Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Snow Dyeing

These are pictures of the snow-dyes from the other day. I left the box o' boxes in the garage overnight and when I went out there the next morning, they were frozen solid (duh). There was no dye wicking, no color anywhere except in the snow on top of the fabric. So I brought the whole box o' boxes in and set it in the corner of the family room on top of a heater vent next to the lemon tree. This morning, after I did the family laundry, I washed them out.I love the greens and purples in this one. The brown is pretty interesting too. It has a kind of kaleidoscope thing going on. This one is my favorite.

This was grape, scarlet and golden yellow.

Mostly scarlet and lemon and golden yellow.

I love hand-dyed stripes. This doesn't have a lot of the crystalline effects from the snow, but it's still pretty cool. The turquoise is really vibrant here. I didn't get much green from the yellow and blue mixing -- because they were frozen?

These two were accordion folded before the dyes were poured on and don't look any different from any other lwi hand dyes. I like the mirror effects I get from the folding.

I didn't have any trouble with the turquoise, but I think that was probably because they batched on top of a heater vent. The temperature was nice and warm there last night. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised with all of these -- They didn't look like much before they dried and I was expecting to be disappointed.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


This week's Creative Cue is "rolling." I made a whole list of things in my journal, including: red carpet, blackouts, ball point pens, tortillas, logs, and Rock Beer. But the one that stayed with me all week was eyes - can you tell my life includes teens?

So I have these pictures this week.

From the teenager who refused:

To the younger one who would.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Odds and Ends

I did some more snow dyeing -- tried some grape and turquoise along with the scarlet and lemon and golden yellow. We'll see how this turns out.

It has been brutally cold this week -- below zero overnight and barely making it into the teens during the day. I thought that the snow would be easy to dig up after I got through the top crust, but it's crusty all the way down -- or at least for the first couple of feet.
The snow shovel couldn't do it, so I had to find a small garden shovel and use that to hack at the snow. That warm spell ( it was a balmy 36 or 37 degrees f -- that's like 1 or 2 C) must have melted the snow all the way through, because it was like chopping solid ice. It broke up nicely after I worked at it for a while though. Yes, that's a large bone next to the tray o' fabric. It's stuck there. My neighbor's dog comes over and steals it and his people bring it back.
After all that stabbing and whacking at the snow, I was almost too tired to mix up the dyes and pour them over the frozen snow/fabric piles. Almost.

"Any idiot can face a crisis -- it's this day-to-day living that wears you out."
-Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

After all that, I was almost a bad dog mama and almost didn't take her out for her walk --- almost...

During the Great Studio Cleanup that occurred over the last two weeks, many treasures were unearthed -- including the floor. Much forgotten fabric (actually, it wasn't forgotten, just MIA) was discovered and is now neatly folded and organized on shelves. All the goodies that make my stuff unique -- paints, powders, stamps, inks, pencils, and other cool ephemera -- are stored in labeled, covered bins and easily accessible for those midnight can't-sleep-art-projects.

Last year, for Mother's day, my kids gave me a pair of these quilting gloves. I hadn't tried them, and they wound up buried under a bunch of stuff in the months following that exalted day. My attitude toward such aids has always been a bit skeptical -- just grab a hunk of that quilt and make it move -- we don't need no stinking gloves -- but I tried them out on the challenge quilt and WOWEE ZOWEE! They WORK! Not as well as advertised, I couldn't thread any needles and scissors (and - horrors - I assume, rotary cutters) were admittedly clumsy, but they grabbed that little quilt and moved it. Very nicely. I have some much bigger projects coming up, so we'll see if they work as well with the old-fashion safety-pin basted large quilts.

So if you have a bunch of, say 35, odds and ends on the table and 34 fall off -- what are you left with? An odd? Or an end?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January Bead Journal Project Revealed

"Snow Shoe"

Fabric covered Peltex, with Swarovski crystals and beads

I wanted to totally encrust the shape with beads, but that hasn't happened yet. If it does, I will post another picture then.

