Saturday, 25 February 2017

Art Hack: Inks versus Food Colouring

As an art student way back in the 1990's I used lots of alternative versions of more expensive art materials due to limited funds. After a recent trip to Cass Art I treated myself to some Dr.Ph.Martins concentrated watercolours, luckily they were on sale at £39.99 instead of the RRP of £79.99.
It reminded me that I used food colouring as a student instead of expensive inks.

I decided to do an experiment with the two media so I bought some food colouring in red, yellow, blue and green from the supermarket at a reasonable £1.00 each.

 Food colouring v inks

I started experimenting with the food colouring using some watercolour paper postcards (see my previous blogpost about the postcards here).

The first thing I noticed was the rather 'natural' smell of the food colouring and gelatinous texture compared to 1990's food colouring that was more fluid. The next more obvious observation was the muted colours - which in terms of food colouring is probably soooooo much better for you to consume but for art hacks the colours didn't really pop like the 1990's food colouring version.

I then opened the Dr.Ph.Martins concentrated watercolour inks and for comparisons sake tried to re-create similar effects using the same colours. I guess the experiment was pretty doomed from here on in as the Dr.Ph. Martins were just so bright and intense I didn't really want to continue using the food colouring...

I experimented further by using some watered down household bleach to work into the wet inks / food colouring. This bleaches out the colours and creates interesting effects. It was certainly lots of fun.
Quick health and safety warning about using bleach. Use gloves if you have sensitive skin and in some cases use protective goggles because the fumes and liquid can irritate skin and could damage your sight if you get neat bleach in your eyes.

Here are the final experiments. I worked back into ALL the postcards as the food colouring ones were a little dull in colour so added more concentrated watercolours into the wet paper.

Experiment conclusion

Food Colouring: Present day food colouring is not a good substitute for inks unlike it's 1990's counterpart that was probably just neat E numbers and artificial dye colour!

Concentrated Watercolours: The Dr.Ph.Martin's watercolours are clear, bright and awesome. They are certainly worth it if you regularly paint and do craft projects.

This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Eight Exhibitions in Eight Days

I have managed to get out to see lots of amazing exhibitions during half term and after work in the past eight days. Buckle up for a brief review of some of these London art experiences.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Rebels and Records 1966-1970 - V&A until Sunday 26th February

If you get a chance to go today or tomorrow it is a visual feast for the eyes with a brilliant soundtrack of music to accompany the show. I really enjoyed the show and evoked some lovely memories of my parents in the early 1970's. No photography allowed so I grabbed these images of the Acid Test poster and Souper Dress from the V&A website.

This was a small exhibition in the fashion and costume section of the V&A which showcases a history of underwear from boned corsets to the modern trends of lingerie for outerwear. There was a good range of items from different time periods, fashions and trends.

America: After the Fall. Painting in the 1930's - Royal Academy until Sunday 4th June 2017

Three rooms of the Royal Academy full of American big hitters like Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper and including Grant Wood's American Gothic (the image used for the promotion of the exhibition).
The collection focuses on the 1930's a period of rapid economic and political change in American history and the wide ranging responses of artist during this time.
It was quite busy when I visited as it was the RA Members Preview event so I will go back at a quieter time to be able to get a closer look at some of the striking paintings.

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 - Royal Academy until Monday 7th April 2017

A historic exhibition showcasing a 15-year period of artistic responses to the Russian Revolution 100-years after the dramatic event that ended centuries of Tsarist rule.
It includes work from Kandinsky, Chagall and Malevich and a whole host of other artists that explored the new found freedoms of the end of Tsarist rule. Creativity flourished as artists experimented with ways of expressing themselves which came to an abrupt end when Stalin's suppressive rule clamped down of creative freedom in 1932. An interesting and quite surprising exhibition which I would definitely recommend.

