Friday, August 26, 2016

Exploring Hand Stitched Shibori: Ori Nui

Candace Edgerley here with another shibori stitch resist dye technique as well as a few tips to share and some experiments with last post's mokume. Don't forget to make a comment at the bottom of this blog to be eligible for the random drawing next week for one of my hand dyed shibori pillows. See an example at the end of this post.

Ori-nui shibori is created on the fold of the fabric.Traditionally, ori-nui is stitched on an undulating line.  A simple running stitch is sewn close to the edge of the fold. Once all the lines have been stitched, all the threads are drawn up, the piece is lightly sprayed with water, an additional tug to tighten up the stitching, and the ends are either knotted with the ends of the two threads or knotted with the adjacent row. 

If stitching the undulating lines, you may want to mark the fabric lightly with a pencil line as a guide or use a vanishing fabric marker.

As you can see in the blue and white piece pictured, I've created random straight lines to stitch. You can either crease the lines with your thumbnail or take the fabric to the ironing board and crease lines with the iron.

Here I've creased the fabric and stitched close to the fold making sure I haven't stitched into the threads as I cross over previous stitched lines.

Silk dyed with navy ProChem washfast acid dye.

In this piece I've started with ori-nui stitched random lines and then stitched a second row stitches making a bolder line of stitching.
Cotton dyed with deep navy Procion MX  dye.

Above you can see the difference in color between the two sample pieces; silk dyed with navy ProChem washfast acid dye and cotton dyed with deep navy Procion MX dye.

Dye-Na-Flow on wet & dry cotton.
I did a little experimenting last week with some of my mokume stitched pieces and two types of fabric paint. The first was Jacquard's Dye-Na-Flow. Working with narrow strips of cotton 5" x 12", I folded the bottom up 4"  so that I could see the difference between stitching through two layers and just one layer of fabric as you can see at the top sections of the two pieces. 

The piece on the left was pre-soaked in water and the Dye-Na-Flow was painted on rather heavily. You can see how the paint did soak into the creases somewhat. Though I'm not exactly sure why, it could be that the pigments in this paint are smaller than the dye particles found in a true dye.

The piece on the right was painted on dry fabric. The results were rather blotchy. Not sure if I'd consider either method a success. 

Cotton painted with Speedball Fabric Screenprinting Ink

I liked the results of the Speedball Fabric Screenprinting Ink best. It was lightly painted on the top of the pleats, dry fabric.

Above you can see the difference between stitching through two layers of fabric (piece on the left) and stitching through one layer of fabric (piece on the right). Even though the rows of stitching are approximately the same distance apart on each piece of PFD cotton fabric, the resulting pattern varies. Stitching through two layers results in a bolder pattern as the two layers are bulkier to stitch through. The pattern created by stitching through one layer is finer, more delicate. They both have interesting qualities. I always find it amazing that just a tiny knot can produce such a defined resist.

Cotton dyed with deep navy MX Procion stitched through two layers, mokume.

The piece above was stitched through two layers. The dark areas that divide the piece were created by skipping across the fabric while stitching the rows. See image below. The half on the left was the top layer and the half on the right the "back" side. The rectangles on the right were caught up more in the gathers than those on the left side. I might have had better luck if I had marked my fabric before stitching. My lines of stitching the row of "rectangles" aren't very straight. Maybe that was my intention:)

Below is another piece where I've randomly skipped areas while stitching mokume resulting in scattered dark areas.

Tips and Reminders:
1. After stitching and drawing up all the threads, lightly spray the fabric with water to swell the fabric and thread making it easier to pull up the threads a bit more and tie the knots.

2. Soak the piece in warm water 30 minutes to an hour before dyeing to get a better resist.

3. I measure the amount of thread needed for a row and cut several pieces ahead of time. 

4. Some who hand stitch like to have a pin cushion with needles pre-threaded and ready for the next row. I prefer to use the same needle which I don't cut off until I have the next piece of thread in my hand. If I cut it off before I'm ready to thread it again, I can never remember where I've put it.