This is my January journal entry for the Bead Journal Project (BJP), an opportunity to develop and grow as an artist by creating one beaded piece each month for a year. There are no BJP police to make sure that I finish my pieces each month -- I am on my own to conceive an idea and follow it through; but I have support and encouragement from the entire membership of the Project.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sinuous Curves and the Last Sneak Peek

This is the last sneak peek of my nursery rhyme challenge quilt. The background is made from sky fabrics with stars and clouds using pieced curves to simulate the ocean.

I cut lengths of fabric at two to four inches wide.

Then I laid them on my cutting mat with right sides facing up and overlapping about an inch. I used a small rotary cutter because I feel like I have a little more control with it. I cut gentle curves, careful to stay within the overlap of the fabric. I removed the scraps and lined up the strips.

Then I flipped the end piece over and lined it up so that there were hills and valleys and I put in a pin where ever the fabrics crossed.

I took it to the machine and used tweezers to gently pull out the "bellies" so they matched up when I sewed them. This is one case where bias is your friend. I gently stretched the fabric so that the edges matched when I sewed them.

It's good to use a poker to help guide the fabric. If you aren't lucky enough to have a friend bring you a porcupine quill from South Africa, you can buy a bag of bar-be-que skewers from the grocery and you'll have a lifetime supply.

After it's all sewn, you iron it gently along the new seam, then flip it over and iron on the right side and...

VOILA! Perfectly flat curved seams!

I know I changed fabrics in these pictures -- I took lots of pictures because there are always a bunch of blurry ones. I posted the best ones to show each step and I apologize in advance if the different fabrics cause any confusion.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Design Wall Monday - Sky!

This is on my design wall today. I am piecing the background for a challenge that will depict the nursery rhyme of my choosing.
The fabrics on the right are the fabrics that I have to use -- the green, pinkish, blue plaidish, and the white with the multicolored triangles.

The strips on the left are pieced using a gentle curve technique that I will explain in a later post.

I know it doesn't look like much yet, but I do have a plan.

If you want to see other people's Monday design walls, click here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


"CrossTown Traffic"
17" X 22"

"Tire tracks all across your back -- I can see you had your fun. But darlin' can't you see my signals turn from green to red. And with you I can see a traffic jam straight up ahead..." -Jimi Hendrix

Another rock and roll inspired quilt. I finished this today.

Cotton whole cloth, painted with thickened dyes, cotton threads.

This week's Creative Cue is "track." On track, off track, leaving a track, one-track.....
A train and an angry bunny. Why an angry bunny? Because they leave tracks in the snow in my garden all winter and they eat my flowers and bean plants all summer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pieceful Tigers

This is on my design wall today:
The newest tiger quilt and a piece I painted in a class with Judy Coates Perez last year at Festival in Chicago. One doesn't have anything to do with the other, they both just happen to be up there.

The tiger quilt is one I'm doing with a group that meets once a month -- I have been meeting with these ladies for several years, since back when all I did was traditional quilts. One year, we did feathered star quilts from Really Hard Blocks That Take a Long Time to Make by Marsha McCloskey. I think that feathered stars are the most beautiful of the traditional blocks and I love the challenge of trying to piece all those feathers.

If you look at the pattern, Pieceful Nights, by Lori Smith, you will notice that there is no feathered star. This is because I don't like to follow directions. Also, I like the feathered star better than the block in the pattern. This quilt, assuming I finish it in time, will be part of a special exhibit in a couple of shows this year. I'll post about that when I have more information.

This bamboo fabric was going to be the inner border on the tiger quilt. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so I dyed this to go with the project.
The reason I started dyeing and painting on fabric was because when I started quilting, I could never find exactly what I wanted. Then it became more than just a means to the end -- I found that I loved putting colors on fabrics so much that I forgot about actually using the fabric. It's more fun to "make" it.
I didn't like this fabric in the inner border -- too busy -- so I will probably use it for the outer border. Or maybe something else...

This is what happens when you fussy-cut using templates for thirteen blocks.
Fabric in a state of "holeyness." As Paula Nadelstern wrote in Kaleidoscope Quilts, "Fussy-cutting lots of identical patches means you'll end up with a holey fabric. Do yourself a favor and don't show it to those nonquilters you live with. It's not to your advantage."

