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.

Monday, 14 January 2013

New Formula Art Clay Silver Clay - Tried & Tested

The new formula Art Clay Silver clay will shortly be available from the George Weil website.  We asked expert Joy Funnell (see Joy's website where you can find out about her courses) to test and comment.  Here is her very positive feedback!

Enamelled Art Clay Silver by Joy Funnell
Joy's Oriental Pagoda made from the new formula
Art Clay Silver clay before and after enamelling

"The clay feels a little sticky when first out of the packet but as soon as it is kneaded the stickiness goes, it has a lovely soft smooth texture and a much longer working time than Original or 650.  It does not exhibit any minor surface cracking which Slow Dry tended to get while working, and seems to work for longer than slow dry before any moisture needs adding.

I think it takes marginally longer to dry, but not so much that it is a problem.

It is softer to work with which I feel is an advantage, although experienced Art Clay users will need to adjust to it.  It feels more like the Original formula.

The clay reabsorbs water very easily which makes joining dry pieces together with just water very simple.  I even attached my small name tag onto a deeper texture, where I would normally use some syringe, without any problems.

Cleaning up the edges using baby wipes, the method I always use, is a breeze.  The wipes work even better on this than any of the three existing formulas of clay.

It sands, carves and drills very easily, and less pressure is needed as the clay when dry has more give to it.  This is also exhibited in the fact that there is some flex in the dry clay which is a very useful new property to the clay.

It takes impressions from a stamp crisply and cleanly, better than before.  It also takes textures very well from texture plates, but more care is needed in peeling the clay away from texture sheets due to the softness of the clay.

To attach a stone into a drilled setting in the dry clay I usually use a little paste, but as this clay softens so easily I added a little water into the setting, allowed it to soak in for a couple of minutes, and then set the stone in place.  This worked really well.

The binders have a different smell on firing, which seemed to be to be slightly more unpleasant, but it may well be I am just very used to the other smell!

The silver polishes very well in my magnetic tumbler and seems to easily come to a much higher shine.  Less effort was needed on manual polishing.  The finished silver has a very nice smooth feel to it (difficult to explain but it just feels nicer!).

Ring made by Joy Funnell from new formula Art Clay Silver clay
Joy's ring made from the new formula clay
The fired silver enamelled well with no problems.

My overall conclusions. I love this clay. I would certainly buy it in preference to any of the existing formulas.  I think it will be much easier teaching with it."

Thank you to Joy for doing this test and for providing us with such useful feedback.  You can learn more about Joy's stunning metal clay and enamelling work from her website or her Facebook page.

The New Art Clay Silver Clay is available from the George Weil website.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Bluefaced Leicester Roving Knitted

We thought you may like to see what Jo did with the super soft Bluefaced Leicester Roving yarn she hand dyed (see blog post Hand Dyed Bluefaced Roving Yarn).

Jo decided to knit the yarn to make a snood.  She knitted the wool into a large square and then sewed up two of the opposite sides.  The opening of the snood is placed over the head and can be worn around the neck and pulled over the head to form a hood.

Our Sales Manager, Jo Barrell wearing her knitted snood
 Jo's scarf reminded us of the Moebius scarf knitted by Phyllis Funnell from a pattern in the 'Treasury of Magical Knitting'. The luxurious yarn was hand spun by Phyllis from grey Alpaca.
Phyllis Funnell wearing her Moebius scarf knitted from handspun Alpaca yarn

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Japanese Twist on British Wools

Masumi Honda, the owner of Spinnuts has been a customer of Fibrecrafts, and more recently George Weil, for approaching 30 years. Over that time we have selected the cream of British hand spinning quality fleece from across a wide range of breeds which we send to her in Japan. In some years the total was over 1 tonne!

Naturally she has become a very close friend, and when in the UK stays with Susan and Ian Bowers at their Tudor house in Godalming, where this photo was taken. On this occasion she visited for Felix Bowers christening and took part as a Godmother, or perhaps Sponsor, to Felix giving him the benefit of her understanding as Shinto Buddhist.

Jan 2013 issue of Spinnuts

Masumi chose this photo for the cover of the January issue of her magazine 'Spinnuts' as she feels it conveys a typical British home and the inspiration for Japanese spinners to spin with British wool.

The indigo dyed Kasuri quilt on the bed was a present from Masumi when Felix was born.  It is assembled from pieces of fabric, woven with yarns which have been resist dyed to create patterns and images in the woven fabric.  It is an ikat technique.  Kasuri is weft ikat; the warp threads can be a solid colour or resist dyed as well, and the weft thread is resist-dyed in specific patterns and pictures when the cloth is woven.  The central panel is a picture Kasuri of a Dragon or Phoenix, a symbol of birth of a virtuous ruler.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday Felix Bowers!

You may remember this little boy from previous posts?

In a blink of an eye, Felix has now reached the ripe old age of 2 and we helped celebrate his birthday today with delicious chocolate cake brought in by Mum.

Crumbs - is that all that's left!
Happy Birthday Felix!
Who doesn't love a present?!
Early signs of Genius!