5. I keep a small "Go Bag" with my necessary supplies for stitching to take along when I know I'll be waiting in a doctor's office, a passenger in rush hour traffic, or catching up with a relative on a speaker phone call. Nothing wrong with multi-tasking in these situations. Right?

Japanese Larch stitched shibori.
So, one more post coming with one more shibori resist stitch technique. This one is called the Japanese Larch. Hope you will join me next week on the 30th. I'll be announcing the winner of one of my shibori pillows on August 31st. Just make a comment below to be included in the drawing.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Exploring Hand Stitched Shibori

Candace Edgerley here, one of the new members of The Printed Fabric Bee.  As I’m sure many of you can relate, I have varied fiber technique interests to include dyeing, block printing, screen printing, felting, knitting, and garment construction. The traditional Japanese resist dye technique of shibori is my favorite. Surface pattern is created between the folds by clamping, binding, pole wrapping and stitching. Recently I’ve been obsessed with various traditional stitched shibori patterns, working to make them my own. The patterns I plan to introduce in this and the next few blog posts all are created with a simple running stitch. Also an August giveaway will take place August 31. See details at the bottom of this post.

I find the hand stitching very relaxing and so portable--think riding as a passenger on a long car trip to the beach, binge watching your favorite TV series, or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office. Traditional Japanese stitch resist techniques are best suited for narrow strips of fabric as the Japanese created the patterns for kimono fabric which is between 13 1/2" and 14 1/2" wide. I've been working with strips of silk and cotton which are no more than 15" wide. Though it may mean threading more needles and tying more knots, it makes pulling up the gathers in the fabric much easier than across a wide expanse of fabric.

Whether you are familiar with shibori, or are interested to give it a try, I plan to share some tips to help give you the results you want to achieve. This blog doesn't cover the dyeing process so I've been experimenting with various paints as well. If you are interested in using dye, I recommend Ann Johnston's book and/or video Color by Accident

Hand stitched Mokume and Ori-nui shibori.


The tools for preparing the fabric are simple and make this a very portable art. My favorites below:
  • Various needles (though any needle will work according to the weight of the fabric)
    • Richard Hemming & Son, Milliners Size 10
    • Richard Hemming & Son, Long Darners Size 7
    • Richard Hemming & Son, Darners Size 5
    • Dritz Quilting Basting needles, Size 7
  • Thread (Use a strong, doubled thread.  Regular sewing thread isn't strong enough.)
    • Light weight fabrics – Coats & Clark Plus, Hand Quilting, 32% cotton/68% polyester
    • Medium weight fabrics – Coats & Clark XP, Heavy, 100% polyester
    • Heavy weight fabrics – Coats & Clark Plus, Craft& Button, 74% polyester, 26% cotton
  • Fabric
  • Scissors with a sharp tip (Gingher 4” embroidery)
  • Seam ripper (Dritz)
  • Spray bottle for water
  • Small case to carry it all (mine is a sweet case from a dear friend--thanks Regina!)

Your choice of dye or paint appropriate for the type of fabric:
  • MX fiber reactive dye 
  • Acid dye
  • Indigo
  • Dye-Na-Flow (actually a waterbased acrylic paint)
  • Other acrylic fabric paints such as Jacquard Textile Color, Pebeo Setacolor Opaque, Pro Chemical & Dye Profab Textile Paint, Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink 


 1.  PREPARE THE FABRIC: If using dye, select the appropriate fabric for the type of dye you are using. With paints, most any type of fabric including polyesters can be used. I recommend experimenting. If the fabric is not PFD (prepared for dyeing), I recommend a prewash.

 2.  THREAD THE NEEDLE:  Estimate the length of thread you will need to complete the row of stitching, add another three inches or so and double that amount. Thread your needle with the thread doubled. This helps prevent broken thread and provides two ends which often come in handy for tying a knot after stitching.

