Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pat is a featured artist at Gallery Calapooia, Oct. 1-25, 2014

This month I am the featured artist (along with Cindy Conder) at Gallery Calapooia.  I have been a member of the gallery since last July when we opened.  But this is the first time I have been one of the featured artists. I created new work for this exhibit-building on the things I learned in the many workshops I've taken in the last two years.  (See my last post.)  I'm very happy with these new items.  They are mainly collars or scarves.  I just didn't feel the need to create wall pieces for this show, although there are some ideas rolling around in my brain.  Besides the felted items thee are several dyed scarves in the exhibit.

If you're in the area, I'd love to see you at the Artists' Reception on Oct. 17, 6:00-8:00 at the gallery. 

Here are some pictures of the new works:

"Black and White" Collar.  The collar is held together with a white rose stick pin. 

"Shabby Chic" Collar. The collar is held together with a brown rose stick pin. 

 Three views of the "Turquoise Mosaic" collar.  The collar is held together with a black beaded stick pin. 

 "Reddish Brown Felt Lace" scarf.

Lattice Work Collar with Ruffle.

Detail of Lattice Work Collar with Ruffle.

Black and Turquoise Collar with Rose.  Closure is a turquoise rose stick pin.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Directions for Pat's Feltmaking

Over the last two years, I have taken a sort of feltmaker’s odyssey.  This all began when a guild asked me to give a lecture on “New Trends in Feltmaking”.  I told them of course I would do it, but when I started to gather information I realized that I had been isolated for a while and didn’t really know what was “new.”
You see, I had spent several years developing the technique I call “Watercolor Felt”.  I was so enamored with this technique that I didn’t really look outside of my own studio at the larger world of feltmaking.  In addition, I had stopped publishing the North American Felter’s Network Newsletter and was not watching the whole feltmaking scene for new techniques and concepts.
When I started researching the “New Trends”, I realized that I wanted to learn some of them.  I decided not to spend the time experimenting in my studio to teach myself these new techniques but to take workshops with people who I considered to be “at the top of their game.” These people had spent years developing their methods and I thought that it would be best to learn from them, rather than to take the time at this stage of my live to develop them myself.  My figuring was that it would be interesting to build on top of my own strong understanding of feltmaking and then to tweak my knowledge to push it in new directions.
In some cases I learned things that I would probably not do again while in other cases I was amazed and excited by what I learned.  I also learned that I already knew a lot that I was being shown.  Often, the techniques were derivations of ones we did back in the 70’s or 80’s.  I loved when the techniques were tangential from my own lifetime of felt and art explorations and would therefore send me off along new paths.   
I ended up taking workshops from 17 different people during this time period. I am proud of the items I've made and wanted to share them with others but I didn't want to exhibit them as totally my own work since they were made in workshops, under the mentorship of the instructor.  (Even though the design decisions were my own. Yes, I am that hard headed about my designs! LOL) But the style was influenced by the mentor and the techniques taught by him/her.  I was able to convince the organizers of two different events that it would be cool to see this body of work exhibited together-once at the Midwest Felting Symposium during the summer and once this last weekend at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.

Here is a list of the people I have studied with along this journey.
1. Karolina Arvilommi and Rod Welch- Wall Hanging.
2. Vilte Kazlauskaite- Made samples in class and then made a Vilte inspired vest at home.
3. Leiko Uchiyama- Shawl with areas of “Pine Needle” lace.
4. Irit Dulman-Eco printed tunic and eco printed shibori felt purse.
5. Melissa Arnold- Collars and samples.
6. Pam MacGregor- Texture and dimensional felt samples placed in book format.
7. Barbara Poole- Coat.
8. Fiona Duthie- Online course, samples of various surface design techniques.
9. Kristy Kun- “Cholla Cactus” scarf.
10. Katia Mokeyeva- Surface textured collar.
11. Jean Gauger- Felted mosaic wrap.
12. Margo Duke- Mosaic pieced felt vest.

I also studied with Jorie Johnson (jewelry and small accessories), Loyce Ericson (spiral scarf), India Flint (eco printing), Tash Wesp (vest) and Sharon Mansfield (no roll felting in the dryer), but I have no finished products from these classes to exhibit.

Here are photos from the O.F.F.F. exhibit. 
Overview of My Exhibition Area at the Festival

Second Overview of Display
Collar made in Katia Mokeyeva's class. 
Wrap made during Jean Gauger class and Mosaic vest made during Margo Duke's class. 
Vest inspired by the samples I made with Vilte Kazlauskaite and jacket made with Barbara Poole. 
Collar made with Melissa Arnold, lace felt shawl made with Kristy Kun, and part of a "poncho" made in the class with Irit Dulman. 
Eco printed poncho made during a class with Irit Dulman. 
Pine Needle Felt shawl made during Leiko Uchiyama's class and dyed felt sample made during Melissa Arnold's class. 
Dyed felt samples made during Melissa Arnold's class. 
Dyed felt sample from Melissa Arnold's class and eco printed shibori felt purse made during Irit Dulman's class. 
Bird wall hanging made during Karolina Arvilommi and Rod Welch's class. 

