Archive for February, 2012

Dyeing Silk Cocoons

February 25, 2012

Check out my latest article in Embellish magazine – chatting about dyeing auxillaries this time. Thinking about this and the images I used took me back to when I was dyeing silk cocoons. Not the easiest thing to do using the traditional steamed fixing with a steamer pot – they all go soft and flatten. So what’s the answer – using a microwave to steam the little things!!

Now that microwaves are a lot cheaper its possible to get either a second hand one or cheap one for dyeing. I had bought one for $60 but then it ended up in the kitchen when my daughter tried to defrost toast for 20mins in my old microwave. I didn’t notice the smoke until the 12th minute… But the cheapie microwave only lasted about 12 months and a day and then died..right when Brisbane flooded and it wasn’t possible to get out to get a newbie. So the old faithful came back into the kitchen, smelt a bit of smoke but has still kept on going strong.

Next cheapie purchase – the microwave was now $45. Also microwave containers with that plastic grill thing at the bottom to hold the coccons above the excess dye liquid. You need to used separate containers for dyeing and cooking otherwise you could end up very sick. Next stage – experiment.. pour small amounts of acid dye over the cocoons and then steam for 10 seconds in microwave, allow to cool and then rinse to check its set. Tips – only pour small amounts of dye onto the cocoons as the dye streads and you really don’t need a lot of dye. You also want to steam the cocoons not boil them!

Why acid dyes? They give the best colour on silk. My favourite acid dye? Jacquard Acid dyes – excellent colour and easy to use. The acid involved is vinegar. Take 1 cup of hot water, 1 drop of detergent, 2 teaspoons of dye powder and a dollop of vinegar (12.5mls for the pedantic!) and mix to dissolve dye. This solution is now active. Pour carefully over cocoons in microwave bowl. Steam for the length of time you have determined for your machine (I did 10 seconds for mine). If you are concerned about burning then if the microwave is powerful, drop the power level to at least 70% to start with. Allow to cool, then rinse in water. Best of all you end up with brillant colour and the cocoons keeping their shape.

Lastly – SAFETY FIRST with all this. (Okay – the first thing is last, I know…) Use separate containers for all the dye stuff, wear protective colthes including gloves, dust mask when mixing up the powder and never use any kitchen utensils for dyeing – buy a separate set of microwave dishes as well as the microwave!! Also easy does it – don’t saturate the cocoons with heaps of excess dye. Above all, look after yourself and enjoy the dyeing process.

Like dyeing? Why not check out this month’s Embellish magazine – lots of interesting textile stuff!


Playing with paper

February 20, 2012

Been playing with tumble dyes again but this time on paper and using my new Colorbox molding mats as stamps. The tumble dyes make it easy to quickly colour the paper. Add a stamp down the side and you have a great start to a journal page or a piece for collage.

Playing with a Rainbow...

Add a touch of lumiere paint to the mixture with a palette knife and you get great backgrounds. Here’s a journal page I did.

Art Journal Page

Lumiere really is the best metallic paint. I’ve tried others but nothing comes close to the covering power nor the colour of Jacquard’s Lumiere paint. So next step – I took this and applied it to fabric…

Applying what I did on paper to cloth.

Using tumble dyes and Lumiere paint means that I can heat set the paint and its completely washable. It also retains its drape too, meaning that I can use the cloth for a range of projects. Here’s a couple more of the papers I coloured up…

Its lots of fun creating these and quick – especially when you’re trying to fit it in with the school run!

Doodling Along with Shiva Stiks…

February 13, 2012

Cedar Cayon has brought out a new set of rubbing plates (called Doodles) so I decided to combine my favourite paints of the moment, tumble dyes, and do a bit of rubbing. The great thing about the tumble dyes is that you can colour your cloth any way you want. When dry I just taped one of the new Doodle plates to my drop sheet and popped the coloured cloth over to have some fun with rubbing them with shiva stiks.

A little blue number

Okay testing to see if the words disappear again…. and they didn’t so I’ll rewrite them!! Blog having one of those days! 🙂 Above was my favourite from all the designs I did. I used copper, red and white on the rubbing, all irridescent Shiva rubbing stiks.

A little green number..

I finished with the purple number so I have all six designs onto cloth now. Just got to do the making up into a wall hanging now. Had fun with the humidity. Shiva paint stiks remain wet for a long time in humid weather so I’m waiting 7 days before I heat set with the iron. Also it was the first time I didn’t have to cut off the protection skin, it just rubbed off because of the high humidity. So the Shiva paint stiks were very soft.

A little bit purple..

Lastly I was creating my own stamps from the rubbing plates using the heat’n’mold stamps. I used a brayer to roll it into the surface. Its a bit hard to see because the flash kept washing out the contrast.

Using the Doodle Rubbing plates to create a stamp

Playing with Mica Fragments

February 8, 2012

Got some Mica Fragments the other day so decided to have a play with them. They quite large flakes considering we usually see mica in powder form as in Pearl Ex Powders by Jacquard. I decided to combine a few things to see what happended as you need something for the mica to stick to. So I got out some Filigree Fluid which is like a puff paste but only puffs up in a subtle way compared to Permaset’s Puff paste which gives you lots of puff for little paste.

What I used to create the textured surface

Instead of using the needle point applicator of the Filigree fluid I took the lid off and applied it to the cloth using the tooth brush so I could get some texture. The cloth I had pre-coloured using Tumble dyes which are lots of fun.

Filigree fluid over the cloth

Next I sprinkled some embossing powder in blue and white and also the mica fragments. I tried crushing the fragments but they are really very flexible so they didn’t crush down easily. This I see as an advantage when using on textiles as they will flex with the movement of the cloth.

Cloth after heating and textured surface created.


Its a bit hard to tell from the photo but the result is a very crusty surface thast is very flexible. I used Opal embossing powders which are renown for their good flexibility but what amazed me was how the large mica flakes stayed attached.

Close up of crusty surface


The other way to use the mica flakes is simply to embed them in paint. Again its amazing how they stick and stay put even when you flex the cloth. All I did was to paint the fabric, sprinkle the fragments where I wanted them, then placed a piece of baking paper over and rolled it with a brayer to ensure the mica fragments were embeded.  They have stayed stuck fast!

I think Mica Fragments add that extra dimension to surfaces, especially when trying to make a very textured result.