Monday, November 25, 2013

Dichrophane dragon in detail

Let's start by taking a look at the whole dragon. All the dichrophane was fused with the painted side down, so you look through the iridescence at the color. The two sample pieces I photographed yesterday didn't look all that different, but as you see, the colors really pop once you press the dichrophane flat onto a neutral surface. I used Pinata inks for all the colors; diluted for the wings, full strength for the body and flame.
There are plenty of subtle color variations within each piece, too.
Look how clean and sharp the pointy bits are! I embroidered over the edge of the whole piece to define the outline (and,to be honest, because I never totally trust fused things not to start curling up at the edges) and none of the dichrophane split, even when I got to the teensy little ends of these points.
I got out my embellisher and felted down lots and lots of coordinating fibers to reduce the glare of the dichrophane to a hint of glitz peeking through. Okay, a lot of glitz. It's still not as blinding as the initial version, trust me. The needlefelting worked because I was using mohair fibers and the base fabric was felt. It would also have worked if I had used a piece of cotton fabric bonded to felt as the base, which probably would have been a better design decision.
I didn't do much needlefelting on the flames coming out of his mouth because I wanted them to glow. I did add a little orange embroidery along the mouth to dispel the disconcerting impression (in the initial fused piece) that the flames were just coming out of nowhere.

So - that's it! You've got glitz, color, flexibility, fusability, no fraying, and you can stitch through it by hand or machine. I am so in love with this stuff!

Friday, November 22, 2013


That's what I'm calling the results of a happy accident. Because it's shorter than "Cellophane that's been abused until it looks like dichroic glass." A while ago, probably when I was avoiding some real work,I decided to try something I vaguely remembered from an English embroidery book.(Q: Why are the English so much more innovative and exciting in the field of embroidery? And so far behind us in art quilting?)Anyway, what I thought I remembered was something about coloring and heat-treating cellophane to create a surface for stitchery. So I had a package of iridescent cellophane, because I'm the kind of person who has things like that (Hmmm, I don't know what I'll do with this but it looks interesting) and I had some Pinata alcohol-based inks, which just looove nonporous surfaces, and I brought the two together. And when the ink dried I attacked the cellophane with my heat gun and created this amazing stuff. Here's how,step by step:

1) Acquire some iridescent cellophane.

2)Cut off a chunk of it. Actually, you see two chunks here, because I want to demonstrate different media.

3)Color one side, either side, with whatever works. I used alcohol inks for the blue-green piece and oil pastels for the other. There are probably lots of other possibilities. Experiment!

4) Use a heat gun to create a bubbly, wrinkly surface. Here's what it looks like partway through. If you hold the heat gun too long in one spot you'll get a hole in the cellophane, which is fine if the application you're planning requires holey dichrophane but rather a nuisance otherwise.

Ta-da!You'll get stronger colors on the colored side, more iridescence on the flip side.

So what's so great about this stuff? Well... it doesn't fray. You can cut intricate, detailed shapes out of it without any worry that those spiky bits on the edge are going to dissolve into their component threads. You can fuse it: after ordeal by heat gun, an iron isn't going to bother it. It's flexible. You can needlefelt fibers over it, which I often do to knock back the shine a little; you can machine-sew through it; you can hand embroider it with a big fat embroidery needle and it won't split. And that's just the fiber-arts virtues of it.

Tomorrow I'll post close-ups of the dragon at the top of this post and say more about the fiber-arts techniques involved.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Always seeing rainbows

I got the string of green glass beads up some time ago (i.e., talked my tall husband into hanging it) and surprise, surprise, it didn't need any extra support; it hangs in a graceful swag from far left hook to far right hook. So I used the free cup hooks to hang loops of green glass beads. Took forever to get a picture, because you have to catch it at the right time of day and there was this problem with getting my camera back from the house hob, which required an abject apology, some groveling, and the sacrifice of a handful of ballpoint pens. But here it is:
At this time of the year, most of the day,the sun shines right through it, which makes it impossible to photograph but in compensation, the chandelier crystals throw mini-rainbows around my workroom and the kitchen. I've also cleaned up the windowsill and filled it with things like tall jars of sea glass and desert glass and a big abalone shell and a shell-shaped bowl to hold my strings of pearls.
There remains a rather large window through which you can still see Central Texas; but right now Texas is remarkably green, so I'm not highly motivated to work on that.
Come the dry season, when the window shows a lot of dead grass, I'll probably think of something. In any case, this'll be the last decorating blog for a while, because I've been making things that I want to talk about.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Casting your beads upon the water

Okay, the original Bible translation clearly contained a typo, because if you cast bread upon the water....well, I always figured you'd get back soggy bread. Or ducks. Lots and lots of starving ducks who haven't eaten since the last idiot strolling around Lady Bird Lake threw them a sandwich crust, about ten minutes ago. What I got was more like French toast. Robbie of Robbie's Paw Prints expressed an interest in the fabric beads and look what I got in return!
It 's soo cute! I want to carry it as a clutch bag but the workshop grabbed it out of my hands and said, "No you don't, it's going over here in your corner of blues and greens and I know the perfect thing to hold, something light and clean that you use a lot of but that isn't pretty to look, for the moment, this is what it's holding.
Incidentally, the Beads Across the Window project worked out beautifully. I took a couple of snapshots when the light was good. Then I caught cold and spent a week chugging Nyquil and using up Kleenexes. (Or, if you want to be classical about it(which I sometimes do)Kleenices.) During that week the hob stole my camera. I hope he'll give it back if I apologize by picking up enough stuff, but for the moment I am Without Camera and was frustrated about how I would get pictures of Robbie's creation, and then it dawned on me...the Ipad is a camera. My phone is a camera. Everything is a camera nowadays. The NSA probably has a camera installed in the dog's head (nobody would notice the aperture under all that hair)and good luck to them; I hope they enjoyed those close-ups of the last mouse he killed. I am not, really, quite adjusted to the twenty-first century. Oh well, that's what kids are for: to fix the network router and teach you to use an iPad.