Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Earthen hues

I've been working on mixing some pure dyes to get get more muted hues.  You will find that when mixing primaries or pure dyes, the more colors you mix together, the less intense color you'll achieve. I am looking to create a palette of earthen hues that remind me of the desert.  I think I am getting close with these. I will adjust the depth of shade so they are lighter in value, but I like the hues. Bark, rust, earth and sage from left to right.  I'd like to add one more hue to add to the mix, I'll work on that today.  Maybe a more reddish earth tone would complement these nicely.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A note on sewing

Here are some new batik napkins....in bright orange and golden yellow. Every time I make a set of these, I am again impressed with Carey's sewing. Carey, owner of GypsyThread, sewed these napkins for me. She makes them out of undyed cotton broadcloth. I ask her to use cotton thread -- that way, the thread dyes at the same time and you get a coordinated look.

I wax and dye these and then boil them to remove the wax. They really take a beating!  But because Carey is such a great seamstress, they don't fall apart. Try that with those napkins you bought at Marshall's! They also keep their shape. Last year, right before Christmas, I bought two dozen napkins from Marshall's. They were a bargain -- about $1.50 each. But after I washed them, they became completely mishapen. I don't really understand that, because they weren't even made from cotton, but some kind of blend. So, they didn't turn out to be the great deal I thought they were. Carey makes these napkins with perfect mitred corners too. A skill absent in my household!

It also makes me feel good to support another American craftsperson!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Working in a smaller scale

I've been working on making some napkins for the holidays.  Napkins work best with small motifs, so I've been creating some new, simple designs that would work well with napkins or small pieces of fabric.  Here are two new designs, both batiks created on silk hemp fabric.  The color I'm calling nutmeg. A warm brown with overtones of deep orange.  I ran a lot of swatches, mixing various blues and oranges to get his hue. It's a terrific hue for fall. I'm going to dye some embroidery floss to match these and will offer them as a small bundle.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Before I immerse myself in dyeing.....

I've just added some silk hemp fat eighths and embroidery floss to my store....all in my Appalachian Trail palette.

Silk hemp is one of my favorites for hand sewing. It is so easy to hand needle. I use it alot for stitching shibori. It stitches easily and it is easy to pull up the stitches and compress them tightly too. Now I'm off to dye some napkins I waxed yesterday.  More photos soon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Power's On

We are very lucky.  After being told we'd take a near direct hit from Sandy, the storm missed us and hit New York and New Jersey instead. We've been spared, this time.

I've added soy wax to my store if you'd like to dabble in some batik. I have instructions on the item listing, but if you'd like some additional tips, feel free to email me. This is the same soy wax I use on a regular basis. My price is cheaper than ProChem.  

Also added some more Tundra palette floss to my store.

Today I'm working on some more batik napkins and some more floss in new palettes. More pics soon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cooking Up Fabric While the Storm Brews

Yet another storm approaches. The last storm, the "derecho" caused havoc. No power for several days. A real headache. Here's hoping that Sandy will smile on us and go away. It is ironic that a storm can cause such damage in our supposedly technologically advanced society. A reminder that there are still many forces we cannot control. Having grown up in the "third world", where we often went without power and water, it seems so odd to be in northern Virginia and have to spend hours looking for ice.  I am loving my outdoor clothesline. It also came in handy this week when my dryer died. Getting back to basics is a good thing.

Before the pending deluge, I'm finishing up a few projects.  Trying to build up my inventory of napkins and tea towels for the holiday season. These are napkins that I've dyed in a soft blue and waxed with star shapes. I will be overdyeing them in navy blue.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Made in Virginia for a happy occasion

This week, a custom order for wedding gift. I think a handmade gift for a wedding is a fabulous idea. You can be certain the happy couple will not receive a duplicate of your gift! Plus, it says you've made a little extra effort to find a craftsperson who creates by hand, rather than clicking on a registry item and purchasing something made in a factory in China.  And, best of all, it keeps folks like me engaged in what we enjoy doing for a living!

