Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Final assessment for the year - Textile review

Today was the last assessment of my year in Perth. I have to admit being a bit apprehensive because I found the mid-semester review quite demoralising.   But Mollie, Ellie, Victoria and Lauren had considerably boosted my confidence, at least to the level where I felt I could put in a lot of effort and give it my best shot.  As it turned out, all my worrying was a complete waste of time, and the review was a lot kinder and more gentle than the last one!

I had taken on board feedback at mid semester review and worked up two sets of work.  The "simpler" patterns from my original idea; and patterns that used my natural organic style from my sketchbook work.

The devore fabric was printed with a border design, and a 6 spot random motif. Lucas said it was much better than in the mid-semester review, but actually it is the same border, with a smaller spot motif. I have now read the notes of my review, taken by my friends. Feedback was that the velvet, was sexy, sophisticated, interesting and lush. I had mastered simplicity by knowing what to remove. (I'm not sure that I've mastered it, but I managed to get it right this time.) Herringbone and discharge samples were succesful, with subtle colouring. Great body of work. Fantastic folio; really pushed yourself. Smaller samples relate well to chosen concept. Dimension and depth to series of work. Responded well to original printed layer with additional layers. Relates to aboriginal work.
Having done so much angst in the last few weeks, it was a massive relief to receive such positive feedback on my work.  And as I was third to go, I was able to contribute positively to other people's review, as I was no longer worrying about my own.
Devore velvet, acid dyed
Lauren with her print representing decaying wallpaper
Ellie with her water prints
Mollie with her installation about blood transfusions for plants
Cassie with her rose prints.

Hannah and Sam with their Running Man installation,
which leads to the evacuation sign.

These are a good bunch of people.  May their respective careers all be successful!
Trying to make my display "simpler"
Banksia embroidered using herringbone stitch
on random dyed cotton, printed with discharge paste
As above but worked in self colour, on linen

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Final History of Art tutorial

I went to my final History of Art tutorial on Friday.  One of my friends, Joanna, gave me a leaving present, which was completely unexpected.  It was a hand knitted ruffled scarf that she had made.  It was fantastic.  I was wearing my turquoise cardican that day, and the scarf matched perfectly.  It was particularly pertinent too, because I had just had my hair cut, and asked the hairdressed to cut off all the chlorine damaged hair on the back of my neck, so the scarf was just what I needed that day.

Thank you for the scarf, Joanna.

Yesterday I had great plans to do my weekly shopping in Perth, hurry back and stash the food, then leap on the bike and go to uni, to get on with my textile portfolio.  As I came into Perth on the bus, we went past the exhibition centre, where the Perth Craft & Quilt show was on.   So I got off the bus, and spent two and a half hours looking at everything.  I bought some expensive (but lovely) random dyed thread in the colours of my portfolio, then looked at the quilt show.  The quilts were fantastic.  Very, very high quality work.  Several featured australian plants.  Did not have camera with me unfortunately.  But even the official publicity material does not convey the fantastic-ness of seeing the quilts for real.  The format of the show was similar to the UK Quilt show at the NEC, in Birmingham.  But the Perth show was only one-tenth the size of the UK show - and much the better for it!  There is far too much to see in the UK show: it's too hot; far too busy; far too noisy; and totally exhausting with virtually no seating.  The Perth show was just right.  Enough people to make it an event, and adequate space to be able to see the quilts and show stands.

So by the time I got back to the flat with my shopping, it was 1pm and I was exhausted.  I had a little sleep and did some stitching at home.  I was quite pleased with my achievements but it was not as much as I had planned!  So, today, I must go to class and make up my portfolio.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Thank goodness for Mollie, Ellie and Victoria

I've had a tough few days working on my textile portfolio.  I have been trying to work in a different style to usual, making designs that are "simpler" than usual.  This is completely unnatural to me.  I was trying to make my work fit with the specification I had defined.  As a second year, I am trying to diversify my styles and I have found it incredibly difficult.  What I was trying to achieve did not fit with the feedback in mid-semester review that my organic sketchbook work was my best. 

I had made several different screens, and trialled different designs, and did not really like any of them.  I was trying not to layer several images, as this makes it more complicated, but layering was the advice I received several times.  I was getting very downhearted about it. I tried stitching into some samples, but felt it was all very pedestrian.  And when I struggle with my work, I just want to go home.  If I could have changed my flight and gone home this weekend, before final assessment, I would have done.

