Monday, 24 December 2012

Spinning Wheel Flyers, Bobbins and Whorls

The working unit on all modern spinning wheels is the combination of the flyer (the 'U' shaped piece) and the bobbin on to which the yarn is wound as well as the whorl. The bobbin is mounted on the flyer shaft and rotates independently of the flyer to wind on the yarn as it is spun. The difference in the rates of rotation of the flyer and bobbin, dictates the amount of twist imparted to a length of the yarn.

Flyer, bobbin and whorl on a spinning wheel

A whorl is used to give control of the twist; the smaller ratios to give the low twist for soft yarns from longer stapled fibres, and the high ratio for imparting a high twist in short fibres like cotton and cashmere.

The drive ratio, measured by the ratio of the diameter of the driving wheel to the whorl, largely determines the type of yarn which can be spun easily. For a range of yarns, a spinning wheel with a wide set of whorl diameters is helpful.

Most softer woollen knitting and weaving yarns can be spun on all the commonly available wheels which are supplied with drive ratios in the range 8 to 12:1. Finer yarns require higher twist and a drive ratio of 14 to 20:1 or more. Bulky yarns and soft spun yarns of over 1cm diameter require a ratio in the region of 3 to 8:1.

The size of the flyer orifice can limit yarn plying. It is important to check this when choosing your spinning wheel. The flyer is best with an orifice of around 1cm. A larger orifice gives a tug on the yarn for each turn of the wheel making fine yarn spinning more difficult. Bulky and complex plyed yarns need an orifice in the flyer of 1.5 cm or more as well as larger bobbin and flyer hooks.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Book Spotlight: Learn to Spin by Anne Field

Learn to Spin by Anne Field
We're often asked to recommend a book about specific crafts featured on the George Weil website.

Anne Field's 'Learn to Spin' ticks all the boxes when it comes to learning everything you need to know about spinning a fibre to create a yarn.

With easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions, Anne guides the novice spinner through all they need to know to get started. She explains the spinning process and techniques, including preparation of fleeces, worsted and woollen spinning methods, plying, adjusting tension, treadling, skeining, drafting and blending as well as helpful advice about spinning wheels and how they work. Each section is helpfully illustrated with colour photographs and diagrams making the process of learning so much easier.

Here are some sample pages of the book

Spinning yarn on a spindle
copyright Search Press Ltd
 Ann demonstrates the types of spindle that are available and shows how to ply the spun yarn by rotating the spindle anti-clockwise.

Drafting the fibre onto the spinning wheel
copyright Search Press Ltd
 There are a number of ways to draft the fibres onto the spinning wheel, here Anne shows the method for medium draft.

Preparing fibre with hand carders
copyright Search Press Ltd
 Anne shows how to prepare the fibre for spinning using a drum carder and hand carders.

Demonstrating the 'Z' and 'S' twist
copyright Search Press Ltd

Skeining, plying and the 'Z' and 'S' twist are explained in these pages.

The full range of fibres including wool, alpaca, silk, mohair, cotton, angora, synthetic and blended fibres are featured plus details of the characteristics of each fibre and which spinning method is best used.  After each fibre is examined, Anne offers a knitting project ideal for each yarn spun. 

There are many books on the George Weil website, and further books about Spinning and fibres can be found here.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Silk Paints and their Mediums

Silk paints are made from insoluble dye particles suspended in water and combined with a fixative which is set by ironing the back of the painted fabric.  The paint is very fluid and formulated specifically to simulate dye. The brands of silk paint available from the George Weil website include Javana Silk, Deka Silk and Jacquard Dye-na-flow.

Silk paints can be used with a variety of mediums to create differing effects on the fabric: 

Silk fabric is very absorbent and the fluid paint spreads across the fabric quickly.  A primer or anti-spread is used to treat the silk fabric so that the flow of paint is inhibited, allowing free-hand water colour painting techniques.  Stretch out the fabric and pin to a frame before applying the primer with a wide brush.  Allow to dry before painting.

