Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Felted Christmas Tree Baubles

How to make your own special Christmas Tree decorations - a ball of cling film, a few wisps of Merino wool fibre, and a couple of minutes of elbow grease (find out more from our Fact File page).

Amongst the shop bought baubles are our two red and green hand felted baubles and our polymer clay heart-shaped ornament

Friday, 16 December 2011

Simple Christmas Tree Ornaments

Here's a simple Christmas project which will appeal to the whole family.  We all love using modelling clay and cutting shapes out of it.  Polymer clay shapes have the added bonus of becoming permanent when baked at a low temperature in an oven.  Choose two colours of clay, a festive shaped cutter, and a glittery powder such as Jacquard Pearl Ex, and you can make a Christmas decoration which will last for years and years, visit our Fact File page Polymer Clay Tree Ornaments to find out more.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Painting on Glass

Deka Cristal and Deka Transparent paints have been formulated specifically for painting on non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal and ceramics. 

Deka Cristal can be diluted and cleaned up with water making it a good choice for use with children. Deka Transparent is solvent based and adheres to the surface more effectively and should be used in a well ventilated room.  Both paints dry to a hard, transparent varnish.

Before painting it is important to clean off any grease or dirt from the surface of the glass.  Wash in warm soapy water, rinse and dry with a lint free cloth.  Try to handle the glass as little as possible to prevent transfer residue back onto the surface.

Painting by Maisie Parker
The paint has a relatively high viscosity and can be applied free hand with a medium sized paint brush.  Areas in a design can be defined by an outliner.  This is applied to the glass before painting and creates a raised border, giving the traditional effect of a stained glass window.

Cocktail sticks, kitchen paper and cotton buds are ideal tools for fixing mistakes.  Dip in water for water based paints or white spirit for solvent based paints.

The Glass Painting Explorer pack (this link will take you to the George Weil website) is a good way to get started with glass painting and includes a selection of glass shapes, 3 jars of Deka Cristal and a brush.

We also have a selection of glass shapes on offer in addition to the glass paints and out liners.  Visit the Glass Painting section of the George Weil website to find out more. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Iron Age Tools at The British Museum

Evidence that wool has been used for clothing exists at The British Museum as far back as the Iron Age (800 BC - AD 50). There are a selection of combs carved from animal bone probably used to prepare the fibres and stone whorls which were used to weight the hand spindle. The wooden tools used for creating the cloth have long gone but the large stone weights used to keep the warp tight on the loom still remain.

Linen was also used for cloth. The fibres from the flax plant are long and strong, making a robust yarn. The stalks from the flax plant were first threshed to remove the seeds and then the inner stalk was rotted away in water to leave the outer fibres intact. This process is called retting.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Extruding Polymer Clay Shapes

The Makin's extruders make light work of extruding clay shapes. This particular extruder has been developed for use with metal clay as it includes an end cap and a water crystal to keep the clay moist for longer.

The clay is placed inside the barrel and the handle is turned to push the plunger along the length of the barrel to force the clay through the chosen disc.

The clay extruders come with a choice of discs allowing a variety of shapes which can be used for jewellery making, embellishment, paper crafts and OOAK doll making.

Take a look at our Fact File page Using an Extruder with Polymer Clay to find out more about this fun technique.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Changing Face of Fashion

Habotai and Pongee silk fabric was previously sold by
George Weil & Sons as lining fabric for fur coats and stoles
George Weil came from Alsace, France in 1891 to supply silks linings to the fur trade.  As this controversial fashion became unpopular, the family business had to explore other ways of surviving.  The craft market was the obvious choice as these finely woven silk fabrics look stunning when painted with silk paints or acid dyes. 
Mohair coat with silk lining

Today, George Weil supplies these luxurious fabrics to artists and craftsmen.

Here we see it used as a lining for quite a different type of coat.  Susan Litton painted this colourful silk lining for the mohair coat she wove on her Louet table loom.

Find out more about silk painting from the Fact File on our website.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Prepared for Dyeing?

When buying fabric you may occasionally come across the term Prepared for Dyeing or PFD.  This means that no starches, sizing or finishes have been used on the fabric as these treatments, including optical whiteners, will interfere with the absorption and therefore the effectiveness of dye. 

Although your fabric has been sold as 'dressing free' it should still be prepared for dyeing because it will have attracted grease or dirt during handling.

Another problem to be aware of is residue from deodorants and body lotions.  You may have bought a 100% cotton t-shirt but if you tried it on in the shop, there is a good chance that some of these substances will have transferred to the fabric.
Fibres and yarns will have been
'contaminated' in a similar way to fabric, and wool fibres may still retain some of the lanolin (a waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of the sheep).
Any residue on material will potentially act as a resist to repel dyes, paints and printing inks.

