Archive for ‘Textiles’

August 21, 2012

Textile Tuesday::kNitting in Norway

by heatherkp

Traveling back to Norway I want to share with you some of the beautiful knit wear and knitting shops I saw in my travels.  A very special stop was made to a  wonderful yarn shop called Garnloftet Helle which was closed for the summer but we had a private “showing”.  This shop is owned by the super talented aunt of my new sister in law!  The Norwegians are known for their talent for knitting, with their cold climate it’s almost a necessity to learn to knit yourself warm clothes for the winter! 

A very special lace knitting pattern that was expertly translated from Japanese into Norwegian by the owner of the shop.  She did so by repeatedly watching a video of the pattern until she had it down.  She teaches a class for this pattern and we got a brief lesson of our own and I’ll be trying this pattern out over the winter.  I’m not sure I have the skills needed since I will have to train myself to knit continental  to master this pattern but I’m determined to try!

In addition to yarn, patterns and classes there were quite a few knitted gifts ready to buy, like these candle jar covers, fingerless gloves (below), several styles of felted “pot holders” and garments such as sweaters and scarves available for purchase.

Above and below are two beautiful examples of traditional Fair Isle knitting.  Boy would I have loved to spend a day here with some more in depth lessons but my mom and I had our guys with us who were quite patient but not enough for a day there!  We discovered yarn in quite a few other shops in Kristiansand although we didn’t visit any other dedicated knitting shops.  What I loved was that there were sections of many shops that carried a small to medium selection of yarns, patterns and ready to wear knit items.  I found these sections in a couple “gift shops” and a children’s store.  I love the idea of incorporating this creative hobby into everyday gift giving!

Spectacular stuff, don’t you think?  It really inspired me to knit this winter but having just moved to a tropical climate I won’t be knitting too much from wool for myself.  I have a big yarn stash that needs to be knit and maybe one day I’ll learn to knit like a Norwegian!

April 24, 2012

Textile Tuesday::Stress Reducing Hexies

by heatherkp

A very talented and good friend of mine, Betz White, sometimes asks me to do a little pattern testing for her when she’s preparing something new and wonderful to publish.  I had volunteered to participate in some testing for her recently and when she sent me the pattern my initial reaction was to be kind of freaked out.  The pattern in question required some piecing involving sewing hexagons.  Oh boy, I am not a quilter and I would consider myself  only a moderately skilled seamstress.  I took a step back and thought/read through the pattern and decided to give  it a shot.  I love hexagons and since they are part of my logo and my brand identity I though it might be cool to be able to sew some hexagons and incorporate them into my art and designs in the future.

I decided to use some scraps of silk dupioni I had done some rust dying on.  The aesthetic of these are very different from what Betz uses but I was working with a limited selection from my stash that I have here in my temporary home.  I choose 2 contrasting colors, the silver and a dark red brown that both had rust spots.  The repetition of the process is quite fun and can be done in batches, first cutting out all the pieces, laying them out, pinning, stitching, pressing, stitching etc…

The only part I got a little unsure of was the back side of the Y shaped union where 3 hexes come together.  It’s a little figity to get them to press flatly.  There can also be a very small hole here which I was worried about but in the end realized it was fine (I’m a bit of a perfectionist!).  There is a certain amount of patience and care needed to do this and I found it stress relieving because it forced me to slow down and focus on the process.  If you have the desire to try piecing hexagons, take some advise from Betz and go check out Lady Harvatine’s video.  I can’t show you the finished piece but go check out Betz’s patterns and keep an eye out for the new pattern she has previewed here that will use hexagons!

I love the way these turned out!  I will be doing more of this, I guarantee it.  Like I said it was a very soothing, repetitive, tactile process for me.  I did this project in the midst of my in law’s kitchen table over a 2 day period with limited space, materials etc…never the less I feel I learned a beautiful new skill and got a beautiful piece from this process.  Maybe you would like to give sewing Hexagons a try?  I’m not saying I’ll be turning to quilting but I will be incorporating this new skill into my work in the future.  Do you enjoying doing repetitive projects to reduce your stress?

February 17, 2012

Friday Fieldtrip::Mary Jo’s Fabric

by heatherkp

This place is huge and has an amazing selection!  It’s a bit south of Charlotte and I went on my most recent trip while visiting a friend.  I’ve seen a lot of textile stores but this one impressed my by the sheer volume and selection!  There were your typical calico’s, suiting fabrics, upholstery, patterns, etc…but there were some jem’s hidden in those rolls!

They also had a wonderful selection of bridal and evening wear laces and silks at pretty reasonable prices.