The texture samples from the classes I took with Pam Macgregor and Fiona Duthie were in a case during this festival and I couldn't get a good photo of them through the glass. 
I also exhibited one of my Watercolor Felt pieces so that I could show what I had been doing while the rest of the felt world was busy doing something else.  
This piece is called Calla Lily Group I. 

I am now one of the featured artists for Gallery Calapooia in Albany, Oregon.  For this exhibit, I have applied some of the things I've learned from this long list of amazing mentors to a new body of work.  Pictures coming soon!  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Overview of Arashi Shibori

Silk Scarf by Pat Spark with Arashi Shibori resist.  Walnut hull dyebath.

I have been doing some arashi shibori (pole wrapped/ tie resist) with both eco dyes and synthetic acid dyes on silk scarves recently.  I haven't photographed the process, but I thought maybe this article that I wrote about 10 years ago might be helpful in explaining the process.  In this case, I was doing arashi shibori on wool felt.

More Experiments with Shibori
Pat Spark, Oregon, © 1995

........... the inspiration to try some variations with shibori on felt.  I had seen tie-dye techniques used on felts by artists, Chad Alice Hagen (USA) and Beret Aksnes (Norway) and I was very intrigued with the possibilities of tie-dye, but I had never taken the time to try it myself.  (In the 60’s, I did help support myself by tie-dyeing T-shirts and selling them at craft fairs.  But that was before I began to felt and it seems like another life-time ago.)  
            I began my research with an article written by Cheri Bridges for the Seattle Weavers’ Guild Bulletin in Feb. 1993.  The article cited a few articles on the subject. (See bibliography.) As luck would have it, I was able to find my copy of the magazine which contained these articles.  After reading these sources and experimenting with the technique, I have come up with the following information:
            The word shibori is Japanese and comes from the verb shiboru which means “to wring, squeeze, and press”.  When shibori is done to a fabric, areas are compressed in some manner which causes the compressed areas to resist dye.   The fabric can be bound, pleated, stitched, wrapped, etc. to create the resist areas.  If the fabric is wrapped around a pole and then bound in some way, the technique belongs to a family called bòmaki shibori (pole-wrapped resist dyeing).  Arashi shibori is a type of pole wrapping in which lines are created across the fabric.  The term arashi  means storm and to many people, the pattern created by the dyed and resisted areas of cloth looks like rain being driven from the sky by wind.  I tried several variations of arashi shibori and then I tried a sample of mokume shibori.   This shibori method is a stitching technique in which the pattern created by the dyed and resisted areas looks like wood grain.  (Mokume means wood grain.) 

Materials for Arashi Shibori:

The pole:  The cylinder must be the same size from one end to the other.  Finding a pole which would fit in my  dye kettle and which could take the high temperatures of a simmering dye bath has  been very difficult.  I have not found anything yet which is easily available, and which will resist the heat.  In my reading, I found that PVC pipe would certainly not resist the high temperatures.  At a plumbing and irrigation store,  I found ABS pipe which was supposed to withstand higher temperatures than PVC.  It was inexpensive and a 10” length fit nicely into my canning kettle sized dye pot.   I was able to cut a grove into the top to help secure the binding string and this was helpful in the binding process.  Unfortunately, it did warp with the heat.  I had an acrylic spaghetti storage container which was a symmetrical cylinder. It had a small lip on top, so the bound felt could be pushed against it without any danger of it slipping off the end of the cylinder.  It worked for about four dye baths and then it warped.  I had a heavy plastic container which used to contain GOOP, a grease cutting hand cleaner.  This container gets slightly flaccid when it is hot, but so far it has not warped.   However, I only have one of these containers and it has taken my family years to go through the 4 1/2 pound jar of GOOP.  I was dyeing pieces of felt which were about 12” by 18”.   The GOOP container is 16 1/4” around and 8” tall.  The acrylic container and the ABS pipe were 14 1/4” around and 10” tall.   I had no trouble wrapping the fabric pieces around either sized cylinder.   D’Arcie Beytebiere (see bibliography) suggests that the cylinder should be a couple of inches greater than the width of the fabric.  She also suggests using a stainless steel pipe for high temperature dyeing, but I have not found one yet. (NOTE: Since I wrote this article, I have found that I can use the ABS pipe and it doesn't distort too badly.) 