Gutta Outliner
Outliner has a thicker consistency than paint and is used to create a barrier to prevent dye colours and paints from running into each other while painting on silk. Outliners are available in pipette tubes with applicator tips, or in jars which can be decanted into applicator bottles.  Draw out your design with an autofade pen and trace over the lines with the outliner.  Make sure the outliner penetrates through to the other side of the fabric and that each of the boundaries are complete i.e. if you are drawing a leaf, the outline should join up so that paint does not leak beyond the outline.  Outliners can be clear or come in a range of colours.

Visit the website to browse our range of primers and outliners.

silk painting with gutta outliner

This silk painting, by K Barney, was created using H Dupont silk dyes. The fabric was first painted pink and then the flower outlines were drawn out with a clear gutta outliner.  The artist then painted the other colours over the pink base, using the gutta outline to contain the colours.

Gutta outline ready for silk painting

A butterfly sketched with autofade pen and traced with a clear gutta outliner, note how each of the lines are joined up to prevent the paint from spreading beyond the boundaries.

Opaque White
This paint contains a greater concentration of pigment and is used to pick out areas in a painting such as the crest of a wave or a glint of sunshine.

Combine mix-white with silk paints to create pastel shades without loss of hue. The colours are more opaque than those created with thinner or water.

Deka Clear Medium
Paint colours diluted with water become more transparent and because they have been diluted, contain less fixative.  The clear medium helps to diffuse these diluted colours and fix them on the silk fabric.

Effects Salt
The large crystals of salt absorb wet silk paint creating interesting patterning on the fabric.

Use water to create transparent shades (see Deka Clear Medium above), drop onto wet paint to make it travel outwards, or to dampen fabric before painting to make the paint spread further.

Salt crystals and water on silk paint
Effects Salt and water have created this exciting patterning

 Visit the George Weil website to browse our range of Silk Painting products

Friday, 30 November 2012

Two Colour Silk Scarf

Silk painting with Deka Silk paints
Silk Scarf decorated with blobs of paint and drops of water

I was quite daunted when I first pinned my 90cm x 90cm Pongee silk scarf to the stretcher frame.  I had two colours of DEKA Silk (black and lemon) and wanted to demonstrate how they could be used effectively to decorate the scarf.  I wanted to create a simple design that didn't include having to use a gutta outliner or precise application.

I began with the black paint, blobbing it randomly across the surface and then dropping a drip of water into the centre of the wet paint.  The water makes the paint spread outwards, leaving a ring of concentrated colour on the outside of the blob.

I waited for the black paint to dry and then added some yellow blobs. 

Silk pins hold the silk scarf in place for silk painting
Silk scarf pinned onto the stretcher frame.
For the next stage I diluted some black paint with an equal amount of water and blobbed this onto the scarf.  This diluted paint spread further but halted at the edge of the dried blobs I had painted previously.  When these had dried, I diluted the yellow paint with an equal amount of water and filled in any part of the silk not yet coloured, taking care not to overload the brush as the diluted paint moves quickly.

The patterning is so organic, and the instant effects very satisfying. 

Blobs of silk paint with water dropped onto them

Water and different colours dropped onto wet silk paint

Experiment with silk paint

Friday, 16 November 2012

Selectasine Puff Binder and Pigment Swatch Test

The Selectasine range of binders and pigments offer the textile artist a variety of options for screen printing and painting.

Selectasine Puff Binder mixed with pigment
This test shows how the Selectasine Puff Binder combined with Selectasine Pigment performs on finely woven cotton fabric.

The pigment colour Fiery Red was combined with the puff binder at approximately 1 part pigment to 20 parts binder.  The concentrated pigments are supplied in a liquid state as "pigment in dispersion" (i.e. the pigment is still a solid, though minute, and has not been dissolved into the liquid), this makes them easy to stir into the binder.  These pigments can be used to create screen ink, paint, and to colour pulp in hand paper making.