We recommend that all materials are rinsed out in a solution of Synthrapol which is a non-ionic detergent and does not leave the alkaline residue usually left by household detergents.

Use 5ml of Synthrapol to 2-3 litres of water for each 100g of material and stir gently over a 15 minute period (take extra care not to over agitate wool as this will felt the fibre).  Rinse thoroughly in warm water and your fabric, fibres or yarns are now Prepared for Dyeing.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Book Spotlight: Magical Metal Clay Jewellery

Sue Heaser's book Magical Metal Clay Jewellery is an excellent introduction to crafting with precious metal clays such as Art Clay Silver clay.  Art Clay Silver clay consists of finely ground pure silver mixed with non-toxic binders and water. When fired, the binders burn away leaving pure, 99.9% silver.

Magical Metal Clay Jewellery by Sue Heaser

In the first chapter Basic Techniques, the concise and easy to follow text takes the reader through the necessary tools and how to handle and work with the clay. The step by step instructions on the 3 methods of firing the clay (gas hob firing, blow torch firing and kiln firing) will disperse any worries about this stage in the process, and the clear colour photographs provide additional help.

The subsequent chapters include eight Basic Projects such as a charm bracelet and a silver leaf (pictured below).

Leaf coated with metal clay paste or 'slip'.
  The chapter Moulding shows how to make moulds using polymer clay and the silicone moulding compound.  It also shows how to include a Cubic Zirconia gemstone (pictured below).

Cubic Zirconia gemstones can be fired with silver clay
Subsequent chapters include Beads & Rings and Filigree & Embellishments which provide a further 13 projects for working with the silver clay.  The final chapter Using a Kiln, explores how to use the silver clay with fused glass and explores the fascinating silver paper clay which can be folded into shapes. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide, an inorganic metal oxide mainly used in ceramic materials.

The CZ gemstone has more light dispersion (fire) and is heavier than a diamond, and although a real diamond is about 500 times harder than a Cubic Zirconia, the Cubic Zirconia is relatively hard compared to other gemstones.

There are a number of ways to distinguish the difference between a diamond and a Cubic Zirconia. The fog test is accurate and easy to perform. A real diamond cannot retain any heat, so if you breath on the stone it will fog over but with a Cubic Zirconia the warm breath will clear up immediately.

Choosing a Cubic Zirconia gemstone means you can have the luxury of a real gemstone at an affordable price. The clear and coloured Cubic Zirconia offered by George Weil have a a superior clarity which does not alter when fired with Art Clay Silver clay jewellery pieces. The CZ gems will withstand the heat from blow torch and kiln firing and will not crack or melt.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Butterfly Painted on Silk

We thought you may like to see how the butterfly in the previous post turned out.  The clear outliner, which acts as a barrier, was applied by following the lines traced with the autofade pen.  The moisture from the outliner makes the ink from the autofade pen start to disappear.

It is important to make sure that all the outlines are joined up so that the paint remains contained within the outline.  The outliner needs also to have fully penetrated the fabric, hold the silk fabric up to the light to check this.

The Deka Silk paint is very fluid and quickly spreads the moment the brush touches the fabric and the outliner stops the paint in its tracks.

Additional applications of paint will intensify and deepen the colours.


The finished silk painting, with flaws. You need to work quickly when painting large areas in one colour, the green paint looks blotchy where it has been painted over and begun to dry. Use a large brush and work confidently, the wet paint will find the gutta outlines by itself. Sprinkling salt on the wet paint will add patterning to disguise blotches, as will drops of water. Alternatively, paint over with another colour.  The silk paint is made washfast on the fabric by heat setting with a hot iron.

Visit the website to browse our range of silk painting products >

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Fabulous Autofade Pen

This post is for those of you who haven't yet discovered the magical autofade pen.  It is a fibre tipped pen which can be used to trace or sketch out designs on fabric and paper.  The violet coloured ink magically fades within 3-4 days or it can be removed immediately with water (see how in our Fact File page Prepare Design for Silk Painting, which also explains how to apply gutta outliner).

The autofade pen is an invaluable tool for silk painters, embroiderers, quilt makers, scrap bookers, dress makers and Batik artists.  It can be used to sketch out designs before making permanent marks on precious fabrics and paper.

Sketching out the design with an autofade pen for silk painting
The Autofade pen being used to trace a design through Pongee silk fabric

Here is a simple design for a flower using an autofade pen on our cotton canvas shopping bag.  It doesn't matter if the sketch looks scruffy because the lines are only there for guidance and the pen marks will fade away completely within 3-4 days. 

