Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

Part 2 Building a Visual Vocabulary – Project 5 – Stage 4 – A larger sample

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I chose to make a an extended version of a repeating pattern which could continue beyond the edges of the sample and is not a complete unit in itself.

I was inspired by the sentence from Jane Dunnewold’s book Art Cloth: A guide to surface design for fabric

“Art cloth features a series of dyed and printed layers, each contributing to the intricacy, beauty, and interest of the fabric, transforming cloth into a work of art”

The first step in her layering process is to dye the fabric.

Earlier this year I attended a workshop by Helen Deighan who has published two books on the subject of dyeing, Dyeing in Plastic Bags and Magic Dyeing Made Easy.  Using her method in Magic Dyeing made easy and starting with a washed piece of an old white bed valance, I scrunched the fabric into a ball and bound it tightly with string. Using her plastic bag method I mixed magenta and acid lemon and a drip of turquoise and added the dry scrunched up ball of fabric to the bag.  The book indicated that if the fabric is completely dry, the tied-up piece will act like a sponge and pull the dye right into the centre giving an all-over pattern.  The fabric produced was interesting but quite light in colour. (I omitted to take a photograph at the time but also used it below left with added printed leaves).


Continuing with one of  Jane Dunnewold’s 0ptional layers, I overdyed the fabric with olive green, using a dye recipe from Tray Dyeing by Lesley Morgan & Claire Benn and Helen Deighan’s plastic bag method.  I didn’t manipulate the fabric on this occasion.

For the next layer,  I used two easy cut lino blocks to print all over the fabric as a background with Jacquard lumiere metallic copper.  The colour of the fabric is not accurately depicted in the photograph.


Jane Dunnewold suggests that if a busy background texture has been created consider adding a simple layer next.  With this in mind, I tried various leaf shapes to overprint and agreed that a stronger simpler shape would suit the background and drew two examples on acetate and laid them on the fabric.  I felt the upper leaf below (the simpler of the two) was better and could be used quite large to best effect. I auditioned various colours by laying ribbons and tapes on the fabric and decided on a bright bronzy colour.


I considered the pattern by drawing it on tracing paper and realised there was a hole in the middle.


I tried various arrangements until I came up with the following, although my 40cm x 40cm square would only have three leaves on it, as the pattern is quite big.


I was feeling confident, even a little excited about my sample.  The last step was to cut a stencil to over-print the cloth.

The stencil I cut wasn’t really compatible with the background leaf, it was too solid, not expressive, and impossible to stencil through without the fabric paint seeping under the stencil.


I cut an easy cut lino block but that wasn’t bold enough, partly because the shape was a little thin, but also because the Jacquard lumiere fabric paint  (which was the right colour) was a bit too transparent when used with a block.


I could buy more paint if the block was right.  So far the best option is a Neopaque II watersoluble wax crayon but I don’t have quite the right colour and I was concerned it would look amateurish.


I thought perhaps it would be improved with some free-stitching and tried out various ideas on another piece of fabric.

DSCN2896 DSCN2895 DSCN2892

The final sample:

DSCN2900 DSCN2899 DSCN2898

It is difficult to see from the photographs the true colour of all the tie dyed fabric in this post.  It is closer to the following pictures taking during the project.



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