Saturday, August 31, 2013


....OH YES.....the results were better than I expected....yeah!! If you haven't read my post yesterday....jump back to see what I began with and you too may be amazed at the overnight miracle I experienced....grinning.
 Even though this cotton fabric appears to be black, the dye I used was called Bark.....think tree bark in shadow. The first print in deconstructed screen printing is usually not as successful....but I'm quite pleased with it.
 I was sure this one wouldn't have any pattern to it what so ever because there was so much dye that got released.  But once it was washed out....low and behold, it did.  As a refresher, my resist was a whole bunch of rubber bands in a variety of sizes.
 The final print.....the least successful....yet I'm sure there will be a use for it once cut apart.
 The next two pieces  used a plastic sink mat to achieve the texture.  It was printed on tan silk noil.  
 I really liked this second print.
 And finally, here's my wool, again using the sink mat.  Wool doesn't print very well.....not especially a surprise since the surface isn't smooth.  But, heck....I wanted to see what would happen.  I knew immediately the print was unsuccessful so having nothing to lose, I placed the screen over the fabric and ran some turquoise dye through it.  It just might work as a background for some of my bead work.
My second piece of wool got treated with sun yellow dye to fill in the areas that didn't print the first go around. Each time we play with this technique we learn new alternatives and ways to create better prints.  

After a week of fun exploring numerous dyeing and printing methods, I guess it's time to stay home now and create.  I hope you will keep checking in here.

Friday, August 30, 2013


The Fiber Junkies is a 6 member group that meets monthly for the purpose of hands on experimenting with new and not so new techniques.  Deconstructed screen printing is one we've done several times and yet we continue to find new  resist items and alternate steps that yield interesting results.
By no means is this post meant to be a tutorial.....rather an overview of the process. Basically, one selects an item/items that will provide texture.  I used various sizes of rubber bands, arranged on plastic that protects the work surface.
 Next a clean silk screen is placed over the items and thickened dye is pressed through the screen with a squeeze.

 The screen is placed in the sun to dry.  The lightweight rubber bands adhered to the bottom of my screen.  No problem, once the dye was dry...they popped right off.  

The screen is then placed over dry fabric that had been treated with soda ash.  The dye is released using clear print past, pressed through the screen.  For this print I had used only one color, but multiple colors are a more common approach.

The first 'print' is usually the lightest.....the following 2-3 prints are generally more attractive as more of the dye releases.

That being said....I was so surprised when the 2nd one I printed was nearly all black. Okay....I get it....I had a lot of dye on the screen and not a lot of resist.....lesson learned.
Kate's small screen was more successful because the rick rack and string were thicker.'s what keeps us repeating this fun technique.....Denny applied glue to her screen and got a good print, even though the lines weren't that thick....surprise, surprise!
 We've discovered sink mats make great resists.  
The image on the left is my screen....and on the right is my 2nd print.  You can see how much more texture the mat provided compared to the rubber bands.
After printing each piece of fabric, it's layered between black plastic, eventually rolled tight and left to batch at home for about 24 hours.  Next, the excess dye is washed out and can be further set with Synthropol.

Depending upon the results I may or may not see my finished pieces.  But, even if I'm not satisfied.....I can take a page out of Val's book.  Below (in process) she used a previously screen printed dry piece of cloth, renewing it by smearing thickened dye over the pale design.  Brilliant.....I'm one lucky gal to have such willing and talented friends!!
It's Mary here again.....I'm jumping in....adding to this post because it's generated so many questions.....  hope this helps:

The hanging devices I described been installed by the Arboretum...they wouldn't be my choice for smaller wall art as the wires can be unsightly in my humble opinion!  Basically it's a metal track, attached to the wall at ceiling height.  Twisted wire (ropes/strings/wires...not sure how to describe them) are attached to one end of a metal rectangle thingie, that slides into the track.  Metal hooks thingies are then threaded onto the bottom end of each wire.  This gadget can be positioned anywhere along the wire and secured by tightening a screw.  Each quilt has either a traditional fabric sleeve with a dowel or in the case of my smaller pieces, triangles flaps fitted with thin rigid round metal rods.  I attached loops of fishing line at each end of the dowel/rod and attach that onto the hook (on the wire.)  

