Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Foamboard Christmas Decorations

How's this for a great Christmas decoration idea?  Our giant snowflakes have been designed and made by our resident artist Philippa Cousins from foamboard. 

Snowflake decoration made from foamboard by Philippa Cousins

Foamboard is made from a sheet of CFC free polystyrene sandwiched between two sheets of smooth acid free paper to form a strong, lightweight and rigid board with a variety of uses.  The board cuts easily and cleanly with a craft knife and is ideal for mounting presentation roughs and visuals as well as displaying graphics, screen printing, craft projects and building scale models.  It is also perfect for use as a backing when framing pictures.

Philippa sketched out the snowflake design onto a sheet of white foamboard and then cut it out with a sharp craft knife. 

The cut-out was then used as a template to create another.  Slits, the width of the foamboard were cut-out as in the image below and the two snowflake shapes were slotted together.  Clever and simple!

Snowflake template for foamboard Christmas decoration
Snowflake Decoration for Christmas made from foamboard
Philippa has also designed and made this delightful reindeer from black foamboard, is there no end to her talents!  

Christmas Reindeer made from foamboard by Philippa Cousins
We have a choice of foamboard in different thicknesses on the George Weil website.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Fibrecrafts Felting Needle Holder

This simple wooden tool is designed for use with the super sharp, barbed felting needle. 
The holder consists of two parts.  The comfortable wooden handle has been fashioned to include a guard so that your hand does not slip forward onto the needles.  The other part of the holder has four holes in which to insert the needles and screws easily into the handle.

When everything is screwed securely into place, the felting needle holder provides a safe and sturdy handle for needle felting fibres and embellishments. 

If you are working in detail, you can use the felting needle holder with just one needle.

A close-up of the felting needle

Merino wool tops about to be magically transformed!
A needle felted teddy by Jane Rodgers

This delightful teddy was needle felted by Jane Rodgers from Italian Silk Waste. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Discharge Printing and Colour Replacement

Continuing from our previous post about screen printing with Jacquard Discharge Paste, we now have Jacquard Screen Ink Discharge Additive (see at George Weil) available for screen printers.

The additive helps to achieve bright, vibrant screened colours on dyed dark fabrics without laying down an undercoat of white ink.  This means that layers of ink do not need to be built up affecting the feel and drape of the fabric.

The Screen Ink Discharge Additive is combined with the screen ink at a rate of 7% by weight to the screen ink.  In one action, the Screen Ink Discharge Additive removes the colour from the fabric allowing the screen ink colour to replace it.

Simply screen the image and let it sit for 30 minutes, allowing the ink to dry slightly. Then steam iron at the highest temperature appropriate for fabric for 1-3 minutes (or until image is fully developed). The inks can also be cured/activated immediately after printing in an industrial dryer.

As a very strong odour is given off during the steaming process the product should only be used in a well ventilated area and an organic vapor mist respirator worn if necessary. Contact with eyes and skin may cause irritation and ingestion may result in gastric disturbance so it is important to adhere to the usual health and safety when working with chemicals.

As with all discharge systems, this product will only work on substrates dyed with "dischargeable" dyes and as all colours discharge differently it is recommended to test on fabric prior to use.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Screen Printing with Jacquard Discharge Paste

Jacquard Discharge Paste has been formulated for removing areas of colour from natural dark coloured fabrics, and as it is less aggressive, the paste does not damage fabric in the same way as bleach.  The reaction occurs when the paste has dried and is steam ironed on the highest setting for the fabric.

The discharge paste will remove most colours although there are some Procion MX fibre reactive dyes that are not susceptible to colour removal and test samples should be made prior to production runs.  Bear in mind also that not all fabrics will be discharged to white as this will depend on how responsive the dye is to the paste and the original colour of the fabric.

The paste can be applied with a stamp or through a screen, and it can be diluted to so that it can be applied with a brush.  Diluting the paste will slow the reaction time when the heat is applied.

Jacquard Discharge Paste on black t-shirt
In this example, a stencil has been added to a silk screen and the discharge paste is poured into the frame prior to sweeping it across the stencil with a squeegee.  As the paste does not contain a binder it is easily rinsed from equipment with warm water.

Jacquard Discharge Paste pulled through silk frame

The discharge paste has been pushed through the cut out letters in the stencil to the black t-shirt beneath.

Discharge printed words on black t-shirt

The dried print is then steam ironed to activate the discharge agent and reveal the stencilled lettering. The item can then be rinsed in Synthrapol to remove any residue or odour.

