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, October 23, 2021

Gray Fall Days

 "The color of truth is gray."

Andre Gide

I went walking the other day before the rain got going, to look for sticks for a project. I love this old tree, it is down near the river bank. At some point it split in two and both halves, the one still vertical as well as that laying on the ground continued to grow. The one on the ground seems to have finally given in. Sad as that is, I am always intrigued with the weathering of the exposed wood. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Happy Equinox

 "We must get back into relation: vivid and nourishing relation to the cosmos and the universe... We must once more practice the ritual of dawn and noon and sunset, the ritual of kindling fire and pouring water, the ritual of the first breath and the last."

D.H. Lawrence

Virginia Creeper 

If the pandemic has done anything for me it has made me slow down and appreciate the seasons. Eco printing does that anyway, you work with what nature is giving you at the moment. In the past, fall has always been a sort of rush before the first frost puts a stop to things, but this year it has been a relief. Although some plants I would normally work with at this time of year were toasted by the alarming summer heat, there are still plenty of survivors. Some may not give the same result as they do when not stressed, but they are still hanging on, just like a lot of us. 

I will be participating in the Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour this weekend at Clay Fox Pottery Studio, click HERE to get a map, I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Do it for the Process

 "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work, All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case."

Chuck Close

You hear the first part of that quote a lot, but I think the rest of it is just as important, if not more so. This week, so far, has been all about process for me. Over the weekend Urban Art Cooperative had their raku firing, a ceramics process that could be compared to eco printing in that there is a lot of serendipity. Being there, learning about how to steer the variables gave me about a hundred other notions of what I would like to do with it. Sorry, no pictures this time, it is a process that goes pretty quickly and there really needs to be a designated photographer! Google raku and you will get the idea, lots of heat and flame with flashy results.

At the home studio it was the week for indigo. Keeping the poor Japanese indigo plants alive this year has been a real challenge. While they do enjoy heat, they weren't tolerating Hell's front porch very well. Neither was I. Indigo is something I haven't done very often, so I am still learning. I decided to use Rebecca Burgess's Harvesting Color as I had used it before with pretty good results. 

Heating the leaves

The magic with indigo is that the water is kind of a yellow green, but when you pull the fabric out, it turns blue right before your very eyes!

And here they are, turning blue!

I had eco printed paper laying around that was less than exciting, so on the third day, when the last pot of dye was pretty close to exhaustion, I decided to throw in a stack just to see what would happen. It is just as much fun to watch paper turn blue as it is fabric!

In addition to the cotton scarves, I did two silk blanks with a lot of folding so there would be  large white spaces for eco printing later. Then I had a couple eco printed scarves that I thought might benefit from an overdye. Since the scarves had been mordanted for the original eco prints, I was not sure what would happen, but proceeded anyway. The results were mixed, they came out a screaming turquoise color, and it seemed to take forever for them to thoroughly discharge, so not sure if that color is going to be permanent in the long run. The paper on the other hand, is leading me in all kinds of directions!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Watering the Grass

 "The grass is  not always greener on the other side of the fence. The grass is greenest where it is watered."

Robert Fulghum

This could be either Old Witch Grass or Purple Love Grass. The plant ID app can't seem to decide. The scientific names for either are not in my copy of Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest or Northwest Weeds, so both the app and I could be on the wrong track. At any rate the common names are charming and it is an interesting element in the paper samples especially. As always, the fabric sample will hang with me over the next year and have an occasional bath, just to see what happens.

Watering the grass in our climate change fueled summer is pretty much a pointless endeavor, you can get brown grass without wasting a bunch of water and time. Mr. Man and I will be discussing its replacement this winter. Right now I am watering flower beds in order to weed them and put them to rest for winter, not to mention trying to keep my dye and print plants alive until they can go to sleep on their own. In poking around I found this crazy grass tuft that looks like a fiber optic lamp from the 80's. If it holds on fabric, it could be an interesting connecting element between leaf prints. It looks like Mr. Man and I will be having another chat about what is a weed and what is an art supply. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Traveling Again

 "If I waited until I had all my ducks in a row, I'd never get across the street. Sometimes you just have to gather up what you've got and make a run for it."

Judge Lynn Toler

Coreopsis, catmint, and salvia on paper.

I am off to the Edmonds Arts Festival I hope to see you there. The paper pictured here is for a project that will be shown next April, I just thought it came out great and had to share it. I will have my wearables at the Edmonds show, booth 332, and the truck is packed to the rafters-come see!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

ORANGE! (In a good way!)

 A few weeks ago I posted the start of an experiment with padauk sawdust my husband gave me-and here is the result!