Yet, when we were in class, my group, Mollie, Ellie and Victoria, said my work was good and imaginative.  It was diverse and showed a lot of experimentation in the dozen or so samples I had cut for the textile portfolio.  Then when I got out some of the pieces I had sampled, but not cut, they said to use everything I had printed.  And had ideas for further stitched samples.  I now have a lot of stitching to do over the weekend!   I have a couple of pieces in the portfolio that are quite simply printed, that achieve what I intended - simple patterning - plus a 4m silk velvet devore piece for the length of cloth, that is also a simple pattern that fits the specification in my written proposal.  But I think everyone else preferred the (busier) prints that were on random dyed fabric. 

So, now I feel a lot less anxious about the review.  I still don't like the busier prints but I can now see the skills I have used to make them - a couple of different, and skilled, dyeing processes, drawing skills for the prints, stitch skills for the embroidery.  The portfolio will show a lot of diversity in skills, techniques, and experimentation.  Ellie also described how she would display the work, and this gave me a mental picture, which simplified the layout.  This was really helpful, as I find displaying work and privileging the most successful work to best effect to be incredibly difficult.

Mollie, Ellie and Victoria - Thank you.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Feeling quite light-hearted

I spent today working on my Indigenous Studies essay.  Up until yesterday, the draft was pretty ropey.  It did not flow or articulate concepts well.  But two days hard work have come together and I am quite pleased with the outcome.  And having completed the last piece of written work for the semester I feel quite light-hearted. 

I just have a History of Art test this Thursday, and the textile assessment the Wednesday after.  So it gives plenty of time to finalise work.    

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Things continue not to go my way!

It's been a tough couple of days. 

Having had the silk batiste fall apart, I decided to work on linen instead. I had done some lovely samples using discharge paste (bleach) on linen, which removed the colour from the linen beautifully.  So on Friday morning, I took myself on the bus and train to Potters to get 4m of linen for a long sample to hang at review.  I could not get the beige linen again, but bought a taupe version.

Then I went to class, to try a half meter sample to see what colour it became when discharged.  The first problem was that there was virtually no discharge paste left.  I used what was there, left it to dry and went to investigate reordering.  Discharge paste is a specialist product.  We order it from Kraftkolour - in Victoria.  It comes by road (4 day journey).  The shop is closed on Fridays.  So it can't be ordered until Monday, at the earliest.  I have my final feedback on Wednesday, and final assessment the Wednesday after.  The paste would not arrive until the Monday before assessment.  And I want to stitch into the work after printing.  There just is not enough time to do this.

I went to my History of Art tutorial.  I returned to the textile workshop, and heat pressed the discharge linen, and no reaction took place.  It must be dyed with different chemicals that do not discharge.  So I felt as if I had bought an expensive piece of fabric, that does not do what I want.  This is why discharge paste needs to be tested on every piece of fabric - not all dyes will discharge.  I could have sat and wept. 

But this morning, I reviewed the position.  If there is no discharge paste, I can't use it.  Therefore the fact that the linen does not discharge is irrelevant.  I can still print on the fabric.  I can still use the same print screen. I can print using dark binder, and stitch into the voided areas, using similar thread.  I can do the Indigenous Studies essay this weekend, final Indigenous studies class on Monday, print my 4m linen piece Tuesday, textile workshop Wednesday, History of Art final test Thursday and stitch into textile print Friday.  This gives me 4 days prior to final assessment to ensure all the textile requirements are complete and make up my portfolio of samples. 

This is no time to get my knickers in a twist.  I am too old and too long in the tooth for that!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Everything I touch falls apart!

Not a good day. Yesterday I did a devore sample using the silk batiste.  It was not a success.  When I used the devore paste, the fabric fell apart.  This means the warp thread is pure cotton, and the weft is silk cotton.  As the devore paste burns away cotton, all the warp thread is destroyed, leaving the fabric in shreds.  I needed fabric with a warp and weft that is spun with a combination of silk and cotton. 

This morning, I planned to spend the day working on my two essays.   I spent a couple of hours fiddling about with final details on my art essay.  I now have a thumping headache and pain in my left arm, which means I am starting to trap a nerve in my neck from too much sitting at the computer.  The time has come to stop academic work and stand on my hind legs to change the pressures on my spine.  I will go to university instead so the pain goes away.  I will take a roll of fabric to the workshop, and expose a screen, prior to my lecture at 3pm.   I still have a lot to do on the other essay, but at least the art essay will have been submitted and maybe my arm will stop aching.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My silk batiste fabric has arrived from England!

