Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Vintage Vogart Panel

Merry Christmas from Jan and Meredith
Join us in 2016 for our continued mixed media
madness and fibre arts activities.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

FOG Tuesday - Bead-azzled

Our December FOG session was a wonderfully calm warm day for December, which turned out to be a great help as we had a lot of people making beads with the heat guns and we were able to do that outside.

We started as usual with our embroidery stitch warm up. Our stitch for the day was the Danish Knot Stitch. This is an easy knot and thoughts were percolating around which project to use it on by using it to create some texture, particularly when it stitched in groups.

Next we started making beads. There was a plethora of materials provided for those who got kits and no one was able to use everything!  
The basic process is to wrap your material around a knitting needle or bamboo skewer. Depending on the material, you can glue it, or use a heat gun to bind the materials together. Possibilities abound, limited only by one’s imagination. As you can see from the photos, many different types of beads were created.

Once completed, the bead was coated with Triple Thick by Americana to add a glossy finish to the bead. This product is a thick varnish which can also be used like glue. After the first coat the bead can be rolled in seed beads, or micro beads, while the coating is still wet. Once the first coat is dry, another top coat can be added to really seal in the beads. Another finishing touch was to wrap around the bead, by itself or with seed beads threaded onto the wire.

Some of the materials used to make our beads included: Tyvek, plastic film, plastic sheet protectors, shrink film (in clear and matte), security envelopes, origami paper, newsprint, abaca mesh and paper, angelina (or Textiva) film, Angelina fibres, polyester fabric, wire, dryer sheets, needle felted organza, sequin waste, organza fabric, painted Lutradur, painted fusible web, tissue paper, felt sewn with a decorative stitch, and corrugated paper.

These will be great to use on mixed media or fibre art pieces or in jewellery.

The possibilities are endless and we really only scratched the surface, in spite of the quantities of beads created.

We finished off the day with a present to everyone of an organza ribbon necklace for that special bead!

Monday, 9 November 2015

FOG Tuesday – Adding Texture and Dimension with Modeling Paste

The October FOG Tuesday was spent experimenting with the application of dimensional molding or modeling pastes on fabrics and other substrates. Depending on the brand used, these pastes are called by different names.

These are a few that we tried:

The key word to look for in the description of the products is “flexible”. Several of the products cracked when the fabric was folded. Some of my samples have cracked but have not flaked off the fabrics. The more flexible the product remains on your fabric, the more it will accept hand or machine stitching.

We also tried a variation of a mix suggested in Stitch with the Embroiders’ Guild Magazine. This consisted of Poly Filla, white acrylic house paint/primer and white glue. We finally decided on a mixture of drywall compound, Poly Filla and white glue as the mixture that added some flexibility to the drywall compound. We did not really see the need to add the white paint, as it diluted the solution too much. The Poly Filla was useful in making the mixture the right consistency, as the white glue also thinned out the drywall compound. While this did work, you need to mix it and use it the same day as it tends to harden overnight. A couple of our members found that by mixing this compound with a runnier gel medium that it worked quite well.

Any of these products can be mixed with a colourant. We tried inks, walnut ink, craft acrylic paint and Lumiere™ paints to name a few. Remember that any liquid will change the consistency of the product, so start with a light hand.

To apply the products to the fabrics you will need a credit card to squeegee the product through your stencil of choice, commercial or hand cut. Thermofax™ screens DO NOT work. Be certain to have a dishpan of water nearby so that you can put your stencils in right after use so that the products do not dry as the stencils could be permanently damaged.

Below you can see several items that we used as stencils.

Brass dry embossing stencils, sequin waste, commercial stencil, plastic canvas.

You can also use ConTact™ paper masks as a stencil. We cut the stencils using Jan’s Sizzix Big Shot™. You will get both a positive and a negative stencil to use. Peel the backing off the mask and place sticky side down onto your fabric. Lay a stencil over the mask (sequin waste works well) and draw the product over the stencil with a credit card. It also worked well to lay down the sequin waste, and then use a stencil over top of that.
Sizzix Big Shot, ConTact Paper stencil, positive and negative ConTact paper stencils.

