Thursday, 28 June 2012

The story of a dog, a joint effort, and a happy weaver in the sun

We received this email from a George Weil customer in Spain. "Hola! I am an existing customer. Recently I bought a Glimakra Tapestry Loom from you, I was very pleased with it. I went on holiday and asked a neighbour to water my plants (which she did) but her dog Goldie came too and has bitten the ends off my loom - the plastic spacers. Is it possible to purchase two of these same bars as replacements, if so can you state charges to include shipping to Valencia, Spain?"

Straight away Jo (our Sales Manager) wrote to Agneta Olsson at GAV GLIMĂ…KRA AB. "Please can you help with this?"

Agneta wrote back (immediately) and said. "Yes of course. We will arrange something and I will let you know."

True to her word, Agneta wrote back the very next morning. "We will send the plastic parts directly to the customer today. No need for an invoice."

Delighted with her answer, Jo wrote back to Agneta, "Thank you so much for your quick response. Another happy customer", and then emailed our customer to let her know the good news, "I believe that Glimakra are posting you the replacement parts directly. Maybe Goldie would like to know how to weave, when she is fully trained!"

Our surprised customer was so overwhelmed, this is what she wrote. "I am speechless (for once). Thank you sincerely for your speedy action to my problem. In this day and age where after-sales service appears to be non-existent it is refreshing when a miracle happens. Kindest Regards For All Your Efforts."

Friday, 22 June 2012

Screen Printing using a Paper Stencil

First prepare the screen by washing it with detergent and rinsing it to making sure it is thoroughly clean. Tape along the sides of the frame so that half the width of the tape overlaps onto the screen mesh and the other half runs the length of the screen. Do the same on the underneath. This will help to maintain a tight screen and prevent inks from leaking under the frame during printing.

The fastest, simplest method of creating a stencil for your screen is with paper. This method is good for creating uncomplicated designs with basic shapes or patterns. More complex designs can be created using different techniques such as the Screen Filler Method.

Grease-proof paper, with the shiny side facing upwards, is great for making a strong paper stencil. The paper can be cut with scissors, a craft knife or torn to create textured edges. Using the 'paper chain' technique you can repeat a design across the paper. For your stencil you can use the cut out or the remaining paper.

A simple geometric shape is ideal for use as a stencil
Lay out your fabric or paper and place the stencil where you want the image to be printed. Remember that if you're printing a t-shirt you need to place a piece of plastic sheeting between the front and back of the t-shirt to stop inks from seeping through. Place the screen over the top of the stencil.

Spoon the ink across the end of the screen nearest to you. With the screen lifted slightly from the base, apply an even blanket of ink onto the print area.  Be sure to use an easy, smooth stroke with the squeegee at a slight angle away from you. This is the flood stroke.

Place the screen onto your surface and make sure it is pressed flat against the stencil, keeping it as still as possible. Lift the squeegee over the ridge of the ink and make the print stroke by pulling towards yourself. Keep the squeegee at a 45° angle with enough pressure to scrape the ink across the screen.

You will find with the first pass of the squeegee, that the ink will cause the cutouts to stick to the underside of the screen, creating a stencil effect.

Generally 10 - 15 prints can be satisfactorily produced using this method.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Water Soluble Yarn for Weaving & Shibori

A 90 denier monofilament yarn which shrinks by 40% when placed in water at 40°C, and dissolves completely at 70°C. This yarn offers weavers exciting possibilities for experimentation. 

The yarn can be used to support a low strength warp or weft yarn, stabilise open weaves and create accurately placed holes. The low temperature for dissolving means that even fine woven silk will not lose lustre. Complex textures can be developed by allowing the yarn to shrink, and two or three dimensional structures can be assembled before removing all traces of the original yarn superstructure.
Shibori for Textile Artists
by Janice Gunner
For dyers, Shibori, and tie dye techniques, there is no longer many hours of careful unstitching. Just wash in hot water after a cold water dye process (indigo or Procion dyes), the yarn will dissolve and the fabric is freed (see soluble yarn on website).

