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.

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

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.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Spring is Here!

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
Sylvia Plath

Arrowleaf Balsamroot and Cottonwood catkins

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.