The pigment needs to be added to a binder if the solution is to used on fabric, paper, board or wood.  The acrylic content of the binder makes a bond with fabric once the paint has dried and been fixed with heat (find out more about fixing/curing the paints from our Fact File page).  There are a choice of binders for creating different effects with the pigments.

The Selectasine Puff Binder inflates as heat is applied making the painted or printed item slightly raised on the surface.

Selectasine Puff Binder painted onto fabric, screen print for even coverage
The solution painted onto fabric, note that more
paint has been applied to the top circle.

Allow the solution to dry thoroughly and then sandwich between two sheets of cotton before ironing on the reverse of the print.  The iron needs to be very hot and the steam switched off.

Heat has been applied to the puff binder
The solution has puffed up.

The puffed solution gives a slightly matt finish and the colour has dulled slightly.  The top circle shows the potential for the binder to puff up quite substantially.  Applying the 'ink' through a screen will make the coverage more even and subsequent layers can be printed on top before fixing. 

The fabric puckers slightly beneath the puffed solution.  The more solution that is applied, the more the fabric will pucker from beneath, offering exciting opportunites for creating dimpled and textured fabric. 

Find out more about the Selectasine Screen Printing System from the Screen Printing section of the George Weil website.

The puff paint expanded with heat

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Beginners Weaving Loom

The mini weaving loom is ideal for learning the basics of weaving. The loom measures 28cm x 39cm and has a weaving width of 23cm.  When you get the loom out of the box, you will find that it already holds a weaving sample.

A beginners weaving loom
The Mini Weaving Loom
The threads which are strung onto the loom (in white) are known as the warp and the threads which are woven over and under the warp (in orange and yellow) are known as the weft.
The shed is created by the heddle bar
The open 'shed' created by the heddle bar.
The heddle bar (pictured above left) has grooves cut into it in which the warp threads rest.  This creates the space between the warp threads and is called the shed.  The shed allows the yarn loaded shuttle to pass between the warp threads.
The shed is created by the heddle bar
The 'shed' changes when the heddle is tipped forward.
In the heddle bar, every other groove is cut in the opposite direction to the adjacent groove so that when it is turned, the opening of the threads alternates.   The shuttle passes back and forth over the warp threads when they are lowered, and under the same warp threads when they are raised.
The comb is used to beat down the weft
The comb is used to beat down the weft threads.
You can experiment with the mini loom and use a variety of materials to weave your fabric.
Cloth woven with recycled Sari yarn and strips of plastic bag
The recycled Sari yarn (top) and a plastic carrier bag in strips.
The ends of the weft yarn are left hanging at the edge and can be threaded into the back of the fabric when the weaving is complete.  To finish the woven fabric, cut two of the warp threads at a time and tie the ends together.  The ends can be left as a fringe or threaded into the edge with a large needle.
Weaving with different coloured yarns
Different coloured warp yarns and a red weft yarn 
Use different coloured warp yarns and weft yarns to vary the patterning in the woven cloth. 
Visit the website to see the Mini Weaving Loom and other weaving equipment and yarns available from George Weil.

Allison Holland

Friday, 2 November 2012

Silver Earrings made from Art Clay Silver clay

These silver earrings were made from Art Clay Silver clay.  They are a simple project for anyone who has never used this precious metal clay.

How to make Art Clay Silver Clay earrings
Earrings made from Art Clay Silver clay
I used just 10g (5g for each earring) which I divided into two pieces.  Digital scales are useful for weighing into equal sizes.

To make the shape, I rolled each piece of clay into a ball and then pierced the ball with a tapestry needle near the edge.  Working the tapestry needle around the hole, I distorted the orifice and thinned out the silver clay along the top edge.  I then squeezed and pulled the bead gently at the top edge to create the shape shown in the third image below.  You have to work quickly as the clay begins to dry out while you handle it.  Imperfections can be smoothed over with a wet paint brush or removed with sandpaper once the clay is dry.