 3.  KNOT THE THREAD:  Any large knot will do, but give a tailor's knot a try. So quick!  Directions are for right handers. Substitute the word "left" for you lefties.

--Wet the two ends of thread. 

--Pick up the needle with your right hand and lay the thread ends across your right index finger.

--Place your needle across the thread. 
--With your opposite hand, wrap the thread around the needle three or more times depending on how big a knot you need so that it doesn't pull through the fabric as you tighten the threads when gathering. 
--With your left index finger and thumb, lightly pinch over the thread wrapped needle. 
--Push up the eye end of the needle up with your right hand and continue to pull the needle up through the wrapped thread, pull the knot to the end of the thread with your opposite index finger and thumb nail. You may need to straighten the knot a bit, but we aren't striving for pretty. Just a nice thick knot.

If I've completely confused you, check out my first YouTube video demo.

 4.  STITCH:  Always do all the stitching first before drawing up the threads. Gathering the fabric before completing the stitching makes it impossible to keep track of where to stitch next. The three techniques I will be introducing all involve the running stitch. A simple in and out with the needle. I usually load three or more stitches on the needle before pulling the thread through the fabric.

 5.  GATHER: After doing all the stitching, pull up the threads using your fingernail to help inch the fabric along the length of threads.  I'll be introducing three stitch resist shibori techniques. Directions for the first, Mokume, follow these steps.

 6.  SPRAY:  After all the threads have been drawn up, use a spray bottle to lightly spray the fabric before tying off the threads. This water will swell up the fibers in the fabric and the thread making it possible to tighten the stitches even more and make it easier to tye off the knots. Do not wet the fabric before all the stitching is completed as it will be difficult to pull up the gathers once the fabric is wet.

 7. TIE: You may choose to tie the two ends of the thread together to secure the thread at the end of a row or tie the threads from two rows together. I usually tie the threads from two rows together.

 8.  SOAK THE FABRIC:  Soak your fabric in plain water for 30 minutes to an hour to saturate the folds. The water will help act as an additional resist and act as a "place holder." If you skip this step, the dye or paint will seep into the folds, wicking into the dry fabric and you will lose the sharp, crisp lines you are looking to create.  If using MX dye and you usually pre-soak your fabric in soda ash, I recommend changing your steps and add the soda ash at the same time you add the dye. Hand stitching fabric that has been pre-soaked with soda ash can be harsh on your hands. If using paint, experiment on samples with both wet and dry fabric to see how paint reacts. you may find applying the paint to dry fabric a better choice.

 9.  DYE OR PAINT YOUR FABRIC: If using dye, you may use either immersion or low water immersion methods. When I immersion dye, I allow my pieces to stay in the dye pot a minimum of one hour. If using paint, try various ways to apply the paint - soak in thinned paint, brush on paint. Be sure to read the directions for setting the type of paint you are using.

10.  REMOVING THE STITCHES/WASH OUT:  If using dye, rinse the piece well to remove excess dye before attempting to remove stitches. It is best to allow the fabric to dry, at least partially, before clipping the threads with small sharp scissors or a seam ripper to release the folds. It is so easy to accidentally clip the fabric when it is still wet. I usually give an additional rinse before the final wash out with synthrapol.  If using paint, follow manufacturer's directions for setting the paint. Then follow with a wash.

MOKUME (wood grain)

Mokume, MX dye on cotton
Using a simple running stitch, stitch parallel lines across the width of the fabric. Results will vary depending on the length of your stitches and the distance between the rows. All knots should be at one side of the fabric and the loose ends at the opposite side. You may or may not want to mark light pencil lines to follow when stitching. It is not necessary to line up stitches or be concerned about absolutely straight rows. I don't mark my fabric when stitching.

Once the fabric has all been stitched, gather up the stitches. After gathering, spray with water to swell the fibers which will make it easier to draw up the stitches even tighter and tie off the knots. You may choose to tie the two ends together or tie the ends of every two rows together. I prefer tying the ends of every two rows together depending on how far apart the rows might be.

