Monday, 28 April 2014

Final Session "Stitch Your Way Around the World"

Jan and I completed the final “Stitch Your Way Around the World” project for this session of the Calgary Public Library with a return visit to the Ukraine.

Participants could choose from two different Ukrainian cross stitch patterns and learn about aida cloth and counted cross stitch and there was a great amount of concentration as they carefully counted the rows on the cloth in preparation for stitching. Several people commented that they felt very relaxed while they stitched.

Stitch your stress away. Author Unknown
While we were stitching up on the second floor of the Fish Creek Library Branch, the 5th Annual Fibre Arts Fair was being hosted on the main floor with several fibre arts groups giving demos on rug hooking, quilting and other fibre related crafts.

We took the opportunity to have a table with information on the Fibre Optics Group (FOG) available to those who were interested.

Registration is now open for the May-August library programs. We will be doing a framed project at each session of “The Lost Art of Ribbon Work”.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Stitch Your Way round the World - Japanese Sashiko

Our second to last Stitch Your Way Around the World was a visit to Japan through sashiko stitching. Sashiko literally means “little stab” and is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan. Traditionally it was used to reinforce points of wear, or to repair worn places or tears with patches.

Today, this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread. Contemporarily, many stitchers use Sashiko designs on all colours of cloth and use many colours of thread.

The best dressed library
card in Calgary.
Mostly due to the time element of our sessions we opted to purchase pre printed sashiko fabric and stitched a small pouch to use with a credit card, or in our case, the Calgary Public Library Card.

Preprinted Sashiko fabric.
We purchased the fabric online through Shibori Dragon.  The fabric is meant to be stitched with the printed side as the front and then the lines are washed away, however, we were rebels to the technique and stitched with the printed side up. This was a good decision as it saved a step.

Small box wrap.
Single bottle wrap.
As an aside, I brought along a small
collection of my Furoshiki (wrapping cloths) and showed participants how to tie a large furoshiki into a carry bag and several other wraps. While centuries old in use in Japan, furoshiki are now the new “eco friendly” wrapping alternative.

Stay tuned for our final stop on our Stitch Your Way Around the World journey.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Stitch Your Way Around The World: West Coast Button Blankets

We continued to Stitch Our Way Around the World, with a stop on the West Coast of North America to take a look at button blankets. Native groups along the west coast from Washington and Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska have made button blankets to wear in a variety of ceremonial events.

The Northern Lights.
Once the Europeans came to North America, natives were able to trade for the materials required to make these button blankets. Red, black or blue fabrics similar to wool felt or melton cloth and two hole mother of pearl buttons are the main supplies required.

It was not easy to find how to make one, but a visit to ShannonThunderbird’s website gave us some great information. The main rules seem to be a rectangle of blue or black bordered on three sides by red with the central clan crest/spirit animal in one of the contrasting colours. 

The crest is often surrounded by the mother of pearl buttons and other abstract or realistic designs are made with buttons on other areas of the blanket.

As our time is limited in our Calgary Public library sessions, we interpreted our own version of the button blanket in the form of a bookmark.

It was interesting to see the variety of ways each person used their buttons and the meaning they gave to their piece.

Most of the participants had not heard of the button blanket and commented that it was fun to learn about a part of our Canadian heritage.

A Spirit Bear
dreams of salmon.

We have two stops left on our stitching journey so stay tuned for those blog posts.

Three interpretations of
Spirit Bear on a journey.

FOG Tuesday – Paste Paper

Spring has finally sprung and the bright sun and Chinook winds on Tuesday helped to fuel our creative juices and we all produced some amazing and colourful pieces of paste paper.
Three different paste recipes all using the
same leaf motif from a roller.
The recipes for the actual paste were varied – 5 in all. Two of us chose to use straight methyl cellulous, one was a generic brand and the other was Elmer's Art Paste™.  One made up a batch using cornstarch and water, and the other two recipes used wheat flour. Extensive reading on the internet uncovered a variety of recipes, though it is interesting to note that the cornstarch/wheat varieties said that they could attract bugs, while the methyl cellulose would not.

Mark making tools cut from a meat tray.
Each of us tried a variety of mark making tools: commercial combs for decorative painting, roller stamps, sponges cut and tied to make interesting impressions, credit cards, the back of a ceramic tile to name a few. Personally, I found that the best mark making tools were the ones I had made from a styrofoam meat tray with the edges cut with decorative scissors.

We used a variety of inexpensive brushes to apply the paste paint and experimented with papers ranging from copy paper, card stock, mixed media paper from Strathmore and some glossy magazine cover paper left over from a print shop

Crayola Finger Paints.
For our paints we used Golden Fluid Acrylic, dollar store acrylic paints, metallic paint, Liquitex Basic Acrylic Paint and Reeves Acrylic Paint™ in tubes. One unexpected find, and a blast from the past, were Crayola Finger Paints™. Crayola would not tell me what the ingredients were, but after using them I'm certain that they must be methyl cellulose based. There are only 4 colours in the box, but the results were great. Almost all of the other paints produced nice results.

Top, mark making with styrofoam tools.
Bottom, mark making with a credit card.

Finally, we had several outcomes from our techniques that are worthy to note:
  • we found that in some cases it helped to size the paper with uncoloured paste before adding the coloured paste
  • that it was helpful to let the paste sit on the paper for a while to dry and then make our marks
  • that in some cases if the page was too wet we could take one or more pulled prints from the wet page, which improved the original page
  • that you need lots of space and drying time
  • and that the resulting pages will be fun to use in upcoming projects.

Right, original print.
Left, pulled print from the original.
Methyl cellulose paste.
Wheat paste.