Yippee!! The fabric that I ordered on 30 April from George Weil in the UK, has arrived. 

6m of silk cotton batiste only weighs 400g!  It is the most incredibly lightweight silk cotton. I bought it because the website said it was suitable for devore. The devore process eats away cellulose (in this case cotton) and leaves behind protein (in this case silk).  The fabric is very shiny, looking like pure habutai silk, but is actually 72% cotton, 28% silk.  This means once the devore paste has burned away the cotton, what is left will be gossamer thin.  Hmmm.  Have I got the skills to work this.

I've just got to take a brave pill and try it.  What's worrying me is what happened yesterday.  Yesterday I was working with discharge paste (a bleaching agent).  I printed some linen with discharge, lifted the screen and had managed a good print.  But as it dried, the linen threads sucked the discharge paste across the fabric until the design was completely obscured.  Which was rather unfortunate as it wrecked the cloth and linen is expensive.  Fortunately it was only $20 worth as it was an offcut from the sale.  And the silk batiste is even more expensive.  £80 ($120) for the fabric and £10 ($15) for postage.  Maybe I will try a small sample first.  I will take advice before I use it. 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Indigenous Sites tour of Perth

Today's class for Indigenous Studies was to tour around indigenous sites in Perth.  This was very interesting.  We went through various sites, hearing about the relevant stories, including going through Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park which is meant to be sacred women's ground, and along to Fremantle where we were told about the rainbow serpent making a cave and creating the river.  We also went to a site where there was a wedding ceremonial ground.

During our time in Kings Park we sampled various plants.  One of the gum trees was bleeding red gum so our tutor, Ken, harvested some as it is good for intestinal conditions.  We all sampled the fresh red gum - it was bitterly flavoured, yet tasted of wood, and had a long aftertaste.  We also sought out, and dug up a plant with a long bright orange root, that tasted of chilli.  We harvested a couple, but replanted the spare bits of root.  We all tried it - a strong chilli aftertaste, and if you chewed enough, your tongue went purple!  We also also found a specific type of banksia, where if you removed the growing tip, and chewed it, it was like chewing gum - called gummi!  It was a strong showery day, and as we left Kings Park, there was a rainbow. 

Eucalyptus bleeding red gum

Our guide, Barry, harvesting the gum for medicinal purposes

Barry showing us how to crop the orange chilli flavoured root

After we were set down, I went into the textile workshop to clean some screens, ready to re-emulse for tomorrow.  I looked at some of my discharge printed fabric.  The caramel piece has been printed on two separate occasions with discharge paste, and the prints have reacted differently.  I suspect that the relative dampness of the fabric affects the quality of the print.  The first prints are slightly indistinct, compared to the second prints.  I suspect the first print was done on freshly dyed and pressed fabric.  Then I have taken it home, rolled on a cardboard tube.  It has been left in a warm room for a week, then taken back to class, heat pressed at 130C, and immediately gummed down and printed again.  This would mean the fabric was totally dry for the second prints, and the consequence is that the prints are very sharp.  The only reason I can think of that might create a slight blurring with the first print, is that the fabric was very slightly damp, leading to bleeding.  But this is why we do samples.    At least I feel I have learned something.  In future I would be tempted to put fabric in the airing cupboard overnight, if at home, or in the baker, if at college in the UK.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A weekend of homework

This weekend I have been a good student and kept my nose to the grindstone virtually the whole time.  I spent most of Saturday working on my essay, and on Sunday went for my early morning swim, followed by more essay homework and some successful drawing. 

It's only about 3 weeks before I return to the UK, but at this late stage, I needed to buy a new swimsuit.  I cycled to the pool, and discovered I had left my swimsuit behind.  It was getting a bit thin, so I splashed out on a new one (in the sale, so half price).  It has a rather interesting tiny grid pattern on it, and when I flex my stomach muscles, the pattern ripples! 

I've spent a couple of weeks trying to work out how to simplify my banksia pattern making, and have finally done it.  I've drawn them quickly and confidently with charcoal and indian ink.  I've used several sketches to make an all over print, and I think I've finally cracked it.  I knew it made no sense getting upset about it, and now I've relaxed a bit, it all came together.