We also tried spreading the mixture over hand stitching, and also stamping into it. These created some very unique textures. The stitching was visible through the compound, but more subdued. The stamps did not produce a clear imprint, but definitely created additional texture. Again, remember to immediately wash your stamp.

We tried this process on a number of different fabrics and they all appeared to take the product quite well.

These are a few that we tried:
  • Decorator fabric samples (finally a use for some of the 400 I have sitting in my hall)!
  • Cotton Canvas
  • Acrylic Felt
  • Interfacing
  • Lutradur
  • Burlap
  • Cotton
  • Timex
  • Hard paint canvas

Diane's on Black Interfacing, Margaret's on Decorator Fabric Sample, Gillian's on Lutradur-like Fabric.
Jan's Samples
Modeling/molding paste is certainly one way to add texture to your artwork. The ease of colouring it with inks and paints makes it easy to use, and gives you lots of options for adding it. There were lots of possibilities suggested to take this technique further!

Monday, 12 October 2015

FOG Tuesday – Lemon Juice Printing

I have no idea where September went and here it is Canadian Thanksgiving and our next FOG Tuesday is just around the corner!

Please visit Jan’s blog to get the finer details of how to make the printing mediums that we used along with lemon juice and heat to create these interesting and magical prints on fabrics and paper.
Commercial Stencils

We used commercial and handmade thermofax screens and commercial stencils for our designs. If you aren’t sure what a thermofax is or how it is made, visit our blog posting here.

Thermofax Screens
Plaid Enterprises, along with Martha Stewart, has created adhesive silkscreens that are used like a thermofax screen. Whether they are still available I’m not sure as the ones we bought were on clearance at Michael’s. The screens are made more durable by putting an edging of duct tape on all sides.
Top: Lemon printing on fabric
Bottom: Lemon printing on silk and silk organza.
Until next time…

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Alberta Culture Days

Jan and I were asked again this year by the Calgary Public Library to participate in Alberta Culture Days here in Calgary and we presented "We're On Pins and Needles" to full classes at two libraries in the city.

We had the participants make a pin cushion using a mason jar and used two different techniques to embellish them.

The first was embossing on velvet, a technique used from early days to embellish the inside of an embossed leather frame photo case holding a tin type photo. These were certainly in use since the days of the American Civil War and would have been carried by soldiers and others to remember their loved ones.

This technique would have used a metal roller to emboss the velvet. We are using a modern day version, using a red rubber stamp.

Rayon acetate is the best velvet to use, however, this technique also works on cotton velveteen. Try other types of velvet as well and a good source of good velvet are clothing items found at thrift shops.

Tin type of my grandfather and great grandmother Hatchell, circa 1884.

The second technique that we used was embroidery in a colour that would enhance and not compete with the embossed velvet. We used french knots and stars.

·         6” square of Velvet, rayon/acetate is great to use, but is hard to find. You can also use cotton velveteen with decent results, depending on your rubber stamps
·         Rubber stamps, clean images with good lines
·         Spray bottle with water
·         Iron
·         Wide mouth mason jar with ring and snap lid (250 ml)
·         Glue or glue gun to add the circle of felt onto the bottom side of the ring to finish it off.
·         Stuffing - polyester fibre fill
·         Matching embroidery thread, you want to add texture with your embroidery, not take away from the embossed image.
·         We used # 12 perle cotton. 4" or 5” embroidery hoop.
·         Strong thread to gather velvet..

1.   Fold your square of velvet in half both ways and pinch to determine the centre of the square. Mark with a pin, if desired.
2.   Select your stamp of choice, placing it right side up on the ironing mat. Lightly spray with water. Place your square of fabric, plush side down and centered on your rubber stamp and lightly spray with water. Remove pin, if used
3.   Carefully place the iron on top of the stamp and velvet and press hard for about 10 seconds. Do not move the iron. Lift the iron to see that you can see the impression of the rubber stamp on the back side of the velvet. If it looks good then remove the velvet. If not, press again for a few seconds.
4.   Place embossed velvet into the embroidery hoop. Do a random combination of French Knots and Stars around the embossed image. 
5.   Rough cut your velvet square into a circle, by trimming the corners. Do not remove a lot of fabric, as it is necessary to have enough to cover the edges of the lid by at least a 1/2” all around, after the stuffing is inserted.
6.   Thread a needle with a doubled, strong thread and do a gathering stitch around the circle about 1/4” away from the edge.
7.   Gather up the velvet to make a pouch and place your stuffing into the velvet trying to make a nice round shape.
8.  Place the metal lid into the velvet, with the printed top of the lid next to the stuffing, and gather up tightly, adjusting as necessary. Your fabric will cover 1/2” to 1" of the bottom of the lid all around. Knot and cut your thread.
9.  Place the outer ring over the gathered piece. Make any adjustments necessary to centre your embossed motif.
10. Cut a circle of felt slightly smaller than the lid and glue/glue gun to the back of the gathered velvet and exposed lid.

