I spent all weekend at CNCH, taking a class in stenciling from April Sproule. While the material was fairly basic, I had a lot of fun just playing with paint and stencils. On the first day, I experimented with layering color and with different colored backgrounds. These two items were made with the same stencil and the same colors, but the difference between a white and a black background turned out to be remarkable:
Next I tried a stencil I had brought from home, and double-layered it with a stencil provided by the instructor to produce red “feathers” along the wings:
This worked moderately well – my main complaint is that the nylon tulle stabilizing the phoenix stencil (as described in Jane Dunnewold’s Complex Cloth) left marks on the print. If I try this again with my homemade stencils, I will thin out the paint slightly.
I also experimented with stenciling through a thermofax screen, which mostly didn’t work. I was not able to combine the gradual shading of the stencil with the crisp, clear hair-fine details of a thermofax screen, and was worried about paint drying in the screen. Well, you never know until you try.
On the second day, I brought in a “failed” tie-dyed shirt and stenciled over it with a dragonfly stencil provided by the instructor. The tie-dye was a beautiful reddish brown, but didn’t have enough contrast to make an interesting shirt on its own. I added dragonflies in gold with various colored highlights, and the effect was astounding (and gorgeous!):
Much more interesting! I think this will become one of my favorite shirts.
I spent some time in the galleries and the vendor hall. John Marshall was generous enough to gift me with some lacquered paper that can be used as weft, and I bought three rolls of colored ikat tape from him. And I stopped by Giovanna Imperia’s booth and ordered some brass/cotton yarn that she had. It’s about the size of 140/2 silk, cotton wrapped around a brass core. It may turn out to be quite interesting for dÃ©vorÃ© work. I ordered half a kilogram, and plan to weave samples sometime soon.
The next few weeks are going to be busy! I have woken up to the fact that the Fine Threads Study Group samples are due at the end of May, which may not be enough time to get the color study off the loom and weave anything else. So I am going to try accelerating the color study, which means winding and dyeing more skeins for the weft, since I don’t have some of the shades I wanted to experiment with. At the same time, I’m digging through my stash of fine thread samples for a backup plan. I do have some samples woven with 140/2 silk that would probably be suitable – I’d prefer to have sea turtles, but having alternatives will take some of the pressure off.
At the same time, I have 10 pounds of Sorrento lemons to deal with. There is not nearly enough for a batch of marmalade and a reasonable-sized batch of candied Sorrento lemon peel, so I think I am going to make marmalade and limoncello, which requires fewer lemons. (Sorrento lemons are the Italian lemons traditionally used for limoncello, and they are hard to find! I was only able to find one grower in the U.S., but fortunately, they ship – so I got them to send me some.) I cut up the lemons for the marmalade tonight, and will finish the marmalade over the next few days. And I will start making limoncello tomorrow, as soon as I can buy some grain alcohol or 100 proof vodka.
I also have a fly shuttle mechanism for the loom! It’s a double box fly shuttle that I bought used – putting it onto Emmy is going to require significant rearrangement of furniture etc., so probably best left for a weekend or two.
And, to complete the new toy round-up, I bought five kilos of 30/2 silk from Eurestex in the UK, and it arrived on Friday. One kilo is going to a friend, the remainder will replenish my stash after the color study. Here is Tigress inspecting the shipment for defects (or perhaps cat toys!):
I have one more toy arriving shortly – AVL said they would ship my auto-advance mechanism at the end of this coming week. That will complete all my intended upgrades to the loom.
Finally, since Fritz is complaining that Tigress is getting all the attention lately, here’s the return of Superkitten, this time attempting to undo the knot on the drapes. He succeeded shortly thereafter, dropping to the floor with a thud as the drapes swung closed. Go Superkitten! Mission accomplished.