Category Archives: Techniques

Stone walls and porridge

I’ve started doing some work on stone walls and have been debating how to get the basic stone effect. I played about with using porridge (oatmeal) as a resist a while ago and had, um, mixed results. So, this time I thought I’d go about it in a more structured way.

I’ve taken two different soda soaked fabrics, cotton sateen and linen, the sateen having a very smooth surface and the linen a more textured surface. I then mixed jumbo oats with an equal amount of boiling water, stirred it and left it to stand for about 10 minutes. This gungy mixture was then spread on the fabrics, one area thickly and the other thinly on each fabric, scraping some marks to roughly indicate the gaps between the stones. The amount of porridge I mixed (500ml oats plus 500ml water) treated roughly a metre by half a metre of fabric although this will vary considerably depending on how thickly it’s spread. 

wet porridge

This was all left to dry thoroughly.

I painted half of each section with thin dye and half with thickened dye. As you’ll see in the following photos, the thin dye gave a much softer result than the thickened version. This, to me, looks much ‘stonier’  which is what I’m after. 

As for the fabrics, the sateen, as expected, gave a crisper result and the line a rougher look as the weave showed through nicely. I think I’m going to continue working with the linen.


The basic technique and the recipe came from ‘Visual Texture on Fabric’ by Lisa Kerpoe – ISBN: 978-1-60705-447-4.

Experiments with linen

I’ve been working on cotton sateen for a long time now – it has such a beautiful surface, takes colour beautifully and has a really close weave which gives great detail when I’m screen printing, digital printing or cyanotyping. A good, all round fabric until now …

No, the fabric hasn’t changed but I’ve started hand stitching and the sateen is an absolute so and so for this. So, I’ve been thinking what I could use which would give me the qualities I like in the sateen but with a looser weave that I could get a needle through without so much swearing :-).

I have a great sister and she gave me some very old linen sheets so I thought I’d experiment with those and see what results they would give me with my favourite techniques. So far, so good.

linen tests 1

Good, strong colour.

 linen tests 3

and a good surface for printing and scraping.

I think I can feel a discharge session coming on next … 🙂

Combining digital and hand dyed fabric/Korean Pojagi

As many of you know, I’m not much of a sewer – although I’m working on it :-). But when one of my students, Catriona Warburton, told me about the Korean textile art of Pojagi it rather took my fancy. Pojagi, sometimes spelled Bojagi, is a form of piecing fabric. Now I’ve never been attracted to cutting up my fabrics only to sew them back together. I can appreciate the skill that goes into a pieced quilt but just haven’t had the urge to do it myself.

However, traditional Pojagi is made using a variety of hand stitches to make the joins so that the seams are part of the design rather than something which should be as invisible as possible. Celebrate the seam!

Using the techniques from Youngmin Lee’s DVD,, I thought I would start with a Yemulbo, a cloth for wrapping gifts. I dug out a couple of pieces of hand-dyed cotton and decided to print a digital image on to cotton to go with them. I used a favourite image of hedgerow but added a custom gradient map using colours from the scanned hand-dyed fabric. Here are the before and after versions.


I then printed this one on to cotton with an inkjet printer and pieced it with sections of hand dyed fabrics using whip stitch and a contrasting thread.

This is the finished Pojagi made using the hand dyed and injet printed fabrics. the inkjet section is the middle one of the right hand panel. If you click on the image to see a bigger version you should be able to see the little white bat symbol which is supposed to confer good luck on the recipient :-).

Bojagi cloth 2

This is what it looks like when it’s wrapped round a small gift. It makes a gift token or cash look like a much more personal gift :-).

Bojagi cloth 1

If you want to see how to make one of these I’ve included some basic instructions in a downloadable file –  Bojagi wrapping cloth

Cyanotypes in negative and positive

manutex panel

It’s surprising where ideas come from. The inspiration for this piece came from the bottom of a pot – no, not that sort of a pot ! It was a smear of manutex (sodium alginate thickener) that had dried out while it was waiting to be washed, creating lovely frost-like patterns. So, taking that idea, I spread a thin layer of manutex on to a transparency and left it to dry.

manutex 1

I then scanned it and cropped out the middle panel, played about with it to increase the contrast and bring out the details, and ended up with this.

manutex 2

Next I split the image into 9 panels and printed each one on to an A3 transparency film. Now, I’ve always liked playing around with the positive versus negative versions of images so I thought I would convert my manutex scan into negatives and print those also on to A3 transparency film. So, I had two sets – 9 negatives and 9 positives – but couldn’t decide which ones to use for my cyanotype panels and ended up printing the lot on to treated cotton sateen. This fabric has a beautiful, smooth, slightly sheeny surface which absorbs plenty of solution and gives a gorgeous colour.

I played about for a while with different ways of combining my positive and negative cyanotypes and ended up with the version above, simply alternating positives with negatives.

The moral of this is – always look at the bottom of the pot before you wash it up 🙂 .