  The finished shopping bag with brightly coloured flowers painted with acrylic fabric paints (see our Fact File page for more information on this project).
A hand painted canvas shopping bag would make a great gift for Christmas

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Measuring up for a New Reed

When ordering a reed, check the overall length of the reed you are replacing, including the end caps which add about 2.5cm to the total length. 

The reed height is normally defined by the size of the opening in the beater.  Most looms are flexible in the height of the reed they can accept, which is defined by the shed created between the beater and the upper warps. 

If you're not sure how to measure for your reed, please give us a ring on 01483 565800 as these cut to order items cannot be returned.

40 years after decimalisation our weaving reeds have finally gone metric! We've tried to make the transition as simple as possible, and include a dpi equivalent in the product description, find our more about our stainless steel weaving reeds >

GREAT NEWS We have a quantity of mild steel reeds in 4" and 5" heights, which include 6-14 dpi and have been cut to various lengths.  We're offering the remainder of this stock at a 50% discount, please contact us to discuss availability. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Polymer Clay Snowman

Christmas is just around the corner and such a fun time for creating.  The simple shape of a snowman can be easily replicated in polymer clay, and the charming character can be hung on the Christmas tree as an ornament.  Find our how the snowman was made from our Fact File page > 

We'll be adding more Christmas ideas to the blog in the next few weeks...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Tixor Malam Wax Melting Pot

If you plan to do a lot of Batik or Encaustic Art, a thermostatically controlled wax melting pot is an essential addition to your tool kit.  This wax melting pot is mains operated through a British 3 pin plug.
The Tixor Malam Wax Melting Pot
The melting capacity of the Tixor Malam Wax Pot is 300ml and the adjustable thermostat can be set from 0 through to 135°C.  This means the temperature can be set to keep the melted wax in a liquid state while you are using it. 
It is important that the wax remains liquid so that it can pass into the bowl opening of the tjanting and flow freely through the spout at the bottom.  Heating enough wax to fully submerge the tjanting bowl will ensure that the wax does not cool down and block the spout.  

Learn more about Batik at 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Book Spotlight: Natural Dyes

Natural Dyes by Domique Cardon
Natural Dyes by Dominique Cardon is the definitive book on the subject of natural dyes and their use.

The hardback book includes 778 pages with 560 illustrations, covering the world wide sources and dyeing traditions, along with details of dyeing technology and the science which lies behind colouring with naturally occurring materials.

The chapters cover history, including the history of Japanese dyeing, and the discovery of successful mordanting with the five core mordants in use today. They then proceed into each of the main colour classes and the related families of dyestuffs of reds, yellows, indigotins and tannins, then on to lichen and fungi and finally the molluscs and scale insects.

Priced at £95.00 the book would be a considered purchase, although the depth of study makes this fascinating and informative title unequalled - it is a must for the libraries of dyers, scientists, designers, artists, weavers, spinners, curators, conservators and restorers, museums and research institutions. In fact all those who have a professional or personal interest in, or passion for, colour. 
If you would like to buy this book, please visit the Book Shop on our website, there is free p&p on this item.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Screen Printing with Selectasine

The Selectasine screen printing products offer an economical alternative to ready-mixed screen printing inks and are used by schools, colleges, professional screen printers, and textile artists.
Binders and pigments for making printing ink
The screen printing system comprises a large selection of binders which can be mixed with the range of concentrated colour pigments, which also include luminous colours.  The pigment is added to the binder at a rate of 35g to 100g (depending on the intensity of colour required), and the mixed ink can be used for both block printing and screen printing onto paper and fabric. 

The ink is made permanent on fabric by allowing it to dry before ironing it on the reverse with a hot iron (find out more about fixing the ink from the George Weil Fact File.) 

We sell the pigments in 50g, 100g and 500g bottles and the Selectasine Solvent-free Binder SF20 in 1 litre, 5 litre, 20kg and 45kg quantities. 

A screen printing frame and squeegee
The Selectasine screen printing system is not just limited to producing standard screen printing ink.  There is an opaque white and an opaque binder which will cover most dark colours, a metallic binder and fine metallic powders for creating gold or silver screen ink, a special pearlised binder for making pearlescent colours, and a puff binder which expands when heat is applied.  

The choice of binders and pigments provides great scope for experimentation, and as the binders are all acrylic based they can be intermixed to create differing effects.  To ensure your projects get underway without any problems we recommend measuring of quantities prior to mixing, note keeping and swatch testing.  These will be invaluable once you have achieved a successful print.