We (a fellow textile design friend and I) totally loved one particular line of printed upholstery textiles by Spanish company Textiles Vilber.  They were whimsical, large in scale, funky, fun, bright and playful as well as well designed!  As we walked by the US textile upholstery manufactures designs we just wondered why we can’t design better, more original designs here domestically?

Circus

Mock Crewel

Grafiti

Tarot Cards

Frogs

Snakes

And Paper Dolls! Oh My!

Trim

Buttons…

And a whole lot of NEON!

Mary Jo’s is worth a trip if you are in the area and I spotted the infamous lady in the store, her reputation precedes her!  She certainly knows how to run a fabric shop!

January 29, 2012

Silent Sunday::Sewing for Spring

by heatherkp

Finishing of a handwoven scarf.

October 4, 2011

Textile Tuesday::Experiments with Bits of Cloth and Thread

by heatherkp

 

In the midst of the moving madness I’ve managed to continue to do a bit of textile work.  Expanding upon my rust experiments I’ve done some scarf dying.

This is a detail of one end of a long narrow scarf.  I am so intrigued by the metallic shades, rainbows and oxidation that occurs on the fabrics.  The effect here partially washed away after I rinsed the fabric.

I’m embarking upon the exploration of natural dying, slowly trying to learn a bit more about it because I’ve never really done much of it but am now very interested.  It seems a natural progression bringing together my interests in gardening, sustainability and textiles.  I’ve started with onion skin collected (from my local CSA) over the last couple years (because I don’t need to MOVE them!), both yellow and red.

I got a variety of hues and shades on both fabric and yarn varying from a green gold to a warm pale brown.  I experimented with silk, cotton, wool and linen and used alum as a mordant.

I’ve also been experimenting with the process of natural dying via bundling bits of dirt, bark, lichen, leaves and other debris in fabric Ala India Flint.  These experiments haven’t been tremendously successful but it’s new and fascinating to me so I’m enjoying the process.  I think it’s time I get India’s Book “Eco Color” though so I don’t waste too much time and fabric in the learning process.  I did have some faint success with fern leaves and with mud so far though.

Finally I’ve been trying my hand with a little textile and mixed media assemblage.  This is a work in progress that I’m playing around with.

…PS…Knitting season has returned (I usually put down the needles in the summer) so I’ve picked up the needles again and have a couple projects going (they are gifts so I can’t show them yet).

 

August 30, 2011

Textile Tuesday::What I made at Summer Camp

by heatherkp

Now that summer is almost over and school’s back in session I need to wrap up my experience at Penland.  I’ve been writing for the last few weeks about my whole experience  but haven’t really posted much about what I made personally.  There was more experimentation than finished product but I’ll be sharing some of my creations.  I took with me my sewing machine and, several bins of materials (paper, fabric, threads, inks, brushes and more) even though I knew I wouldn’t use it all.  I wanted to have enough variety for whatever we ended up doing since I wasn’t quite sure other than “mixed media” surface design.

Lets begin with some of the more informal exercises.  As I mentioned in my previous post here, we began working on black museum board in an 8″ x 8″ format.  We started with limited supplies, gesso, inks and colored pencils.  Here are a few of them in progress on my large almost 10′ x 3′ (fabulous!) work space.  Man I loved having all that room to spread out!  I was able to get messy and still have room to work!  I’m going to start talking more about this subject here on my blog because I became a little obsessed with observing how other artists work, are they neat and orderly or totally messy?  At what point do you stop and clean up your space because it’s too messy?  These are some of the questions I started asking fellow artists…but getting back to the class:)

Some of the pieces above came home with me unfinished and I’m continuing to work on them a little at a time but below are some details of completed pieces.

I loved how expressive, spontaneous and painterly these exercises were.  I found working on the black background both challenging (seeing colors in a new way) and liberating (leaving my “typical” color combinations behind).  I thought that the square format would be good for me (i.e. challenge me even more) because one of the things I really wanted to explore at Penland was my understanding of composition.  Sure, I’ve got degree’s in art but my past 12 years as a designer of repeat patterns has stunted my ability to create artwork with “proper” composition.  I found this out as I began to explore photography.  As a designer I tend to center or repeat things out in a certain manner so I wanted to throw that aside while there and focus on understanding composition better. 

Another very fun and liberating part of the class were the quick 15-30 min exercises we spent each morning exploring a certain mood, idea or expressing a feeling (these were centered around the discussions of various Astrological signs).  I had gone with certain expectations of this class (I tried not to but inevitably there were some) and I didn’t realize how much expressive drawing and painting we would be doing.  Some of these exercises were quite large in scale (compared to 8″ squares) and I enjoyed the movement involved in creating these!   Sometimes you’ve got to get your body MOVING to make ART!

