Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist. My current emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with me on Facebook at Drye Goods Studio.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Meet Megan Perkins

Megan Perkins is a Spokane area artist that has a really wonderful eye for catching the feeling of our city. She is a fellow member of Pottery Place Plus, an artist cooperative gallery now in in its fortieth year. Megan has made a name for herself with a series she calls "Artist's Eye on Spokane". For the past four years or so, she felt the urge to explore Spokane in depth, to celebrate its traditions and landmarks. She spent fifty-two weeks making paintings and sketches, a new topic each week. This work has been very well received and now she would like to publish the images in a book entitled what else but "Artist Eye on Spokane". Please visit her Kickstarter campaign to get the details and help get it off the ground!

Megan with sketchbook in hand

1. Have you always been an artist?

"I have always been an artist. I drew all the time as a kid and was obsessed with paper and pens and coloring. I have memories of being 6 or 7 years old, staying up late drawing pictures based on my Lion King coloring books. I kept sketchbooks and drew all through high school and college along with taking classes in drawing, printmaking, and painting. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy during my college years, spending hours in museums all over Europe with my face inches from the works of  the Old Masters."

You can see the influence of the Old Masters in this lovely landscape

2. Why did you pick the media you work in now? How do you describe your work?

"I work in watercolor because it is portable, easy to clean, dries quickly, and doesn't involve a ton of chemicals or special equipment. I started out using watercolor casually in high school, but it became an essential part of my art practice when I went to college. I used watercolors regularly in my sketchbook both to capture my everyday life and during my traveling adventures in my year abroad. I would describe my work as colorful and whimsical. I frequently use black pens with my watercolor work to make the lines pop and add detail. This is in part, born of my years sketching and drawing from life-I need to get the subject down fast in case I have to leave before I can get paint on the drawing. Pen also doesn't smudge the way pencil does in a sketchbook that gets shoved in and out of bags on a trip."

The Garland Theater, Spokane Washington

The Monroe Street Bridge, Spokane Washington. 

3. What inspires you?

"My daily life and travels inspire me. I draw when I go on family trips, to the the theater, to friend's houses, pretty much everywhere. I am interested in recording how I spend my life, deriving beauty and enjoyment from the process. Other times, I am struck by an interesting architectural feature, the clouds, amazing light, colors, etc. and I make a work driven by those elements rather than by my desire to fill my time, record my adventures, or hone my skills. Either way, I get to draw and paint and I'm happy."

Drawing from life

4. Tell us about your process. Do you have a favorite tool or piece of equipment?

"I usually start with a pencil or pen drawing and then add watercolors on top. My favorite pen is the Pentel Pocket brush because it has an amazingly flexible brush tip and waterproof black ink. I do a lot of sketching while out of the studio so I also love my Escoda travel brush. I have a ten year old Winsor Newton watercolor travel kit that I treasure because of all the wonderful places I've gone with it. I also don't clean it very often so it is usually a mess."

The daily paper-The Spokesman-Review is housed in this building.

5. Why do you like the co-op environment at Pottery Place Plus? What do you get out of it besides sales?

" My favorite thing about the co-op is the people. It is so great to get to talk shop with other artistic people who have had their own creative businesses for much longer than me. I can pick their brains and we can share the trials and tribulations of being entrepreneurs together."

Remember to  check out the details for her book and Kickstarter Campaign

Visit her website

She can be found on Facebook as Artist Eye on Spokane or Meagan Perkins Art

*images are used with the permission of Megan Perkins, she reserves all rights.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Color Red

I came across a writing prompt that said to pick a color and watch for it all day, then write about it. Since this is the season of commerce (places you can catch up with me are at the end of this post) and not much in the way of creating in the studio goes on, writing will have to do. I have to make something every day or I get crabby.