To complete the piece, follow steps 8 through 10 above: Soak, Dye or paint,  Remove stitches, Wash out.

During a recent trip to India and seeing how many of the hand dyed fabrics were folded and stitched, I decided to try stitching two layers of fabric together. By stitching through two layers, I was able to stitch the same amount of fabric in half the time. See the piece below where I have folded one side in half and the other side on the diagonal. This is a great way to save time, but note that there will be a right and wrong side to pieces dyed this way. The inside of each fold will not receive as much dye as the outside.

So what's next? Next week I'll be posting a second stitch-resist shibori technique called Ori-nui.  I'd love to hear back from you concerning questions and whether I've inspired you to start stitching. Those who make comments will be added to the pool for my August giveaway...a pillow similar to one of those pictured at the beginning of this post. Leave your comment by August 30 and I'll post the winner of a random drawing at the top of the blog on the 31st.  Good luck and thanks for your interest in shibori.

  • Candace Edgerley with her hands in the pots.
    If you live in the Washington, DC area and are interested in taking classes, check out the schedule at The Art League School in Old Town Alexandria, VA. I'm teaching several shibori workshops as well as a low water immersion dye workshop and a Design and Print Your Own Fabric workshop.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Paintstik Prizewinner!

Thank you , everyone, for reading my posts and leaving such nice comments! Of course, there can be only one winner. Drum roll, please....

Congratulations, uptowncraftworks! I hope you have a lovely time playing with your prize. Please email me with your snail mail address so that I can ship this out to you.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Paintstiks & Stencils

Welcome back to my third and final blog post for my term as Queen Bee. (I just had to use my title one last time!) Let's talk about how to use your Shiva Paintstiks with stencils.

To get set up, you'll need your Paintstiks, mess management tools (see most recent blog post), fabric, your Grip-n-Grip, and some stencils. You may need a knife to open your Paintstiks if it has been awhile since you used them. Go ahead and round everything up. I'll wait right here.

If you've been using your Grip-n-Grip heavily, you may have noticed that it's not as sticky or grippy as it once was. No worries. Cleaning your Grip-n-Grip is fast and easy. Plunk your Grip-n-Grip into your kitchen sink (or other sink with a large flat bottom) get it wet, and rub some Dawn dishwashing soap or other degreasing soap on both sides of your mat. Rinse well. To hurry the drying process along, take it outside or to a shower stall and give it a good flick to dislodge the water droplets. It'll dry pretty quickly. Do not dry it with a dish towel. Ask me how I know. Sigh.

To set up for using stencils, place your mat on your work surface. Next, add your single layer of fabric and smooth it down on top of your mat. It should stay pretty stable.

There are so many stencils on the market! It's hard to choose where to spend my money. While I have a few stencils that are focal points, I like to collect patterns that will work will as layers in bigger, more complex surface design. For this demo, we're working with a bit of a mix; these flowers could be a focal point, or you could layer with them. The dots and checkerboard are immensely useful.

Once you choose your stencil and decide where to place it, I like to add a hinge of painter's tape. Just run a length of painter's tape half on the stencil (don't block any of the openings) and half on the fabric. When you are painting, you can hinge up the stencil, check your progress, and return the stencil to the same spot to continue working.

Tape versus spray adhesive: If you like spray adhesive, go ahead and use it on the stencil to keep in place as you work. I rarely use it for several reasons. The smell can trigger migraines and nausea for me, the spray is generally bad for the environment, and cleaning up the stencils is harder with adhesive on them. Also, if you plan to move your stencil around as you add layers, the adhesive can pick up paint that's still wet and spread it to other areas of your work. It's up to you.

While we used the Paintstiks directly on the fabric with rubbing plates, I don't do that with stencils. To start, you'll need a palette. I like to use lids from take-out containers. Cover the inside of the lid with painter's tape. The grippy nature of the tape will give you enough texture to transfer paint onto your new palette. When you're finished, you can peel off the tape and throw it away. Clean up is fast.