The felt:  I made a thin felt of white merino.  I used two thin layers of carded batt and laid  them at right angles to one another on a bamboo mat.  When they were laid out, the fleece layers were about 22” x 56”.   I covered the fleece with nylon net and poured hot, soapy water through a sieve over the wool/nylon net stack.  I flattened the stack to remove the air, lifted the net and folded over the edges to strengthen them.  Thin places were filled with more dry fleece and the net was replaced over the wet fleece. The excess water was sopped up with a towel and cold, soap gel was added for lubrication.  Using a Tubberware juice container lid in each hand, I rubbed the surface for about 1/2 hour.   The wet wool was rolled in the bamboo mat, around a large wooden rod.  The water which drained off was squeezed into a bucket and a dry towel was wrapped around the bamboo roll.  The roll was tied in several places and I used my forearms to rotate it back and forth for 15 minutes.   I untied the roll, re-rolled it from the other end, covered it with a towel, tied it together and rotated it again for 15 minutes.   After rinsing, the resulting piece of felt was ready for dyeing.  (I didn’t want the felt to be too hard because I knew the dyeing would continue the fulling process.)  The felt had come in about an inch on all sides.  I cut it into sections about 12” x 18” so it could be wrapped onto the cylinders. The felt was still damp but not drippy when I wrapped it.

The thread:  I used cotton postal twine for the pole wrapping techniques.   When I did the stitched technique, I used heavy button/carpet thread.
The dye:  I used Profast Acid dyes for wool.  They come from PRO Chemical and Dye Inc.; PO Box 14; Somerset, MA 02726; 1-508-676-3838.  The color was WF Acid Brilliant Blue, #490.    A scant tsp. of dye was dissolved in a  small amount of water.  This solution was added to 2 1/2 gallons of simmering water. The stitched or wrapped felt was wetted in warm water and then added to the dyebath.   Taking 1/2 hour or so, I raised the temperature to a simmer and then added vinegar (approximately 3/4 cup).   The heat was reduced to keep the bath at a simmer and the felt stayed in the dyebath for another 45 minutes or so. (The dyebath was stirred occasionally.)  The felt was removed from the dyebath, allowed to cool slightly and then the threads were cut away.  By this time the felt had cooled enough to be rinsed well.  The felt was not quite hard enough for me, so I rubbed it slightly on my glass washboard.  I rubbed it from the backside because I didn’t want to blur the edges of the resist.  I then blocked it out with my hands to straighten the edges and spread it to dry.    The final pieces were  2-3 inches smaller than the original fleece batts on all sides.

ARASHI SHIBORI (Pole Wrapped Resist, Driven Rain Design)

1. Lay the cylinder in your lap. 
2. If you want the stripes to angle from upper left to lower right, start at the upper right hand corner of the felt and wrap it clockwise around the cylinder, keeping the fabric flat against the cylinder.  (See diagram)   If you want the stripes to go in the opposite direction, start in the upper left hand corner of the felt and wrap the felt counter-clockwise.  If you want the stripes to be straight rather than diagonal, start the wrapping along the top edge of the felt and do not wrap it around the pole.   Let any excess cloth hang off the bottom of the cylinder. 

3. Secure the felt to the pole with a thread which has been tied with a slip knot.  Pull the thread snugly. 
4. Wrap the thread over the felt,  around the cylinder.  Keep the thread tight and don’t let go of the tension.  The spacing of the rounds will determine the spacing of the stripes.   I started with my wraps around 1/4 inch apart. 

5. When several wraps have been done,  push the bound fabric towards the end of the cylinder.  Don’t let go of the thread.  Be sure to keep it under tension!
6. Continue to bind and gather the felt, wrapping any additional felt around the pole as you go. 

7. When all of the felt has been gathered onto the cylinder, tie off the thread.  The felt is ready for dyeing.   

1. Stripe Width Changes:  When wrapping the felt around the pole, vary the distance between the wraps of thread.  They  can be close together or far apart and the strips  of area open to be dyed will be narrow or wide.
2. Puckers and Folds:  When wrapping the felt around the pole, don’t keep it flat against the cylinder.  Put in little tuck or bunch together the felt to make a pucker.  After dyeing,  these areas will be more irregular so the stripe is not so apparent.
3. Twists:  When the felt is being pushed up the pole, twist it to the side instead of pushing straight up.  This will create a dashed type stripe.  (But it’s very hard to do with the felt.)

Seattle Weavers ‘ Guild Bulletin Supplement Feb. ‘93; Easy Shibori- A Place To Begin by Cheri Bridges.  
Threads Magazine; No. 8, Dec. ‘86/Jan.’87.  
       P. 20-21 “New Twist on Resist”  by Yoshiko Wada;
       P. 22-24  “A Working Method for the Home” by Shelley Karpilow; 
       P. 24-27 “A Textural Approach to Arishi Shibori” by D’Arcie Beytebiere.