A woman was standing in my booth one time and ask me what was the hardest color to obtain. Since I don't really think about what I do in those terms, it kind of took me by surprise, but after a quick glance around I said "Well, if you take a look there isn't much in the way of red, in fact, no red at all." At that point I explained that while there were several options in natural dyes to obtain red, not many of them grow around here. For the most part I limit myself to what is available in the area, I figure I have already used up my carbon allotment by working on imported silk and then I also avoid dealing with the question of how a given dye stuff was harvested and shipped. Madder root, a traditional dye plant, is considered hardy to zone 5 so in the right position in the yard it would probably grow here, but it is a pretty big commitment. If it gets going it has to be in a raised bed as it can be invasive and it takes at least two years for the acid in the roots to be strong enough to make the dye, three to four years is better. Since actual whole cloth dyeing is not really my thing, it seems like a lot of work. We have its obnoxious little relative here, Lady's Bedstraw, that to my understanding will make some sort of a pink. Considering how invasive this naturally occurring plant is in the garden, you would think I would be all over it. Trying to find its roots however, is pretty challenging. They are very fine and you end up plowing up an entire garden plot just to finally get enough to work with. I decided it was just better to rip the plants off the top and dry them for a tea that is supposed to ward off kidney stones, a malady I hope I never get again, so I am willing to do about anything.  

Here is the red I saw in the last couple of days. Eastern Washington has entered the gray time of year. The sky is very often gray with fog, and unless there is snow, the ground gets gray and muddy as well. It gets dark early, Google informs me that sunset will be at 4:21 PM today. Red pops out.

Hawthorn leaf in a pile of cherry leaves

Hawthorn berries that will be picked off by the birds all winter

Mountain cranberries, also bird food.

As I was walking across the yard I thought I saw a bright red piece of fabric stuck in the border garden. It was this little rose bush putting out its last effort for the year! I was so surprised as we have had some really cold nights already, I guess it just had one more thing to say.
Anyway, you can catch up with me in at the following shows, and of course my work is always at Pottery Place Plus, 203 N Washington, Spokane, WA

Tonight I will have jewelry and scarves at The Inland Empire Gardeners' monthly meeting at Centerplace 2426 N Discovery Place, Spokane Valley WA. The market runs from 6-7 PM, meeting starts at 7:00

The Spokane Women's Club 5th Annual Artisans and Crafters Show, 1428 W 9th Ave. Spokane, Wa This Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 10-4

Custer's Christmas Arts and Crafts Show
Spokane Fair and Expo Center 404 N Havana St, Spokane Valley, WA
November 16th-18th Friday 10-8; Saturday 9-6; Sunday 10-4

Urban Art Cooperative's Holiday Market
3209 N Monroe, Spokane, WA
November 30th-December 2nd
Friday preview 6-9; Saturday 10-6; Sunday 10-4

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Rainbow Colors

Silk cocoons are where silk thread comes from. Believe it or not, about one mile of silk thread comes from one of these little cocoons. There are many videos that show how this is done, since I am never sure about the whole "cookie" warning thing, I will leave you to explore that on your own.

I am going to use them to make tassels for journals and didn't want to go through a giant hassle to get colors that would "match" the fabric covers for the journals so the first challenge was to use what I had around in the way of dye stuffs. I had some red wine, tea bags, walnut dye that was already made up, and for this purpose tansy dye is no big deal to whip up in a flash. I say "for this purpose" as these will never be wet or washed, so while the picture does explain a bit about pre-mordants and adjuncts not all of this would be applicable to dyeing fabric. While I did enlarge the image, it will probably be helpful to click on it in order to read the labels.

I gave them a quick soak in a weak alum solution I had already, I did warm it up a bit and let them sit for a half hour or so. Then I soaked all but the walnut for about a half hour in the dye bath and then gave some of them a very quick dip in my rusted water jar and set them to dry. Walnut is so dark already that dipping it in rusted water seemed redundant. I found it interesting that the black tea turned black when exposed to the iron in the water. It is the reaction of the tannins in the tea that caused this.
The color in the top picture is more accurate, but I do love playing with the filters on the phone!
The journals will eventually end up in Pottery Place Plus, they are mini versions of the binder type art journals I have done in the past, give me a week or so to get them in the shop.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Happy Halloween!

"Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good."

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Sometimes natural dyeing does look like witchcraft. The dodgy looking liquid in the big jar is rusted water. The three smaller jars contain red wine, black tea, and hibiscus tea. The murky stuff in the bowl is walnut dye. I was playing around dyeing silk cocoons, results later in the week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Back to Work!