Steps 1 - 3

Steps 4

Steps 5 - 10
Finish off with a pair of folding scissors, pins, needles and thread and you have a great gift for that sewing fanatic in your life. After all Christmas is coming....

Friday, 12 June 2015

FOG Tuesday - Amazing FAUX

June marked our last session until September and we started out with a very cool embroidery stitch, the DrizzleStitch. It is a 3-D stitch and garnered a lot of laughter while we were stitching. As a 3-D stitch we could see that there were lots of possibilities for its use on fibre art or other mixed media projects where stitching could be used.

Our final projects for the season were both FAUX in nature, the Aleenes Original Tacky Glue brown paper burning technique that emulates metal and the making of faux leather, also with brown paper. The latter conjured up many possibilities especially for those of us who stitch, as the final result was a very robust paper that felt and looked like leather.

More on both techniques….

Aleenes Original Tacky GlueGoogle Burnt Brown Paper for the entire story of when and how this technique came to light. The gist of the technique is to cover brown paper with a generous slather of the tacky glue and then hold it over an open flame. As the glue dries it bubbles and the soot created by the candle flame blackens the entire surface. Make sure to move the paper around so that you do not burn through your paper, though that and burnt edges make for some interesting effects. Buff off the soot and you have this amazing metal look. For more texture, you can move partially dry glue around to create ridges.

Burnt brown paper with a variety of finishes.
Aleene's Original Tacky Glue directly onto MDF. Glue was burned and heavier glue
manipulated for texture. A variety of metallic finished were applied.

A couple of cautions going forward with this technique – work in a well ventilated area, preferably outside and NOT on a windy day. It might also be prudent to have a bottle of water handy if the paper catches on fire.

Necessity is the Mother on Invention
How to combat a windy day in Calgary when trying to keep a candle lit!

The metal look can be further enhanced with Rub and Buff, Lumiere paints, mica powders and DecoArt Metallic Lustre.

We did discover that good old Elmers White glue also worked, though you needed to let it dry as it was more liquid than the tacky glue. Ultimately we felt that we got better soot coverage if both brands of glue were left until virtually dry. Otherwise, you would get soot on the dry areas, and the wet areas would burst and expose more glue, so you had to keep burning the glue until it was dry and sooty. It would really depend on the look you desired for the surface.

We even discovered that the technique worked on non paper surfaces like MDF, canvas, and wood. Brown kraft paper boxes and other shapes are much enhanced by this technique.
Brown kraft paper box with embossed sides.
Burnt brown paper.
Laughing Cow Cheese Box - burnt brown paper, grunge board star, buffed with
DecoArt Metallic Luster in Espresso and painted inside with acrylic paint.

Faux Leather – there are plenty of videos online about this technique and it can be approached from many angles once you understand the basic concept. Again we used brown paper, thick, thin, two layers fused together, card stock weight etc. All will produce a good result and the choice will depend on the end use.

Although some videos suggest the product to use is Ink Refresher by Ranger, others simply used glycerin and water. We certainly would recommend using the glycerin (cheaper and easier!), and not trying to find the Ranger product which is not available in Canada. In a spray bottle mix about 1 tbsp of glycerin with 4 ounces of water and shake. Spray the glycerin water on both sides of the paper, making sure to wet the paper, but not dripping wet. Massage the wet paper gently. Repeat this once again, if necessary, until the paper is darker in colour. Now crumple the paper in your hands. Flatten the paper out again and repeat the process of spraying, massaging and crumpling at least once more, perhaps a couple of times. As you continue to massage and crumple the paper the paper fibres break down creating a very pliable paper with a nice hand, somewhat like fabric. However, do not rub too hard or the paper will start to break down.

