a life of fibre

Archive for May, 2017

Experimenting with oil based ink

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Our local region of the IFA (International Feltmakers Association) is collaborating with Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills to produce a felt exhibition inspired by the mill or it’s contents. It’s a great place to visit with lots to see, I urge you to go and if it’s wool you like then next Saturday 3rd June is Leeds Wool Festival. 

As part of the industrial past of Leeds there are some printing presses and the conservators said they could use one of them to print onto our felt if desired and they proved it by running a test piece on commercially produced felt using oil based ink.

I was keen to see if we could print onto pre felt (part made felt) and fabric and then continue to felt. Would the print survive the felting process? would we still be able to read the words after or would they be too distorted? Taking along some prefelt and fabric to the mill the experiment began.

The picture below shoes print on pre felt prior to further felting

and after

The ink began to disappear almost as soon as I began working on the prefelt, by the end all you could see is these few faint dark marks and then only if you look hard enough. It’s probably because pre felt is very soft and airy and is anything but smooth to print upon. The fibres aren’t locked together properly and therefore there’s insufficient ‘surface’ for the ink to hold onto.

Next up was print onto silk chiffon which I doubled up and got two prints for the price of one.

On cotton muslin with freshly loaded type and then again without reloading the ink.

and on silk

I laid Merino fibres out, placed the fabrics on top and nuno felted in the usual way. Once the fibres were through the felt was subjected to very hot soapy water and lots of pounding and I’m very pleased with how it worked out.

In all instances you can see see and read the print, even on the cotton muslin which is now quite textured, I had feared they would be too distorted or the letters too squashed together to read but they worked out well. Even the faintest print on the silk chiffon

and the silk worked very well which you’d expect as it’s a smooth fabric.

Now to work out how this might fit in my final piece.

Catching up again

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Have you missed me? I’ve missed being here but life has been a little full these past few weeks. For a start, we managed a whole week long holiday in Scotland and the weather gods were so kind to us. From six in the morning until nine at night it was blue skies and sunshine!! The thermals we’d taken just in case – didn’t wear them, the waterproofs we’d taken just in case – didn’t wear them, we even had times in just t-shirts as temperatures soared to 18 degrees. Mind you, it was a little on the breezy side but we didn’t mind that at all.

Don’t you wish you could bottle up your holiday and bring a little back? It was blue skies, blue sea, blue lochs, the higher hills still brown and the vivid yellow of full flowering gorse. If a child had painted the scene it would have looked something similar I’m sure, so bright and primary coloured as it was.

I don’t know about you but if I go on a beach I generally need to paddle and yes that does include January too. Scotland in April is pretty cold I have to say, the sea was like liquid ice and our feet quickly became bright red with the cold. Very refreshing.

After our screams had died away and we’d regained the use of our feet we went exploring and found the most magnificent rust.

Wouldn’t it have been marvellous to bring these home, better still I should just move there. We were there before the midges too so not a single bite between us. I won’t bore you with lots of holiday snaps but it was wonderful to have nothing that had to be done and nowhere that we had to be. Lunchtimes sitting in the sun with a drink, early morning walks before the wind got up and fantastic sunsets. Below is the view from our cottage as the sun began to go down.

And the one below is the sunset from the back of the cottage.

They’re not brilliant as they were taken on my phone but you get the idea, an all round fab holiday. I love Scotland even when it rains all week, which it did on a previous holiday, and would love to move there but I find the thought of the midges off putting as I do tend to be seen as a particularly tasty morsel by them and am pursued ruthlessly. Happily, holidays come round every year.