"I thought art was a verb, rather than a noun."
Yoko Ono

New Greeting Cards for Pottery Place Plus.

Not sure how all this will end up.

More zen bracelets for Pottery Place Plus.

Fodder for next year's day planner. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Demons and (Possible) Evil Doers

No, this isn't about politics. Since I have noticed Instagram posts going by about plant collection I thought I would talk about plants that look like other plants and for those out collecting to confuse them will come to no good end.

Let's talk about Virginia Creeper and our buddy Poison Ivy. Both are listed in The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms. A book, by the way, if read from cover to cover might inspire some to never leave the house again! It includes plants like tomato, potato, onions, garlic, and most of the peppers, not to mention things like tobacco and marijuana. They do point out that if one only consumes what is the generally accept edible part of the plant and only in normal food quantities there should be no problem. In other words, if you were thinking about using tomato or potato leaves on a salad-DON'T-they are poisonous nightshades! They have nothing good to say about tobacco or marijuana at all,  which to some might seem kind of judgemental, but I digress. So, it is important to do some study from reliable sources to know what you should never touch in any way and what is ok to do and under what circumstances.

Starting with poison ivy, the reason it is so poisonous is that it contains a combination of urushiols in every single part of it from root to tip. These chemicals, also found in poison oak and poison sumac (not to be confused with Staghorn or Bald Sumac which are trees), are a severe allergen to most all humans. The severity of the reaction is like a lot of allergies, it can be severe at one time in life, fade away and can come roaring back later on. Even the dried leaves or stems clinging to burning firewood can cause those that inhale it to go into anaphylaxis and touching the dried foliage in leaf litter can lead to a nasty blistering rash.  It is even possible to spread the urushiols around in the washing machine, giving your blistering rash to everybody else in the house! So, needless to say, this would not be a plant one would want to dye or eco print with-EVER!!!

Here is an ideal shot of poison ivy up close. The problem with pictures like this is that "ideal" is not how nature grows. The amount of rain, sunlight or soil conditions can make plants in the same area look very different from one another. There is also a western version (pictured here) and an eastern one. When green, I think they look like wilted philodendron vines and it can be really hard to see the "leaves of three" that you are supposed to let be, so it is important to become familiar with what plants look like throughout the year. 

This is Virginia Creeper, also a native plant. As you can see the leaf shape is very different from poison ivy. It has five leaflets and in this case, it is much lighter in color. Once again, this varies from plant to plant quite a bit. This well watered marauder is trying to take over the corner of my yard, with less water it would be more the same color as the poison ivy pictured above, it may have lost leaflets throughout the year, so might appear to have "leaves of three" as the old saying goes.
So, if you spend a lot of time on social media pages about botanical printing or searching for such things on Pinterest, you may have noticed that people talk about using Virginia Creeper. But wait, it's listed as a poisonous plant-right? Well, yes. There is an apparently verified death of child from eating the berries (just because birds eat berries doesn't mean we should) and in the process of trying to figure out what the chemical compounds are in the berries (apparently they still don't know), they have managed to send some lab animals to their great reward. So if you wear gloves, wash your hands and keep it out of your mouth it puts it on par with many other dye plants, a lot of which can be somewhat gnarly. My personal experience with it is that with pre applied rust to silk it can make a really nice print, but getting the uncooperative little leaf to lay flat is a rather frustrating experience. I have never tried to make a dye with it. While I have come across some lovely shots of simmering pots full of color, the sites that I go to for solid info say it isn't a very substantive dye and from what I can see you have to use some of the more wicked mordants to get anything at all. Since I put a limit on what mordants I use, Virginia Creeper dye will probably never be in my future. 

This is a stand of poison ivy growing over by the Spokane River. 

This mass of uninvited Virginia Creeper is in my yard. I waited a few days for it to get to the really maroon shade so you could see just how easy it would to be confuse the two at a distance. Oh! And did I mention they twine around each other out in the wild? They like the same growing conditions and so if you are going to experiment with Virginia Creeper make sure there isn't something else lurking in there with it.

Monday, October 15, 2018