You can find out more about Screen Printing and the Selectasine Screen Printing system from the Fact File or you can browse our range of Screen Printing supplies (these links will open in a separate window and take you to the George Weil website).

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Space Dyeing in the Microwave with Acid Dyes

Here we include a recipe for space dyeing yarns, fibres or fabrics. The randomness of this microwave method is so satisfying - there's no need to fret about precise colour measuring and each attempt will give you varying results.

The recipe is for dyeing white or pale coloured protein fibres such as wool, silk, cashmere and soy bean.  Our photo (top right) shows a random dyed silk yarn on a hand spindle.  Susan Litton first dyed the silk fibres using the method below before spinning the fibre into the variegated yarn.

You will need at least 2 colours of Acid Dye and white (distilled) vinegar.
  1. Mix 2 teaspoons of vinegar to 1 litre of tap water and soak your material thoroughly.
  2. Line a microwave dish with sufficient cling film to be able to close over the top.
  3. Squeeze out and spread the material randomly across the dish.
  4. Lightly sprinkle the acid dye powder onto the surface of the material. The more powder you add, the denser the result of the colour. Add a second and a third colour if desired.
  5. Dampen with a small amount of hot water and work the Acid dye powder into the fibres.
  6. Fold the cling film over the dish, ensuring it is airtight, and place in the microwave
  7. Heat on high until the parcel 'inflates' and then reduce the heat to 'defrost'.
  8. Cook until the parcel begins to billow up again, turn off and leave to cool. 
  9. Take care when you take the parcel out of the microwave as hot steam may still be trapped in the cling film.
  10. Rinse the material in warm water until the water runs clear, and hang out to dry. 

Vibrantly coloured space dyed Silk Tops

Friday, 2 September 2011

Felt Artist Sarah Brooker

What with our current special offer on Merino wool tops, we could not help remembering the work of artist Sarah Brooker.

One of Sarah's early works was used on the 1996 cover of the Fibrecrafts catalogue and Sarah continues to produce superb felt 'paintings' such as those featured below.

You can find out more about Sarah from the website run by New Brewery Arts or enjoy more examples of her work featured in our Fact File.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Book Spotlight: Tapestry Weaving

Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook
Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook
 Kirsten Glasbrook's colourful and exciting book 'Tapestry Weaving' will appeal to all lovers of colour and texture.

The various techniques of tapestry weaving are explored through Kirsten's evocative designs and the step-by-step guidance and detailed photographs teach the weaver how to create motifs, borders, and shading, as well as finishing techniques such as tassels and beading.

Weaving a tapestry is like painting with yarn and the inspiring gallery of Kirsten's work shows the versatility of the craft. 

Excerpt from Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glasbrook
This excerpt from the book illustrates how a design can be 'traced' onto the warp threads and interpreted with the coloured rug yarn.

If you would like to know more about Tapestry Weaving, you can visit our website to browse the range of Tapestry Weaving equipment, or pop in to the Book Shop to preview other books about weaving techniques.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Jacquard Procion MX dyes

Jacquard Procion MX dyes
The Jacquard MX Procion dyes have been formulated for use on cellulose fabrics such as cotton and linen, although they also produce reasonable colours on silk and wool.  These fibre reactive dyes become locked into the fabric when combined with salt and soda ash, making the dye extremely washfast.

As this is the only dye you can fix without using heat, Procion MX dyes are excellent for Batik work where it is crucial to have a cold dye-bath so as not to melt the wax resist.

The instructions on each pot are simple to follow and the quantity of dye used is determined how dark you require the finished colour to be.  Black (and some darker colours) will require more dye powder as it is notoriously difficult to achieve when dyeing fabrics.

The procion dyes also work well in a washing machine and Jacquard have included instructions for this process on the label (you may have to adapt it slightly as the directions relate to a front loading machine).

A selection of the handy dyers tools
available from
To tie-dye fabric with the dyes, you can first soak the fabric in a solution of soda ash (approx. 250g soda ash dissolved in 4 litres warm water).  Squeeze out the fabric, and fold and tie it where you want the patterning to appear.  Prepared the dye solution of 2 teaspoons of dye powder dissolved in 250ml tap water and apply to the fabric parcel with a squeezy bottle, dropper or brush.  Cover the parcel in plastic wrap and leave to stand for 12-24 hours.  Rinse out in a little warm water until the water runs clear.

The Fibrecrafts Procion MX dyes can be used in exactly the same way.  Although there are less colours to choose from, the powders can be mixed to produce any colour and as the dye is available in 50g pots, it is more economical to use when working on larger projects.  We recommend note keeping to record the quantities used to create your own colours.

