Monday, February 27, 2012

If You Give a Mouse A Cookie...

So last week, my family went skiing without me so I could focus on finishing my next book. Sounds like a good idea. Quiet time. Just me, my dog, my computer and my bench. But, no, not so much...

I admit it. Melissa does not do well alone. I am a pack animal (beyond just a pack rat). It's probably one of the reasons I like to teach. Being around other people invigorates and inspires me. Being alone makes me anxious, lonely, uninspired and scattered. Case in point....during my "work" week I:

  • Hired a dog trainer (apparently, he is more of a people trainer). Bought 6 hardware filled bags I'm to throw on the ground while growling to get my dog's attention.
  • Went out to buy a chicken to make soup for my sore throat 
  • While out decided to go to Hardwick's Harware downtown
  • While downtown, visited a friend to help her fix a database for the Seattle Metals Guild
  • When home, tested a new online database service to consider replacing the database all together. 
  • Facebooked the guild webmaster about said online service and looked at her recommendation
  • Typed up the sign up sheet for a guild collaborative show. Sent it to my friend Cynthia, known for her polymer and felting work.
  • Bought acrylic spheres from Tap Plastics. Intend to drill holes and felt in them.
  • Found wood blocks at Woodcraft envisioning the same project in wood
  • Visited an estate sale and bought a wood lathe, dust collector and pointed drill bits for acrylic 
  • Called a wood turner and convinced him to give me a private lesson on turning wood beads on the lathe
  • Took said private wood turning lesson with Jack Wayne
  • Wrote three blogs to save for future use (this one was written on Sat, Feb 25)
  • Took the nylon line out of my weed wacker - inspired by Mary Donald's and Flora Book's work with nylon monofilament. Liked it, but it was too thick, so...
  • Bought nylon monofilament
  • Picked up basic supplies for a high school class I agreed to teach at the last minute. Also found cool wood boxes.
  • Taught 60 high school kids how to use Faux Bone 
  • Texted all friends who were high school art teachers and asked them how in the *bleep* did they do it.
  • Designed new packaging with the cool wood boxes for all those finished nylon jewelry pieces I am going to sell
  • Bought another chicken (the one from 3 days prior was left in my car for 5 hours, see above). Made a big pot of chicken noodle soup. Forgot about it while I was doing an encaustic painting, packaged 3 containers full of noodles with gravy
  • Taught my local Thai food restaurant (Bai Tong) how to make Chang Mai noodles from another dish they had on the menu - because who wants soggy noodles with gravy.

Wow! I'm feeling good about myself. I got a lot done this week!

You can see why my husband says that If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is my life manual.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

To Do or Dye

I've been playing with dyes lately in my attempt to create rich, permanent, dark color on Faux Bone. Prior to this, I've had great luck with a product called Krylon Fusion spray paint, a solvent type of paint for plastic, but you have to let it cure for a full 7 days. Representatives from Krylon assure me that after 7 days it is completely inert, meaning we can heat the Faux Bone as usual. Now really, we all know that I am not that patient! So I, of course, stuck it in my toaster oven after 6 hours and found the paint got goopy and stuck to the pan. Not so after 7 days...but again, I am incapable of waiting that long.

So, it was to do or dye...I would find a quick way to make black Faux Bone. Below are my findings in regards to fabric dyes and Faux Bone, with the caveat that there is much more testing to be done. But, perhaps, you'll be inspired and we can share what we learn together.

Faux Bone, being a type of non-porous PVC product does not respond well to most dyes. Standard fabric dies, including acid dyes, meant for natural fibers (aka protein based fibers), may lightly tint it, but more often than not, the dye will simply wash off with soap and water. Instead, polyester dyes need to be used. Polyester can be dyed using a dispersion dye, meaning the dye has an agent added to it that allows it to "penetrate" the polyester (in our case, the polyvinyl chloride aka PVC). Most dispersion dyes can be highly toxic due to the additive and often require really high temperatures.

However, there is a new product on the market that I found worked well. Jacquard's iDye Poly dyes, commonly found in art supply stores, dyes Faux Bone exceptionally well. Retailing for around $3.99 it is an inexpensive way to get deep colors on Faux Bone. Eight colors are available and I found that the black, brown, blue, red and purple worked the best. Be sure to mix the entire packet. I tried to save the additive in a little plastic cup so I could mix a little at a time and the additive ate through the cup! What a mess.

I repurposed a double boiler so that the Faux Bone was never in contact with the bottom of the pan. If I kept the water at a very low simmer, the Faux Bone did not soften enough to change shape, meaning I could make one of my strip beads and dye it aferwards. Fast simmers and boiling water softened Faux Bone just enough so that any shape I had created before had distorted a bit. This makes sense. Water boils at 212 degrees F, which is just about the temperature Faux Bone starts to soften and become malleable. It can dye fast, so stir and check it often. Overlapping pieces will not dye evenly. Also, obvious to most but apparently not to me, don't put it in mason jars on a hot plate unless you want the glass to crack and permanently dye your tool bench blue... your favorite shirt, and skirt, and shoe, and sock...and foot for that matter. But a small price to pay to create recklessly!

The downside to this dye is that the colors do not mix well. If you are used to mixing paint or inks, you'll be disappointed. You may mix a color that looks like a sage green, and the actual color the piece dyes is fushcia. You may add a little black to yellow, maintaining the yellow look of the dye, and the piece will come out black. There's no rhyme or reason to how the colors mix.

I will continue to look for different types of dispersion dyes (already have a few on order) that allow me more flexibility in mixing colors or offer a wider variety of colors...will let you know what I find! But for a good solid black, which has been my goal, this product gets the job done.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kristi's Copper Component Blog Hop Reveal

I can't resist Kristi's components. One of her sea urchin copper pendants has been sitting on my desk for quite some time waiting patiently for its turn. When I saw the matching component as part of her blog hop, I knew now was the time!

My newest round of Create Recklessly projects has been experimenting with dyes. I love to work with Faux Bone and other plastics, and up to this point have colored them mostly using alcohol inks. But I longed for deep, rich, durable color. After much trial and error, I have come upon some great dying techniques. Accidentally during these tests, I stumbled upon some glass fiber-reinforced nylon. When dyed, it almost looks like glass. Because it is slightly transparent, it almost glows in the daylight. Yet, it can be sawed and drilled just like metal. I think I am in love.

So, I chose this material for Kristi's piece. I wanted to pick up the colors of the beautiful patina on the copper. The entire piece is constructed by threading wire as screws using a tap and die. This includes the "dotted" beads, which each have 28 pieces of wire screwed into them and then rounded with a cup burr. No matter how hard I try, I can't get the color right in the photo...the pieces are a deep lavender and the round hanging spacers are fuschia.

These nylon pieces are a new staple on my bench and I can't wait to play with them some more.

Be sure to check out the amazing designs using Kristi's copper components!

Kristi Bowman Design
Melissa Cable - YOU ARE HERE