But having worked so hard all weekend, I'm tired at 7.30pm so I'm going to veg out in front of the tv.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Today I was bad tempered in class

I went to college earlier today.  The History of Art lecture started and two students kept chatting in the back of the class.  I could not hear properly.  So I waited for a pause by the tutor, apologised to him, turned round and ticked them off.  I said I could not hear against a background of low level sound because of a hearing problem, and if they wanted to chat they could leave, and if not be quiet and pay attention.  I then apologised to the lecturer again and the lecture continued ... in silence from the class.  After the lecture he was quite ok with it, and I said sometimes if a mature student ticked them off vigorously, it was more effective than the tutor commenting. 

I also spent time in the textile workshop, gathering offcuts from my prints, for my sample file.  The Surface Design class were working there, on the table I spent 2 hours cleaning, and they were making a dreadful mess.  There was no technician present (long term sickness affecting staffing levels).  I'm going to check the tables tomorrow and if they have not been cleaned, I think I'm going to use the formal complaints procedure.  I have tried speaking to the class tutor, with no effect, and I'm going to take advice from the technician who works on Friday. I am absolutely sick of sloppy way this class works.  I may ask if I can speak to the class myself at the beginning of their next session, and explain the impact of their slovenliness and state that if they don't improve their standards, I will be making a formal complaint.  I don't mind them producing poor quality work of their own, but they are not wrecking my work.

Then Joanna, one of the students, offered to take me to Spotlight to get some threads after the lecture, as it was on her way home.  So I got the threads I'd been hankering after.  It was a bit more difficult to get home, but I got a bus into Perth by which time it was dark, and then the 31 bus home.  It took about an hour and a half to get home, but at least I have got my threads.   I had managed to go one way by car, so it was less time than it would otherwise have been.  Home at 7pm and pasta and mushrooms for tea.  Thank goodness for Joanna - a good end to an otherwise frustrating day.

Struggling with my Banksia project

I have been experiencing acute angst with the Banksia project.  I had been given feedback at review that I was not using my best work from my sketchbook, and that my pattern making was chaotic or very geometric.  I found this really difficult.  No-one seemed to get my point that I naturally work with busy design and I was trying to create designs that were "simpler", used "positive/negative" and "repetition".  I tried to take on board the feedback that my sketchbook work was better, but simply could not combine the irregular, random, organic nature of the sketchbook work with the key words above.  I tried making fabric that was random dyed, but could not see how to incorporate it into my work.  I was working very hard but getting very frustrated and upset.

I had a long discussion with Eva in class yesterday, and it took me ages to grasp some basic facts ... but I did get there in the end.

My proposal was good.  Stick with it and ignore the feedback.

Continue to work with "simpler", "positive/negative" and "repetition".

At the beginning of final review, state this project is about broadening my hand and my body of work, including that in the UK (which is unseen to the tutors and students here)

Look at more artists who work with simple pattern and Australian plants

Continue working with devore paste on silk velvet and silk cotton, and discharge paste on flat dyed fabric.

So I came home, and spent the afternoon creating more banksia designs.  I re-read my proposal and was quite impressed at how well I can write, and how well it hangs together! 

I know I'm going to find final review difficult.  I dislike one of the assessors, and find he bullets questions at you.  This puts me on the defensive.  Something I find particularly unpleasant is when he asks a question where I don't give the answer he wants, he re-asks the same question in an irritated tone and I re-answer the same answer.  A skilled assessor would use different words to ask the same question to enable the interviewee to come at the answer from a different perspective.  When he does this, I should say I think I've answered that, so obviously I don't understand what he is driving at.  I don't think quickly at the best of times, but when I'm on the defensive, it's even worse.  And when I feel homesick, I'm not up for the cut and thrust of argument, in front of the rest of the class.  All these feelings are aggravated by the fact that I don't go into review unprepared!  I spend time staging my work to the best of my ability, prepare a script about what I want to talk about, and refer to the guidelines to make sure I meet all the criteria.  And he still puts me on the back foot.  I have heard him criticise other classes for not contributing at review, but he talks constantly so it is difficult to interject.  I know reviews are time pressured for the assessors and they have to crack on, but I don't find creating a hostile environment to be helpful.