We continued to work on these quick exercises at the beginning of each class almost to the end.  Sometime after the first few days we began to explore other ideas and expand beyond the small format and black background.  That’s when we started (not the whole class but some of us) experimenting with rust dying on fabrics.

We did a whole batch of scraps to see what kind of results we liked and from there I decided to create a silk scarf using the rust dying technique and some shibori pleating.  I had particularly liked the results of a couple of pieces of metal from our experiments so I used them to wrap my pleated scarf around.

Since this was quite a large scarf I used 2 pieces of metal and pleated and rolled from both ends to create different effects on both sides.  Then I used a wire that would rust to secure the whole bundle.  

This is what the bundle looked like after 24 hours and before I unwrapped it.  Promising but a little un-nerving.  There’s something exciting about the juxtaposition of using these industrial rusty, dirty metal pieces to “Dye” this beautiful delicate, “precious”, pure white organza silk!

I’m so glad I photo documented this unwrapping process!  I love the swirly shapes created by one particular piece of metal and once this was un-pleated and unrolled completely it would never look exactly like this again.

This is how it looked completely unfolded.  I love the results and it’s got me hooked on rust dyeing.  But wait, I wasn’t finished yet!  I decided to take this another step and I over dyed part of this with a coffee/tea stain using a bound shibori process to resist a large portion of the scarf from being dyed.

I let it dry and in the meantime spent some time trying to learn how to create a rolled hem with the appropriate presser foot.  I wasn’t pleased with the results so I decided to bring it home with me and create a hand rolled hem to finish it.  When I got home though, I decided to do a little more experimenting with the machine rolled hem and to my surprise I was able to find a great tutorial and with a little experimentation I was confident it would turn out successful so I bravely finished the two ends (the sides are selvedge edges).

I am totally happy with the results of the finished scarf and I have plans to create more, similar pieces in the future!  I’ve always loved shibori and dying but have been hesitant to continue to use chemical dyes as I get older.  I’ve experimented enough with them over the years but I don’t want to prolong my exposure to them.  The process of rust dying opened my eyes to a whole new medium to explore, along with other natural dying processes.

The finished piece has been over dyed with the coffee/tea stain on one side which created a beautiful grey which occurs naturally as the tannins in the tea react to the rust.  The neutral colors of this scarf are so versatile and sophisticated!

I may finish this piece off with a few beads at the ends to give it a little extra pizzaz but nothing flashy.  I love the simple beauty of it.  As you can see there was a lot of exploration and self expression that came out of this class for me.  I’ve got some other bits I worked on as well that I’ll probably share down the road but this give you a good idea of the amount and kind of work we did within the two week class.  It was fabulous!

 

August 19, 2011

Friday’s Field Trip::Penland Surface Design Class

by heatherkp

I’m finally getting around to sharing the ART part of my experience at Penland.  It was such an inspiring time.  I loved the energy of working in the studio every day with a variety of other artists.  I don’t really have a studio space at home so I often feel guilty if I leave my art supplies out for a long period of time but for me I need to be able to walk away and come back to my work.  I learned a lot about how I like to work while I was there.

Knowing yourself as an artist means knowing how you like to work, for what period of time, when to step away from something and knowing when to push through and let the inspired moment sweep you away.  Being in a class for the first time since some graduate classes I took back in 2004 offered the balance of exploration and structure which also helped me grow as an artist tremendously.  The irony of this is that as a designer I was trying to loosen up and allow myself to be more free and expressive (and abstract).  Each day our instructor began the class with short exercises that allowed us to be gestural, free, expressive and not to over think what we were doing.  These were fantastic and fun.  I didn’t always like the outcome of what I created but that wasn’t the point.  It was about just getting out of my own way and letting whatever creative expression inside the chance to escape.  Some of the works created by the class in these short exercises are below.

Another fun aspect of the class was that our instructor, Jason Pollen (check out his amazing work if you don’t know him!) used Astrology as an inspiration for us to focus our creative energy on.  Each day we discussed a different planet, the corresponding sign and the energy surrounding it.  In this way we were encouraged to channel certain emotions or energy to put into our work.  This class was primarily a surface design class and we began with limited materials and an 8″ x 8″ format using black backgrounds.  The way we see color on black is different and this encouraged each of us to shake free of the “normal” color combinations we might use.  We started with only gesso and color and eventually were encouraged to add stitching, collage or whatever else we wanted to.  I find it tremendously helpful when I’m creatively stuck to really limit my options, within more restricted boundaries I find my self stretching to explore those limitations.  After a few days experimenting and playing in this smaller format most of us began to explore other mediums and formats for our work.  A group of us in the class began raiding the iron departments scrap pile and we began experimenting with rust dying.  There is a good description of this process over here if you want to learn more about the technical aspects.  I loved how as a group we got swept up into this creative process together.

