Thursday, June 28, 2012


Finished my first design today, and I'm very pleased with it.  But when I went to take a picture, the camera wouldn't work.  We've had trouble before, and had been told that it just couldn't be fixed again.  So--no pictures and probably none for quite awhile, as a new camera just isn't in the plans.  But--maybe by that time I'll have half a dozen finished tops ot show off.  The one I pieced today should be quilted in the next week or so.  I am stabilizing the whole thing with quilting in the ditch, but plan to add some hand stitching as well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Time to stop

for the next little while, anyway. so the dyes are put away, and the finished fabric sorted into compatible colour groupings.  Now it's time to start designing, and this is turning out to be much harder thanI thought it would be.  Thank Goodness, I put some of the fabric through more than one dye bath.  That second, or even third, colour just makes the fabric sing!  And having extra colour helps the design process.  I'm not sure whether adding that colour is a traditional way of working, but it seems to be the direction I'm headed. I anticipate having about three pieces to hand finish, as hangings.  One way of stretching the hand-dyed fabric I have is to use it with some of the African fabrics I've acquired, and saved, since stitch-resist dyeing is also an African tradition, and the colours are quite compatible..

The one gridded piece is being hand-quilted as a whole-cloth piece.  I'm thrilled that the fine cotton thread that I dyed came out so well, because it quilts like a dream on the basic muslin fabric. The stitching is a less fine than some of us might be used to, but I remembered from when I studied Japanese ethnic counted thread embroidery, that a well balanced and even running stitch is basic to most, especially the Sashiko and Kogin, so I feel I'm honouring tradition in that way.

I'll post pictures as soon as I have something to show.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Still dyeing

I have been just in a dyeing frenzy over the past few days.  I certainly have more fabric than I'll ever need for one hanging, but the ideas just keep coming. Shibori is traditionally done with indigo, but I don't want to deal with the chemicals involved in that, so have been using Procion MX, in, mainly, navy.  I want a burnt orange to use as a compliment to the navy and tried to mix that yesterday.  I had heard that orange and fuschia would work.  Nope!  Ended up with a very bubblegummy pink, so added just a smidge of navy to it to calm it down, and ended up with a strange brick-y red.  I will try again later today, once I have the stitching done on the piece.  Here are some of the pieces I dyed a couple of days ago.
My favourite is on the upper left.  The upper right is the same technique but left in the dye bath for almost 18 hours, compared to the other one, that was in for only about 2 hours.  The middle and bottom left are also the same technique, but the lower one was done over a previously dyed bit, and the background is almost a tan colour, under the navy.  On the bottom right, each one of those circles represents a button tied into the fabric before dyeing. Most of a days work.

Here are some I did yesterday.
As you can see, I've been experimenting with creating lines.  The grid pattern will be used for something other than the hanging I'm planning--not sure what--yet.  The hexagons are really neat, and I'm doing another that will be easier to use in the hanging.  Then I plan to overdye the hexagon piece with my next orange dye bath.  The red piece on the left is not really what I want, and I plan to re-do that one, too. I much prefer the lines created in that piece to the lines created in the grid ( a different stitch technique), but the piece just doesn't flow right. The piece on the lower right hasn't photographed very well, and, if I'm honest, wasn't stitched as well as it could have been.  It is very pretty, and will be fine used in smaller sections.

Obviously, I'm concentrating on the stitched resist patterns, although there is one pole-wrapped piece in the picture above. I've done more stitching in the past few days than over the past year.  There can be much more control with the stitched patterns, and I'm starting to find that I want that control.  Serendipity can be useful in creating art, but, in my opinion, reduces the artist to a technician, unless there is much more added to it, in creating a piece of art.  I feel comfortable saying that as I tend to use a lot of serendipity in my work, especially when painting and dyeing textiles. I have discovered that the ones with a bit more of intent behind tham are usually much better pieces.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big Day

Yesterday, my Shibori book finally arrived. ( "Shibori for Textile Artists"  by Janet Gunner.) I shouldn't say "finally" as it came from Britain, and actually arrived quite quickly, but, I had been waiting.  The dyes arrived last week and have been sitting  where I can see them every time  I walk into the studio.  So I jumped in with both feet and did three pieces yesterday, and plan to do a couple more today.  I made a fairly strong dye bath, and have kept it to see how long it actually stays viable.  Since I did a half metre of just plain fabric, along with the three pieces, it has done quite a bit so far. Today, I hope to get out to buy more fabric.  I'm using a good quality white muslin, which is light weight enough for these old finger to stitch through several layers.  It should be good quality for the price!  I would also like to get another pot to use for the dye bath.  I don't really need a deep pot, as I have the 5 gallon pail I used last time, for the pole-wrapped pieces.  But a second pot would be useful.