You can see the carpet of birch leaves that is my backyard in this picture. I will rake them all to one side and let them compost over the winter. They will make a great addition to my flower beds next spring.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The last flush of summer

The last flush of summer

......and good things come to those who wait

I've been on somewhat of a hiatus. A break from fabric making, blogging, facebooking...... It has been a good thing. The constant connection to the interwebs can be exhausting, and I needed a break.

When I'm not making fabric, I am usually gardening. Gardening, like fabric creation, requires great patience. My patience was rewarded this week as this pineapple sage burst forth into a flash of red. I've become obsessed with salvia species over the last few years. I've not grown Salvia elegans before. I've had this plant for two years and have moved it around the garden, waiting for the right conditions for bloom. It is fabulous isn't it? The fragrance of the leaves when rubbed is fruity and warm. Summer captured in a leaf.  

The days are shortening, the light lengthening. With the brisk air seeps in the whispered promise of dormancy and renewed growth.

Friday, August 3, 2012

More in Store

Blue Batik and Shibori Bundle

Five 14" by 18" pieces of hand dyed fabric, using batik and shibori methods. A mix of hemp/cotton blend, cotton gauze, broadcloth cotton, and hemp linen.

Hemp and Organic Cotton Yard in Meadowgrass

A bright yard of a hemp and organic cotton blend fabric. If you haven't tried this fabric before, its lower threadcount makes it ideal for fabric art. It hand needles very easily. I actually use it for a lot of my shibori because it is so easy to hand sew.

Hemp Linen yard in Rust and Blues

Love, love this fabric. It is a 100% hemp line. The patterning on this is something I haven't been able to achieve on 100% cotton or a hemp/cotton blend. There is something about the weave and fibers that is unique and allows the dye to move around and makes these wonderful ghostly patterns.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Goodies in Store

Some of you have said you abhor Facebook....and have asked me to please post on my blog when I've added new things to my store.  So, here are a few goodies that I've added recently:

Bright Green Hemp Linen Fat Quarter

Just a fat quarter, but at 28" wide, it's a generous one. Dyed in bright green and turquoise, with some hints of yellow using a low water immersion method. Made from 100% hemp linen.  A great sustainable fiber that has the look and feel of flax linen.

Tangerine bundle

A small bundle of tangerine goodness. Dyed using a lightweight hemp and organic cotton blend fabric. It is so fine it is nearly sheer.

Yellows bundle

A nice sampler of different hues and techniques. Bright and warm yellow are included, with shibori and batik fabrics in the mix.

I'll post some more tomorrow! Thanks, everyone.

Friday, May 4, 2012

a small shop update

I know some of you don't use Facebook, so just a quick post to let you know I've added a few items to my store:

Tundra palette on mercerized cotton

Cool Miami palette on hemp/organic cotton and 100% hemp linen

Organic cotton/hemp blend fabric dyed in Arctic Bluegrass from Tundra Palette

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Painting Floss

 I'm trying out something new this week....hand dyeing embroidery floss to complement my palettes.  Here's my first shot -- my newest Tundra palette.  I used a thick print paste, but this would work equally well if you wanted to "tub dye" these in small containers. They work really well with the cotton/hemp fabrics I dyed earlier.

Just as with fabric, you'll need to test your floss to make sure it is colorfast. Wet the floss, place it between two layers of white cloth, and iron it on a cotton setting. Any trace of color means you need to soak the floss again. I know many fiber art and embroidery pieces aren't going to be washed, but I won't know in advance what a client will use this floss for, so it's always best to err on the safe side.

I'll be listing these flosses soon, as soon as I'm certain they are colorfast.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Playing with fabric values

Some days I feel like a mad chemist in my fabric studio. It's fun to run experiments where I change one variable while keeping all other conditions constant. One thing I like to play with is creating a palette in different values to see which value is most appealing and that I want to keep in stock. You may find you really like one combination in a light value, but not in a darker value or vice versa.  Remember, all you are changing is the proportion of dye to the weight of fabric. If you want to be able to repeat your experiment and get the same results, measure everything using metric measures. Weigh your dye powder, weigh your fabric, and weigh your water.

