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.
Ok, don't get excited, it won't stay that color, but I just had to take a picture of it. I used smaller pieces of silk jacquard for this as I like the play of the eco print on the finely textured fabric. The leaves I am using are maple leaves collected and pressed in the fall along with dried tansy and frozen iris petals. You may wish to wear gloves for this part as the iris petals do a fine job of turning your cuticles blue.
This is the other sample I did, again the dried and pressed maple but this time I added onion skins and frozen marigolds Both of the above samples were pre-mordanted with rusted objects.
Steam for an hour and allow to set until almost dry.
The top picture is the sample with the iris, as you can see the color is more muted, but still a lovely shade of blue. The second is the sample with marigold and onion skin. The green flecks in the second one are the marigold, which, like a lot of flowers that make yellow, make green when exposed to iron or rust. The onion skins vary from a gold tone to green to black depending on how much contact they had with the rust.
"It adds up to something else. Life is not, after all, made up of grand moments, grand gestures, glorious achievements. Life is made up of many days filled with small things. Shopping, going to the post office, using the telephone, keeping house-these make up the chief sum of our days. And to me, it seems infinitely greater to make all the people one sees feel a little happier for it than to paint a masterpiece or be in the bright lights on Broadway. After we are all gone down the river of time, the simple kindness of those who fulfill their daily tasks graciously will overbalance any special feat."
I have been putting this off for some time but decided to get on it. My mother's family can be traced back to the 1300's in England. They settled in Iowa and I have good memories of visiting the homestead farm. My mother drug all this stuff home intending to organize it and never did. Now I am working on it, today's find is a slip of paper giving instructions for dyeing fabric. I am making a guess that Great Aunt Lucy wrote this down, since I am getting to the point of recognizing the other's hand writing. She never married and it sounds like she took care of everybody from her aging mother to single siblings to farm hands and on and on. She had a degree in art and I have a few samples of her work. I can't tell from the rather cryptic notes whether this is for plant dyes or some sort of "new fangled" synthetic dye, she was born in 1860 so it is possible she was trying out a synthetic dye. I found this in an envelope with her cookbook. In addition to recipes cut from the newspaper, it also contains some rather bad poetry, also clipped from the paper, I may have to share some of that at some point.
The yellowed slip of paper to the left of the black journals is the dye instruction, the large photo to the right is of my great grandfather and his siblings, Lucy included.
It was about time as I found some things that had been in there way too long. That went into the compost pile and I moved on to what was usable. If the zip bags are full of too much frost the flowers are probably not good for much. I decided to do some jar dyes and a couple of steam prints on some silk jacquard I had sitting around. I like the way eco printing looks on a textured fabric (sometimes).
My advice on saving stuff in the freezer would be to actually break the flowers apart and use containers or bags that allow you to expel extra air. This keeps the materials in good condition and takes up less room than trying to store whole flower heads. They won't print anyway, just help to dye the background of the fabric.
First the jar dyes. Normally one would set these up and put them in a sunny window to pleasantly cook away over several months. Since there is little chance of that much sun at this time of the year in Spokane, when I finished them I set them in a bread pan on a heat register in the living room. Not terribly romantic, but it does help to be able to keep an eye on them. Sometimes this sort of thing gets a bit fizzy.
The method for this is to layer the fabric and plant materials very densely and then pour some sort of liquid over the top and put on the lid. If you are going to process them in a boiling water bath you would want to use actual canning jars and keep pressing everything down as you fill the jar to get as much air out as possible or they will spew all over the canner and you will lose a lot of your liquid. I did it once and decided for my purposes it wasn't worth wasting the energy on it. The colors lost their vibrancy, the jars were still little bacteria farms and what color was achieved was just as fugitive as the jars that simply sat around for months with no cooking. I use this method to eco print on, so I thoroughly expect that the color achieved in the jars will change. It seems like a very long first step, but the results can be amazing.
Think about the way things smell before doing this. If it is pungent to begin with, after a couple of months it could be horrifying. Take it from me, don't use seaweed or dried woad for this method. EVER.
The jar on the left has in it what I call "Kim's Iris" as that is the friend that gave them to me. They are so purple they are almost black. There is also some dried tansy flowers and red tea in there as well. I poured boiling water over it to get some action going. The second jar is marigold and onion skins with the remains of the morning coffee as the fluid. Both pieces of fabric were pretreated with rusted nails or steel wool, which also involves vinegar and salt, so that would be the pre-mordant.
Hopefully, I will remember to show you what happened in a few months. The next post will be about actually using frozen stuff in an eco print.
From the looks of this blog, not much! Actually, in addition to activities like cleaning the studio and the show truck, catching up on book work and housework, I also catch up with other art forms and friends. I have been hanging out at Urban Art Co-op, a ceramics maker's space in Spokane. Mostly, I have been doing pendants for future eco print projects, but I did get a chance to help with the holiday fundraiser and that was fun.