As with all chemicals, caution should be taken when using this product.  The paste and the fumes may cause eye, skin and throat irritation so avoid contact with eyes and prolonged contact with skin. To prevent inhaling vapour, do not apply by spraying and use in a well ventilated room.

Visit www.georgeweil.com to view the full range of discharge products, including Fibrecrafts Discharge Acid and Illuminating Acid.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Watercolour Surfaces - taking the rough with the smooth

With such a large range of materials available to the budding artist it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start.  There is a huge choice of surfaces on offer and the artist will usually settle on a brand after some experimentation.  Here we look at the types of paper available for painting with watercolours.

Langton Watercolour pads from Daler Rowney

The paper is normally made from 100% cotton and is acid free, the Langton paper above is a combination of cotton and wood pulp. 

The thickness or paper weight is described in lbs or gsm (grams per square metre) and weights range from 90lb (190gsm) up to 300lb (638gsm).  The lighter weight papers typically need to be stretched prior to use to prevent buckling or warping when the paint is applied.

There are 3 finishes for watercolour paper and board. 

Rough surface of watercolour paper
'Rough' has a textured surface with a prominent tooth.  The pools of watercolour collect in the indentations to create a grainy effect. 

Cold-pressed (NOT) surface of watercolour paper
'Cold-pressed' (or NOT) has a less textured surface and is the most popular surface for watercolour artists. 

Hot-pressed surface of watercolour paper
'Hot-pressed' watercolour paper has a smooth surface with a fine grain, it is good for applying washes as the paint dries quickly and evenly.  The paper is suitable for watercolour, print making and fine detail illustration.

If you would like to view the range of watercolour papers and board, please visit the George Weil website.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Derwent Inktense Pencils and Inktense Blocks

The water soluble Inktense Pencils and Inktense Blocks from Derwent offer the artist and textile designer exciting opportunities for experimentation.  The colours can be blended together and when dissolved with water turn into permanent ink.  They can be combined with other media to create a variety of stunning effects.

Inktense blocks are perfect for large expressive pieces, splashes and loose marks, yet they also make the ideal companion for watercolour artists who like to work directly with a brush on all sizes of artwork. They can be used like pans of paint, applied directly to wet or dry paper and use on their side to cover large areas quickly.
Bag painted with Inktense Pencils and Inktense Blocks
Sarah Taylor's 'Inktense' bag
As the ink is permanent, Inktense blocks and pencils can be used on fabric.  Designs can be washed at 30°C and the fabric retains a good handle.  On silk fabric, gutta outliner can be used to define areas and stop the Inktense colours from bleeding.  Artist and Derwent Product Manager, Sarah Taylor, shows how to use the Derwent Inktense Pencils and Inktense Blocks on a canvas bag in this video
The technique used by Sarah intends for the pencil marks to blend together to create subtle shading.  
I tried the following to retain the pencil marks on this finely woven Pongee silk fabric.

Flowers sketched on silk with Inktense Pencils
The sketch is made directly onto the silk fabric
I then placed the silk fabric over a piece of folded cotton fabric (absorbent paper will work equally well) and used a fine spray of water to completely wet the drawing.  The excess pencil dissolved through the silk and was absorbed into the cotton fabric beneath.

The cotton fabric absorbed the excess ink from the sketch
Once all the excess had been absorbed, I allowed the silk fabric to dry thoroughly and ironed over the sketches with a hot iron before rinsing the fabric under a running tap.  When the silk fabric was dry, I ironed it again to remove the creases.
Inktense are permanent on fabric

Permanent pencil marks on silk fabric using Derwent Inktense Pencils!

Inktense Blocks and Inktense Pencils

You can see these water soluble pencils and other coloured pencils on the George Weil website >

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours

Great news for artists who prefer a safer working environment and for schools and colleges too. Winsor & Newton Artisan Oil paint is a genuine oil colour which avoids conventional solvents and their associated fumes and hazards.

Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour has been specifically developed to appear and work just like traditional oil paints which need solvents such as turpentine or white spirit to thin the paint and clean-up afterwards. Artisan however, do not need these potentially harmful solvents.

The key difference between Artisan and conventional oils is its ability to thin and clean up with water.

