Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Words to Live By

"Surrender to the process, not the goal."
Adam Steltzner

Ceramic pendants that will have glass centers! We hope!

Steaming paper.

Blackberry on silk crepe with steel wool.

No bodily harm-this is the next post, playing around with making natural inks and watercolors.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Alum as an Adjunct

To be honest, I don't do much with alum in general as it seems to make silk a bit stiff. After steaming red cabbage either in an eco print or by itself I do give a post steam rinse with a small amount of alum in the water. This turns the cabbage from red-purple to some shade of blue. The red-purple seems to be fairly fugitive while the blue lasts. I maybe use a teaspoon in a gallon of water per scarf. This is a guesstimate as I am usually working on more than one scarf at a time.

I did a scarf with Himalayan Blackberry on a rusted steel wool pre-mordant. Nasty plant, wonderful print-isn't that always the way! I like the stark, hand drawn look of the prints with the purply "bleed" from the end of the stems.


When I have put them in with red cabbage they appear to go pink after the alum rinse. I thought it would be interesting to see what they looked like by themselves with the after rinse. I heated up some water and dissolved the alum powder in it, then let it cool off. I immersed the scarf and kept an eye on it for changes. After a few hours I decided it didn't look like it was changing any more so I took it out and let it dry. I gave it a rinse with shampoo the next day. I didn't add any alkaline to the alum water as the scarf was already exposed to salt as part of the rust mordant done before the steaming. How much difference a cream of tartar addition would make I am not sure. I used a teaspoon of alum in a gallon and a half of water. I decided if I was writing a post about it I should make note of the details. As you can see in the next picture, the prints stayed dark and the background turned a limey green.

The conclusion I came to is that the leaves themselves are bleeding or "dyeing" the background, similarly to what the cabbage does, but in this case in it isn't readily apparent until you expose it to the alum. I liked this, but liked it without just as well so I decided to do another scarf with blackberry so I would have one of each. This also allowed me to take a picture side by side so the difference is really clear. Also proving that this can be done over and over with the same result.

A note about working with Himalayan Blackberry, it has miserable thorns. Gloves are advised and although I have never had it make an actual hole in the fabric I do trim the ends of the thorns before placing the leaves. 

So, I guess the conclusion is that sometimes an after bath in a small amount of alum can bring out colors you didn't know were there. As to whether you like it or not is another matter altogether, so using scraps to experiment with might be a good call. I have done this to some things that I really didn't care for the outcome. The items in the print that changed color did so in a way that did not mesh with the rest of the printing. Knapweed, Arrowleaf Balsamroot and Artemisia Wormwood usually come out some shade of yellow when an alum pre-mordant is used, sage green with rust pre-mordant, so when mixed in with leaves that may have tannins etc it may be the influence of the other leaves that causes the after rinse to produce less than ideal results-kind of an indescribably ugly color somewhere between dirty yellow and a not good lime green.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


"Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go."

Peony, Filbert and Coreopsis

Friday, September 22, 2017

I am Only Happy when it Rains

After 80 days of no rain and 20 or so days of choking smoke filled air the last few days have been a relief. The air is washed clean and everything seems to have been revived. Even the birds and the insects seem more energetic. 

Golden Currant


Siberian Iris

The zen puddle is back!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Iron as an Adjunct

My husband had planted a black walnut tree in the yard sometime ago and it finally got big enough that I could take some leaves to see what happens. I had some seen some really great results on the web, but had never had much luck. 

I thought about using an adjunct, which means a mordant you apply during or after the dye or printing process. It affects what you have already done.

I started with an alum treated scarf. I also added some contorted filbert leaves to the roll as I didn't think I had tried them with an alum mordant. As you can see the result was a really zingy yellow.

Flibert leaves

Black walnut
The shapes of the leaves came out pretty well but the prints weren't terribly detailed. I have had good luck with soaking material like this in either the iron pot or a pan of rusted water. Since I hadn't worked with rusted water much this year, I decided to do that. To make rusted water put a few rusty objects in a quart jar. Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and fill the jar with water. Put the lid on and let it set for about a week or so. When the water is orange it is ready to use. For a 14"x 72" scarf you will add about a quarter cup of the rusted water to about a half gallon of water in a neutral pot (enamel or stainless steel). I add a splash of vinegar to this. Heat the water up to a simmer and shut off the heat. Let it cool off to lukewarm. Wet the scarf out and put it in the pan of rusted water. 

