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.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

St. John's Wort

Hello! It is a busy summer, but sometimes you just have to take advantage of what is blooming. St John's Wort, while known as an anti-depressant also happens to be a dye plant and considered invasive, so chop away at it!

This is what it looks like

I simmered the flowers until the liquid turn red

St John's is magical in that you can put different fibers in at the same time or in various order of submersion to get different results. This is linen and silk and you can already see the change starting to happen! 

The tags tell the story. The cotton with no mordant didn't do much, the silk turned pinky brown. Adding alum to the dye pot itself gave green on the cotton and a kind of mustard on the silk

The linen with an alum mordant was put in at the same time as silk with no mordant. The linen turned green and the silk is pink. After removing those I put in un-mordanted silk and left overnight to get the taupe-brown. What you are supposed to do after removing that is to put in a cellulose fiber with an alum pre-mordant and simmer for about 30 minutes. It is supposed to turn yellow. Which it did. I decided to let it set for a bit to see if it would get darker. Well, when you completely forget about it and come back a day and half later, you get the rusty-red of the sample in the lower right-hand corner. I like that better anyway! Since the directions I was following were for wool, I assume the colors are probably more vibrant on wool, but I got a kick out of doing this and it is helpful to show the role mordants play in natural dyeing. My results may not have been as bright because I was using what is technically called plant tops, not just the flowers. I didn't have it in me to cut each and every dime size flower.

As I said, St John's Wort is invasive and dangerous to cattle. If they eat it they can become so sensitive to the sun they literally sunburn to death. It was discovered that the least toxic and most effective way to get rid of the plant was to bring its natural predator over from its home environment. The black smudge in the middle of this image is a really pretty little iridescent beetle that does nothing with its day but suck the life out of St John's Wort. There is little chance of it becoming a pest as it doesn't eat anything else, just this plant. Once the plants are gone, there is no more beetle either.  This is a case in point for not hauling plant material and seeds from one continent to another. Anyway, I did my best to help the little guy out!

If you would like more concrete instructions, check out India Flint's Eco Colour and Jenny Dean's Wild Color. I improvised a bit with each set of instructions to be able to work with the materials I had on hand.


Monday, July 9, 2018


"Procrastination is not an excuse; it is a feeling of certainty that now is the time to wait."
Rhonda Uretzky

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Changing it Up

Just thought I would let you know I have a necklace featured in the July issue of Jewelry Affair Magazine. Sometimes I like to mess around with other craft just to see where it goes.

Now that I am back from out of town shows, I hope to post more work pictures and ideas, stay tuned.

Friday, June 8, 2018

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255

"Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund." Anthony Bourdain

On top of Kate Spade, missing children, and all the rest, this news is so very saddening. Although not a cook by nature, I so enjoyed his shows as they allowed me to travel to places I probably will never see in person. They were about so much more than cooking. Rest in Peace.
Again, that number is 1-800-273-8255

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Busy, Busy

"The eyes of others are our prisons; their thoughts our cages."
Virginia Woolf 

Collecting materials

At this time of year the steamer pot barely has time to cool off.

There is always time to do an experiment or two, this shirt was mordanted with acorns, it turned pink!

Everybody seems to be busy at this time of year, the bumble bees are all over the comfrey plant.

But you have to allow time to sit and stare at the sky sometimes or you miss stuff like this.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


"You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures."
Elizabeth Gilbert

Garden phlox out in the wild.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Be Fearless, Nothing will Explode

Or probably not anyway. And whatever happens, the art police won't come and arrest you.

I have had a lot of things rolling around in my head lately. The first being the missives that appear in my email inbox almost daily assuring me that if I take an online art class I will achieve great spiritual awakening. Haven't clicked on the links yet so I am not sure what enlightenment is going for these days. The next thing to pop up when I was dinking around on my phone instead of dealing with the laundry was the Sylvia Plath quote I shared the other day about self doubt being the enemy of creativity. Hmm. 

Laying out Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Cottonwood catkins, Oregon Grape flowers, and Knapweed on very wet silk-sorry about the grid showing through. The catkins are a bit of an experiment. Needless to say, since they are red, I was hoping they impart red.
I guess these things haunt my thoughts because I am getting ready to hit the road (more about that in a moment) and people come through the booth and say things like "There are so many creative people in the world, I am not one of them" or "I never would have thought to do THAT." Never quite sure what that last one means-but I will take it as a compliment. Teaching is also planned for the summer and in every class there is at least one person that is afraid to do anything "wrong" or is severely disappointed when whatever they are doing doesn't come out exactly as they envisioned it to start with. This leads me to a cartoon I saw that went something like this:
Character 1: "You draw really well."
Character 2: "Thanks, I practice a lot."
Character 1: "It must be some God given natural gift."
Character 2: "Well, maybe, but I practice every day."
Character 1: "I wish I could draw like that."
Character 2: "Why don't you practice?"
Fact is if you never just say "To hell with it, let's see what happens!" you will not get far. That is why I try to show experiments here. The world of plants, natural dyeing, and eco printing is very large. There are in most cases several routes to the same goal. I may not end up with what I had hoped would happen, but I always learn something. And yes, it can be what not to do, but it also can lead to something wonderful that just needs some tweaking or becomes a step to another process.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot and Cottonwood catkins with rusted nails as the mordant. In this case Oregon Grape flowers did not react to the iron mordant so I am doing a sample with alum mordant to see if they will impart color that way. The catkins are the grayish green squiggles in between the leaf prints. No red, but very pretty anyway.

This is another sample with the same plants and mordant as above, but it got a post rinse in an alum and cream of tartar rinse. It brightened the colors, the greens have a yellow cast and the catkins turned almost turquoise, which is very water-like and quite striking.
Almost everybody has something they excel at and they would not be successful at it if the creative process didn't enter into it. Their job, cooking, gardening, child rearing-the list could go on and on. If you really do feel that not being a maker of some sort is leaving an empty space in your life, go for it. Take a simple class to start with, there are many out there to choose from; get some friends together and do the "drink and draw" thing or take a clay or jewelry class from a local guild or shop. Learn to say "Why not?" instead of just "Why?". Look, I can't promise you a great spiritual enlightenment experience, and being of the Zen Buddhist ilk I wouldn't try (we are all about the here and now). I am simply encouraging you to give up preconceived notions as to what art and creativity are as well as ditching the notion of "right and wrong" in order to find your own voice. Once you come across the medium that you find fascinating doing it over and over becomes something you can't wait to do; the excellence at it is simply the byproduct of your enthusiasm for that medium.

Come see what I have been up to this weekend at The Moscow Renaissance Fair, East City Park, Moscow Idaho on Saturday and Sunday. Don't forget to check out the classes in the box on the right side of the page-sign up soon!

Every art fair should have a dragon.