Family secrets.

The other day I found a wonderful surprise in my inbox! My aunt, Barbara McCunn, had attended Quilt Canada in Halifax. She had taken a workshop called “Take Four Fat Quarters” and sent me this photo of her completed project.

Isn’t it lovely? The fat quarters she used were a Christmas gift from me last year, and  were Shibori dyed. When I gave them to her I was concerned they were too disparate to ever be used together, but she has ingeniously crafted them into a cohesive whole. She’s very creative, my auntie Barb, and manages to make far more in one year than I will have time to make in my whole life.

I would love to embark on some more collaborative projects with her in the future. I’m sure I’ll learn some interesting new textile techniques this year at school and maybe I can pawn some of the products off on her!

I was pleased to hear that the instructor, Susan Purney Mark, was also fond of the piece, and posted it on her quilting blog. She also has a great interview on there about organizing your studio space. It has inspired me to clear off some shelf space and stack all of my fabric, and perhaps to make peninsulas out of my work tables.

I also poked around and found some phenomenal photos for winning quilts at the conference. They are worth checking out, I would love to have attended. Someday when I get my quilting chops up maybe I’ll enter a submission!

Glacial rust.

Sometimes things go horribly wrong but in such an intriguing way that you have to share it. That was my experience with this whole rust endeavour.

I set out to dye cloth to use as part of my pieced train bridge quilt, but ended up changing my mind. Since I chose to paint instead of piece the quilt, I had no more immediate use for the cloth I had dyed with rust. At any rate it turned out quite lovely and will be used in the future. Especially fond of this thin piece of grey cotton shirting. It would make a nice summer top or bag interior.
It was all a little more yellow than I had anticipated. Maybe it was the acidity. Love the big red blotches on the linen (left). The canvas was pretty dark khaki already and didn’t change much (right)

The little chunk of silk organza (on the right) took the colour really well. Strangely, this little sample of charcoal polyester (on the left) was actually discharged by the rust. Definitely going to have to try that one with a bigger swatch.

Now I was left with a bunch of very very rusty-red vinegar that I had been using for dyeing.

I got to thinking that maybe I could use it as fabric paint. I tried painting it on there as was but it just washed right out. So I thought maybe I could reduce it on the stove and thicken it up…

Success! (I thought). It darkened right up and got far thicker than I expected. It was literally as slow as cold molasses in January.

While I was congratulating myself on making this beautiful rust paint, I turned away for maybe 30 seconds to clean my pot. When I turned back, something curious was happening…
The liquid was crusting over at an alarming rate! In less than a minute it was a rock solid crystal.

Neato, huh? Not what I was going for by a long shot but much more interesting. Metals naturally form into crystals so it was probably the iron’s fault. I assume I oversaturated the solution through heating, and then the metal crystallized out as it cooled.  Apparently though, pure vinegar is called “glacial acetic acid” because it forms ice-like crystals just below room temperature. Hard to say, since there was no liquid left in the bowl, I guess it all crystallized. Any thoughts?

Trying to think up some use for this weird substance. I tried crushing it into the textile medium but it broke off in shards rather than forming a powder so it just got adhered to the surface of the cloth. Maybe in future I could try boiling the textile medium with the rusty vinegar, and not for nearly so long.
I love experiments. They seldom go as you plan but that’s what they’re for. And now I have this strange crystal recipe to put in my memory banks and pull out for some future project.