While I intend to concentrate on stitch-resist patterns, other methods should be fun, and they will work up much more quickly than the stitched ones.

This time I was very careful to use my rubber gloves, and started out with the pair I have that are gauntlets up to my elbow.  After working awhile I thought it felt wet and checked.  Sure enough--there was a hole in one glove and my right hand was completly navy blue--all the way to the elbow.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

creating nothing

While I have been very busy, lately, yesterday I realized that I am creating nothing but crap.  Very pretty crap, but designed around what would sell, not what is really in my heart.This realization came when I discovered myself debating whether or not to add something to a project based on the price I felt I could reasonabley charge for the finished piece.  In other words I have gone into production for sales, not into creating art.

Two years ago I  swore to never get caught in that trap again, but how easy it happens!  I have even avoided sales, just to remove the basis for that type of thinking. Years ago, sales were a way of reducing the number of finished items that I had cluttering up my studio, but somewhere along the way they became the rationale behind my work, and the quality of the work suffered.  My more recent goal has been to do whatever work I want without thinking about sales.  I need to get back to that way of thinking right now!

The dyes I ordered for Shibori have arrived, but I am nowhere near ready to use them.  Since I am concentrating on the stitched patterns, progess is being made very slowly.  While I'm sitting, stitching, I'm watching old episodes of Quilting Arts TV in hopes of finding other inspiration.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Here are the Shibori pieces that came from my weekend workshop.  One of them has been re-worked a bit.  Looking at them after getting home, I realized that two of them just didn't work. Surprisingly, both of them were pole wrapping, but I think the first dye bath just wasn't concentrated enough for the amount of fabric that was put in it.  I'm referring to the two lower pieces on the right side of the picture.  The piece on the upper right was also in the same turquoise dye bath, but was a stitched piece.  The original colour shows pale blue in the picture.  I decided to take a strip off after each dye bath so I could have a record of what happens.  The second dye bath was bright yellow, which gave the lime green colour.  The very middle is the only piece that went further.  I stitched the larger length, ( took about 6 hours)and clamped the original blue ( Should have been the lime gree, but what can I say?  It was late at the end of a very long day), and then put both of them in a burgundy dye bath.
This piece, which appears at the top left, of the larger picture, is also a stitched piece.  After stitching, it was placed in a purple/grey dye bath, then after releasing the stitching, was dyed fuschia.  I think this stitching pattern is my favourite--so far.
This piece was tied, rather than clamped--a more traditional method.  I used metal washers and put it first in a brick red dye bath.  Not only did I get very clear circles, but in places, the string used to tie it, resulted in a secondary pattern. After relase, I used a turquoise dye, which turned the brick red into a rich brown.

This is very hard to see, but the actual image is a series of paler blue dots at the bottom left ot middle of the image.  This comes from a wrapped rather than a stitched technique.  Obviously, better contrast between dye baths would have produced a better piece, but part of the skill is in planning for both colour density, and in colour development when using the multiple dye baths.

Overall, I was very pleased with the course, and certainly plan to do more of this type of work.  The stitched-resist patterns interest me, and I plan to research more of them to try. Of course, then comes the problem of what to do with all of the beautiful fabric I produce.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bad computer-bad--bad--

Had a bit of bother with the computer, where I lost access to all of my blogs, so was off line for several days.  Now I'm back again, but I'm up to my ears in the Shibori class that I was so excited about.  I'll try to get pictures of some of my pieces up in the next few days. 
What have I learned?  I've learned that things like clamping and pole wrapping are the flashy bits.  The real beauty takes a lot of work, most of it sewing by hand--not my strong suit.  It's still something that I may choose to explore more, but when I can set my own pace. The hand sewing, especially against resistance is just too hard on my hands.