SHINY!

I know there are people who want updates on the Two Fish project.  Here’s progress as of last night:

fishes-3

Just two more count-filled areas to go – the cheek between the eye and the gills, and the far fin.  The cheek fill will be relatively light, and the fin, much darker than the rest of the fish, but I haven’t picked out either one yet.

Most obviously – I couldn’t wait. Since I don’t plan to relocate the hoop before I end up taking it off altogether and moving to my flat frame, I decided to add the sequins.

As per my earlier random thoughts, I sewed down one 2mm flat gold pailette in the center of each interwoven O shape in the body fill.  I attached them using one strand of well-waxed gold tone silk – three stitches per pailette.  I’m very happy with the look, and only lost a few that refused to cooperate, skittering away under my chair.  If I were to do this again, I’d probably make a muslin cover for a squishy rectangular sponge, and scatter the sequins on it, then use my needle tip to pierce the center hole and pick up each little circle as I needed it.  Putting a bunch in a dish, then trying to fish them out one by one with large, clumsy fingers was not efficient.

For reference, the extra-tiny pailettes aren’t a big-box-crafts-store item.  I found them on-line, from General Bead in San Francisco.  Their 2mm stock is very limited – a vintage assortment of various sizes and colors, made in the 1980s.

I’ve also gotten a start on the heavier outlines.  I’ll add the overstitched details to the fins and tail after that.  For a while I thought I might render those details in ecru silk, to match the ground fabric color, but I decided that it would be jarring to do that for one fish but not the other.  The pailettes are enough of a differentiator between the two.  I’ll use blue for those lines, to match the fin/tail color of Fish #2.

Unusual Stitching Gadget/Tool Report

The other bit to report is a rather unorthodox method of remediating crocking – the unwanted transfer of color from the thread to the ground fabric (or the stitcher’s hands).

The deep blue floss silk I am using is an experimental item, an early try at hand-dyed indigo by my Stealth Apprentice.  She shared a sample from her initial trial run with me, to see how it worked, and to get feedback to improve her product.  But even though we determined that she needed to improve color-set on subsequent batches (which she has done, with excellent results), I am too frugal to let anything go to waste.  So I began this project with the beta-test silk.

For the most part, I don’t mind a small amount of crocking on this project.  I think it adds to the watery look of the fish.  But there have been a couple of mistakes and false starts on my part, where I have had to pick out stitches done in indigo.  Those corrections left substantial residue on the cloth.  So… How to get rid of the deep blue smudges without harming the already-stitched work?  It’s obvious that water-based solutions aren’t going to help. They’ll just float more dye off the threads.

So I hit on an improvised solution.

sp

Yes, that’s Silly Putty.  Thinking back, I remember spending lots of time pressing Silly Putty onto newspaper comics pages, to lift images that could be stretched in laughable ways.  If it could attract and hold ink from newsprint, might it be able to lift the surface dusting of indigo color from my ground cloth? Maybe…

Looking over the specs for chemical composition and the on-line Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the components, it looked like the worst I’d be risking was potential deposit of oil.  So I tried it on a scrap of fabric, and saw no oily residue.

I decided to go for it. Using the plastic eggshell underneath to support the fabric, I pressed the Silly Putty onto the smudged area, then quickly lifted it straight up (no scrubbing or “erasing” movements).  The goal was not to let it linger on the cloth any longer than it needed to.

While this didn’t work perfectly, three or four quick blots did remove enough of the smudges to even out their tone with the rest of the surrounding area.  The blotted area is the part of the back fin, the center of the back fin section closest to the tail.

fishie-4

Under magnification I can see no bits of Putty left in the cloth or in adjacent stitching, nor can I see any oily discoloration.  Now that’s not to say that in 100 years (if this piece lasts that long) the blotted areas might not appear extra dirty or otherwise affected, but I won’t be around to do that bit of textile restoration, so for me at least, it’s a win.

Would I try the Silly Putty Solution again under similar circumstances?  Probably.

Do I recommend it unconditionally?  No.  I caution that you carefully weigh possible risks prior to using it on a valuable piece of your own work.

6 responses

  1. love how you thought out of the box to use Silly Putty. Kudo’s for reading the MSDS sheet to see what its made out of. I am enjoying watching you progress, it is really coming together beautifully!

    1. Thanks! I’m not a chem engineer but in my long career as a proposal writer specializing in tech I have written for groups putting in bids to upgrade that system, and for environmental remediators, who use MSDS information in their clean-ups. As they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  2. Beautiful fish embroidery! Laughing about the Silly Putty!

  3. Your work is beautiful! And using Silly Putty to blot the residue dye was brilliant.

  4. I suspect that a kneaded rubber eraser would also work.

    1. It might, but they’re not as supple and soft as Silly Putty, which does a good job of getting down into the weave and removing itself without leaving detritus behind. Experimentation is warranted.

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