Although it can be thinned with water, there is no water within the formulation of Artisan. The linseed oil and safflower oil vehicles have been modified to allow the colour to accept water, creating a stable emulsion, while retaining the working characteristics of conventional oil colour. The most suitable oil and methods for dispersion have been selected to bring out the individual characteristics, from opacity to natural transparency, of each pigment in this range of paints

A range of mediums have been designed specifically for use with the water soluble Artisan oil paints to allow all techniques usually associated with conventional oils, and a number of starter sets are offered as an introduction.

You can find out more about these paints and mediums on the George Weil website.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Painting with Acrylics

Acrylic paints are highly versatile, possessing very different qualities to watercolours and oils.  The formulation of the paint gives excellent adhesion to most surfaces and the flexibility of the paint allows it to expand and contract while maintaining integrity. The paints are very tough, once dry they are permanent, flexible and water insoluble.
Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylics

Acrylics have a fast drying time allowing work to be accomplished in a short time compared to oils which may take weeks to dry fully.  Painters who prefer the slower drying time of oils can add an extender to acrylics to lengthen drying time.

Watercolour techniques can be achieved when acrylics are thinned with water and using the colour straight from the tube allows oil-like impasto marks to be created. Adding different mediums to acrylics allows other techniques such as block printing or screen printing, and different finishes can be achieved from matt, gloss and pearlescent mediums.

Here are some tips on getting started with acrylics and how best to get the most from the colours:


Acrylics dry very quickly so squeeze just a small amount out of the tube at a time.  Spraying a fine mist of water over decanted paint will help to keep it moist or a 'stay-wet' palette can be used. Remember to dry wet brushes with paper towel to stop water blots forming from water running down the ferrule.

Opaque and Transparent Colours

Used directly from the tube and applied thickly acrylic colours are generally very opaque.  Adding Titanium White will increase opacity. To maintain colour strength and improve flow, use a flow-improver rather than water to thin the paint.

Colours can be made transparent when thinned by water for watercolour effects and glazes. Washes created with acrylics are permanent and insoluble and can be overpainted with subsequent washes which mix optically with earlier ones. 

Blending Colours

It is necessary to work quickly when blending colours as the acrylic dries so fast.  If painting on paper, dampen the surface to help keep the paints moist.

Masking Areas of Work

Use masking fluid to obscur areas not intended for painting, or masking tape to create straight or hard edges.  Take care not to cover too thickly with acrylic to ensure easy removal.


Winsor & Newton Galeria
acrylic applied with palette knife
There are a number of brushes and palette knives available for use with acrylics, plus rubber tipped brushes for moving the paint around, making impressions and creating texture.  It is vital to always clean brushes immediately after use as the acrylic will dry hard and damage bristles.  Rinse brushes in a water pot while you are working to prevent the paint from drying.

For further information, you can view the George Weil range of acrylics, acrylic mediums, tools and surfaces on the website >

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Metallic Screen Printing Inks

The Selectasine screen printing system offers the screen printer a choice of binders and pigments to create various effects.

The Metallic Binder MT has been formulated specifically to combine with our metallic powders.  These extra fine metallic pigments are available in gold or silver and the particles are tiny enough to create a liquid metal which passes through the screen without clumping.

Just 100-150g of the metallic powder is needed per 1kg of the binder which when cured, can be heat set to allow printed garments to be washed.

Adding a small amount of the liquid coloured pigments will tint the metallic paints.  It is crucial to experiment and test with this combination to ensure that the setting properties of the binder are not inhibited by over dilution.

These products can be seen in the Screen Printing section of the George Weil website.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Fine Art Supplies Coming Soon!

We have some very exciting news for our George Weil customers.  We are pleased to announce that George Weil & Sons Ltd will shortly be extending the range of products to include fine art supplies for artists and students from all leading brands including Winsor & Newton, Daler Rowney, Caran d'Ache, Derwent, Jaker, Unison and more.

Fine art materials coming soon
Meet Art Shop 'Bob'!
 Some of you will know the Guildford Art Centre in Quarry Street, Guildford which has been trading for more than 80 years. The shop will open for the last time on Saturday 2nd March 2013 and open again on Monday 11th March to join us here at:

George Weil & Sons Ltd
Old Portsmouth Road,
Peasmarsh, Nr. Guildford,
Surrey, GU3 1LZ

You will be able to buy from a large selection of art and craft materials including fine art supplies, dyeing and printing materials, hand spinning and felt making materials and equipment, modelling clays including the magical Art Clay Silver clay, weaving looms, tools, yarns, and much, much, more.

The showroom is just outside Guildford and has a FREE car park for your convenience.