 First, let me show you one of the hues of the Tundra palette, Bluegrass. Here you can see it in a 1% depth of shade on both cotton/hemp and conventional cotton. Not much difference between the two. The patterning on the conventional cotton appears crisper. That's because the threadcount is much higher on the cotton, so the patterning appears more distinct.
On the right, here's Bluegrass again, also on cotton hemp, in a 1% value and a 4% value.

Your first reaction might be that these are two entirely different hues. They aren't.  The formula for both fabrics is identical.  But the fabric on the right appears much more green, because with the increase in value, it appears more dominant.

Both are lovely fabrics, just different. So next time you dye a batch and aren't happy with it, try it in a different value. You might get a  happy surprise! 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tundra Time

Here's a batch of cotton/hemp blend fabric I dyed in my Tundra palette. Rich, deep hues that are a little unusual I think. They all work well together, because they are all made with the same two dyes, just in different proportions. These have a higher value than the cotton yards I showed you on Friday. With a darker value, sometimes a slight shift in hue will occur too.

I tend to like yellows and greens that flirt with chartreuse, so the sorrel and saxifrage are really appealing to me.  I've also dyed some embroidery thread in these tundra hues and am washing those now.

This week, my other job in the garden calls. After starting tomatoes indoors with the children, it's time to repot them into larger containers and wait until overnight temps are much warmer before we plant them in the ground. Our daytime highs have fluctuated from the fifties to the eighties in April and we even had a freeze warning a few days ago. We'll be starting three kinds of cotton indoors this week too.

Here's a great source for cotton seeds if you are looking for some:

Southern Exposure

Cotton seeds are difficult to find. I love this seed catalogue. They specialize in open-pollinated organic and heirloom seeds.

Friday, April 27, 2012

blue + yellow = aahh

Mixing two primary hues is always a dyer's delight. By changing the proportions of the hues, you can create an infinite range of colors. By varying the value (percentage of dye powder relative to the fabric weight) you can expand your options even further. I'm calling this palette "Tundra". 

My favorite is the the yellowy green hue. It reminds me of those acid yellow lichen you'll spot creeping along a damp bit of outcrop.

This palette is dyed in a one percent value. I've made up five yards of cotton for this batch. I have another batch of hemp and organic cotton washing now, dyed in the same palette, but in a different value. More photos soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shop Update

Just a quick note to say these are now listed in my store.

Hope to take some more pics of work in progress later today. Stay tuned.

A cool, spring day has washed the pollen away. Hurrah!  To wake up without my eyes glued together would be a nice change.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Into a Shibori Phase

I'm a person of "phases".  I see folks who plan out their creative endeavors like clockwork. They have it timed to have the greatest commercial impact. It's organized and scheduled. Although I am very precision oriented when it comes to the process of dyeing, I find it difficult to keep a schedule and set a goal and stick to it.  I drift from phase to phase.  Not necessarily a bad thing, just not the ideal mode for someone trying to make a living!

Right now, I'm back in a shibori phase. I'm exploring ways to integrate stitched patterning with pole patterning. There's something about the contrast between the precise stitched areas against the "wild" unrestrained patterns achieved through pole wrapping that I really enjoy. Here are just a few examples of what I've been working on lately.

The fabric used makes a big difference too. I really like a hemp/silk blend and a 100% hemp linen for both pole and stitched shibori. It is easy to stich and I am able to get good contrast with it.  You can see in the 2nd and 3rd pieces above that one side is lighter than the other. This is a result of folding the fabric down the middle before stitching and binding. The layer closest to the pole will always be a little lighter if you fold before stitching.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Custom Shibori Gauze

The last day and a half I've been working on a custom order of shibori gauze for Martha McQuade of Uniform Natural.  Can't wait to see what she creates with this lovely sheer gauze. These three yards are in grey and black.

There's something uniquely gratifying about completing a custom order.  It validates my efforts to make quality art fabric that isn't designed to profit on a current craze. Slow thought and slow process does lovely make.