I also have begun matting and framing some of my work but haven't yet tried to display them at this facility.  When I travel teach, it's been important to keep the pieces I bring for sale  small and lightweight so framing or using stretchers is not a method that works for me too often.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I've blogged several times about the lengthy preparations for my solo exhibit at the NC Arboretum.....which is finally now ongoing through October, 2013.  
I was so intent on getting the display up that I neglected to take photos of the stunning grounds.....except for this snap shot of a fountain in front of the educational building.  My bad!!!
 It was a good thing 'the husband' came with me because none of the hanging devices that are normally in place were up.  What should have taken no more than two hours, ended up taking well over four.  I'd still be there if I didn't have his help!
 The facility is not your typical gallery.....there is ample wall space but it's located in hallways...making photo taking difficult.  That's an advantage for viewers though, as they can get 'nose close' to the work and the lighting is quite good. 
 This grouping of 4 Seasons quilts ended up being much closer together than I would have liked.  It wasn't as much a space issue as the lack of functioning hanging devices.  Normally the quilts displayed are large, requiring far less equipment, however because most of my exhibit featured small quilts, we were scrambling for hangers.  In the end, all 28 pieces I brought got hung! 

I suspect many of you following this blog might be at a stage in your fiber lives, like me, where we've given everyone we know a least twice. Yet, more ideas must be explored and our inventories continue to grow.  After 25+ years of workshops, books, magazine articles, cruise/tour projects, plus all my new work, get the picture. Finding new homes for my wall art is a huge priority.  

Paying commissions for retail sales are a way of life.  It may surprise you that it's not uncommon for the retailer to charge 50%.  That can really bump up the price of the work!  Obviously, finding new ways for your pieces stand out in a crowd is helpful....'s what I wanted to share in this post.  Do you know what a QR is??  It's that little black and white square containing a pattern of more squares that you see popping up on just about everything these days.  When a QR reader app is downloaded on your smart phone, a QR can be scanned to obtain more information about the product or service it represents.

STRK.IT is a new service offering stickers that can be applied to paper products, plus sew on and iron on squares.  I've added separate signage the higher priced quilts in the hopes that it will encourage the viewers to take more time studying and considering the pieces.

I chose to record 'the story behind the quilt', allowing the audio to run about 2 minutes each.  Services such as text, or video are other innovative options.  

I found it fast & easy to use....even for me who is not very techy.  I even added an iron on stkr. to a quilt that will be a gift....recording a message for the recipient to find when it's unwrapped. 

 You youngins' that read this blog may have already embraced this type of technology, but for me it was new and hopefully it will help to generate sales in this particular setting.  Maybe it will be helpful to you too!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Are you finding that our world has gotten smaller and smaller...of course being a quilter that's not a surprise.  We are instant friends after 1 minute.  We are so fortunate to be able to have Internet interaction with quilters from Amsterdam to Japan to Alaska and all points in between.

From time to time I've chatted online with Chris Daly of Dye Candy Fabrics. Her business should be called DIE Candy Fabrics....cause they are definitely to die for!!
Here I am, now living in the mountains of North Carolina....with fond memories of Wisconsin still on my mind.  Chris surprised me today by sending this photo of Stori Memorial Field located in Richland Center, WI.  "The husband's" father was a beloved teacher and coach in the town and this is the heartwarming tribute the school district did many years ago.  Time had taken a toll on the original sign so prior to moving here, we installed a new one.  It's nice to see that it is still there to remind folks of a very special man.
 Chris is one busy lady.....and I so appreciate that she took the time to take the photo.  Of course she dyes fabric, and yes she quilts too......doesn't her quilt just scream peaceful woods.....reminding us to sit back and enjoy life. you can treat yourself to a very special get away run by this quilter and her husband.  Her new venture is Woodland Ridge Retreat, located in rural Downsville, WI.  It's been designed with quilters and fiber artists in mind!

 I'll treat you to a sneak peak here...but you'll want to click on the link above and read all about it.  To celebrate their opening, special rates are available so get your calendar out!!
Frankly, my days of participating at a retreat that involves dorm living, cabins filled with creepy crawling things, and dark workrooms are soooo over.  These accomodations are super.  It's just the way I'd like to spend an hour after class, soaking in a large hot tub!

