Spider Silk Cloth

September 24, 2009

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in awhile. Cloth made from spider silk! And they didn’t kill the spiders to make it!

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/spider-silk/

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Back in the swing of things

September 22, 2009

 

NOM!

NOM!

Most of my dance classes start this week, with the exception of my Saturday intro bellydance class, which started two weeks ago. I’m thrilled to be teaching again – I really missed it over the summer. I’m teaching five classes this semester – two intro bellydance classes, dance combo, intro burlesque and continuing burlesque. This is more than I’ve ever taught before and I’m a bit nervous about keeping everyone’s names straight. 

 

I’m also starting Flamenco again tonight (as a student). Flamenco is by far the hardest form of dance I’ve ever been involved in. It doesn’t come naturally to me like bellydance and burlesque do. I like the challenge, even though I get frustrated sometimes.

 

Unfortunately, my dog ate the strap off one of my Flamenco shoes, so I’ll have to devise something until I can get to the shoemaker for repair. I’m thinking an elastic loop that goes around the arch of my foot could possibly work.

Zills

September 18, 2009

Last night at my bellydance troupe’s regular practice, we had  a guest instructor from Winnipeg come in and teach us a zill choreography. Shayera is a beautiful dancer, and I had completely forgotten she was coming in, so it was a real treat. 

Zills are finger cymbals that are used in bellydancing. They are played in patterns / rhythms that complement the dance and the music. I don’t use zills much, so it was nice to have the refresher. Zills are attached to the thumbs and middle fingers (some people use the index fingers) with snug elastic, and once you’ve worn them for awhile your fingers turn purple and go numb. We had to stop several times and rub the feeling back into our hands.

The choreography was four minutes long, and not complicated, but we only had two hours to learn it all. It made for a fast-paced and fun evening. Thanks, Shayera!

Watching felt take shape

September 17, 2009

 

Part of the reason I love working with wool so much is the magical transformation that occurs when it’s subjected to hot water, soap and agitation. A material that’s as ethereal as a cloud becomes so sturdy that you can fling it around, scrunch it, pull it and wring it without it falling apart. Near the end of the fulling process I use a lot more muscle than you would expect. It’s amazing how something that looks so delicate has so much resilience.

 

 

Roving laid out

Roving laid out

I begin by pulling “drafts” of wool from my roving and laying them down in the approximate shape I want the finished piece to be. This piece is laid out in five layers, with different colours on both sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting begins

Felting begins

 

The wool is then wet with hot, soapy water and the “felting” process begins by very gently agitating the fibers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished felting

Finished felting

 

 

This photo is at the end of the felting process – see how it’s becoming a solid piece? At this point I can scrunch it up and turn it over and it won’t lose its shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fulling begins

Fulling begins

 

 

After the felting is complete, the “fulling” begins. This is where the hard work comes in! Fulling is where the felt really shrinks and tightens up – I do this by rolling the piece back and forth. This scarf will have been rolled 400 times at completion. I also start detailed shaping at this point – in this case I’m making a ruffled edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished piece drying

Finished piece drying

 

 

After all the rolling is done, the piece gets a rinse and a soak to remove any residual soap. Then it goes out in the sun to dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the finished piece of handmade felt. Soft and light, yet durable and warm.

Oh la la! Glamour shot!

Oh la la! Glamour shot!

Dye Day

September 9, 2009

 

roving dyed sept.9

Kettle and Oven-dyed Roving, drying

 

 

Today I dyed a bunch of roving for making dreads and scarves. I think I’m going to have to invest in some more colours – I use Jacquard Acid Dyes, and I’ve been using Sky Blue, Cherry Red, Turquoise and Yellow to mix and get different colours. I can get some nice, custom colours this way, but the range is limited. I focused on purples today, and while I like the colours that I got, I wasn’t able to get the variation in hues that I wanted.

I was frustrated with the purple by the end of the dyeing session, so I did some random-dyeing with red, orange and green. I can’t wait to see how this one felts up!

I also threw a nylon slip into the dye pot as an experiment. It came out a lot lighter than I expected, but it’s a pretty colour.

 

Kettle-dyed nylon slip

Kettle-dyed nylon slip