Thursday, September 22, 2011

I am Not in Love

Well, I've been cutting and sewing up the pieces of that batch of eco-dyed fabrics that I showed a glimpse of in my last post, and I believe that the bloom may already be off the rose, so to speak, for my feelings about the whole project.

Number one buzz killer is I am not as crazy about the fabric cut up as I was when it was in larger pieces. If I didn't know better I would have guessed that this quilt top was made out of earthy, looking batiks. Not appealing to me in the least. (I say "earthy" but in truth it's actually bad memories of baby poop colors which comes to my mind!)

(And let's face it... this is a pretty uninspired, been there done that, layout. Can anyone say ZZZzzzzzzz? What was I thinking???)

The second buzz kill is that I thought I better do a light fastness test. So I grabbed 3 pieces of scraps, covered them partially with a piece of paper, and taped them to a window. Here are the results after just 2 day, (and that was 2 cloudy and rainy days)...

If you look at the markers on either side and draw a straight line across, you can see that the top half is already faded. Yikes! (And yes, I used mordants). On the up side, maybe after this quilt has faded I will like it a bit better... who knows? I really don't think I could like it any worse!

And just for the record, I'm not giving up, (yet) I want to poke around a bit with rust dyeing... maybe that rose will stay blooming a wee bit longer then this one did!

P.S. As for this ugly quilt top... well, I am now thinking about digging a hole and burying it, (seriously) then digging it back up in the spring to see what happens. Years ago I saw a quilt at a show where the artist had buried the fabrics in a riverbed, and let mother nature take her course, (the natural decaying and marking that occurred was fascinating). Ever since viewing that work, I have wanted to bury fabric. Seeing as this quilt is DOA already, I mine as well give it a proper send-off and hope for a better reincarnation!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fun With Eco Dying

Like a lot of folks out there, I seem to be catching the eco dyeing bug. For those of you who haven't yet heard, eco dyeing is the practice of adding pigment to your cloth through eco friendly, low impact ways, which can include wrapping and bundling various plant material into cloth and leaving it outside in the elements, (the longer the better) or steaming/boiling it, as well as using natural materials to create dyes or stains.

Natural materials for brewing dye could include teas and coffees, various garden plants, as well as spices right from your kitchen cupboard. (Just remember that many garden plants can be toxic, so even though this is eco-friendly, you should still proceed with caution and educate yourself on what you are using.) A great resource to begin this experimental process is India Flint's book Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles.

The colors and patterns on these fabrics were achieved by various means and methods, many of which I combined, including: wrapping/bundling yard material in the cloth and leaving outside in the elements, wrapping and tying cloth around sticks, dying cloth in various combinations of ingredients, including teas and kitchen spices. (Turmeric makes an awesome yellow!) Mordants, (a substance that helps to open up the fibers and set the color into the fabric) included dyeing the fabrics in aluminum pots, (set apart only to use for fabric dying), along with adding either copper pennies, vinegar, lemon juice, or salt. Different mordants can produce different results, and technically, (from what I can tell, keeping in mind that I am still woefully ignorant on this) vinegar and lemon juice are not true mordants, they are simply acidic substances that can change the dye color, and help set it.

This cloth was made by first brewing in tea. While still wet, I laid it out on a flat surface then applied dots of mud mixed with yogurt. After allowing the mud to dry, I removed the mud mixture, (very time consuming... I thought it would just soak off, but I had to soak, scrap, repeat, repeat, repeat). The final result was a subtle large polka-dot pattern surrounded by lines created as the tea soaked fabric dried. Pretty cool, huh?

Have a great week Everyone!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Studio!

Yes! I finally have a room of my very own!

For the last 15 years I have done the bulk of my work in an ever increasingly crowded and small section of our bedroom. This last year I found that it had gotten to the point where I could no longer think clearly, or create freely in that space. I had simply outgrown it.

Now, at the end of spring when my eldest daughter graduated from college and was making arrangements to officially move out on her own, I decided that it was time to make the move, turning her old room into my new studio. I was practically chomping at the bit.

But much to my surprise, the emotional act of doing so was way more difficult for me then I had ever imagined. This was her room, and claiming it as my own was a bit bitter-sweet. However, the realization that fall was right around the corner kicked my melancholy butt into high gear and I am so happy with the results!

Here's a little tour...

My goal was to create a space that: utilized furnishings which we already had on hand, provided different work spaces for various projects, be organized, and contain some open spaces. This was a challenge as the room is only 12' x 12' 10", and one wall is taken up mostly by a pair of windows, while another wall has odd angles and is taken by a closet and a door.

The above photo shows the office space; computer, printer, books, files, etc. As well as a cutting table and sewing space. The chair from the computer can easily swing around and be the chair used to sit at the sewing machine. The walls were painted a happy and calming soft yellow-green. (On my monitor they look more yellow in these shots, but in reality are actually more on the green side.)

The closet provides nice storage space for a lot of the items that cluttered up my previous space. It's wonderful to have them handy when needed, but quickly put out of view when not! As I sew I can keep the one door open and have easy access to threads, needles, presser feet, and scissors, etc. without having them strewn all over my work space.

Here is a second sewing area... perfect for small projects, or when my youngest daughter feels like sewing. Bowls of thread on top, and boxes of thread underneath. Fabrics that I use most frequently are stored on some low shelving. (Ironically the furniture in this section was bought 30 years ago by my parents when I moved out on my own and they converted my old bedroom into there new office space!) To the left of the machine, (covered in red) is my small metal vintage Structo Artcraft table top loom, which can be moved to the center of the table that it sits on and worked when the mood strikes. This area also has some open floor space, along with a nice view of our maple tree out front!

Besides just having a whole room to myself, the thing that I am most excited about is having a large design wall, which I have never had before and am oh so anxious to use! This was the only item, (besides wall paint) that I spent any money on. I pretty much followed the instructions found here, on Oh, Fransson! and am delighted with the results!

The only thing that I did different was that I substituted 8 smaller sheets of extra thick foam board, (found at the craft store) for the 2 large sheets of insulation foam board found at the hardware store. I believe this cost me a little extra cash, but as it was raining buckets at the time I went in search of materials, I was happy to forgo some savings in order to avoid the struggle of fitting long and large items into the back of my small Saturn station wagon.

The board is secured to the wall, (and believe me when I say that with held breath and crossed fingers!) with multiple strips of 3M Command Damage-Free Picture and Frame hanging strips, and for an extra gravity resistance measure I also hammered a few nails (wherever there was a wall stud) right under and along the base of the board, so it is actually able to rest on something.

Here's that odd angle I mentioned, but the space behind the door was just right for hanging my rulers. The vintage birdseye maple dresser is a favorite piece of mine, once belonging to my grandparents and provided extra storage space.

And here is Ellie, sitting on top of a matching vintage birdseye maple chair Notice the wonderful worn leather seat that replaced a broken cane seat. My grandfather put that on way before I was ever born and I just love it.

Ellie approves of the new digs and has volunteered to be the official studio mascot. Thank you Ellie!