Stencil brushes are not all created equal. If you used to paint borders around the top of your wall with liquid-ish paint (Remember the 70's?), those brushes will not work here. Look for really stiff bristles. Sometimes you can cut the brush bristles shorter to make them stiffer, but it's just easier to have a selection of appropriate brushes on hand. Cedar Canyon makes four sizes and I have scads of them. (In fact, there's a set of four in the prize package. Leave a comment to enter...) Choose the size that is small enough to get paint into the stencil holes and large enough to finish the project in a reasonable amount of time. There's no right answer.

Using your Paintstik like a crayon, scribble some paint on the tape on your palette. Remember, you need to remove the skin from your Paintstik before you use it. Load your brush from the palette and remove any bits of paint skin or globs of paint. Go to the stencil and start filling in the holes.

One advantage of the Paintstik's consistency is that you don't have to start on the outside and draw the brush in. Liquid paint could run and spread; Paintstiks will not. To fill an area, I often paint in circles and scrub the paint into the fabric. The Grip-n-Grip will help keep the fabric in place.

If you're working with a larger stencil and you only want to use part of it, painter's tape is your friend. There's a reason they call it masking tape! Place strips of tape over the parts you want to mask and remove that tape when you're finished.

Keep in mind that you may want some areas to be darker and others lighter. If this is the case, be intentional with your brush strokes and keep an eye on color value. In the larger flowers, below, I chose to keep the darker values at the edges and the lighter values in the center. That leaves my options open for more paint or some embellishments.

As you work, use the hinge to check your work. I think this layer is done, so I'll take the stencil off and look for what I want to add next. 

If one added layer is good, won't two be better? I'm told by my art quilt students that one of the hardest decisions to make is to decide when your work is finished. In this case, I'm using two of my favorite go-to stencils (one at a time) to add balanced but asymmetrical layers. If you're not sure you're done, live with it for a while.

Finished. This isn't a masterpiece, but I hope it shows you what you can do with Paintstiks and the stencils you may already own.

Do you remember the big flower I did in the last post with a rubbing plate? I added a bit of texture by putting a piece of construction fencing under the fabric and using that as a rubbing plate, too. Here's what happened when I stenciled another layer with a different color. As you play, you'll develop favorite combinations and this will all be so easy, you'll wonder what took you so long to get started.

Here's one last piece of eye candy.

I did this with one stencil, two Paintstiks, and two brushes. I used a mottled light grey fabric for the background and that's how I got the tree trunks. I used a lovely cobalt blue for the sky and was careful about color value (darker at the top, filtering to a lighter value at the bottom) to give the impression of twilight. The black knots in the trees required a different brush; I cut a stiff flat brush to an angle so that I could get into those tiny areas.

Thanks for reading my stuff this month. I have had a great time sharing my love of Paintstiks. If you want to keep in touch, come on over to my blog or my website or email me. I'm also on Pinterest.

Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for the fabulous (or at least pretty neat) Paintstik Prize Package.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Paintstik Rubbings for Texture and Images

The first time I played with Shiva Paintstiks, I had a set of metallic minis, some dupioni silk, and absolutely no idea what I was doing. Please learn from my foolishness.
  • You're playing with a solid form of oil paint. Dress accordingly. 
  • Prep your work area for potential mess. Cover your worktable with plastic and have a place for trash that's easily accessible and will corral any errant Paintstik skin. I call this mess management.
After my first experience (and after I cleaned up the silver bits and pieces that decorated our hardwood floors), I went in search of information. I bought Shelly Stokes's book, Paintstiks on Fabric, and Paintstik Inspirations, an absolutely amazing DVD by Laura Murray. I recommend them both; get them at Artistic Artifacts.

