Saturday, April 19, 2014

An easy way to make rollags- and My favorite way so far...

                 Right off the bat- (pun fully intended) I feel that I need to state, that I am not an expert. I have only been spinning for about a year. There may well be better methods out there, but this is the method I have found and fits me. Here's a photo of my kit on the go, at a local coffee shop. My Teasing Board if from Fancy Kitty, the dowels from my woodpile (Arctic Visions Studio), and the paintbrush was a Wall-Mart generic. (The coffee is from McCaffertys Coffee House.)

                 I use a small Teasing Board, and two dowels,. and a stiff plastic bristle 1 inch paintbrush. This entire kit easily fits in the box within which the Teasing Board was mailed to me. The dowels are 1/2 inch and 3/8 inches, with the half-inch one having a grove sanded into the length of it so the 3/8 fits in snugly. (Basically a c shape much like a celery stalk.)
                The Teasing Board allows you several options when laying out your rollags, the first I learned (and the reason I tried this in the first place) is to use thin color wisps stuck through the blending cloth, using color theory to match and blend, and the paintbrush to help smooth the blends.

                 Holding the board down, I gently pull fiber over the teeth to let small amounts catch, then work my was as far across the board as I like (what effect I want- more on that later.) For this to work properly, the teeth need to be facing up- or away from you. Then move to the next color in the blend and do another thin layer. Now get out the paintbrush- by tamping into the fiber pushing it further into the teeth of the Teasing Board, the fibers become more burnished together... not truly blended, but visually closer. The effect is similar to pointillism painting- a little looser than true stippling, but using the same ideas.
              Once the layers are thick enough (a personal taste issue- I like mine fairly thick, so when the board's teeth start disappearing under the fiber- YMMV,) I begin the rolling process. First, the larger dowel goes under the bottom side of fiber, as close to the wood as possible. Fit the smaller dowel into the first (the grove makes this easier, but it can be dome without it- I only recently added the grove to mine.) Then begin working your way up rolling the dowels toward the outfacing teeth.
           Roll snugly, pulling just a bit back as you roll to get a slight loosening of the tension (and just a touch of pre-drafting.) once you've rolled the fiber all the way off the board, the last bit of the rollag will want to 'fluff out.' Instead of letting it expand, use your hands to 'burnish' the rollag (with dowels still inside) for a few seconds until the rollag holds it's own shaping

          The next step then is to remove the dowels. Smaller first, slide it out gently, then the larger should easily follow. And that's it- the rollag is now ready to spin.

     But wait- I said I would talk about color changes, and rolling the 'wrong way.' Hmm okay- First off what if you want to play with the color combos in a braid- and don't want to blend? Easy- First you seperate the colors as close as you can to the braking points. Now you have some options- you could rollag each separate color,  and spin single color singles. Or you could try to layer in each of the color changes ( this is what I'll show using Black and white fibers.
      And then Just because I thought it would complement- I added a thin layer of a silvery grey over the entire back before rolling off the rollag.

        Which then spins up in relatively short repeats, with barber-polling as each change transitions- and the grey layer is almost unnoticeable, but visually helps blend the transitions.
   As to the problem of rolling the rollag the 'wrong way' or down the teeth instead of up... the first layers (deepest in the teeth) tend to separate. If you notice it, and carefully unroll it will be okay- but leave some fiber in the teeth. If you don't notice, the rollag will try to self-destruct falling apart in chucks as you (un-) roll it. Either way there will be some fiber left on the board. If the remaining Fiber is quite a lot- you might want to burnishe it dowm with the paintbrush and just use it as the base for a new rollag (aka try it again,) but if there is just a small bit of fiber left, you can use the paintbrush sidewats to the teeth to bust loose that lowest fiber.

  This is also the method I use to clean the board, to prep for it's next use.

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