Visit the website to find out more about these Procion MX dyes from our Fact File, or to browse the range of Procion MX dyes available. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Craft Magazines from George Weil

Our selection of specialist magazines remain very popular with our customers. The magazines are available to buy individually or a part of a subscription, and all prices include free postage and packaging. 

There are 17 titles to choose from covering a variety of crafts including
weaving, knitting, surface decoration and dyeing, spinning, crochet, and polymer clay, and a selection of these outstanding magazines explore the history of textiles and modern innovation. 
Please visit the website if you would like to see the choice of magazines available on subscription or browse the choice of single magazine issues currently available.  Our 'Back Issue Lucky Dip' offers an excellent value way to preview a random selection of 5 of the
magazines for just £5.50. Here we feature our latest issues:

Handwoven magazine
Handwoven magazine, Issue 156, September/October 2011

A special fashion edition featuring 15 weave patterns for garments. There is the prettily textured short sleeved top which incorporates a woven bodice and a knitted 'skirt', the 'Kodachrome Coat' (cover image) woven on a rainbow-painted warp, and a woven shibori dress created using a polyester weft and a gathering thread to make pleats which become permanent when the fabric is heat treated. 

See this issue on our website >


Interweave Knits magazine
Interweave Knits magazine, Fall 2011 - Vol 16, Number 3

Time to dust off your needles and dig out that chunky yarn, this autumn issue of Interweave Knits includes some super warm chunky cable knitting patterns, including the fabulous sweater featured on the cover. There is also a selection of pretty and delicate lace knits, and a selection of mittens, socks and sweaters to knit in rustic colourwork... 

See this issue on our website >


The Journal
The Journal Magazine for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Vol 239, Autumn 2011

Articles in this issue include 'From Student to Professional Weaver: an Interview with Holly Bradley-Gill' who won the Texprint Weave Award in 2010, and 'Weaving a way of life: Kyrgyz Woven Textiles' examines the textiles of Kyrgystan and how they are woven into their homes and industry. We discover the intricate batik work from the Javanese co-op members in 'More Meetings with Remarkable Dyes: Java' and a visit to Gainsborough Silk Mill highlights their unbroken legacy of silk and weaving.

See this issue on our website >


Surface Design Journal
Surface Design Journal "Paper & Books" issue, Summer 2011 Vol 35, No 4

If you're fascinated by paper and handmade books, this issue should not be missed. The article 'Handmade Papermaking in Kumasi' visits a community of paper makers in Ghana and shows how their paper is made. Mixed-media artist Karen Guancione uses paper, fabric and recycled items (inlcuding a bra!) to create one of a kind handmade books, and 'Paper in the Hood' discovers the work of six artists using the medium, and all working within Santa Cruz. 

See this issue on our website >


Quilting Arts Magazine
Quilting Arts magazine, Aug/Sept 2011, issue 52
A great opportunity to experiment with fabrics. There are ideas on how to customise your stash of prints with painted-art additions, the findings of this issue's 'Resists from the Kitchen: Tapioca', and tips on adding foil to your designs. You can learn how to print fabric using moldable foam stamps, create exciting patterns with ice dyeing, and experiment with layered marbling... 

See this issue on our website >

Monday, 15 August 2011

Merino Wool Tops for Felt Making

Felt making is most effective using wool fibres.  The best to use is wool that has been cleaned and combed.  The treated wool is known as wool tops, or wool roving.

Fibre with a Bradford count of 60 or higher (find out more about wool classification), will felt readily when combined with water, heat and alkali, such as soap (plus a degree of elbow grease!).  The Merino sheep produces a super fine wool which can have a Bradford count as high as 110. 

The George Weil range of Merino wool tops have a Bradford count of 64 and are available in 28 colours.  To extend the palette further, it is possible to blend the colours together using a pair of hand carders. 

The different colours are laid evenly across the fine teeth of one carder and the other carder is placed on top.  As the carders pass across each other, the fibres begin to blend.  The process is repeated until you are happy with the integration.

Felting wool fibres together creates a warm, dense fabric.  The wool can be felted on a flat surface, or it can be shaped round a former such as a Hat Shaper.  The former needs to be smooth, non-porous and able to withstand heat and water.  A plastic bag or bubble wrap can be used between layers of fibre to stop it from felting and to create hollow forms.  Linda Chapman's bag, pictured below, was made using this method.

There are numberous techniques for felt making and many of them are covered in the Fact File pages on our website.  Our page Making Felt by Hand will help get you started and our selection of fibres and tools can be found in the Felt Making section.