Saturday, January 02, 2010

Marvelous Mokuba

It's snowing again outside so I'm sitting here with my tea at the computer to write about Mokuba Free Lace Water-Soluble Sheets that I enjoy using in my artwork. If you like to work with transparency and lace-like textures, then you'd most likely enjoy using Mokuba Free Lace Sheets. If you have done any work with water-soluble stabilizers and had trouble with them, but are still intrigued by the technique then you must try Mokuba. I did three pieces of artwork using the machine lace or "free lace" technique for the Fluid Blue exhibit that my mom and I had at the Loading Dock Gallery. I also have some plans to experiment more with the technique.

Mokuba Free Lace Sheets come with two types of water-soluble sheets. One sheet is a non-woven fabric with an adhesive side that is protected by a backing sheet and the other sheet is clear film. To create 'Swirling' (pictured below) which is the first large piece that I did using water-soluble stabilizer, I began by gathering a selection of pretty ribbons and novelty yarns that coordinated well. I then removed the backing paper from the adhesive side of the water-soluble stabilizer sheet.
Photo by Daniel Coury

For 'Swirling' I arranged the novelty yarns and ribbons in a swirly pattern on the adhesive side of the water-soluble sheet. Once I had covered the entire water-soluble sheet with yarns and ribbons, I took the clear film sheet and put it on top. The exposed areas of adhesive held the clear film sheet in place into a nice water-soluble sandwich.

(Actually for 'Swirling' I used another light-weight stabilizer on top of a different brand of water-soluble non-woven fabric with an adhesive side. The light-weight water-soluble stabilizer kept breaking up when I stitched the piece which was quite annoying. The clear film water-soluble stabilizer is much easier to use.)

Here is the piece ready to be stitched.
The next part involves a lot of random machine stitching. The entire Mokuba sandwich needs to be thoroughly machine stitched. The stitching holds the yarns and threads together when the water-soluble sheets are rinsed away. The easiest way to stitch a "free lace" piece is to stitch a tight grid over the yarn/ribbon composition, but I prefer less geometric approaches. I sewed my pieces with wavy lines that criss-cross a lot. You have to be sure that your stitching is dense enough to hold all the yarns and ribbons together in the design that you created. I found it helpful to hold the piece up to the light so that I could more easily see where I had stitched and what areas needed more stitching. I also found metallic and other shimmery threads to be quite troublesome to stitch with so I stuck to plain cotton and polyester threads. Here you can see a detail of 'Swirling' with the stitching.

Photo by Daniel Coury

After the stitching was complete, I rinsed the piece several times in a basin of water. Sometimes I'd let a piece dry and then I could still feel the stabilizer in the dry piece so I'd have to rinse it again. In my 'Eddies' piece (below), I actually did not rinse out all the stabilizer on purpose to give the piece some stiffness in place of putting starch on the piece later.

Photo by Daniel Coury

For 'Eddies' I also used some less predictable materials with the Mokuba Free Lace Sheets. I used pieces of Abaca paper, silk fibers, silk paper, and Glitterati film in addition to fabrics cut in swirly shapes in place of the ribbons and novelty yarns. The shiny parts in the detail photo below are the Glitterati film which was also cut in swirly shapes. The "free lace" part of 'Eddies' is hung in front of a painted piece of rice paper.

Photo by Daniel Coury

Here's the 'Eddies' piece in progress showing the bits and bobs being laid out on the Free Lace sheet:
It's still snowing. I think I'll make another cup of tea and find my book.

Happy New Year!

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