a first (hopefully in a series of more to come) talisman or object of comfort made after an idea and pattern by victoria gertenbach, whose work i find really inspiring. if i remember correctly, i picked up the stone on the shore of lake constance. i covered it with bits and pieces of linen and cotton scraps; stitched with vintage buttonhole silk.
i find this way of embellishing and interacting with an object from nature a very calming process, and it adds another layer of meaning and memories on collected materials. i do have a habit of picking up things when going on walks, they may be visually attractive in some way, or i like the touch, feel and texture of them and playing with them while the are in my pockets, or just holding them; it’s a comforting thing to do. over the years, even though i only keep special ones, i have built up a small collection of various of these stones, pieces of wood, shells, sea glass pieces or other things, and i look forward to work a few more of them into a collaboration with nature and memory.
i’ve been intrigued by quilting for quite a while. mostly it was the technique of using even the tiniest scrap of fabric and work it into something new. but then there is also the tactile quality of quilts – i love running my fingers over the crinkly, wavy structures of fabric and thread, it’s just a very pleasant feeling. the design possibilities are endless. and then there’s also the element of heirloom quilts that have been passed on from generations to generations, keeping people warm and hugged, being mended and changed and reused over and over again. so many layers of meaning and making that have kept me curious.
recently i came across the idea of tiny quilts and took part in a community quilting exercise on creativity and newness organised by zak foster and amanda nadig, which was a great way to start playing with quilting on a small scale.
out of this came three tiny quilts in total. i also revisited an old project of mine from two or three years ago where i mended/reconstructed an old pillowcase of mine into something that i would now also consider a tiny quilt.
all of these are completely stitched by hand – both the piecing and the quilting. they are playful little projects for one or two afternoons and i really enjoy making them. somehow it’s helpful to make things that don’t need to be useful and only exist because i enjoy the process of making them. i’ll probably do a few more every now and then, in between larger projects or whenever i need some headspace.
materials are mostly antique/vintage/second hand, apart from very few scraps that are store bought.
iron mordant or iron water, or more precisely iron(II) acetate, is a very versatile and easy to make substance to use in dyeing and woodworking. it reacts with tannin-rich wood and turns it darker. for fabric and thread dyeing it turns dyes into a greenish direction or makes dyes darker and more dull. with some dyes, like avocado, it creates a different colour even. it’s a pretty fascinating and useful thing to have.
here’s how to make your own iron mordant:
you need: – some scrap iron (rusty nails, steel wire, washers, etc…); i often pick up small rusty things whenever i find them, especially aras near construction sites often have little bits of rusty iron lying around. or when you’re out litter picking, keep anything rusty. steel wool works as well, if you can’t get hold of rusty stuff. – vinegar or vinegar essence – water – two glass jars
put your rusty bits and pieces into the jar and cover with vinegar. if you work with vinegar essence, dilute first in order to get to a concetration of vinegar. follow the instruction on the bottle lable to do that; the vinegar essence we ususally have in supermarkets here needs to be diluted in a 1:4 ratio (1 part essence, 4 parts water).
cover with a lid, but don’t screw on tightly!!! the chemical reaction between acetic acid and rusty iron produces hydrogen. the amounts are small and safe to just dissolve in the air, but it needs to be able to escape the jar. a tight lid might have pressure adding up inside the jar and make it explode – you don’t want that!!! just remember – loose lid, and it’s a perfectly safe thing to make at home.
after one day, pour your solution into the second jar, leaving the rusty bits exposed to air; best to put no lid on. on the next day, pour your solution back on the rusty parts. alternate every day between having the rusty iron exposed to air and covered in liquid.
the liquid should turn a lovely rusty colour quite soon, a sign that it’s ready to use.
if you use it for woodworking, it’s good to go directly from the jar. if you use it for mordanting textile fibers, you need to dilute it with water, in a ratio of 1:2 (1 part iron mordant solution, 2 parts water).
or, leave it as is and only add a small amount to your dye if you want to modify your dye. this works well with avocado. iron mordant turns the pink shades of avocado into a lovely purple. to do this, you would use your avocado dye process, take out your dyed fiber, add iron solution to your dye pot (you should see the colour change immediately), stir and add the dyed fiber back into the pot and let it sit until the colour looks like you want it to.
here is an example of iron mordant solution on oak wood (also notice the bristles of the brush; they are animal fiber and also react with the solution):
iron solution on an oak wood frame:
iron solution on oak wood frame (hand plained and brushed, treated with iron mordant solution, finished with danish oil; made by @orcoyoyo):
and here is an example of avocado dyed thread and fabric, the pink ones are avocado only, the purple ones were modified with iron(II) acetate:
there are so many more variations with different plant dyes and iron mordant solution, and i’ll keep exploring and experimenting.