Rusty metal pieces laid out with fabric for rust dying.

Completed pieces of rust dye fabrics.

Another process we began to experiment with was Encaustic painting.  Although this was not a class in Encaustic one of our classmates was using encaustic and there was also a class being taught so those of us interested in experimenting with this process got the chance to give it a try.  As you can tell we covered a lot of ground in this class.  It was so freeing and inspiring, I came home with several new materials, techniques and ideas to work through more thoroughly.  Both Jason and our studio assistant Debra Smith were fantastic about assisting and encouraging each of us in our own directions.

Jason working on one of his stitched pieces for the auction.

Debra’s scarf and a collaborative piece by Jason and Debra, donations for the Penland fundraiser auction.

Debra modeling a purse made by one of the students for the fundraiser auction.

Below are a variety of samples of fellow classmates work and working shots.  My class mates ranged in age from 18 to over 75 and came from both the east and west coasts with all different backgrounds.  Each one of them was an inspiration to me.  I am so glad we all got to meet and work together:)  Thanks to each of you!!One of the final projects I worked on was a collaboration with 3 other students which we donated to the Penland Session 4 fundraiser auction.  I love to collaborate and this piece turned out well.  I wish I knew who bought it…

Next week I will be back to share some of the work I began personally in class.  Some of what I started is still incomplete but hopefully won’t be by the time I post again.

August 18, 2011

Of my own design…

by heatherkp

I spotted the news from a friend that Spoonflower is having a free sample day today.  I’ve toyed with the idea of printing up some of my designs from time to time but I never did because I don’t know what I’d “do” with them.  The “free” part made it pretty easy to decide to just go ahead and do it.  I already have designs that are print ready in my archive collection, so why not see how one comes out?

I choose to sample this design and it will be fun to see what comes of this.  The free sample give away also has an option to donate $5 (or more) to Heifer International, which is one of my favorite charities.  This is ongoing for the rest of tonight until 12 EST tomorrow so hurry and get your sample while making a donation (optional) to a great organization.

 

July 15, 2011

Friday Field Trip::Textile Museum Green

by heatherkp

I saved a few field trips up for you for my time away.  I hope they keep you coming back and you find them just a little interesting.  Back in June (which was not that long ago, boy time is flying this year!) I went to see the Green exhibit at The Textile Museum.  If you have been following my blog over the last couple years or if you happened to read my old blog you know that the Textile museum is probably my favorite museum.  It is a little hidden jem in DC, not far from Dupont and nestled in a row of Embassy housing.  I love going there and upon arriving at the street of the museum I feel transported to a more serene place, it’s almost gentile and reminds me a bit of Savannah or Charleston.  In the midst of the city here is this small treasure that’s quite and peaceful.  I wish that more people knew about the museum but I’m also glad that for now it stands in a hidden corner of the city.

The current exhibit is all about Green: The Color and the Cause:: re-purposing of materials (textiles) for textile art.   For someone who is a huge fan of the museum you might think I’d follow the rules but I’m a bit of a rule breaker when it comes to taking photo’s…so here are a few.  I don’t have a lot of details but the online catalog is quite extensive and you can find additional information about the artists and the cause here.  These are just to whet your appetite…Enjoy:)

I do apologize, some of these photo’s are not the greatest but that’s what happens when you are sneaking around behind the back of the guards trying to get a few shots.  I hope these peak enough interest for you to visit the online catalog or better yet, the show in person.  There were a tremendous number of contemporary entries and a slide show that shows the work of all of these talented textile artists.

April 4, 2011

I Made It Monday::Roundup

by heatherkp

Here’s a little round up of some great patterns I’ve made for my pal Betz White.  She began offering her Make New or Make Do Patterns last year and I’ve gladly done a few pattern tests for her. These first couple were done last fall.

Whimsical Woodland Sewing Set

Isabella Tote front and Back

For the Isabella tote I decided to Make New and Make Do by using a recycled pillow case for one side and a new textured coordinating fabric for the other.

Now for this past weeks projects.  Here is a detail of some embroidery I did to accent a fabric I used on this bag.  I love taking bold patterns and embellishing them!

I made this little bunny puppet for a baby shower gift based upon this pattern by Elizabeth Abernathy.  It’s made from recycled and felted sweaters.  I’m thinking of making some mittens based upon this idea for this upcoming winter.

And finally I made this little bee hat (also for a shower gift) based upon a really simple pattern in the book Stitch ‘N Bitch.

 

What have you been making this spring?