My DH had entered my lair to assist in shelf-building and saw this fabric, "You're going to throw that away, aren't you?

"No!" I said. "There's lots of good fabric here." And there was (is). I cut pieces for several blocks after he left.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Last week's Creative Cue (you can read about it here) is heel. Which immediately made me think of my dog, because she doesn't. She does lots of cool stuff, but not that. Then I thought of bread, shoe, and cad. Still like the dog best.

So I took a picture of the aforementioned pooch and drew this portrait on cotton with my Derwent Inktense pencils.
Then, using a smallish brush, I hit it with water. These pencils have very intense color that comes out when you use water, but unlike regular water color pencils, on paper they become permanent after they dry. I've been wanting to try them on fabric and I was going to use fabric medium to wet them, but this time I just used water.
I like the way the color became more intense. I'm not crazy about the way it bled out and left lines on the edges. Next time, less water? Maybe don't brush it out all the way, knowing it will bleed some? Maybe add some more pencil and then some more water? Hmmm...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Snow Dyeing Part 3 - Who's Got the Blues?

I do! These are half yard cuts of cotton.


Royal -- I like the purples that came out in this one

And the greens -- Navy, Royal, and yellows

And the golds: Lemon Yellow and Golden yellow.
There is some pink in this one -- because I washed it with the reds?

And my favorite -- a whole yard of all the colors I mixed up:

This looks to me like planets exploding, as in some celestial event. I'm tempted to layer this with batting and backing and make it a whole cloth quilt. Or maybe add a border of the navy piece then a wider border of pieces from all the colors. Or maybe something else?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Snow Dyeing Part 2 -- I see RED!

I'm pretty pleased with the results of my snow dyeing this time. These are all half yard pieces. I had a bit of trouble rinsing all the red dye out of the fabric -- next time, I'll use less dye.

This one is mostly the boysenberry dye.

Boysenberry and Golden Yellow

Scarlet -- this is one of those premixed colors -- not a pure MX dye. I love the colors that separated out. I did drip a bit of the golden yellow and boysenberry on top of the scarlet.

Scarlet and Royal Blue -- both premixed colors. A tease for tomorrow when I shall post the pictures of the yellows, blues and one that has all the dyes that I mixed that day.

For a close up view, click on the pictures.

Snow Dyeing Part 1

Last winter, I did something called "snow dyeing". I took soda-soaked fabric, scrunched it up out on the front yard snow pile, covered it with a layer of snow and poured on liquid dyes. I got some cool results, but nothing to write home about.

Last fall at Quilt Expo, I talked at length with a woman who had written an about-to-be-published article in Quilting Arts Magazine. She had a booth where she was selling snow-dyed fabric and was very helpful and forthcoming with her techniques. She also had some of the most beautiful hand-dyes I had ever seen. Her name was Judi Yakab and she blogs here.

Basically, the snow acts as a resist and you get all kinds of cool textures. She uses containers and a screen and mixes the dye with the snow. Much more environmentally friendly than pouring dye out on the front lawn, but more equipment than I have. And the lawn did look nice with rainbow stripes when the snow melted.

We're about to experience a "heat wave" this weekend, so I figured I had better get out there and use some of that snow before it all melts (like that's going to happen in a weekend!). So I took soda soaked fabric, scrunched it up in my favorite Trader Joe's cookie containers and re-purposed lettuce boxes and covered it with a layer of snow.

Then I mixed up my dyes -- I used Lemon Yellow, Golden Yellow, Scarlet, Boysenberry, Royal Blue and Navy Blue. I mixed them a bit stronger than I usually do -- about 1 and a half times. Then I squirted them all over the snow layer.
I let them sit out in the garage until right before I went to bed when I stacked them in a large plastic box and brought them inside to finish batching. The dye had mostly wicked through the snow and was pooled under the fabric.
You can see bits of leaves left behind after the snow melted.

Next: the results...