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.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Waiting for Spring

"The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel."
Piet Mondrian 1872-1944

Working with some very old pressed leaves passed along to me by a friend. They still work!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Leave it to Beaver

While out walking a few weeks ago I discovered the beavers had been busy harvesting the cottonwoods along the river. They left many little chips and pieces around, so being the hoarder that I am, I picked up a sack's worth and brought them home. I thought I had read somewhere that the inner bark layer was used for medicine and dye. After further research I did find it listed as a medicine, but not a dye. This has never stopped me before. After the soaking I opened the jar and it had this tannin smell, so I figured it should be good for something.

Beavers in action

I put the chips in a jug of rainwater and let them set for several days

Note the color change in the water

I put the liquid in a pan and put in various pieces of fabric. This is not entirely scientific, as I put in two pieces of silk, one pretreated with alum and one with steel wool along with two pieces of cotton that had no pretreatment. After this I treated one piece of cotton with alum and one with copper liquor. As you can see, not much to write home about. I decided to eco print on the samples to see what would come of that. The backgrounds on all of these are darker than they appear here, I am still fumbling around with the new phone camera. While I have no idea how much tannin may actually be in cottonwood bark, it did smell that way and I do think the prints on the cotton are darker and more detailed than they would have been otherwise. On the silk there wasn't that much difference one way or the other. We will see what happens down the road when I get around to rinsing them out.

Cotton with alum. Maples and dry hollyhock

Cotton with copper mordant. Maples, eucalyptus.

Silk with alum. Various maples
Silk with steel wool. Maples and dry hollyhock.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


"One gets into a state of creativity by conscious work."
Henri Matisse 1869-1954

Hope, 2018 collage: paper, felt

Monday, March 19, 2018


"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."
Alice Walker

Cabbage rolls, alas, they will not stay purple. They will however, end up a lovely shade of cornflower blue, one of my favorites!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Spring, Finally

"I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding."
John O'Donohue

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tea Anyone?

Last winter I messed around with hibiscus tea, but didn't take enough notes to remember what I did or didn't do. So this time around I decided to take more pictures and notes. I laid out four scarves with various dry leaves and sprinkled the dry hibiscus tea around them. All scarves were treated with some sort of rust first.

As you can see, the leaf prints are pretty diffuse, but look at that pink!
This is just being washed in a cold water bath with a bit of shampoo.

As expected, most of the pink turned blue after various post treatments. Click on the picture to enlarge in order to really see the differences. Alas, no pink, or almost none, but an interesting selection of blues and lavenders. I personally like the one that was washed with no post treatment the best. When we get closer to summer, I may try this again with a scarf pretreated with alum instead of rust.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Since you may be wondering about the picture of beige fabric in the last post, here is what that is about. I love finding something to do with a plant or plant material that is really prolific, bordering on being a nuisance. For instance, knapweed is one of my favs-it is everywhere and is as beloved by gardeners as much as starlings are loved by birdwatchers (not). So, piles and piles of horse chestnuts are only too tempting. I have done posts in the past about them and made laundry soap out of the nuts themselves. Since they and their hulls are sort of gnarly; meaning they have a lot of tannins and saponins etc., this time I wondered if there was any possibility of using them as a mordant or co-mordant. I also was trying to figure out if it is worth saving them from year to year or to simply go out and get what one needs for the season and let the squirrels have the rest, being one of the few animals that actually eats them. I had old and new hulls to work with. For the eco printing part I used dried and pressed Red Maple leaves (acer rubrum) as those things will print on darn near anything under almost any conditions. 

First I put the hulls to soak for about 3 weeks or so. I thought it was interesting that the old ones sank and the new ones floated and were still this way at the end of the soaking period. I poured each jar in its own pot and simmered for about an hour, no boiling. I strained off the liquid and returned it to the individual pots. Then I added one small piece of plain silk crepe and one piece with an alum pre-mordant to each pot and simmered for an hour, again, no boiling. I let it set overnight to intensify the color.

The top two are from the pot with old chestnut hulls, the bottom two with the new ones. The darker fabrics are crepe with alum pre-mordant and the lighter fabrics are no mordant. 
This is the silk crepe with no mordant and new hulls, but a wee bit of contamination from some stray steel wool-that is what the black squiggles are. Cameras drive me to distraction-the pink is not nearly this bright in real life.

This is the fabric with new hulls and alum premorndant.
This is with old hulls and alum as the mordant.

This is from old hulls on plain silk. I decided to see what would happen if I gave it a dip in an iron pot with water and vinegar-and that is how I ended up with the not too exciting beige fabric pictured the other day. Sometimes if you give vague prints a dip in iron water of some sort they get over being shy and show up-but not in this case. At any rate, I learned what to do or not do the next time around.
I guess I concluded that it is better to use the new hulls rather than the old and that as a mordant by themselves, the hulls alone are not grusome enough to really be a mordant. However, I did like the alum pre-mordant and then eco printing on top of that. The result is a lot more zingy in real life than the photo and would be a way to get some green in the winter. I am going to let them hang out for a bit and then give them a wash later on to check on the longevity of the color. As mentioned above the nuts themselves are known for making soap. Supposedly if you do it with totally neutral water it actually acts as a "blueing" like our grannies used to make yellowed sheets appear white. I could never get that to work, but it does clean up fabric pretty well.  Due to the saponin content though it is probably no safer than regular laundry soap and is not to be used as soap on skin. As to the name of the post, in Britain and Ireland there is a traditional children's game using the nuts (called conkers); to my understanding the nut is threaded on string and each child swings theirs around to try to break the other's. In terms of safety it sounds like it is somewhere between lawn darts and dodgeball, being closer to dodgeball end of the spectrum.