Sunday, October 26, 2008

paper marbling craftiness

Yesterday I got up at 6 (after waking up at 1, 2 and 4) and left town at 7 with two classmates, headed for Kentville NS and the Gaspereau Press' Wayzgoose. That's where bookbinders and likeminded people get together. The books done by GP are amazing - gorgeous customized wood block prints and fabulous textured paper covers. They tend to publish poetry and prose by artists from Atlantic Canada.

We were signed up for a paper marbling workshop, and it was super fun! We learned about how to prep the paper for the ink by applying an alum solution to one side and initialing the other so we could tell which side was which. The inks have to be mixed with ox gall (mmm) so that they have the right weight and won't sink when applied drop by drop to the surface of the liquid that provides the surface tension so that when a piece of prepared paper is carefully laid down on the liquid, the ink will adhere to the paper. It was so cool! Pictures explain better than I do, however, so here are a few examples of what we were up to:

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Can you see how the ink is floating on the surface of the water? It's water that has been 'cooked' with irish moss, which is a type of seaweed containing carrageenan. After straining, the thick liquid has a particular chemical makeup that makes it ideal for keeping the ink on the surface and the paper from getting sopping wet.

Once the ink has been dropped onto the surface, our instructor had lots of tools for us to use to change the way the ink looked. A stylus, for price swirling, and pieces of wood with nails or needles sticking out of them to create patterns.

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Super fun! It was amazing to see how much ink you needed to apply in order to get a saturated colorful piece of paper. Here are my results:

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The one with only three splotches was my first - none of us realized how much ink we really needed to use, because what is on the surface of the water is what you get, it doesn't spread out the way you might think as you lay the paper down. The one at the top left is a 'ghost' marbling - the second impression taken after the one on the bottom right had been taken up. If there is ink still on the surface you can try a ghost impression. Here are the two bigger ones, which came out the best!

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If only there wasn't so much preparation involved, I'd love to do this again sometime. Luckily, our instructor has a studio in the city here and was telling us about a paper decorating party in late November at the local arts college. We got on his mailing list so I'm hoping to work with him again!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

paca fiesta

So far my new Atlantic Canadian home is providing plenty of fiber-related fun!
Saturday September 27 I hopped on a shuttle bus kindly semi-organized by the Loop and visited the fuzzies at Paca Fiesta!

An introduction:

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The focus was on alpacas, but there was a variety of wildlife in the convention center, more fleeces to be had than yarn for sure! If only I was interested in mountains of fiber that needed to be spun, I would have been in the right place.

Some alpacas:

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cashmere goats:

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super fluffy bunnies!

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this one was some funky special English angora variety with the fuzziest face I've ever seen, and the longest tufts on her ears!

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there were even a couple of llamas:

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There wasn't much yarn to be had but I did snatch a skein of super soft 3-ply chocolate-brown-heathery-black alpaca, totally natural, not sure of the yardage, but it's 73 g (sold by weight, all the skeins were different prices) from The Atlantic Canada Alpaca Farm:

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Obviously I couldn't leave without a bit of alpaca.

There weren't any sheep but they were there in spirit: I took forever selecting a few wool-based skeins from the only proper yarn rack to be seen, and what a rack it was:

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Just pretend it's not blurry, please. There was lots of hand-dyed sock yarn, some of it nylon blend, sea wool (more affordable than the Fleece Artist), silk lace, silk/wool fingering... all gorgeous and hand-dyed. And reasonably priced! I was having so much trouble deciding. The colorways go unnamed according to the labels. I am so glad I picked up some though, because the vendor, I discovered later, does not sell online or in shops - only at festivals!! The Black Lamb is an outfit out of Port Hope, Ontario, and the website doesn't do justice at all to what was on display at the festival!

I picked up my first skein of sea wool (70/30 wool/seacell) in gray, green and blue:

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And two skeins of merino/nylon for a pattern I have in mind, I'm calling this 'roses':

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So pretty!

Overall the show was fun but I'm really glad I caught the noon shuttle and not the 10 am as I'd originally hoped because the return shuttles didn't run until 2 & 4 and being there for four hours would have been way too long. I photographed about half of what was at the festival, so just double the photos above and that was it. Not the biggest show I've been to, and I've only been to two. It was fun though and I got to pet some alpacas and deliberate over pretty yarn which was well priced. All in all, glad I went!