Any the upshot of it all is that I feel a lot happier about how to progress my work.  The thinking part of this work is the difficult part.  Doing the work is the easy part. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Trip to New Norcia

My landlord Tangea, was going on a trip to the opening of a new satellite tracking station further north in Western Australia and offered to drop me off for a day at New Norcia, a Benedictine monastery town in WA.  I jumped at the chance. 

We set off at 6 am, and Tangea set me down at 8am at New Norcia.  I spent an hour walking round a well spread out settlement, on either side of Route 1. There was a monastery, two boarding schools, two mission schools, and various outbuildings, including a shop and roadhouse. 

I spent the morning looking at the memorabilia in the museum of the monks 100 year occupation of the area.  They were Spanish monks who were called to convert the aboriginal peoples, and ended up running mission schools (not orphanages).  One of the monks was a Victorian photographer so there is a good visual history of the settlement.  There was a museum of artwork - lots of religious pictures, and portraits of the monks, but also modern artwork depicting modern interpretations of biblical texts.  And a botanist, C Gardner, had left his botanical drawings to the monastery, which was also an interesting display.  He was an early conservationist who advocated leaving large tracts of land unspoiled in order to preserve rare indigenous plants.

Before lunch, I joined the monks for prayers.  This was the first time I had participated in Catholic prayers and was most interesting.  I think it was plainsong.  Quite brief.  After lunch I went on a 2 hour tour of the settlement.  The Benedictines have a very loose structure and the monasteries are not really closely linked to one another.  There are 10 monks at New Norcia, ranging in age from about 38 to 76.  The settlement is completely run by the monastery.  There are quite a few support workers running a retreat, the museum, and other run the agriculture business which crops olives, oats and whatever else is deemed commercially productive.  They also have hives of bees which produce honey. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Turnitin plagiarisation checker

Turnitin is a commercial plagiarisation checker used by Curtin University.  I've used it for the first time today, and it was a very interesting experience. 

Our tutor, Elizabeth, arranged for our class to have student access for the essay we are preparing for our History of Art module.  I had worked very, very hard on my essay, but I find writing essays to be intensive work, and particularly find getting detail correct to be very difficult.  Elizabeth is very hot on us using our own words to paraphrase the research we have done, while correctly (!) referencing our sources.  I had written my essay, and in our most recent tutorial, Elizabeth stressed we needed to use single and double inverted commas correctly and not to confuse the two - for stress/inflection, and for quotation.

Elizabeth sent us the Turnitin access tonight, and I immediately submitted my essay for checking.  I had to create a second version of my essay, by taking out the Reference List, Bibliography, illustrations and any reference to authors of work I had used.  Then the remaining script is cut and pasted into the Turnitin website, press go, and wait for the system to process your work.  The outcome is a percentage score for how much of your script can be found in published work.  This is a massively powerful programme.  My essay scored 2% for plagiarisation. This is acceptable, if correctly credited. The system then highlights the plagiarised words, and colour codes them and links them to the documentation from which they have been sourced!!  How powerful is that!!  My highlighted words were for an attributed definition of Stereotype Threat Theory, which I felt I could not paraphrase more precisely or concisely. It identified the source I had used, and lots of student papers where the same phrase had been quoted. However, I had the double inverted commas slightly out of alignment.  So I moved them.  The other highlighted words were for a common equality phrase - equal pay for work of equal value - and I am not sure how to alter this, as I was not lifting words from the Financial Services Act (which was the document identified as source).  I will ask Elizabeth. 

However, for a first attempt at writing an essay where I did not plagiarise without correct crediting of originating author, I was very pleased.  I suspect Turnitin is a very expensive commercial computer package, which is mostly used by affluent universities.  I cannot imagine it is anything other than a very expensive package.  It was a very good learning experience. 

Grumbling about print tables

Today is Sunday, so I went for my swim as usual.  I did 1000m and was quite pleased with myself.  Then I jumped back on the bike, assessed the weather, and decided to take a chance on being caught in a shower and set off home. 

It got quite grey as I left Riverton, and rather than get wet once I had crossed the river, I went into Curtin University.  I had agreed with Mark, the technician, that rather than wait until end of semester to participate in cleaning day, I would get my contribution done early, as I am going home immediately after assessment.  On Friday, I started cleaning one of the print tables.  Today, I went in to the textile workshop intending to finish it.