If you fancy having a go at creating Shibori fabric but are not confident about using the traditional dye of indigo, you can emulate the effect by using Indigo Navy Procion MX dye. Our selection of books on the subject will help you to find out more about this decorative technique.

Visit the Batik & Shibori section on the George Weil website to browse these products.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Dyeing to have a go... or worried about safety?

Acid dyes made into a stock solution
for microwave dyeing silk
If you've never used dyes before, you may be concerned about their safety, especially when using them for large projects or in the classroom.

The two most popular synthetic dyes include Acid dyes and Procion MX dyes, which when correctly used, create a permanent bond with the fabric with excellent wash fastness.  Acid dyes have been formulated for use on protein fibre such as silk and wool, the word 'acid' relating to the acetic acid (vinegar) used to set the dye.  Procion MX dyes are set using soda ash and a quantity of salt to help  the dyes migrate into the fibre.  Procion MX dyes are best used with cellulose fibre such as cotton, viscose and linen.

There is no substantiated evidence of a causal link between exposure to Acid and Procion MX fibre reactive dyes and any chronic or fatal illnesses. Both the acid and fibre reactive dye families have a considerable track record of use in industry in large quantities, and in the less well controlled environment in the crafts.

Sensible precautions must be taken when handling dyes and chemicals, particularly as powders:
  • Avoid inhaling dusts, they can produce an asthma type reaction. People with known respiratory problems should not handle synthetic dyes, and particularly the fibre reactive dyes, in powder form. A dust mask should be worn when working with the powders or exposed to an aerosol from spraying dye solutions made up in water.
  • Avoid splashing solutions into the eyes, swallowing the materials or prolonged skin contact. A simple 'non-contact' approach (most people use rubber gloves to avoid dyeing themselves) plus normal, good, hygiene is sufficient precautions for the occasional user.
  • Store in clearly labelled containers well away from children, pets and foodstuffs. Treat dye powders and solutions with the same caution as domestic poisons (e.g. strong cleaners, bleaches or medicines).
  • Dispose of spent solutions containing residues of the dyes responsibly. Dilute and pour onto waste land or into the sewage system. They have no known effect on the environment when used in the quantities recommended in the literature.
Provided these dyes are used following the above guidelines, there should be no restriction on creativity and experimentation.

Find out more about Acid dyes and Procion MX dyes from the George Weil website.

Silk tops microwave dyed using Acid dyes

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Illuminating? Printing with Discharge Paste

The Fibrecrafts Dischargeable Acid Dyes and Illuminating Acid Dyes increase the range of patterning and effects available to the adventurous textile artist.

The dyes work like this; the dischargeable acid dyes have a low resistance to bleaching and are easily removed from fabric while the illuminating dyes have a high resistance to bleaching. The image below shows patterning on dischargeable black velvet. The flowers have been painted onto the fabric using discharge paste combined with a yellow illuminating acid dye. 
Black velvet fabric printed with discharge paste & illuminating acid dye
To save you time, and allow you to experiment, there is a choice of silk chiffon, habotai or velvet on our website which has been dyed using a black dischargeable dyed.  Alternatively, there are a selection of undyed fabrics which can be dyed using a colour of your choice from the range of dischargeable acid dyes. 
A concentrated stock solution of dye (made using boiling water and vinegar) is combined with a discharge paste. The paste is applied to the ready dyed fabric with a brush or stamp. When dry, the discharge paste is activated by pressing the fabric with a hot iron on a steam setting.

The final stage is to set the replacement dye colour using the traditional method of steam fixing, before rinsing away the surplus dye and chemicals.  You can find out more about how to steam set dyes from our Fact File page. 
Black dischargeable silk fabric printed with discharge paste & illuminating dye
Samples of discharge printing on black silk habotai. 
Remember: Discharge paste will not always be effective on dyed fabric as dyes used will vary in their resillience.   The Fibrecrafts range of Dischargeable Acid dyes and black dischargeable fabrics have been designed for the purpose of discharge printing.

If you would like to see this range of materials, please visit our section on Discharge Dyeing on the George Weil website.