You can spray colour on before you start the process or, after each crumpling, rub an ink pad across the texture created by the crumpling. You will likely work on the piece for some time before you have the desired “faux leather” look that you want. To repeat our caution - you can overwork the paper and it may tear, so use a light hand.
Left, after acrylic wax was applied. Right, before.

Another couple of great ideas that you might consider are: running the paper through an embossing machine for added depth and texture. The second idea is to rub an acrylic wax on the finished paper for a leather-like look and feel, and to protect the colour.
Embossed brown paper faux leather.

The final product could be easily stitched by hand or on a machine and would make great journal covers.
Brown paper faux leather. It has a wonderful feel to it when finished.
From all of us at FOG, we hope you have a great summer. I hope to do some random posts over the summer to keep in touch and well return in the fall with another year of FOG Tuesdays.               Meredith and Jan

Monday, 1 June 2015

FOG Tuesday - Fun with Alcohol Inks

Our May session started with Jan showing us a new embroidery stitch, the Double Chain stitch.

Once our stitching was over we started with a demo on alcohol inks by Karen Biko, one of our talented artists in the group.  Karen demonstrated on a variety of surfaces, each having their own qualities for the outcome of the project.
Karen at work.
Karen - work in progress,
Working with alcohol inks, Karen Konjurs up some amazing and Kolourful Kreations. These art pieces are rather serendipitous in nature and she often works on several at a time moving between them to add layers of new colour and texture.
Karen Biko
Another of our talented artists, Terri Heinrich, also works in alcohol inks (and other mediums), but her creations are more realistic. Visit her site to see her unique style.
Terri Heinrich
These are several of the many surfaces that we experimented with:
·         Yupo Paper
·         Terra Skin 
·         Strathmore Palette Paper
·          Glazed Ceramic Tiles
·         Vellum Paper and Transparencies
·         Glossy Photo Paper

Yupo was the favourite paper, retaining the bright colours that alcohol inks are known for.

Terra Skin, the stone paper, has an unusual feel to it – described as “buttery” the inks seemed to melt into the paper and lost their intense colour.

Muted Colours on Terra Skin.
The Strathmore Palette paper retained the colour nicely and the finished product would be a great surface to mono print on or to use as pages in a journal.

The glazed ceramic tiles turned out great, maintaining the brilliant colours of the alcohol inks. They would need to be sealed with a fixative so that they remain permanent on this surface.
Glazed Ceramic Tiles
Glazed Ceramic Tiles

The Vellum paper took the inks nicely, providing a translucent background that you could stamp and heat emboss onto. These would make nice additions to a greeting card. The transparencies worked in a similar nature to the vellum and would be great for layering over other surfaces.

Alcohol inks on patterned vellum paper with
rubber stamped and heat embossed image.
Alcohol inks on heavy weight vellum
with rubber stamped and heat embossed

Lastly, glossy photo paper is an inexpensive way to experiment with some of the techniques we did on the other surfaces. Rubber stamped with an image, and die cut or edge cut with a decorative punch, they would make great greeting cards or additions to your journaling pages.

There are three main brands of alcohol inks that we used:
  • Copic Inks ™ by Copic (their refills give the best value)

All worked equally well, though Copic has the best colour range.

Each brand also sells a blender solution that helps make the colour more transparent, but most of us worked with rubbing alcohol which worked as well as the blender solutions but has a much lower cost.

 Other supplies that are useful:

·         a thin paint brush to draw fine lines to outline areas in your piece
·         a straw to blow the drops of ink to create interesting lines and edges
·         a spray bottle with 90 or 99% rubbing alcohol.

If colour is something that brings joy to your day then give this technique a try. You dont need to be an artist to do it. It will bring back all the “oohs and aahs” you remember from third grade art class.

Remember when working with rubbing alcohol, work in a well ventilated room.

Monday, 27 April 2015

FOG Tuesday - Not Con"fusing" at all...

