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, October 15, 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Banishing Ghosts

Normally, I like the look of eco prints all mixed together. It reminds me of the way nature really is. The fabric reflects flowers floating in a mixture of foliage in the garden or individual leaves that pop out from the visual mass of the tree. Sometimes however, the pattern of the individual leaf becomes the most important thing. In this case I am working on lampshades and other lighting ideas and so a clear background becomes important so that the light shines through the individual leaf print. In order for the leaves in one layer to not "ghost" through to another layer a barrier must be used. This leads to a fairly controversial topic-barriers. The controversy stems from the fact that the name most people use for this process is "eco printing"; meaning ecologically sustainable or sound. So, there seems to be something inherently wrong about using plastic sheeting, a petroleum product. The problem lies in the manufacture of the plastic itself and then there is the whole notion of steaming or boiling it.  It will put off fumes that you may or may not be able to smell, possibly creating a danger to yourself. Also, there is probably no way to get the petroleum molecules off whatever your finished product is, thus making it possible, in theory, to have the petroleum seep into your skin from the finished wearable. I don't want to get into the middle of the fruckus, but I do wonder if some of my nasal issues are from making those hair flowers using melted polyester-so I chose to avoid use of plastics whenever possible from here on out.

Hollyhock, Filbert, and Coreopsis, along with plenty of "ghosts".
So, what could be used instead? Since I already did a post about using layers of fabric in between the folds, I thought I would work with some aluminum foil. Trouble is, I get so into things when I am doing them I forget to take pictures. Earlier this week I decided to just set up some "stunt" fabric to show the steps clearly rather than a hodge podge of unrelated pictures. First off, imagine the fabric in the pictures is wet. It is silk dupioni with rusted steel wool as mordant.

Lay out plant material, remember that most leaves print out the under or veined side of the leaf.

Cover with foil. At first I thought cheap dollar store foil would be fine, but decided that heavy duty could be reused or refolded and was easier to work with without tearing it.

Fold over one layer of fabric, in this case I am working in thirds as I want the pattern straight down the middle of the fabric. Ponder what you want as your final effect and fold/layer accordingly. In this case I will just fold over the right side and proceed to the next picture.

Put on the last layer of foil. If you don't, you will have the ghosts of the leaves down the the last layer of the fabric in the bundle. Roll around a stick and tie it up for the steamer pot.
Ready to go!
As I said this was stunt fabric. The following is one of the actual examples I made, and then didn't take enough process shots for it to make any sense. This is silk noil with steel wool as the mordant, using black walnut leaves and marigold petals on both pieces. Raw silk is thick enough that you don't get as much ghosting anyway, but there is a definite difference in the background color and density. 

With no barrier layers

With a foil barrier. The background is clearer and the color of the walnut leaves more intense.
One important thing to remember is that aluminum foil will act as a mordant carrier blanket. It isn't terribly noticeable but you do get different colors than you would without. I am playing around with the whole carrier blanket thing and will post more about that later. The foil is mostly reusable if you get the wet plant material off right away and it can be refolded with the clean side out for reuse. Foil is kind of expensive but it is more effective than multiple layers of fabric. The interesting thing about using multiple layers of fabric is you get that fabric to use for something else.
Decisions, decisions.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Just Be

"Clarice scrawled, 'A question from when I was a little girl that I can answer only now: are rocks made, or are they born? Answer: rocks are."
Benjamin Moser, Why this World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector 

Spokane lies in the path of an ancient flood plain. Most rocks in the river are ovid gray stones, worn smooth by centuries of water tumbling them around and about. I love it when I come across rocks that are different from all the rest. Pushed here by the forces of ice and water they tell tales of faraway places.

Green and black, hiding in a place where fairies must live.

A loaf of bread! It looks like you should be able to slice into it. So much so that I had to poke at it to make sure it was a rock.

Swirls and eddies, a liquid as a solid.

Friday, October 5, 2018

So, is it Noxious, Poisonous, or Simply Obnoxious?

Since I am waiting for some samples using barriers to be done, I thought it might be a good time (or as good a time as any) to start a series of short articles about poisonous plants. What is too poisonous to use? What defines poisonous or noxious? This comes up because of some rather odd conversations I have had recently and a plant list I pulled off the internet (it was pretty confusing, even to a plant geek like me).

So, let's figure out what we are talking about first. When you search the word noxious for a dictionary definition here is what you get:

"Noxious: harmful, poisonous, or very unpleasant."

The definition of the phrase "noxious weed" is a bit different and I think it is important to know the difference; not only for the purposes of what is ok to eco print with, but more importantly, what not to plant in your garden. It is estimated that half of any list for any given area are plants that started out as intentional plantings. I found this definition on the Skamania County Washington Weed Board site and it seemed to be the most succinct:

"'Noxious weed' is the traditional legal term for an invasive, non-native plant that threatens agricultural crops, local ecosystems, or fish and wildlife habitat. The term includes all nonnative grasses, flowering plants, shrubs and trees. It also includes aquatic plants that invade wetlands, lakes, rivers and shorelines. Noxious weeds cause damage that has considerable environmental and economic costs."   