I like my little blue enamel pot for projects like this

Then keep an eye on it. Most of the time it will start to turn green right away. It will continue to darken with time. Depending on the plants you used to print with sometimes it will turn them black. They end up looking like somebody with a lot more drawing skills than I have sketched them on the fabric. Keep stirring it around and rearranging it to help even out the color change. I left mine to soak overnight, chancing that it would become really murky, but sometimes you just need to find out what will happen. Remember that wet fabric appears darker than dry fabric and the rule of thumb is that when dry the fabric will appear to be two shades lighter than it is when wet. Remove it when you think it is going to be dark enough.


Black Walnut
As you can see it turned charcoal and green. The background is more green that it appears in the image-kind of a light sage. I really liked the effect much more than just the yellow. While it was a really pretty color, the prints have more detail and depth after the rust bath.

Friday, September 15, 2017

And Fall Begins

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, September 10, 2017

50 Shades of Gray

I have never minded the interplay between layers of fabric in eco printing. Meaning, that when you bundle or roll up the fabric as it steams color from the plant material bleeds through the layers of fabric. Apparently some do, to the point of putting plastic between the layers. Although I am not big on telling other people what to do with their days, I am the person trying to get rid of all the plastic tubs and bags out of my studio and out of my life as even just sitting in the air you can watch them degrade and change. I wonder what sorts of chemicals I have been breathing in from the plastic junk we all have in our lives. So, you can probably imagine how I feel about cooking layers of plastic wrap. It is called eco (short for ecological) printing after all. 

I have had some students that really, really wanted a "cleaner" look so I was pondering how one would go about that without bringing petroleum products into the picture. Since I had a brain fart a while back when laying out sumac leaves for this mythological lampshade I keep threatening to make, I thought I would use the do-over as an experiment in putting layers of fabric into the roll to see if it "cleaned up" or gave more definition to the prints. This might actually be beneficial when making a lampshade anyway. I hope the pictures are helpful, as the post title hints-we have a whole lotta gray going on.

I started by double checking which direction I wanted the sumac fronds to go first so I didn't end up with yet another very pretty piece of silk dupioni for which there is no immediate plan. Starting in from the edge of the fabric I laid out the sumac underside down since most leaves print out the underside of the leaf. I folded that layer over with no fabric strip inside it.

The top photo shows the first fronds with the fabric folded over them and the next set of fronds. The second picture shows another layer of dupioni over that second set of fronds. The original fabric was treated with steel wool, the strips with rusted nails, I hope it makes the pictures a bit clearer as to what is what! Click on the image to enlarge it.
The next step was to fold the first set of leaves over the leaves that have the layer of fabric on them already. I worked from the outer edges inward; laying down the fronds, covering with fabric strips and then folding until the folds met in the middle and I made the last fold and rolled it up. This is a really big lampshade, so it is a really big roll. I let this steam for a couple of hours since not only was it very big, the dupioni is a thicker fabric the the crepe de chine I work with most of the time. I let it sit around about a week and then opened it up. The following pictures show the differences-I hope.

This is the fabric from a few weeks before. On the left is the print the sumac made from the underside (the side with the veins). It is very well defined. On the right is what normally prints off the top of the leaf. It is a gray green with with a blackish edge and is also fairly crisp. Between the leaves of that print you can see the "ghost" of the next layer that was wrapped around it. They are the smudgy shadows that are pointing up compared to the actual print.

This is the example with the layers of fabric between each fold. Since my main goal was to print the fabric I wanted to use for the lamp shade I laid all the fronds underside down against the main fabric. As you can see both fronds are very well defined and while they did dye the background gray as in the first piece, there are very few "ghosts" of the other layers.

This may not be all that clear on your screen, but the fabric on the left is the one that was done with extra layers of fabric, the background is a good degree lighter than the piece on the right, which is the first one I did. The extra fabric layers soaked up the "dye" coming off the sumac leaves.

This is what the strips of layering fabric look like, lots of color with little definition. These will be great for journal covers or purses when I mix them with other fabrics.
I think this was an interesting thing to do and was worth the effort. For the most part I am going to continue doing what I have been doing with scarves and shawls. As I said in the beginning, I love the play between the actual prints and the spirits of the prints from the next layer in the roll. While cleaning up the barn loft I found a piece of copper sheet, that could be an interesting thing to roll up in a bundle, and there is always aluminum foil.

And yes, here is where there should be a fantastic photo of the lamp. No such luck. I am still trying to decide if it would be better to use the original framework from the upcycled lampshade or to make a whole new framework. When I get the engineering worked out I will be sure to post pictures here first!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Back in Session

" The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the serenity of books."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This summer's reads and re-reads

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Coming up Roses

"He who wants a rose must respect the thorn."
Persian Proverb

Rose leaves, peony, black locust with Dahlia petals for background color.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Eco Printing this Week

Bald Sumac and rusted nails on linen
Sunflower and rusted nails on linen
Coreopsis and filbert, among other things on silk crepe de chine
Mountain Cranberry, Blackeyed Susan, Yarrow, sunflowers and rose leaves on paper

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Light of Day

"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pounding on Plants

Or Hapa-zome as the famous Ms Flint calls it. Pounding on anything is a good way to relieve stress and probably helpful to achieving serenity. 