Stages of the bead as it was worked into shape.

When the beads had dried (allow at least 12 hours) I used a fine file and sandpaper to tidy up any flaws in the surface before firing.

There are three methods for firing Art Clay Silver clay which include using a kiln, a gas hob or blowtorch (find out more about firing Art Clay Silver clay from the George Weil Fact File pages). 

I used a blowtorch (see my previous post Art Clay Silver clay - tried and tested) and when fired, brushed off the white residue before compacting the surface with a burnisher to make it shiny. 

To make the earrings, I connected each bead to a sterling silver fish hook earwire with a 6mm sterling silver bolt ring.

All the materials and tools used for making the earrings can be found on the George Weil website. Browse Silver Clay Working at

Allison Holland

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hand Painted Silk Tie

We thought that some of you may like to paint a silk tie and give it as a special present for Christmas.

My sons and I painted a silk tie for their father many years ago and we got tremendous pleasure from making him wear it!  That was a decade ago and he still has it tucked away at the back of his wardrobe.

Tie painted with silk paints
Silk tie with gutta outliner

This latest attempt at painting a silk tie didn't go a great deal better but I don't want to put you off. Learn from my mistakes, and you will be able to create something truly unique to wear yourself, or to wrap up as a gift for any special occasion.

I started by drawing a brick pattern on the tie above with a clear gutta outliner.  I wanted to create a batik effect so was not too careful with the outlines.  The gutta outliner creates a barrier for the paint and stops the colours from running into each other. 
When the outliner had dried, I decided to use a dropper to fill the rectangles with Deka Silk paint.  This was the first error!  I discovered that the drops of wet paint make the interfacing shrink away from the silk.  The second error was to drop additional colours onto the painted rectangles.  The interfacing blotted up the new colour before it was able to spread and merge with the original colour.  This technique would have been very effective had I been painting a scarf.

The muddy mess of colour is apparent in the photo above but much muted as I decided to try and save the tie by painting the whole of it with a dark blue silk paint.  I quite like the overall effect but when it came to set the colours with an iron, the damaged interfacing would not iron flat.

A hand painted silk tie
Silk tie - second attempt

I decided to paint a second tie to rectify my mistakes with the first tie.  I used a dark blue gutta outliner to draw out my design and when it was dry, painted the back of the tie first.  I used a Toray brush (size 16), which I was careful not to overload with paint, and worked quickly making sure that the paint did not pool in any particular area.  You have to be very careful not to let the paint bleed from the back of the tie through to the front of the tie.  When the paint was dry, I turned the tie over and painted the front.

I chose a yellow and blue silk paint for the rectangles, taking care again not to flood the fabric.

The finished tie may not be to everyone's taste but does demonstrate how a silk tie can be painted.  The choice of iron fix silk paints and gutta outliners from the George Weil website include Javana, Deka Silk, Pebeo Setasilk, and Jacquard Dye-na-flow, and each brand offers a good choice of colours. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hand-dyed Bluefaced Leicester Roving Yarn

The new range of British Wool yarns are proving very popular with our customers - and our staff.  Jo, the Sales Manager at George Weil, couldn't resist taking home two hanks of the Bluefaced Leicester Roving Yarn to dye and then knit up.

Hand-dyed Bluefaced Leicester Roving Yarn
Jo used 'Cyan' H Dupont Classique Dye
Jo, like many of us, "can't do with all that faffing about" and decided to experiment with the pre-mixed liquid H Dupont Classique silk dyes.  The dyes have been formulated for use on protein fibres such as silk and wool and are set with steam when used for silk painting.
Here is Jo's recipe for (almost) instant results:
  1. Wet the yarn thoroughly and gently squeeze out excess water.
  2. Put on rubber gloves (essential!).
  3. Place in a microwaveable dish and sprinkle over with dye. 
  4. Gently squeeze the hanks to ensure the dyes has absorbed into the fibres.
  5. Cover the dish with cling film.
  6. Microwave on full power for 10 minutes. The cling film will inflate, trapping the steam which sets the dye.
  7. Remove from the microwave and allow to cool. 
  8. Not all of the dye will have bonded with the fibre and this excess can be rinsed away in warm water.  Repeat this until the water is clear.
Visit the George Weil website to see the choice of H Dupont Classique dye colours and the range of undyed British Wool yarns.

