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.