of the TV that’s still free… looks like I’ll be watching baseball and sewing curtains this weekend!

Silk and Paper Laminated Prickly Pear

Here’s the Prickly Pear silk-and-paper laminated piece, this is the same size as the poppy one I did recently, 19″ x 23″:

I finished quilting it last night; I just outlined the prickly pear and stippled the borders. Unfortunately, the quilting doesn’t really show up in the photo below:

It was cold and rainy here today (the high temp was 57 degrees, and the high was at 1:00 AM); hard to believe it was 95 degrees just a week ago or less. Tomorrow with the clear weather I hope to haul out the mitre saw and try making a frame for this piece. We’ll see!

A Newfie Joke from my Aunt Mary

A Newfie Math Test
A Newfie wants a job, but the foreman won’t hire him until he passes a little 

math test.

“Here is your first question”, the foreman said.  “Without using numbers,

represent the number 9.”

“Without numbers?”  The Newfie says. “Dat is easy.” And proceeds to

draw three trees.

“What’s this?” the boss asks.



“Have you ain’t got no brain?  Tree and tree plus tree makes 9”

says the Newfie.

“Fair enough,” says the boss.  “Here’s your second question.  Use the

same rules, but this time the number is 99.”

The Newfie stares into space for a while, then picks up the picture

that he has just drawn and makes a smudge on each tree… “Ere you go.”


The boss scratches his head and says, “How on earth do you get that to

represent 99?”
“Each of da trees is dirty now.  So, it’s dirty tree, and dirty tree, plus dirty

tree.  Dat makes 99.”

The boss is getting worried that he’s going to actually have to hire

this Newfie , so he says, “All right, last question.  Same rules again, but

represent the number 100.”

The Newfie stares into space some more, then he picks up the picture

again and makes a little mark at the base of each tree and says,

“Ere you go.  One hundred.”

The boss looks at the attempt.  “You must be nuts if you think that

represents a hundred!”

The Newfie leans forward and points to the marks at the base of each tree

and whispers,”A little dog come along and poop by each tree. So now you

got dirty tree and a turd, dirty tree and a turd, and dirty tree and a turd,

which makes ONE HUNDRED!”

The Newfie is the new supervisor.

Art Quilt on Stretcher Bars

Voila. Here’s the poppy piece, which I’m tentatively calling “Mexican Poppy Debutantes”, stapled over the stretcher bars.

Before the (rechargeable) batteries ran out in my camera, this is a (poor) shot I got of the stipling I did on the border:

Now, if I can use my new mitre saw to make a solid, nice looking frame for this I’ll be in business. I just picked up some hardwood molding (oak) at Lowes. Thanks to my sister, Roberta (check out her stuff here), for tips on making frames.


New Doors and a Window

This is the door I painted last weekend. The same father-son team that installed my windows last year put in the door; they took of the steel security door  so I could paint that after work.

It didn’t take too long:

Here it is, finished:

I love my door! The old one was poorly installed; weatherstripping was hanging from the top; the screws holding in the knob were stripped and several times a week I had to use my sewing machine screwdriver (a very small one) to temporarily tighten up the knob.

I asked the guys to take off the security door on the east side of my house, too, as I figured I might as well paint that sad looking and largely unused door:

This door is part of the (inadequately) built addition on my house, in the room where I sew. Here it is after some paint (yellow is supposed to be good for north-east-facing doors, according to feng-shui design principles, though this is probably more east-north-east):

And here it is with the security door:

Probably what I like best is my sewing room transformed from this…

…to this, after swapping out an ancient air-conditioner (I never even turned it on once in over 6 years, thinking the thing would likely blow up if I did) for a cheerful window:

I had piles of tools in my livingroom for part of the week…

and I spent hours after work painting (lucky it’s light till almost 7PM now). No art work done for this week. And I still have to clean my house from all the dust!