There is a disclaimer for this post however; this all looks much better in the pictures than it actually does in real life.

That being said, here goes. As you may remember I had eco printed some sample fabrics with test plants earlier in the summer. I did try to include leaves I knew would work so at least I would get some sort of useable result.

In this case, I can't even remember what the test plant was, but the rose leaves are nice!
The fabric in the image above is silk crepe de chine, probably not the best thing to use, this works better on fabric that has more body and a tighter weave to it. I started out by picking some of the more colorful leaves in my garden along with the one scented geranium I had that doesn't smell like cat pee. The scented geraniums were an experiment this year and my nose must not interpret the smell as others do. Bleck.

Geranium, Begonia, Astilbe, Coleus
I decided to go with the process that has you put paper down over the leaf, I have done it with a bare hammer before and you do get a good print, but kind of an over-cooked spinach type mess on your hammer. Besides, if nothing else you get a nice print on the paper. I laid the fabric out flat, placed the leaf where I thought I wanted it and pinned the paper in place. I used handmade paper for this as that is what I had, but any absorbent paper will do.

I gently tapped around the outside edge of it first to figure out where I was supposed to be hammering.
The Begonia was probably the best print.
The Coleus had nice color but was so juicy it leaked outside its own border
At one point I switched to a scrap of dupioni

Here are some of the cover papers both present and past. 
The thing to remember about this is that it isn't permanent. I like India Flint's suggestion in her book Eco Colour* to do a T-shirt and then as it fades just keep pounding more stuff into it as the summer progresses. From what I have read applying a mordant beforehand doesn't, probably, make it any more colorfast but there isn't any reason you can't try it and see what you think. Do one shirt with and one without and let me know what happens.

*Remember, I don't do links for books in the blog. It is important that you go to your local bookstore to order and buy it there. Shop local, even if your only option is the local big box bookstore-at least your neighbors that work there will have a job. This week's missive from the soapbox.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Art and Soul

"The sole art that suits me is that which, rising from unrest, tends towards serenity." Andre Gide

Coreopsis and Bachelor Buttons with the blue flower heads left on. The Coreopsis is the screaming orange. It is hard to tell the difference between the foliage of the Bachelor Buttons and that of the Coreopsis as the Coreopsis is so juicy it dyes the background the same yellow as the Bachelor Buttons stems.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Late Summer Eco Prints

Really big sunflower leaf on linen with rusted nails

Rose leaves on silk crepe with rusted nails

Peony on silk twill with rusted steel wool

Monday, August 7, 2017

At the End of the Day

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." John Muir

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Summer Blues

Last winter while daydreaming with seed catalogues, both paper and online, I kept seeing Bachelor Buttons (Centaurea Cyanus) referred to as a dye plant. I started poking around in the various dye books I have and none of them mentioned this plant. Since it is classified in the knapweeds and knapweed foliage makes a yellow or green dye, I was curious to see what they might do. The first batch I added to pre-rusted fabric, some very faint blue from the blossoms appeared (not worth taking a picture of) and no green foliage printed at all. The second time around I used silk with an alum mordant with a bit more success.

I used just the petals sprinkled in with some Artemisia.

Then I used whole stems, mixed in with some garden sage. As you can see in the second picture, the foliage did exactly what you would expect a knapweed to do with an alum mordant; a bright sunny yellow. The blossoms did make a blue splotch, but again, not very bright. Even so, this is kind of a happy thing for me as the invasive wild knapweed stops doing this once it blooms, so now if I want yellow, I can use the bachelor buttons. It is a plant that benefits from a trim, it comes back more vigorous and with more blooms.

Alas, I finally did find some knowledgeable dye sites that referred to Bachelor Button flowers and they are not considered permanent color. Since I used all scrap fabric I will let these set for a few months, wash them and let them set around some more just to see if eco printing them might make the blue last longer than a vat dye. If they fade I will have a re-do with something else. I will also be curious to see what they do on paper.

I started them from seed last spring along with Calendula and mixed the two throughout the yard. I have to say that even though the blue may not be permanent it was not a waste; I love looking out over my yard at the blue haze with little yellow pot marigolds coming up in between.

Monday, July 31, 2017


"A word to the wise: hunting down Serenity as if it was some kind of exotic animal is pretty much the worst possible way to achieve it." 
Anne Newkirk Niven