Bluefaced Leicester Roving Yarn
Undyed Bluefaced Leicester Roving Yarn - ideal for dyeing, knitting and then felting

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Gedeo Siligum for Making Silicone Moulds

Gedeo Siligum Mould Paste is a fast setting 2 part silicone moulding paste for moulding small objects with resin, polymer clay or Art Clay Silver clay. The silicone mould is smooth and flexible and can be used for over 50 casts. It is fast setting (5-10 minutes) and will replicate the smallest detail.

The silicone moulding putty is made by combining equal quantities of the white and blue putty and combining them together.

Equal amount of blue and white putty

Push objects into the soft silicone.

The moulding compound begins to set quite quickly so have your object ready.  Push it into the soft putty ensuring it is properly covered.  The putty can be used to make a mould of an entire object, remember that the object will have to be removed before the mould is filled with the modelling material (resin etc) so either leave a small gap or cut the set mould open with a sharp craft knife.

Siligum sets remarkably fast and the mould should be ready to use within 10 minutes.  Give a little longer if a larger amount of the putty is used.

I see seashells...
Gedeo recommend using Gedeo Demoulding Vaseline when using resin to cast an object.  I used polymer clay which came away from the mould easily.  As the mould is flexible, it can be bent and pulled away from the modelled object without distorting it.  Moulds can be rinsed off and used up to 50 times before breaking down.

The Siligum Moulding Putty can also be useful for replacing broken or missing objects from around the home.  I used some of the putty to mould the shape of a Scrabble piece with the intention of replacing some of those missing letters.  POYMER CAY will do just the job!

See our selection of moulds and moulding compounds on the George Weil website >

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Ashford Fringe Twister

The Ashford Fringe Twister has been designed to make light work of making twisted fringe for handwoven garments, knitted scarves or for needle work projects - the finishing touch to your handmade items.

Fringe made using the Ashford Fringe Twister
The Ashford Fringe Twister
You can also use the finge twister to create corded cotton, or to twist sliver prior to felting it.

There are four alligator clips mounted on a wooden block which is attached to a turning mechanism so that all four clips rotate in unison.  The ends of the yarn (usually 4-6 wool strands or 6-8 cotton warp ends work well) are held in place by the clips and as they turn.  When twisted, simply remove the clips, ply two twists together and tie a knot in the end to create the fringe.

Crocodile clips twist the yarn to make a fringe.
The Fringe Twister includes a clamp so that it can be attached to a table for ease of operation, plus full instructions.  Please visit the George Weil website if you would like to order the Ashford Fringe Twister.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Art Clay Silver Clay - Tried & Tested

The new Gedeo silicone moulds from Pebeo have been added to our range of craft products to compliment the exciting new resins introduced in the previous post.

There are two moulds, one offering a selection of cabochon shapes and the other a variety of button shapes. These moulds (see Moulds & Mould Making on our website) are non-stick and can be used with various modelling materials.

I was given a mould and a 7g packet of Art Clay Silver clay to test the button mould, and to use the precious silver clay for the very first time.  Here is an opportunity to learn from my mistakes:

Art Clay Silver clay in Gedeo buttons silicone mould
Art Clay Silver drying in the mould
The mould is very soft and flexible.  I chose the above button shape, and working quickly I pushed the freshly opened clay into the recess, making sure all the space was filled.  The 7g of silver clay was exactly the right amount.  The surface you can see is the underside of the button, this can be smoothed over with a wet finger tip.