This one is a raku pendant with an eco printed scarf, it took me forever to figure out how to do the clasp, but I finally found the right parts, I am happy with the way it came out. When my Etsy site comes back from holiday vacation, it will be on there.
These are pendants that will get put onto lariats eventually, lots of experimentation with glazes, this has lead me to a lot more ideas, so I had better get on it!
I had done all these little hand pendants last winter and never knew what to do with them. Voila! Handbags! These are currently available at Pottery Place Plus in downtown Spokane.
The next thing I will be doing is cleaning the plant material out of the freezer-I got "the look" from my husband the other day as whatever he was searching for in there was buried by bags of frozen flowers. Can't have Mr. Man on a tear, now can we?
Time for another plant with a creepy sounding name from days of yore. I tend to buy plants off the "half dead" table at the local home center, so the labels are usually gone. What ever this thing was, the plant itself looked like a delphinium, but the flowers were different and it bloomed in the late fall. A couple of weeks ago it was the only thing left blooming out there, so I decided to throw the last of it into a scarf and see what happened.
While it was cooking away I plopped myself down in front of Google to see if I could figure out what it was. After not too much surfing, I discovered it was Monkshood. It is poisonous (of course) and thus the deer don't like it (good enough reason for it to stay in the yard) and it blooms in the late summer and fall which is also a selling feature for me. By the time we get to late summer everything else is cooked in the heat.
I used a smallish piece of silk crepe de chine with steel wool as the pre-mordant. The flowers did impart the smoky, blue/purple to the back ground, I suppose if I used enough of them it would dye the whole background that color, which could be nice. I did throw some of the leaves into other samples, but nothing came of it. At any rate, it was a nice experiment for the last blooming plant in my garden. Now there is a layer of snow out there and everything has gone to sleep for a long winter's nap.
This turned out to be a bit longer project than imagined in that the first time I let it set around too long and it molded. The recipe, such as it is, came off of Wikipedia for better or worse. It called for 20 horse chestnuts to 6 liters of rain water. The first problem was coming up with that much rain water, but if finally started to rain-YEAH! Even so, I went with considerably less water as you can see here.
I let this sit for a couple of days and it did turn milky white.
I strained off the liquid and then let that sit around long enough to let the sediment sink. Then I poured it off into a tub-lots of suds-that is a good sign for soap!
This is the before picture of a stained doily that I used for the experiment.
I let it soak for about an hour and it did get it pretty clean. The weird thing is that in addition to the brown stains it had very faint splatter type pink stains-I think those got even darker, although they don't show well in the picture.
As far as getting linen to turn blue, that didn't happen, so I didn't bother to take any pictures. I would say it is a pretty good cleaning agent, it is possible if I had let it sit over night it would have totally bleached out the stains. I would be interested to see if it would "bleach" colored paper or maybe naturally dyed fabrics. I saved the left overs in a mason jar for further experiments. One should be cautious with this soap as horse chestnuts do contain poisons, so whether it is "safer" than commercial soaps is a question.
Just doesn't have the same ring to it as Throwback Thursday does it? I am not sure what it is about cold gray weather that makes me want to dig around in my book shelves, but here we are. I was looking for something else (of course) and came across these. I have kept them forever as they really inspired me at the time, to the point where I can trace the switch from my retail career to my art career directly to them. I have done embroidery of one sort or another since childhood and at one point, about 30 years ago, I was designing cross stitch patterns for magazines. By today's standards these are what you would call quaint, but after paging through them again I still think they have merit.
Stitches, Patterns and Projects for Needlecraft by Wanda Bonando and Marinella Nava
Copyright 1981, Harper Colophon Books
I was surprised that the copyright for this was from the 80's as it seemed older than that. This book covers about every sort of embroidery there has ever been since the beginning of time. While the projects in it are really conservative, it was a jumping off point for me. I used to check it out over and over from the library and then one day came across a discarded copy at a library sale and just had to have it for my very own.
Mary Martin's Needlepoint by Mary Martin
Copyright 1969 William Morrow and Company
Yes, that would be the Mary Martin of Peter Pan fame. In fact, the picture on the back of the dust cover features her in her costume all stung up for flight. I not only really liked her designs, I got a kick out of how her needlework lived right along her theater and movie career. This was another library book, but then I found a copy at Aunties Books and had to have a copy of it for all of $1.95.
Sylvia Sidney Needlepoint Book
Copyright 1968 Van Nostrand Reinhold Company
Again, I really liked her artwork as well as the fact that she did all or most of her own drawings for the patterns, and showed you how to do it too if you were so inclined. While not particularly interested in needlepoint, I did use her methods to start doing my own cross stitch patterns. This one is also peppered with stories about her career in Hollywood. Again, it was a library book I checked out long ago, but I bet whoever traded in the Mary Martin book at Aunties also traded this one in too, so I had to get it for old time's sake-at a $1.99 who could resist?