The print table was in a shocking state.  It was covered in old print binder (print paste), threads from the edge of cut cloth, bits of masking tape, and snippings of plastic and lurex.  I find this quite worrying.  It is the Surface Design class who are making the mess, and they are not being instructed to clear up their mess.  I have spoken to their tutor about this. When you work on a table that has this amount of debris stuck to it, you cannot get a good print.  I really don't care if they wreck their own work, but some people in my class need to print for their Cloth & Habitable Space project.  I care a lot about my classmates' work being wrecked by other people's slovenliness.  Print tables are best cleaned immediately after use - wet binder comes off easily and the table can dry thoroughly so the next user is able to gum down their fabric without the washing water staining their fabric.

This morning I spent about an hour soaking, scrubbing and drying the print table.  I cleaned about half of it, and had to stop, only because the scourer wore out.  I am quite concerned about the impact of the Surface Design class on my work.  I have ordered 6m of silk/cotton batiste, which is likely to arrive shortly before assessment.  This fabric is easily stained and shows imperfections in print easily.  I will be working to a time deadline.  I do not need to arrive at the workshop and find the tables covered in wet or dry binder, with thread trimmings giving an uneven surface.  Neither do I need to spend an hour cleaning a table, then spend another hour waiting for it to dry, when I am under time pressure.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Ups and Downs of being a Student

My day was full of ups and downs. 

Yesterday, I had done a lot of preparation for my presentation for Indigenous Studies, and had saved it at uni, but could not access it from home.  I got quite frustrated about this, as I had wanted to get the presentation written this morning, at home here in the dry, rather than getting wet on the way to class.  Fortunately the rain stopped so I went to class, and discovered the i-drive at uni can only be accessed at uni.  I found the document, saved it to memory stick and then went to the textile studio. 

Random dyed caramel fabric from yesterday's work looked good, so I printed onto it with discharge paste (bleach).  This was ok, but I discovered the commercial discharge paste tends to pick up the emulsion from the screen, and starts to dye the fabric blue!  Not what I want when discharging!  Then I random dyed a large piece of fabric in 3 colours - aubergine, caramel and burnt orange - colours of landscape.  This looked very bold when pegged out to dry.  I was not sure about the success of this one. But I reserved judgement - random dyed fabrics look very different when wet, dry and subsequently printed.  Then I heat pressed the caramel piece, and discovered the deeper colours worked best with the discharge paste, rather than the lighter areas.  So maybe the dark areas of the multi-colour piece will work well.

Dischage paste applied, waiting for it to dry before heat pressing to activate

3 colour random dyeing in process

Then went to History of Art tutorial and discovered I have got the referencing wrong on my essay.  I get so sick of this.  Different universities, and different disciplines (art -v- science) require different referencing styles, and it keeps changing.  I really cannot see that it makes any difference to what the essay is about.  It is just pointless mindless detail.  But I need to get on with it.  At least I have the opportunity to improve it before it gets marked.

I was lucky with the rain.  It rained a bit while I was waiting at the bus stop, but I only became mildly damp.  It rained on and off all day, but I never was caught between classes (it's about a mile from the textile studio to History of Art tutorial), and it was very grey on the way back to the flat, but did not rain. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Study Abroad Fair at Curtin

Kate Snowdon and I ran the Herts University study abroad stand at the international fair today.  We had a fair amount of interest from students wanting to go to the UK, and the main appeal seemed to be the good exchange rate from Australian dollar to Pound Sterling (don't we know it!) and the proximity of Herts to the facilities of London, without central London prices.

Kate Snowdon, journalism student and
Tanya Talati, International Student Exchange Co-ordinator

This afternoon I plucked up my courage and dyed a 4m length of devore silk velvet.  The fabric alone costs about $100, without the devore and dye processes, so if it went wrong I would have ruined some very expensive material.  The sample I did the other day, dyed well in a lovely sandy beige colour, and this time I wanted to make a rich plummy brown.  The silk background grabs the colour strongly, and the viscose pile takes the dye in a much more subtle way.  It took ages to bring a 20 litre pan of dye to the right temperature, but I followed the instructions very carefully, and did not hurry the process.  It is difficult to get an even colouring but I was very pleased with the result.  The photos show the fabric pegged up after rinsing, so the colours will change again after it is dry.  The devored background was exactly the colour I wanted, but I was surprised at how pale the viscose pile is. 

Silk viscose devore velvet pegged up to dry
It captures the colours we saw in eucalyptus tree trunks on our roadtrip in December.  Quite a successful dyeing experiment.