Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Paints for the Artist

There are a variety of artists' paints offering different properties.

Watercolour Paints view range on website

Watercolours are made from a mixture of pigments and gums, water is applied to make the paint soluble. The colours appear transparent when painted onto paper, the intensity of which can be increased by allowing paint to dry before applying further layers. 

There is a huge range of papers and board available for the watercolour artist. It can be bought by the sheet, in gummed blocks, as pads or in sketch books. There are also different weights, surface finishes and fibre content to choose from.

Brushes for painting with watercolours need to be able to absorb water effectively. There are synthetic brushes which will do a good job of this, although the best brushes include those made from sable, squirrel and goat.

Gouache view range on website

Gouache contains chalk and other opacifiers to make it more opaque than other watercolours. It can be used alongside watercolours or in its own right. The bold, opaque colours appeal to graphic artists and designers.

Acrylic Paints view range on website

Acrylic paints are thicker than watercolours and dry more quickly than most other paints allowing work to be completed quickly. They have excellent adhesion properties and will stick to a variety of surfaces. They move with the surface, expanding and contracting while still maintaining their integrity. The paints can be combined with a number of mediums to make them effective for block or screen printing and will retain inclusions such as the glistening Pearl-Ex pigments.  They are a good option for beginners as mistakes can be over painted when dry.

As acrylic paints dry very quickly and it is essential to keep the paint on the brush moist otherwise it will dry hard and spoil the bristles. Keep a pot of water at hand, rinse the brush and leave in the water when at rest. 

Alkyd Paints view range on website

Oil based alkyd paints can be used to mimic oils and acrylics and give a quicker drying time than oils. The resin dries to a hard water resistant film and can also be used to paint on surfaces such wood, glass and metal, as well as on outdoor items such as signs or murals. The paints can be used with traditional solvent thinners, and oil or alkyd based mediums.

Water-soluble Oil Paints view range on website

Solvent free oil paints formulated with linseed oil and safflower oil which can be cleaned up with water - no need for solvent based thinners and cleaners such as Turpentine.

Oil Paints view range on website

Oil paints consist of refined and finely ground pigment blended with a drying oil such as linseed to produce pure light fast colours. The viscosity and finish of the paint can be altered by combining it with a solvent such as white spirit or mediums such as Liquin. The slow drying aspect of the paint is easily offset by its hard wearing, glossy finish.  The benefit of oil paint is that it gives an extended working time and unwanted dry layers of paint can be scraped off and overpainted.  Solvents are required for cleaning up oil paints and for thinning; the environmentally friendly Zest It Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner can be used as an alternative to turpentine or white spirit.

Acrylic, alkyd and oil paints can be used on many primed surfaces including cardboard, board, wood, and canvas. We sell a large range of primers for 'sealing' surfaces (see a selection online) as well as ready primed surfaces including stretched canvases, canvas sold by the metre, and canvas board. There is also a selection of special papers which have been prepared to receive either oils or acrylic.

When painting with oils it is important to select a brush which is capable of moving the thick, viscous paint around the canvas. Bristle brushes are recommended for this purpose although a hair brush will be more suitable if the paint is thinned. A long handled brush may be preferred for working at an easel.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Weaving Looms from George Weil

The range of looms featured on the George Weil website are built by skilled craftsmen from long established manufacturers.  There are the GAV Glimåkra AB looms from Sweden, the Louet looms from the Netherlands, the Schacht looms from America and the Ashford looms from New Zealand.  The extended range of looms and other craft materials and equipment from these manufactureres can be ordered in especially for you.

If you are thinking about buying a loom you will need to understand the basics of weaving -

In woven fabrics, two sets of yarns cross perpendicular to one another. One set, known as the warp, is held taut on the loom while the weft set is woven over and under the suspended warp.

More complex looms raise or lower groups of the warp threads to create a pattern. The space made is called the shed. Yarn, loaded on a shuttle, is then passed through the shed until it reaches the other side of the suspended warp threads. Altering the shed with different shafts (a part of the mechanism which assists lifting the warp threads) will define the patterning on the woven fabric.

Shed on the rigid heddle Schacht Cricket Loom

A reed is a guide used to separate the warp threads and to beat them down once they are woven.  Pictured left is a reed from a rigid heddle loom which has a heddle combined with the reed.  The warp is threaded through the holes so that when the reed is lifted within the heddle block, the warp threads separate creating a space for the shuttle with its weft yarn to pass through.  This space is known as the shed and repositioning the heddle creates different shed and therefore different patterns in the weave.

