Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adding Dimension to Your Cloth

Many artists working on a flat surface continually strive to create the illusion of depth and texture. There are many printing and dyeing techniques that accomplish that goal.  However sometimes the work calls for an element that is raised above the surface of the cloth. Do you want to create real texture, not just the illusion? Over the next few weeks I'll highlight some of the techniques I use to add dimension.

Hand stitching in a contrasting or complimentary color adds a nice accent. If you don't consider yourself good with a needle - no problem. I did not come from a stitching background. When I first started using stitch seven years ago, it felt very awkward. But I have come to love it. I find it calming to sit with a needle and thread. You don't need to know any fancy stitches - a simple stitch repeated many times can result in a rich surface. 

Use a thicker thread (4-6 strands of embroidery floss or size #3 or 5 of pearl cotton)  for more impact. Embroidery floss is made up of six strands that can be separated to create the desired thickness. While that sounds great because you have the flexibility to create the thickness you want, beginners may find it harder to stitch with the floss.  Sometimes the plies separate while stitching, leaving a loose thread in some stitches. Pearl cotton has multiple plies, but they are non-divisible. It comes in several thicknesses - the smaller the number the thicker the thread.

This Moment, detail view

This Moment, detail view

This Moment, 80" x 24", Silk noil

 See how a simple straight stitch in red thread draws the eye into the small circle?

Marking Time, detail view

Marking Time, 80" x 24", Silk noil

The stitching on Marking Time is more subtle.  A tone-on-tone effect was used to keep the emphasis on the red painted marks.

The decision about what stitch to use was easy.  These two pieces explore our emphasis on "marking time" - looking to the past or future rather than focusing on the current moment. The universal symbol for counting seemed to make sense as a stitched element.  As did a double chain stitch to complete the larger circles on This Moment.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three Dimensional Fiber Art DVD released

Yeterday my new DVD, Three Dimensional Fiber Art: Shape and Texture, Light and Shadow was released. It is very exciitng to be an "author", especially after all the years I spent in educational publishing!

Here are links to the various versions of the DVD.

*Digital download available now! It’s available in both HD ($16.95) and standard ($14.95):

HD download link: http://www.interweavestore.com/Quilting/DVDs-Videos/Three-Dimensional-Fiber-Art-Download-in-HD.html

Standard video download link: http://www.interweavestore.com/Quilting/DVDs-Videos/Three-Dimensional-Fiber-Art-Download.html

*DVD available: 8/21/12 - $19.95. It’s available now as a pre-order:


Interweave has been a great company ot work with on this. The experience was enjoyable and I learned a lot in the process.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ice Dyeing

I'm a little late on the ice dyeing craze, but I finally made time to try it.  I read about snow dyeing several years ago and thought it sounded interesting, although not very practical for someone who lives in a warm climate.  Ice dyeing makes more sense, and summer is actually a good time, because the mess can stay outside.

After doing an internet search, I realize there are many variations. I chose to work with the dyes in their powdered state rather than mixing them into a liquid.  I placed a tarp on the ground outside and used a plastic grid from a commercial light fixture to raise the fabric out of the melting ice/dye.

I am pleased with the results, although I have to admit that while it was in process I was not impressed.  I had read some comments that the results are similar to what you get with low water immersion dyeing.  I found a significant difference.  The patterning is hard to describe, but it has a distinctive look. Here are my results (I used Dharma Bronze and ProChem Tobacco on all these pieces):

This is a piece of silk dobby noil (from Thai Silks). It is a wonderful fabric and it took the ice dyeing beautifully.

This is a heavy-weight cotton. 

This is silk habotai, and it was underneath the two previous fabrics to catch the dye as it dripped down. This looks like a typical low water immersion dye.

This is also cotton, and it was dry when I placed the ice cubes on top.  The other fabrics were all wet.

This piece was underneath the plastic grid to catch the drips from the previous cloth.


Have you tried ice and snow dyeing?  What was your experience?