New Directions: Hand Dyeing Fabric.

The deadline for Christmas gifts is over for another year and we launch right into a plethora of January and February birthdays! However, in the weeks in-betweenI have returned to a craft that has fasinated me for forty years – the art of hand dyeing fabric.

Recently, I came across two scarves that I had done in a master class on Shibori – the art of hand dyeing with indigo. Our instructor was a Japanese Dye Master, from the sister city of where I was living at the time. We spent several days learning the art of sewing our designs into the fabric and then playing in the indigo dye. the results are stunning.

I took that knowledge and did some research on shibori. My take away from my results is that the more precise I am with my folds and the tighter I can make my resists, whether using blocks and clamps, clothespins, or rubber bands, the better I like the resulting designs. Also, I can control the dyeing by varying the thickness on my folds. Smaller pieces of fabric result in more uniform design throughout the fabric. Larger pieces (because the dye does not travel so far) result in a more random design.

Here is a gallery of last last few weeks:

Accordian pleated, folded into triangle, bound with sticks becomes this:

IMG_0720           IMG_0721

Accordian pleated, using a triangle block and clamps resulted in these two:IMG_0734

IMG_0731             IMG_0737


Same technique with the circle block (this one needs some experimentation to get the circle shape more prevalent ):

IMG_0704       IMG_0722

And perhaps my favorite so far – wooden clothespins:


Next up: The resluts of these dyeing sprees. Stay tuned!

The Mystery of PiIlow Beds

Mom, she said, can you make us some pillow beds? They would be great for the boys to play on, read on, watch a show… So I researched pillow beds (there are a couple of great online explanations), and launched into the pursuit of fabric and pillows – I found sale fabric and decided on king sized pillows.  Of course two pillow beds turned into four, one for the cousin and one for the nineteen year old step-daughter who is living on her own! Did I take photos of them before they were over run by chidlren? Of course not!

Christmas Day: Grandson #1 enjoying his pillow bed.


After dinner:IMG_0744

Later that week:


Comments: *Make sure you leave a good overlap in the back where the pillows are inserted. *These things are heavy when done! *The boys love them.

Every ten Days?

What happened to posting every ten days or so? The holidays have a habit of taking over. Huge christmas sewing project for four grandchildren;November birthdays and an anniversary; playing with my new order of fiber reactive dyes; using my printing blocks; replacing the furnace in the middle of the cold snap; trying to talk myself back into an exercise program - you know life has this habit of taking over...

So stay tuned for the next few posts of bed bags and fabric dyeing; quilting and new ideas.

Charlies’ Shirts: Thoughts on the process of making memory quilts.

She gave me six shirts, six men’s long sleeved shirts, in all different colors and patterns. Make a quilt she said. Make two I thought. But would this be enough material for two quilts? These were not colors that I would choose to put together. How was this going to work?
I had researched memory quilts. And how to make a quilt from recycled shirts… take the buttons off one said. Here is how to cut the shirt up said another… cut around the labels; discard the edges and the button holes; break down the pockets.
Take the buttons off? Why? Buttons, cuffs and collars, and pockets define a man’s shirt. It is part of the structure of shirt and part of its’ charm. I was compelled to work around these design elements.
In the beginning, I stuck with a very geometric design and added in solid fabrics to complement the colors in the shirts. (photo1) I thought I was maximizing the use of the fabric by doing this. Some of the recycled shirt blogs had snuck in to hold my creativity at bay. The first quilt was going to be the largest. This quilt will go to my bother’s wife. Even though the quilt design is a take off on a Tula Pink pattern, I had to add in a few buttons and labels. It is the most traditional of the four I would end up making.
Still I had all this fabric left and now there were more buttons and pockets and labels to play with. The second quilt was more playful and incorporated more of the shirt elements. This was a quilt for my brother’s best friend. I choose more of the blues and grays, but played with the buttons and the pockets.

Charlie's Shirts 2

Charlie’s Shirts 2

Somewhere in this conversation of quilt making, my son informs me he wants a Charlie Shirt quilt too! So off we go again – more of the greens in this one and a more playful approach to this quilt number three.

Charlie's Shirts 3

Charlie’s Shirts 3

I have the squares for a fourth cut out. I made my daughter a pillow,

Pillow on the piano.

Pillow on the piano.

my nephew will get a pillow and my grandson a scrap bear! All made out of Charlie’s Shirts. This reminds me of a marvelous children’s book called Charlie’s Shirt by Tomi de Paola. Maybe when I give these quilts to their new owners I will include this book.
In the end, the artist in me could not cut these shirts into squares and just sew them together. The buttons and the labels, the colors and the fabrics, told part of the story of who this brother was and I played with those elements. I had fun while I cried and remembered.

Getting Started: My First Blog Post

I started out as a ceramic artist. Thus, Into the Fire.…My emphasis was on playing in clay with shape and color. Over the years other things took priority and now at this juncture in my life I have returned mostly to the fiber arts. I cannot say that dyeing, printing, and cutting up fabric is less messy then playing with clay, but it is easier to start and put aside for momnets with family and grandchildren. I am stilling experimenting wth shape and color.

Occasionally I have things to say about the fiber arts. This blog will be an opportunity to display my art and to discuss current trends in the fiber arts in my life. Stayed tuned…