Shed on the Louet Jane Table Loom
Table looms have a frame, from which the heddles are suspended. The warp is threaded through these heddles which are then attached to one of four shafts which can be lifted together, in pairs or indepently to create a shed for the weft yarn to pass through.  Additional shafts are added for for more complex patterning.

Starter Looms

The Inkle Loom is a light and portable loom.  The narrow weaving width produces bands and braids which can be sewn together along their length to create wider fabric or used on their own as straps, belts or edgings for other woven projects. Bands of 11cm wide and 2.5m long can be woven on the Schacht Inkle loom.  Basic weaving on this loom is easy to learn while complex patterning can be achieved with greater understanding of the technique.

A Rigid Heddle Loom (also known as a Tabby Loom) is best for producing an open balanced fabric in wool or cotton. The main attraction of the loom is the speed and simplicity with which a warp can be made, threaded up and the weaving started. This makes it ideal for educational projects, and for colour and weave studies.  The Schacht Flip Folding Loom (which can be used on a table or with an optional stand) is a super space saving option for a tabby loom.

Table Looms

Table looms cover a wide range of widths up to 80cm and commonly have four or eight shafts. The shafts on are operated independently, and adjusted to meet the needs of the fabric. The Louet Jane table loom has front mounted levers and an overslung beater. It has a floor stand, second warp beam and treadles.

Floor Looms

Floor looms are best used for producing longer lengths of fabric, for production work, designs that are more complex and for carpets and rugs. They have a range of mechanisms for creating the shed, these include counter balance, countermarch and jacks, see our Fact File page for more information.

Glimakra floor looms are particularly valuable for weaving high quality rugs where a linen warp is used. These looms are capable of taking the very high tension involved in opening the shed.  A 'box' loom such as the Glimakra 'Standard' loom, meets these requirements. The forces on the cloth and warp beams are spread through a series of horizontal supports in the structure to avoid splitting the wood. The looms can be up to 160 cm wide with any of the traditional shedding mechanisms, and can carry a large number of shafts and pedals. Fitments are available for fly-shuttles, converting to a draw loom and for weaving other special fabric structures.

Glimarkra Standard Loom
Louët floor looms have an imaginative parallel countermarch system  for up to 16 shafts which minimises the time spent under the loom connecting the treadles. They also have a sprung cloth beam which allows the shed to open fully, keeping the warp tension constant and eliminating heavy footwork.

The Schacht 'Wolf' folding floor looms provide accessibility in a different and very effective way. The shed is provided by 'Jacks', making for a compact loom, where the tie-up can be changed quickly and easily. When folded the loom lifts up on to its wheels and can be moved around easily into an open area. It is then easy to thread up the loom in this position. When opened again, the loom is stable and has been designed to provide a strong structure able to take all but the most inelastic warps. The loom is provided with up to 8 shafts and has a friction brake on the warp beam to help give a consistent warp tension.

Visit the Weaving section of our website to browse looms and weaving equipment >

Alternatively, email if you would like to know more about ordering a loom.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Hand Painted Silk Chiffon Scarf

I painted this silk chiffon scarf to give as a present for Christmas (and I'm pleased to say that the recipient was really happy with it). 

Hand painted silk chiffon scarf

The scarf is made from openly woven fine silk thread creating a sheer gauze fabric.

I folded the 40 x 150cm scarf in half and pinned it to a wooden silk painting frame so that the surface was pulled taut.  As the fabric is so sheer, any silk paint painted onto the surface was absorbed through to the second layer of the scarf.

I began by applying random blobs of black silk paint before adding water to the centre of some of the blobs to make the paint soak outwards. You need to work quite fast to prevent the paint from drying out, and it is a good idea to check the fabric from underneath to make sure the paint has gone through both layers.

Scarf painted with silk paints

I then repeated the above process using the magenta and the dark red silk colours.

I left the scarf to dry thoroughly.

The last stage was to apply a 'wash' over the entire scarf, including the areas that were already painted.  I used orange coloured silk paint diluted with 50% with water. 

The silk paints are fixed permanently on the fabric when ironed with a hot iron.  Place the silk between two cotton t-towels and iron on the hottest setting for 5-10 minutes.  The scarf can now withstand gentle washing without causing the colours to run.

Allison Holland

Items used for this project include Deka Silk Paints and a Gauze Chiffon scarf.