The top is an overdye of an eco printed piece of silk crepe that I had done a "re-mordant" (is that a thing?) with alum; the next one down is silk twill that had a faint yellow dye on it (my guess would be tansy flower dye) to start with and thus some alum; the redish one is an overdye of an eco print on crepe with no additional mordant, just straight into the dye pot with it, and the vivid one at the bottom is another piece of silk twill that had an alum mordant applied. 

This is eco printed paper, front and back of the same piece. I have taken to keeping the "so-so" paper prints in a stack off to the side for "spent" dye baths. This particular paper was printed with poinsettia so the paper had alum applied before printing. I tossed it into the warmish padauk dye when I was all done and promptly forgot about it. So, imagine my surprise when I hauled the dye pot out to the compost pile and the last thing to come out of the pot was this piece of paper! It had sat in the dye so long it had sunk to the bottom.

I have another batch of sawdust soaking in vodka for another round of samples. This time I want to fiddle with the ph of the dye bath to see if I can get more of a red. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

"Sketch" Books

 " What is possible in art becomes thinkable in life."

Brian Eno

Tiny books

I did some samples with the padauk sawdust I had soaking today, and of course ideas lead to other ideas, so I am not quite done with that in order to do a post. But if it weren't for these little books I might never have started the whole process. I have been reading Sketchbook Explorations by Shelley Rhodes and am really inspired by it. When I used to make a lot of clothing I doodled ideas down on random slips of paper, but never really kept a sketchbook. Shelley takes so many approaches to a sketchbook, it is hard to pick something and get started! I have had these little books forever, I can't even remember where they came from. I liked the way they looked so much, just as they were, that they became too precious and I was afraid I would "mess them up" somehow. It's a sketchbook for crying out loud-use it!

They are about four inches square, the covers are heavy pasteboard, like a children's book. They are held together with gunmetal gray binder clips. The first thing to do was to take the original papers out of them. I started with the one in the center. The paper was bonded, or had some sort of finish on it, so when I dipped it in that kind of sheen that is on the top of indigo dye it ended up looking like marbling. The one in the center back is a mixture of the original paper and watercolor paper. All the pinks, blues, and purples come from hibiscus tea. The more yellow looking paper is the original paper in the book. Both were allowed to soak in the tea and as you can see, the watercolor paper "dyed" and the tea tended to puddle on the original paper. The tea changed color, from pink to blue and purple, as it dried. The other two books are all eco printed papers. The brighter on the left is poinsettia. The one on the right is the more interesting parts of some ho-hum eco prints that I cut to size. As you can see in the two center books I used hole punches and stamps on the pages. I haven't decided what the next step is for the eco printed ones.

There is no pressure with this-they aren't "for" anything. Working in layers and letting something from underneath show through pleases me. I also liked machine stitching on the paper and may do more of that, or some hand stitching-we will see. These little projects lead to bigger projects.

Anyway, just letting you know that the results of the sawdust dye are on the way and I had hoped to post those the next time, but now I am soaking more sawdust as I want to try a different approach to the mordant.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Seeing Red

 "If I could tell you about Red

I would sing to you of fire

Sweet like cherries

Burning like cinnamon

Smelling like a rose in the sun"

Dixie Dawn Miller Goode, Rainbows Around Us: A Celebration of Color

I started an experiment with Padauk saw dust my husband saved for me. After some digging around on the internet, I did find several sets of instructions, but not much on how permanent the final color will be. So we'll just have to see what happens.

Here is the sawdust.

This is the type of pigment that has to be soaked out in alcohol, so here is about a cup of sawdust soaking in about two cups of vodka. It was such a beautiful day today I had to run the jar outside to give you the full effect. Most instructions said to let it set for a week or more, so I will be getting some small pieces of silk ready to dye later this week.

Padauk (pterocarpus) is the bright red strip in this cutting board my husband made. The tree is native to the African continent and is also called mukwa or narra.  

I will have several experiments going while waiting for the local leaves to appear. Somebody gave me some alkanet, which I think I left in the cabinet after I discovered that it will pretty much fade with exposure to air, much more so with sun etc. But, impermanence being the way of all things I decided that it would be fun to play with, I have some older scarves of my own that might like to be purple! When and if they fade, maybe they will want to be some other color at that point. I also have a bag of avocado pits going in the freezer, I am never sure how many it takes, but I have some paper and lace just waiting to that lovely shade of pink avocado pits can produce.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Zen and Cats

 "I have lived with several Zen masters-all of them cats."

Eckhart Tolle

I have been rereading Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart, an advisable book in the middle of a pandemic that seems never ending. It is tempting to keep thinking that things "will get better when fill in the blank". I keep doing that to myself over and over. Not long after the year began I was reading an article on the Black Plague in Europe. It started in 1346 and faded out by 1351, or about 5 years give or take depending on who you ask. This may seem somewhat depressing, as it did to a friend who said something to the effect of-"But that was before modern medicine and electricity!!" But, really, I found it to be helpful. Especially with all the talk about lack of enough vaccine doses (for the first time in a very long time I am "too young" for something) and now teenage mutant ninja virus variants and all the rest. This isn't going away anytime soon, so it seems to me that it is better to have that expectation than to be constantly disappointed that things don't go "as planned".  There are just some things that are out of our control, and the pandemic has pointed that out in spades.