The new range of fine art materials are in the process of being added to the website www.georgeweil.com and we hope to have them available for online ordering in the next couple of months. 

Winsor & Newton 'Designer Gouache'
Our aim is to provide our customers with a superior shopping experience through both the showroom and website and we hope to make this transition with as little disruption as possible.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Makin's No-Bake Polymer Clay

Makin's Clay has been formulated as an air-dry polymer clay and the 'safe non-toxic' message on the box makes it ideal for children (over 3 years old) to use.

According to these instructions inside the box, Makin's Clay:

"Can be shaped, rolled, stretched, or sculpted.

Clay dries with normal exposure to air after approximately 24 hours (drying time may vary according to thickness of clay).  After clay has dried, clay can be sanded and painted. Cover clay with wet towel when not in use. For a pliable and smooth finish, brush a small amount of water on clay surface. Create new colors by mixing acrylic paints with clay. or by mixing different clay colors together. Store clay in an airtight bag.

Do not bake in oven. Do not microwave. Keep away from extreme heat and flame. Do not place uncured Makin's Clay on furniture. Please read instruction before using. The Non-PVC Clay. Water based."

Items made from Makin's Clay

I used a block of white Makin's Clay to play with.  The clay is quite soft when it is first unwrapped but not sticky.  It is smooth and easy to shape and the surface can be smoothed further with a wet paintbrush.

Here are my findings (see photo above):
  1. The clay lends itself well to being extruded.  Before it cures extruded shapes can be pushed onto other pieces of uncured clay with water. When cured the clay is not as strong or flexible as extruded and baked polymer clay.
  2. Two pieces of uncured clay dampened with water at their point of contact and pushed together.  Now cured, the adhesion is fair but more a permanent adhesive would be needed if the item is to be handled.
  3. The clay rolls effortlessly into beads.  The balls were placed in Jacquard Pearl-Ex powder and rolled until the powder was absorbed into the surface.  
  4. The coaster was cut out with a large cookie cutter and the pattern added from the base of a smaller glass.  When the clay had cured it was painted with 2 coats of Deka Cristal paint.
  5. A small amount of clay was blended with Deka Permanent fabric paint to make this bubble gum pink colour.  The clay can be rolled quite thinly and was cut using a Makin's Cutter set. 
  • The clay takes from 24 hours to dry, and some of above pieces took longer. 
  • Some of the cured clay was slightly distorted but was easy to tease back into shape.  Detailed work may not result in the way the modeller intended.  
  • Thinly rolled (and cured) clay can be folded without breaking.
  • Cured clay is lighter in weight than polymer clay.

Beads made from Makin's Clay
Balls rolled in Jacquard Pearl-Ex powder, then pierced to make beads

The range of Makin's Clays and Makin's tools can be seen on the George Weil website, as can a large selection of paints, jewellery findings, polymer clays and Art Clay Silver Clay.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Cellulose Plant Fibres for Spinning & Paper Making

A boll of cotton matures in the field
(Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)
Fibres derived from plants are also known as cellulose fibres (except for Soybean which is a protein fibre, see below).  These cellulose fibres are used in spinning and papermaking (using both the traditional technique and the silk papermaking technique), 3d embroidery techniques and feltmaking when combined with wool fibres or worked with a felting needle. Cellulose fibres are best dyed with Fibre Reactive Procion MX dyes.

Yarn spun from cotton fibreFor spinning, plant fibres need a high ratio wheel to give the twist for these short stapled fibres.  We recommend a small whorl or much treadling before allowing the yarn to wind on to the bobbin. It can be spun directly from the sliver or carded and rolled into a puni for traditional long draw spinning.

Bast fibre is collected from the inner bark (or phloem) surrounding the stem of dicotyledonous plants (flowering plants with net-veined leaves). The fibre has high tensile strength and is used for yarn, rope and paper production. Examples of bast fibre include Jute (for weaving Hessian), Flax (for weaving Linen), Hemp, Soybean and Ramie.

Cotton Sliver
White cotton sliver for hand spinning and paper makingThe quality of cotton is found in its staple length, with long stapled Sea Island and Egyptian as the finest, the shorter American form the most common and Asian cotton as the poorer quality. It can be obtained in the raw, deseeded state or as a combed roving ready for spinning.

The staple length of cotton fibres is between 1-2.5cm.