Dried Art Clay Silver clay
The Art Clay Silver is brittle before firing

The clay was left to dry thoroughly (24 hours in a dry place for this small piece) before I removed it from the flexible silicone.  As the clay is brittle at this stage, I carefully used a fine file and an emery board to remove the excess clay. 

Firing Art Clay Silver clay with a blow torch
The orange glow!
I have to admit that I was nervous about the next stage and recruited the services of my husband as an extra pair of hands.  I used an old metal oven dish lined with a heat-resistant mat and gingerly lit the blowtorch.  The flame was held at roughly a 45° angle and about 20cm away, I understand now that I could have gone as close as 7cm.  The silver smoked a little as the binder burned off and eventually the alchemy took place - the button began to glow orange! 

After firing the item for a further minute, the blow torch was turned off and the button which had been a pale grey colour now had a bright white matt coating.

Fired Art Clay Silver clay
The white coating is brushed off
When the silver had cooled, I used a wire brush to remove the white coating.  It came off very easily but the bristles may have slightly damaged the surface of the fired silver, I recommend using one of the smaller, finer brushes available from our website for a better finish and detailed work.

Silver button in Gedeo Buttons silicone mould
The fired silver has shrunk by approx. 8-9%
The next stage is to use a series of fine sand papers (from coarser to smoother) to make the surface smooth.  I again was not armed with the best tools for the job, and used the fine side of an emery board.  The foam sanding pads from the George Weil include 3 grits; superfine 320-600, ultrafine 800-1000 and micro-fine 1200-1500.  It is essential to get a good finish on the surface of the silver before the final stage of burnishing.

Burnishing compacts and smooths the surface of the silver and gives a mirror like polish once all the scratches and burr have been removed.  If you burnish over ‘flaws’ these will become permanent.  You need a hard smooth tool such as the agate tipped burnisher or the stainless steel burnisher (see our Silver Clay tools kit on the website).  I started with the outer edge of the holes and worked my way across the surface.  It took little effort and the mirror like surface (apart from the scratches I had made using the wrong tools!) satisfyingly emerged.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed making the silver button and was surprised at how exciting I found the process.  This is on my list to do again!

Allison Holland

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Gedeo Resins

Gedeo Crystal Clear Resin
Seeds captured in resin
We've extended our range of modelling and jewellery making materials to include a selection of Pebeo's Gedeo Resins, silicone moulds and Siligum silicone moulding putty.

The Gedeo Crystal Clear Resin has been trusted by professional and fashion designers for over ten years. It has a high transparency and strength and is ideal for mouldings, inclusions, coatings or laminates.  The kit (which is available in three sizes) includes a 1 part resin and 2 parts hardener, 2 protective gloves and 2 measuring cups.

The Gedeo epoxy resins are also available ready tinted in 5 colours Lapis Blue, Ruby Red, Amber, Jade and Topaz.  These colours can be mixed together to create other colours or combined with the crystal clear resin to create lighter shades. 

Gedeo Glazing Resin
Gedeo Glazing Resin
Gedeo Glazing Resin is also crystal clear and can be used to create a lens effect in jewellery making.  It can be poured into a jewellery blank, or dripped onto a flat object, the resin will work its way across the surface and dry with a curved edge.

The resin and hardener have to be measured precisely (1 resin to 2 parts hardender) and stirred together carefully to prevent bubbles forming in the solution.  Pouring slowly from one measuring cup to the other will ensure a homogeneous solution. 

The image, top left, shows a first attempt at using the resin.  I lightly greased the lid of a deodorant spray (see Gedeo Demoulding Vaseline), poured in the resin (note, a little too quickly as there are bubbles), and pushed in my seeds.  I allowed the resin to set for 24 hours before removing it from the 'mould'.