The Yestermorrow Clothes Book
by Diana Funaro, copyright 1976, Chilton Book Company
You could say this book inspired my entire art and craft career. I got it while in high school just about the time I learned to drive and was off to the thrift stores in Kansas City! I loved taking vintage clothes (real vintage, from the 20's, 30's and 40's) and rebuilding them. This book had great ideas and great general directions for taking stuff apart. When I look at it today, there are plenty of things in it I would still wear, and in fact, I see on sites like Etsy everyday. She had timeless vision.
Needlework to Wear
by Erica Wilson, copyright 1982, Oxmoor House Inc.
Called the "Julia Child" of needlework, Erica may have been one of the first women to be a "craft powerhouse" long before the quilting girls got going. I remember doing her patterns as a child in the late 1960's and as a teenager in the 70's. Again, I came across this in a library and then found a used copy years later that I had to have just because. I think I found this one fascinating because she did fiber jewelry-and not macramé either! She used very traditional techniques to come up with really modern designs-for the early eighties. Now the clothes in particular look really dated, but at the time this book was ground breaking in that she was not sitting around doing stuff out of the past, she was making contemporary wearables using traditional techniques.
Ok, my tea is cold and whatever I originally started to do still isn't started, so I had better get back at it.
This plant makes a good steam print early in the spring and will make a yellow and green dye. Since the options for yellow are many, I like to turn it green. I start out by harvesting the artemisia. This is the wormwood of absinth fame. It also makes a great bug repellent. While I wouldn't rub it directly on my skin (any plant "active" enough to make a dye or have medicinal properties is also active enough to give you an allergic reaction) you can rub it on your boots and socks to chase away tiny critters trying to bite your ankles. The other handy thing about it is that it is considered a noxious weed in most states and nobody cares if you harvest it. It is quite abundant here in Eastern Washington. It grows in disturbed ground and has a much bigger leaf than our native artemisia, and also a potent sage smell.
I bring it home and chop it up, stems and all and put it in a neutral pot of water, big enough to hold whatever it is that I am dyeing that day. I simmer it for about an hour and then strain off the liquid. I put the liquid back in the neutral pot and then introduce silk fabric that has been pretreated with alum in the normal fashion. I let that simmer for about and hour and allow it to sit overnight. I remove it in the morning and rinse it out in clear water.
These were done just a few weeks ago and are more golden than the samples I did in the spring. Time of year probably made the difference. At this point I could either lay out some steel wool or rusted nails on it with a bit of vinegar water spray and let it sit overnight, or I could boil it in an iron pot for a bit and it turns green. Then I can use it to eco print with whatever makes a print with iron or rust.
The top photo is what it looked like after the nails had been removed and then the bottom image is after the eco print. The next two are finished items, the first a detail of a scarf that was boiled in an iron pot and the second the beaded infinity scarf made from the above samples.
I am always trying to find something to do with things there are plenty of, in this instance, horse chestnuts. They are everywhere in the fall and are something of a nuisance to home owners. I had done a bit last year and vaguely remember the swatches I did coming out kind of beige and were promptly used to eco print with no documentation as to how it all came out. This time, I separated the hulls from the nuts and let those soak for a couple of days. I was really hopeful when I spilled some transferring the soaked hulls to a cooking pot and it left a really kicky orange splash on the floor.
I cooked them for about an hour and then strained out the liquid into several pots. Since I already had dupioni swatches pretreated in various ways I decided to use those. Reading left to right, the first one was treated with soda ash, the second I poured the dye in my trusty iron pot, and the last was a pretreat with alum. The results were nice, but not kicky orange.
The next day or so, I was digging around on the internet and found a post on the February Twelve Blog where she got a really lovely brick red on wool. She added a bit of ammonia to the initial cooking liquid. I hadn't ever added ammonia to a dye bath and since it was a tiny amount and I just happened to have a tiny amount under the kitchen sink, I decided to try it. As you can see, no matter what the pre-mordant, I got pretty much the same color over and over. So much so I decided it was better to leave the plastic hangers in the picture so you could see they were actually different pieces of fabric. It could be it is just different on silk than wool, or that I let them soak or cook too long, or that the water here is really hard-who knows?
Never fear, I use this sort of thing as a first layer for other things. The top and bottom images are of the "browner" samples treated with iron-rusted nails and steel wool along with plant materials; the middle one is the sample that the dye had been cooked in an iron pot that I then eco printed with windfall leaves.
What to do with all these noodles of brown fabric? I call this a beaded infinity scarf, although it is more of a necklace.
You may be wondering what happened to all the nuts that came out of these hulls. Well supposedly they make a soap with bleaching properties, although it sounds to me like it is more of a "bluing" if you know what that is. Anyway, the crucial ingredient is rain water instead of hard water, and rain water is something we have been short of. Today it is raining! A lot! So I put out a bucket and will hopefully have enough to make some soap.