Reclaimed Blue Jeans Fibre
Reclaimed cotton fibre from Denim Jeans  Blue jeans fibre is a pre-consumer reclaimed fibre. It is garnetted from denim scraps from the cutting rooms of denim jeans sewing operations. The fibre contains bits of visible threads to make an interesting textured yarn. It can be added to wool fibres in felt making and blended to create paper.

Handmade Paper by Susan Cutts
This paper was made with Recycled Blue Jeans fibre using the traditional paper making technique by Susan Cutts. Susan’s beautiful paper sculptures can be viewed on her website.

Blue jeans fibre can also be used effectively in the silk fusion (or silk paper making) technique in which the fibres are laid out in a thin layer between two sheets of mesh and then bonded together by a medium pushed through the mesh. You can learn more about Silk Paper Making from our Fact File page.

Bamboo fibreBamboo fibre is short and fluffy, similar to raw cotton, with lustrous, curly fibres running throughout. This derivative of the bamboo plant will spin as cotton and cashmere and produce a textured yarn. The cellulose fibre will give interest and variety in paper making.  Visit our Fact File page to learn more about paper making.

Soybean (Soy Silk or Soya Bean)
Soybean fibreFor the purist, Soybean fibre should not appear on this page. Although it is a plant fibre, it is a protein fibre and is the residue of tofu production. Also known as Soy Silk, it has a natural colour similar to Tussah Silk and a good sheen. The fibre comes in sliver form with a 5.6cm staple length and spins like silk. This ‘silk for vegans’ is most effectively dyed using Acid dyes.

To extract the fibre, the Soya bean are flaked, the oil removed and the flakes treated with a solution of sodium sulphite to dissolve the protein. Hydrochloric acid is added and the protein precipitates as a curd. This is dissolved in aqueous caustic soda and the resultant solution is aged or matured. It is then extruded into a coagulating bath similar to that used in casein fibre.

Our blog post Soya Beans gives more information on this magical bean.

Tencel (or Lyocell)Tencel fibre is made from wood pulp
Tencel is a very fine high lustre fibre derived from wood pulp which feels similar to white silk thereby needing a little more twist than wool when spinning. It can be blended with other fibres to add lustre and strength.

Flax TowFlax is used to spin linen yarn, make ropes & in paper production
The best quality flax is water retted. Dew retted flax is slightly darker in colour. Flax line is the hackled form used on a distaff, and produces a fine smooth linen yarn. Flax is a bast long fibre and so closely resembles hemp that a high power microscope is needed to tell the difference.

Flax Tow is the shorter fibres left after hackling, and produces a textured linen yarn. The short, fibres are ideal for blending with other fibres for an effect yarn or spinning on their own to a strong linen yarn for weaving and summer knits. The fibres can also be used in paper making.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Jacquard Lumiere Metallic Fabric Paint

Jacquard Lumiere paints come in a range of highly pigmented metallic and pearlescent colours which can be used on a variety of materials including fabrics, leather, wood, paper, clay and knits.

This thick paint is smooth to apply and does not spread, allowing good control during application.  It can be heat set on fabric with an iron and remains flexible, making it ideal for decorating lycra in sports and dance wear, canvas shoes, and knitwear.  It can also be heat set in a tumble dryer (at the temperature suitable to the fabric) where ironing is not practical.

When Jacquard Lumiere paint is used on other surfaces such as clay or wood, a coat of varnish can be applied to increase durability.

Jacquard Lumiere painted on clay
Dragon made from New Clayby 11 year old Liam Farlow
and painted with Lumiere paint
Hand made card printed with Lumiere
Lumiere was used to print this design
with a Speedy-stamp cut by Alison Bate

The tiny mica particles in Lumiere paint provide decorative shimmering effects on light and dark surfaces.  The paint is thick enough to print or stencil with and can be diluted with up to 25% of water for airbrushing or silk painting.  Jacquard Neopaque Extender can be added to Lumiere to make the colours more translucent, while the highly pigmented white coloured Jacquard Neopaque can be added to Lumiere to make pastel colours.

The swatch samples below show Jacquard Lumiere colours (left to right) Silver, Bright Gold, Hi-Lite Blue and Hi-Lite Red on denim, Lokta paper, cotton and Leather effect paper. The Hi-Lite colours have been designed for use on dark colours and give a tinted, pearlised finish.

Jacquard Lumiere on denim, cotton and handmade paper
A selection of Lumiere colours

Lumiere has been used to paint this fabric
Linda Chapman used Jacquard Lumiere to build up layers
in her free form embroidery.
Browse the Painting section of the George Weil website to see the full range of fabric paints on offer.