We started our day as usual with Jan teaching us a new embroidery stitch, this time the Closed Cretan Stitch. We all agreed that it was a pretty stitch and would be very versatile in borders and making leaves. Donna commented that she had always made leaves with a satin stitch and that this would be her new go-to stitch for leaves in the future. It was particularly attractive when embroidered in variegated thread and depending on the length of stitches used on either side of the braided centre line and how close you made the rows of stitches it would have a variety of looks.
Mark making on our layered pieces.
While we were small in numbers, we were huge in enthusiasm when it came to our main FOG Tuesday project.
As always when working with a tool that burns, we had to be mindful of good ventilation and NOT triggering the smoke alarms. In this case it was soldering irons, melting, fusing and mark making  our sandwich layers of stitched acrylic felt, synthetic organza, Angelina© fibres and film, lamé, Lutradur©, Evolon© and other materials that would burn or melt.

Wire wool to clean soldering iron tip.
Remember to have a container with wire wool in it to clean the melted residue off the tip of your soldering iron.

The basic technique was learned from the two books by British textile artist Margaret Beal. You can access two short videos by Margaret on YouTube.
Stitched layers by Jan.

The more layers the better as it gives you more areas to “excavate” your final piece. Once you have all your layers, stitch a pattern on the surface using cotton thread. This is important as you do not want the thread to melt while you are burning out the pattern.

3-D flower "stitched" by Chris.
You can use the tip of the iron to “stitch” layers together as in the case of the green flower made by Chris.

Keep a look out for metal items that can be used as stencils with the soldering iron. The daisy stencil was a decorative insert for a Ball Mason jar and can be found at craft stores. You can see that you can use it for both a positive and negative outcome. You will also need a metal ruler or straight edge and a surface to work on. I used a square of marble; others used a glass cutting board.
Metal items to use as stencils: Ball Mason jar insert, metal drain cover, vintage drill bit measuring tool and draftsman's metal erasing shield.
Fibre layers ready for burning.
I can see this technique finding its way into future textile and mixed media projects.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Arts Club at the Library

The April Arts Club at the Central Library in Calgary proved to be a lot of fun with participants making a funky, woven purse or bag for an iPad. We raided our quilting scrap bags and those of a friend, who was only too happy to get rid of fabric leftovers, often to the chorus of “what was I thinking buying that fabric"?

As always we make a prototype to work out construction and material needs and for our full class the quantities were rather amazing, 400 strips of variable widths for the body of the bag and another 120 strips for the braided strap. These were all torn on grain or cut with a rotary cutter.
Bag with braided handle
Bag with button closure

We started with an 18" x 14" piece of white Roc-Lon© fabric purchased for another project and never used and ironed double sided fusible webbing to one side of the Roc-Lon© stripping away the silicon paper. Most brands of fusible webbing should work.
Fabric Strips

As time is limited at these sessions we opted to sew the foundation warp pieces to one end of the Roc-Lon© and used all tints, tones and shades of blue as the warp.

After a short demo, we let everyone loose to choose strips of coloured fabrics for their weft pieces and start to weave their bag…over, under, over, under… The carefully sorted and piled strips of coloured fabric were soon all askew, somewhat resembling a bird’s nest gone wild.
Once all the weaving was done, they ironed all the pieces to the fusible webbing. This left some squares open where they could be embellished with pieces of ribbon, yarn or torn strips of fabric.

Jan then machine stitched the top and sides of the bag ready for the next step.

Ironing strips to the fusible web.

The next step was to make holes on two sides using my very vintage leather punch on the largest hole to create a hole where a two pieced grommet could be installed.

spiral screw punch could also be used for this step.

The final step was to feed 3 strips of fabric through the grommet on one side and tying a knot on the outside. Once that was done the strips were braided, tying pieces together as needed to make the length of strap they wanted. The 3 strips were finished off the same way as the start, feeding them through the second grommet and tying a knot.

With the base warp of blues, the purses took on a colourful finish with the participants choices of weft fabrics. There was a great amount of laughter in our two hours and I think it was safe to say that we all had a good time.
Colourful Weaving
This would be a great project for a youth group and there would be a number of items that could be fashioned in the same way.
Lots of decoration