When you open a pack of Paintstiks, you'll notice there's a skin covering the yummy oil paint goodness inside. You need to remove the skin before you can use the Paintstik. Here's how:
  • Gently pry open the paper tube around the Paintstik so that you'll be able to move the Paintstik up as you use it. Leave the tube on the Paintstik; just make sure you'll be able to slide the Stik. 

  • With an old knife devoted to art (and NOT food), cut or peel off as little skin as you can without losing too much of the paint inside. You'll see a difference in the sheen of the Paintstik when you get through the skin. The paint is shiny; the skin is not. (If you feel like you're wasting paint and you have a whole lot of time, feel free to try to reconstitute the skin with some linseed oil. I just don't have time for that.)

  • If you've used the Paintstik recently, you may be able to remove the skin by covering the tip of the Paintstik with a rag or paper towel and gently twisting. I've never had this work on a fresh, new Paintstik. 

  • MESS MANAGEMENT: Make sure all of the Paintstik skin and crumbs make it into the trash. 
Hint: As I work, my hands get covered with paint. I try to keep them clean to avoid spreading color where I don't want it. Laura Murray recommends baby wipes for your hands. I use unscented baby wipes on my hands and the occasional stencil.

When I work with Shiva Paintstiks, I generally use them to create rubbings or with stencils. Today, let's talk about creating rubbings.

To set up your workspace, I recommend starting with a Grip-n-Grip No Slip Mat. It will give you a great non-skid work surface that will keep your rubbing plate in place. (And you'll find lots of other uses for it!) Pat it to be sure it's securely in place. Both sides grip, so you are making sure of the temporary bond between the Grip-n-Grip and your work surface.

Next layer: rubbing plate! Pat it into place as well, to ensure it will stay put.

Lots of students ask which side is up. Rubbing plates generally have no labels to give you a clue. Here's how I determine which side the manufacturer intended as the "right" side. Place the rubbing plate flat on a table. Now, look at the lip around the rubbing plate. Is it absolutely flat against the table? Yes? That's the side to use. If there's a little space (maybe 1/8") between the table and the edges of the rubbing plate, that's the flip side. It will still work for rubbings, but the image will be different and may not be as crisp as you would expect.

Now add your fabric. It may stay on place better because of the Grip-n-Grip, but don't rely on it. Here's where you start being a bit careful about keeping things in place.

Once the fabric is in place, make sure you know where the edges of the plate are. In this shot, the tips of the fingers on my left hand are resting against the edge of the plate, which is under the fabric.

Generally, I pull the Paintstik across the surface in one direction, careful to keep the fabric from shifting. How hard should you press? Hard enough to get color on your fabric, but not hard enough to push or pull your fabric into distortion. It may take a little time to get the feel of this.

Do NOT time travel back to kindergarten where you scribbled in all directions to complete a rubbing with paper and crayons. That will distort and move the fabric. Of course, if that's the effect you want...

Does the rubbing need something more? Add layers!

Don't limit yourself to commercial rubbing plates. They're great for a lot of reasons, but there's so much more out there. For this flower, I wanted to add a little structure and background, so I used a piece of construction fence. Slip the texture you want to add under the fabric and add color by rubbing the Paintstiks on the areas where you want it.

Sometimes, paint makes its way through the fabric onto your rubbing plate. Clean it with a baby wipe or a paper towel (or rag) and some orange based degreasing liquid cleaner. I like Citrasolv, but ZEP makes a good one, too. It's affordable, non-toxic, and safe to dispose of down the drain. In a pinch, I've successfully used Dawn dish detergent.

In the next post, I'll add one more layer with a stencil to make this little flower a little more interesting. For now, here's another rubbing...

And here's what you can do with a selection of rubbing plates, black fabric, metallic Paintstiks, and some painter's tape. Fun!

Don't forget to comment so that we can enter you into the drawing to win this lovely Paintstik starter kit. Do you see where it says "Garden Flowers" on the Cedar Canyon label? Those six pictures are the rubbing plates included in this prize package.