PACE - teamlab London: Transcending Boundaries until 11th March 2017

A friend booked free tickets to this amazing interactive light installation exhibition. Get your tickets quick as it will finish soon on the 11th March. I don't want to say too much which may effect your experience. A great experience for everyone of all ages.

Patrick George: Memorial Exhibition - Browse and Darby until 2nd March 2017

Browse and Darby is a small independent gallery behind the Royal Academy whose current exhibition showcases the beautiful, delicate landscape paintings of English artist Patrick George. He taught for over 40 years at the Slade School of Art and was inspired by traditional painters like Constable and Gainsborough.

Molly Goddard: What I like - NOW Gallery closed 22nd February 2107

I read about this exhibition three days before it closed and had to hot-foot it to North Greenwich after work to manage to see it. Molly Goddard is a fashion designer who created striking tulle dresses for this interactive exhibition. She invited members of the public to embroider and stitch onto the dresses which will be auctioned for charity after the exhibition has finished.
I spent half an hour stitching into a neon yellow dress. I free-styled a geometric maze type pattern using a simple running stitch. Other people had clearly spent a few hours producing intricate and accomplished embroideries. The overall impact of the exhibition was brilliant!

Do Ho Suh: Passage/s - Victoria Miro Gallery, London until Saturday 18th March 2017

This exhibition blew my mind! Until you see this work in person it is difficult to really appreciate that delicacy and precision involved in the artworks. They are to scale fabric sculptures of the places he has lived throughout his life. Truly inspiring.
Watch this video to understand how he creates his art. It is so amazing!

Another link to a great video about his work.

The majority of these exhibitions were free except the Royal Academy where an annual membership of £97 gives you unlimited access to all exhibitions for you and a friend for a year.
Get out there and see some free art people!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Simple Tote Bag Tutorial

I recently made a simple tote bag to display some hand-patchwork and thought it would be a nice idea to show a step-by-step guide to making a lined tote bag.

I didn't use any formal measurements because I was stash-busting and wanted to utilise the full width of the remnant fabric. I used a standard 1.5cm seam allowance throughout.

Step one:

Cut the outer and lining fabric out. The final size will be half the length of the fabrics shown here. The fold in the centre of each fabric will be the base of the bag. The lining needs to be about 2cm shorter to help with the final finish (it will make sense later). If you are decorating the outer section of your bag it would be easier to do it at this stage before construction.

Step two:

Optional pocket. I used a section of outer fabric for a pocket. To make it easier to attach, iron the seam allowance under before pinning and sewing on the pocket to the lining fabric.

Step three:

Construct the outer bag and lining bag by folding the fabric and sewing the 1.5cm seam at either side of the bag. To help get a sharper point, snip the corners of the seam allowance so when they bags are turned the right way around they will create a nice finish.

Step four:

Turn the two bags the right way round. Place the outer fabric bag inside the lining. I trimmed a little off the top of the lining here (if you follow my instructions from step one you can skip this step). Fold the outer over the lining bag. Turn again so you will have created a rolled hem that encases the top raw edge of the lining fabric.

 Step five:

Decide on the length of your bag straps and cut out the lengths you require. I cut two lengths of the outer and lining fabric and sewed them lengthways with right sides together using a 1.5cm seam allowance. I used a ruler to help turn out the strap. You could also use a knitting needle or wooden spoon to help with this process.

Step six:

Iron the straps and then pin into position underneath the rolled hem of the bag. I chose to place the straps either side of the pocket opening but you can adjust to where you think they are best placed.

Step seven:

After pining the straps into place secure the rest of the rolled hem into position and sew to fix the outer and lining fabrics together. If you want to make the straps really strong you could reverse sew back and forth over the strap a few times. Once you have sewn the rolled hem you now need to flip the straps upwards and pin into position.

Step eight:

Sew again close to the outer edge of the top the bag all the way around. This final row of stitching will secure the straps into their final position. Turn the bag to the right side and give it a good press with the iron. Now you have an easy tote bag which is perfect for gifts x