I especially started to put this altogether when I read the chapter in Ms. Chodron's book called "Nonaggression and the Four Maras". As to what is a Mara, the story goes that on the night when Buddha was to attain enlightenment, he sat under a tree. While there he was attacked by the forces of Mara (basically demons) but when they shot swords and arrows at him, their weapons turned into flowers. The Four Maras are described as Devaputra mara, seeking pleasure or partaking in activities that kill pain in a detrimental way, such as addictive or compulsive behaviors for instance; Skandha mara is our reaction to having the rug pulled out from under us; Klesha mara is reacting emotionally to a situation in a way that makes whatever bad thing happen even worse; and Yama mara is basically thinking that if you just do enough, you will be in control of your life, and when totally uncontrollable things do come along, like the death of a loved one or plans change due to a pandemic, you basically bring the other maras crashing down on your head. Read her book, she says it a lot better than I can.

So, while I was pondering all this I decided to work on some small collage pieces to be placed into Pottery Place Plus. I have some small stretched canvases (9" x 12") that were calling to me. I started with enough eco printed fabric to "slip cover" the stretched canvas, and let it go from there. There was a lot of digging around in the studio, not to find anything specific, but to see what looked like it wanted to be together. So these were a meditation of sorts.

I am also trying to take a page from this little sentient being. When I feed her in the morning I sometimes ask her what her plan for the day is. She tends to blink slowly at me as if to ask "Plan? Who needs a plan?" If the weather is good it might be a day to go have a walk about in the yard, if the weather is bad it is a day for sleeping on the bathroom rug in front of the heat register. This day she saw that I was changing the sheets, one of her favorite activities! Never miss an opportunity to chase the sheets around! 

I guess the takeaway here is that I am not sure when we will have art fairs again so focusing on my online stores is the way to go. I do have work in several galleries, which are hanging in there, so I have to keep them stocked. Soon it will be time to order silk to have things ready to go when the fairs start back up again, albeit fall or beyond. One day at a time.

Speaking of, you can see my eco printing HERE and my handmade supplies HERE. My work is showing at Pottery Place Plus in Spokane and Essential Art in Moscow Idaho and hopefully this summer at Entree Gallery in Nordman Idaho. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year, New Day

 "Living in the past is depression, living in the future is anxiety."


We have hit the gray and sometimes bleak part of winter here, so I decided to spend the week making a little sunshine. In the summer I pick Tansy flowers from along the river and hang them to dry for just such an occasion.

I put the dried flower heads in a pot of water to soak overnight, then simmered them for about 45 minutes to make the dye. The scent is lovely, like yarrow, sharp and calming at the same time.

This is right at the beginning, such a beautiful soft color! I simmered them for about an hour and then let them sit until evening before removing them from the dye bath.

The fabric in the background silk crepe de chine, the one swooshing across the middle is silk dupioni. These were scrappy type pieces of fabric that I had treated with alum last summer (I have no idea what I intended to do with them then) and they did have a bit of iron contamination as there are some spots here and there. No worries, I will either find something to do with them, or maybe, give them a bath in the iron pot and turn them olive green at a later date. Right now they are hanging in my studio so I can enjoy the color, which is about the color of the winter sun here when we get to see it.

At the moment, I am doing my best to live in the moment. Having too many expectations for the coming year could make it seem worse than it actually is. Looking back on the debacle of 2020, I can see where I did that to myself at times. I was just reading an article about people who are starting up whole new businesses during the pandemic, and I know several personally that started up businesses during the Great Recession that are still in business. While I have no interest in reinventing the wheel at this point, I am looking deeply (as I was right before the pandemic started) into the business side of my art, while still practicing art, no matter what type it is. I bought myself a little Christmas present, Shelley Rhodes book Sketchbook Explorations, and although I have never really kept sketchbooks decided it would be an interesting idea to mess around with while waiting for the snow to melt and spring to return. Only two days into it and I have had a bunch of thoughts about the art, that may or may not lead to other business ideas. But without the art, there is no business, so the thing to do is keep making more art and when the time is right (whenever in the world that might end up being) the business ideas tend to synthesize themselves.

If you can't seem to get into the "Happy New Year" mood, that may actually be a good thing for now. It may be your soul protecting you from either overthinking the past or the future; and thus causing you pain of one sort or another. About the only thing you have control over is today, so the things to do today are those that make tomorrow a better place, no matter what happens. 

Cheers, take care of yourself and stay safe.