Note that it does not say that all noxious weeds are poisonous, although some are, if not to humans, then to livestock and possibly wild animals. By the same token, many native, naturally occurring plants are poisonous, so they are unlikely to make it on to a noxious weed list. For your own safety it is important to know what they look like and where you are most likely to come across them. Poison ivy comes to mind, it is poisonous to almost everyone and the rash you get is truly obnoxious; but unless a given environment is really out of balance, it rarely appears on a noxious weed list. You will be happy to know that this is one we sent other places, in the 1800's it actually got drug back to Europe as a garden plant where it escaped into the environment.

Invasive thistles qualify as noxious in every sense of the word; they are harmful and unpleasant as well as being invasive. But, believe it or not, most true thistles are edible at least when young. You have to wonder how hungry somebody had to be in order to try it out.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Looking Up

"The sky is always there for me, while my life has been going through many, many changes. When I look up at the sky, it gives me a nice feeling, like looking at an old friend."
Yoko Ono

Monday, September 17, 2018

Corvallis, Oregon

I am sorry to announce I will not be attending the Corvallis Oregon show due to my husband's health. I was so looking forward to it and I wish the show organizers and participating artists a wonderful weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday, Monday

"Courage is not the absence of fear or despair; it is the capacity to continue on despite them, no matter how great or overwhelming they become."
Robert Fanney

Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) on paper with copper mordant.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Impossible Things

"Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them."
Lindsay Eagar

Trying out carrier blankets, used to add mordants and dyes to eco prints, I haven't a clue as to what I am doing, but once I figure out it you will be the first to know! I see the beginnings of minty green, so it won't be all bad whatever happens.

This is a Japanese Butterbur, a friend gave it to me and I finally found something it will print on! It has beautiful big leaves, looks sort of like a rhubarb, and it turned into a challenge. Here it is on paper with copper as the mordant. This was an experiment in rolling paper for steaming, I think I will try it again but pressed next time. I finally have a pot big enough to do fairly good sized sheets of paper. It is an old turkey fryer pot; it is very, very tall!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

It is Good to be Home

"It is a big world, full of things that steal your breath away and fill your belly with fire...but where you go when you leave isn't as important as where you go when you come home." 
Lindsay Eagar, Hour of the Bees

While the cat's away, the mouse did a lot of canning!

Teaching is so much fun, I learn so much. Student's questions and their approach to the process always gives me new perspective.

One bad thing to come back to-the smoke. Apparently this is the new normal for August in Eastern Washington.

Considering the heat and the smoke, the garden did well while I was gone. This particular bloom is a lesson in appreciating what you get. It was supposed to be dark burgundy, but it sure does glow in the evening light.

Ahhhh, to be back in my studio again! These bundles are done with random and somewhat wilted leftovers from the two classes I taught, in a week or so we will see what I ended up with.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see."
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Anacortes Washington

Off to the Anacortes Arts Festival, this weekend, booth 812W and The Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival August 11th and 12th, booth 179. Come by and see what I have been up to!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Blues

"Particularly with the blues, it's not just about bad times. It's about healing the spirit."
Taj Mahal

Since I work with the seasons, sometimes it looks like I only work in one color. In this case, blue. Most of the blue you see here comes from Hollyhocks, although there is some petunia as well. Weirdly enough, I like ironing. In the studio, anyway. It gives me a chance to look things over and see wonderful details and surprises. Here is what I discovered today.

A little oak leaf hiding amongst the Hollyhock.

On the left, the main print (bottom of the leaf), on the right, the echo. I love the hollyhock on the left, almost photographic.

Sumac floating over rusted nails with a little bit of black locust for some green.

Another oak leaf, this one turned plum by its hollyhock neighbors.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Don't be Sad!

In this case however, it may not be a bad thing. In natural dyeing there is a process called "saddening" and it can be an interesting experiment. I had some scarves that while they had nice clear prints, weren't all that exciting colorwise. I decided to do some dye experiments with them and ended up using the iron pot as an adjunct, or modifier. Exposing a previously dyed fiber to iron is called "saddening" as it grays out, or darkens the original color.

This is the dreaded Burdock, a monster of a plant. Since most plant names that end in "dock" belong to plants that will make some sort of color (usually yellow), I decided to give it a shot. I had to go to a fair so I left a note on it so nobody would over achieve with the weed killer while I was away. It is one of those invasive things that puts out a zillion seeds and can take over the yard in a blink of an eye.

I made a dye pot by first pouring boiling water over the leaves and let them sit overnight. The next day I simmered (not boiled) the leaves for about an hour. Boiling can sometimes make all your color disappear. 

As you can see, it made a yellow dye as expected. I blocked and tied the scarves in order to expose the previously done eco prints to as little heat and color as possible. Again, simmering, for about an hour. In this case I did not leave it to sit overnight as I didn't want the color to get very dark.

This is my iron pot. Normally there would be a picture of the above scarves bobbing around in it, but apparently I forgot to take that picture. So anyway, there is water with a splash of vinegar in the pot. I brought it to a boil and let it cool off completely and then added the blocked scarves. It took no time at all for the color change to take place, maybe 15 minutes. You have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't get too dark as then you won't be able to see your eco prints anymore.

This scarf turned a gray/green, it really added the right touch to what was a mass of brown prints.

This scarf had onion skin in it to begin with so the exposure to the iron made those a bit more golden and again the background is a subtle grayish green.

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