Gedeo Resin with Jacquard Pearl-Ex
Resin set in the Jewels mould
The images, right, show Gedeo Crystal Clear resin with a small amount of Jacquard Pearl-Ex (Sparkle Gold) mixed into it with a cocktail stick.  The other 'jewels' have been made with Crytal Clear resin and Topaz coloured resin.

These shapes were achieved by using the Gedeo Jewels Silicone Mould and the Gedeo Buttons Silicone Mould.  These flexible moulds are made from non-stick silicone and designed for all modelling materials including resin, silver clays, plaster, and candle wax and have a smooth finish.  They can withstand heat of up to 230°C and be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Use the moulds with the Gedeo resins to create faux stones for jewellery making and buttons for knitwear, or use with Art Clay Silver clay to creat extra special items.

Gedeo Buttons Silicone Mould
Gedeo Buttons Silicone Mould

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lowering the pH for Acid Dyes

Wensleydale wool dyed with Acid Dyes
Curly Wensleydale wool dyed using Acid dyes
Citric Acid is a weak organic acid used as an acidifier in dyeing.  It will alter the pH level of the dye bath and is an odourless alternative to white vinegar when immersion dyeing protein fibres such as silk and wool with Acid Dyes.

If you are painting or printing with Acid dyes, or using Procion MX dyes as an acid dye, and wish to steam or microwave set the dyes, the fabric should first be pre-soaked in a solution of Citric Acid and allowed to dry before painting.

The term “acid” in Acid dyes refers to the relative pH balance of the dye bath.  The pH is dependant on the concentration of the acid in water, which in turn depends on the actual volume of water.  The level of pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 with 0 representing the highest concentration of acid and 14 representative of the most alkaline.

0.5% by weight of Citric Acid (i.e. 5g in 1 litre of dye bath water, or 25g = 1oz in 5 litres = 1 gallon approx) gives a pH of 4.0.  This is in line for Levelling Acid Dyes (the family of acid dyes sold by George Weil) where the recommended pH is around 4.0, and this acidity also works well for the other acid dye families, Milling and pre-Metallized. 

As always this assumes that the water in the dye bath started at pH 7.0, which it may not, so testing with universal litmus paper is strongly recommended to ensure the correct acidity.  This is equally true when using vinegar.   

The post "Chemistry of Textiles and Dyes: pH" on Chemistry Art Blog explains further how the pH effects dyes. 

View the range of Acid dyes on the George Weil website.  

Friday, 24 August 2012

Printing with Dyes and Paints

There are a number of thickening agents and assistants available from the George Weil website.


Silkpaint Resist is a water soluble resist which when applied to fabric, can be used as an outliner to define areas in silk painting or to block out areas to create batik effects. Dye or silk paint colours can be added to the resist to tint it. Diluted with 3 parts water, it can be painted onto fabric to help inhibit the flow of paint. Combining the resist with dye thickens the dye so that it can be used for painting or screen printing. Steam, heat set or fix dyes according to manufacturers’ instructions, machine wash on delicate cycle and iron while damp.


Indalca PA3R is a Guar Gum based thickener, with properties similar to Locust Bean Gum. It can be combined with dyes for painting or screen printing (1 part Indalca PA3R to 10 parts water), and as it has good stability in both strongly acidic and strongly alkaline conditions, it is recommended for use as a thickener for Disperse Dyes when heat transfer printing. Disperse dyes are for colouring synthetics such as nylon, cellulose acetate, vilene, viscose, polyester, synthetic velvets and PVC. They can also be used to colour plastic buttons and fastenings. Their effect is less potent on polyester, due to the molecular structure, allowing only pastel through to medium shades. Polyester fibre contains pores or canals within its structure which, when heated to 100°C, expand to allow particles of the dyes to enter. The expansion of the pores is limited by the heat of the water - industrial dyeing of polyester is carried out at 130°C in pressurised equipment! Full colour can be achieved when heat transfer printing with disperse dyes.


