Friday, 13 February 2015

Anatomy of a Brooch

These brooches are part of a small collection of jewellery pieces I made for the Rijks Studio project. The Rijksmuseum unloaded a large part of their collection to the internet and then encouraged artists to use the images in their work.
Who could resist that generous offer !!

I decided to combine the wonderful Renaissance portraits of very strong and imposing ladies with the texture of quality Donegal tweed.
I decoupaged the paper prints onto black wood and sealed them. Then I choose a mix of ceramic beads, seed beads and some Czech glass flower beads to attach the portraits to the padded tweed.

The tweed is ‘fringed’ to give a country style look and the brooches are backed with felt.
Little historic portraits to pin on a coat !

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Wild Garden Embroidery

Here I used some wonderful 3mm thickness felt that is a dream to stitch on. It took the eco dye of petals and rusty keys beautifully and already looked like a wild garden before any embroidery threads were added !

I have included some black Victorian lace c1890 and vintage wooden buttons to add some history. I attached matt black beads as a dark contrast and for depth.

Hand dyed sari silk ribbon became roots and greenery with inner seed pod French knots within the folds.  I twisted the silk and frayed here and there.

I choose rich deep colour threads, purples, pinks, lavender, berry shades.

The end result is quite dark and a little mysterious, the flowers are not any particular varieties - but wilder and untamed.
Well that’s my story !!!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Eco Dyeing

This is by no means a tutorial - I am only at the experimenting stage myself.
There are many experts writing in blogs and there are beautiful books on the subject.
This is just my playful and fun attempts!!
I was first prompted to try this form or dyeing having seen the amazing work of India Flint. I am starting with baby steps, to test a few pieces and mainly to have backgrounds for my embroidery and textile art.
I choose to try dyeing with rose petals, eucalyptus leaves .  .  .  and  because I love dark shades .  .  . some rusty keys (take care when using these - don’t lick your fingers!)
(1) Choose the Eco Dye
First have a look at what you have in your garden or if like me you have no garden, find a friendly florist who might sell off or kindly give discarded blooms or cuttings.                                                                    
Gather petals and leaves, darker colours give richer stronger shades. There are lists and colour charts of what’s achievable from various flowers, vegetable skins and leaves to be found on the internet and in the  ‘must have’  books like Eco Colour by India Flint or Colours from Nature by Jenny Dean.
Impatient me just jumped in and winged it with these pieces !!

(2) Choosing the fabric.
I found that silk and felt took the colours best. (Cotton / scrim etc were more hit and miss.)
I soaked the fabric pieces in water with a little vinegar for about an hour. But there are other ‘fixatives’ you can use to attract the dye.
(3) Design a layout.
I then put down waterproof covering on my table (oil cloth or a black bag) and laid out my fabric flat. I arranged the petals / leaves / rusty keys and then rolled into bundles. I found that a thick branch or piece of wood was good to start the rolling. Then I wrapped and tied up with twine. (if you tie up with white or cream cotton knitting wool you get that dyed as well !!)

(4) Steaming.
Next I steamed for 3 hours. I bought a large saucepan to use just for this purpose.

(5) The hard part - waiting.
Allow to dry completely - may take 3 days - 1 week.

(6) The best bit - unwrapping.
Unwrap - pull away all the petals and leaves (dry and keep keys for next time) Iron if you want a flat look and to seal the colours more.

(7) Results.
Then think of what you are going to do with these unique fabrics.

Such fun to do - always a surprise result !!