Manutex, or Sodium Alginate, is derived from seaweed and forms a viscous gum when combined with water. Manutex F is used when fine line definition is desired and for overprinting. Add 100g to 1 litre of cold water with 10g of Calgon. Add thickened water to dyes until the desired consistency is achieved. Manutex RS has a lower solid content than Manutex F and is used primarily for prints on thicker fabrics and on silk when fine definition is not required. Use 45g to 1 litre of cold water and add 10g Calgon. Calgon Water Softener helps to eliminate the effects of calcium and magnesium salts in the water which make colours weaker and duller. UREA Urea can be added to printing pastes to increase the solubility, and therefore the brightness and intensity of dyes. As a humectant it retains moisture even when dried, and this boosts the colour yield of the dye during the fixing stage. 

Although these thickeners have been used successfully with many dye products, testing before starting a project is recommended.

Friday, 17 August 2012

DEKA Transparent & DEKA Cristal

George Weil have been selling the range of DEKA paints for many years and they continue to be popular with our customers. 

The DEKA Transparent and DEKA Cristal paints are fully transparent, bright colours which dry to a glossy finish on glass, metal, wood, ceramic, polymer clay, metal foils, acrylic and more.  The difference between the paints are that DEKA Transparent are solvent based and DEKA Cristal are waterbased acrylics.  Both paints air dry hard and can be heat hardened further in an oven.

DEKA Transparent paint has excellent adhesion and can be heat hardened so that it becomes scratch resistant. The colours are intermixable and intensity can be built up with additional applications.  Used sensibly, there should be no safety issues with this durable paint, the solution is flammable and should be used in a well ventilated space, accidental spills cannot be removed and brushes must be clean-up immediately with DEKA Transparent Thinner.   

With its acrylic base, DEKA Cristal is a better option for painting porous surfaces such as wood, plaster, and cardboard.  The paint cleans up easily with soap and water.

The photograph shows some examples of how the paint can be used.

a) A ceramic salt pot painted first with DEKA Outline Paste which was heat hardened in an oven for 30 mins at 120˚C.  Elements within the outline were then painted with DEKA Transparent.
b) A metal fish charm painted with DEKA Transparent.
c) Polymer clay shaped, and then painted with DEKA Transparent before baking for 30 mins at 120˚C.  The finish is very similar to a fire glazed ceramic.
d) Wooden beads painted with glossy DEKA Cristal (red) and DEKA Transparent (dark blue).  The paints were applied over varnish.
e) A plastic elephant cracker gift made to look like a miniature ceramic with DEKA Transparent.
The handle of this wooden spoon has been painted with  DEKA Cristal

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Pocket Color Wheel - a guide to mixing colour

The Pocket Color Wheel (yes color - it is made in the U.S.A.) is an essential tool for learning all about colour.  The wheel consists of three cardboard discs which are joined in the centre.  The middle wheel has the 12 main colours positioned equally around the edge while the discs either side have holes cut-out which reveal different colour results as they are turned.

The Pocket Color Wheel - colour mixing guide
The Pocket Color Wheel

This front side (shown in the photograph) covers all the basics such as the three primaries, red, yellow and blue, which cannot be made by mixing other colours, and the secondary colours such as violet which are made by mixing two of the primaries, i.e. red and blue make violet. By turning the front disc, you can find out at a glance how adding white, black, or any of the primaries will have on the original colour.  The photograph shows the position of the front disc turned so that it reveals what will happen if yellow is added to blue-violet, resulting in olive green.

The disc on the reverse side of the wheel explains colour relationships.  Each pure colour is broken down into a tint (the colour plus white), tone (the colour plus grey), and shade (the colour plus black). In the centre of this disc is a diagram which signifies all the colour relationships (such as complementary and triad) which are explained by the glossary of Harmonious Colour terms, helping you to select colour schemes for your projects. 

The Pocket Color Wheel is an indispensable tool for the artist, weaver and interior decorator.

Please visit the website if you would like to order the Pocket Color Wheel (product number EB426) from George Weil.