If you are a long time reader of this know I do retreating in often as possible!  For those of you who have remarked they wish to experience one.....grab some girlfriends and create your own at Woodland Ridge or join one of the upcoming classes that Chris will be announcing soon.  AND....just maybe you will see me there!

Monday, August 26, 2013


After two batches of ice dyeing, we moved on to try a short cut Shibori method, using textile paint.
 Here, Kate loosely wrapped fabric around a fat section of PVC pipe, taping one end and the sides to secure it.  She scrunghed it up toward the taped end. 
 Judy used another more traditional method, attaching rather thick string around a piece of PVC pipe, then bunching it together at one end.
Textile paint was applied to the pleated fabric with the aid of a large sponge brush.  Due to the heat, the paint dried really quickly so we had fairly immediate results.
 I was a bit displeased with one of my pieces of ice dyed wool so I decided to see painting it would provide a better overall design.  
Upon reflection, I should have used string or rubber bands to make the pleats, but I worked with it in this state....a mistake!
 Here's the result.......sometimes we need to leave well enough alone!
 This was another experiment of mine....using a piece of hand-dyed fabric that was gifted from Judy to Kate and onto me.  I used rubber bands to secure it and instead of painting the fabric in the direction of the rubber bands, I applied two colors lengthwise.
And this is what I got......  

I'll spare you having to see the remainding zillion photos I took of our play date.....but not the suggestion to give these methods a try yourself....or better yet, grab some friends and make an event of it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013


.....continuing our adventure into ice dyeing......
After the ice melted, we squeezed out the remaining dye solution and soaked the fabric in buckets of water, changing it often till it was clear. Finally the fabric was ready for the final rinse in Synthrapol.  Kate added an old white t-shirt to catch any excess dyes.

 With the final spin concluded, and a goodly amount of oohing and ahhing....the fabric was hung to dry.
 The piece on the left wool, note how differently it accepted the dye.
 Here are some of Kate's.
.....and some of Judy's.
 .....both of these are my further attempts working with wool. 
As I mentioned yesterday, I dyed some yellow fabric (example above).  Apparently I didn't distribute it well enough on the wire shelf because there was a lot of print visible after the ice dyeing.  Sooooo....we decided I should dye it again. I'm so glad I was encouraged to do it...because look at this result....  It's actually brighter than the picture shows.....isn't the pattern just great?!?
I brought some lace along to play with.  We placed some on the bottom of the dye trays and other pieces on top of the last piece of fabric.  The mottled results weren't as striking as the fabric but we were still pleased.

Be sure to check back for my next post when we move along to a fast and easy method of Shibori using textile paint.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


.....and the fun continues.....
Wearing our dyeing we went to purchase ice.

 Setting up our supplies ahead of time helped to keep us organized.  Thankfully, we were able to work in a covered area....super helpful since it was about 90 degrees with 95% humidity!
We covered our work table and surrounding areas with plastic to protect them from the dye.  Each of us had a plastic tray (kitty litter pans) fitted with wire 'shelves' to keep the fabric from sitting in the melted dye filled liquid. 
 Because this technique was new to us, we found & used a combination of instructions that we found on various internet sites.  One helpful tip was the suggestion to use crushed ice...which makes a nice even surface where the dye can sit.  Kate had an old ice crusher that was the perfect tool to make it.
Again, this process was new to us, so we decided to work one tray at a time, each assisting the others.  Our fabrics had all been soaking in a soda ash solution.  Lucky me...I was first, so I squeezed out my fabric and arranged 3 pieces (about a fat quarter each) on my wire 'shelf'.  I used a yellow print, white wool, and a light blue cotton.
 Next, we added ice cubes on top of the crushed ice.  Our rational was that the dye covered larger cubes would provide more pattern as it melted.
 Each of us had also selected our powdered dyes and had them ready to use immediately once the ice was in place.  Face masks are a must and we were all alert to be sure none of us forgot to put theirs on in our enthuastic rush.
 The dye powder was applied with the aid of small wire sifters.  This helped to avoid large clumps of dye depositing in one area.
 I used 3 colors.....arranging them in long lines.
 This is a view of Kate' the same point.  She was the 3rd person to start her tray and by then new ideas were flowing.  She placed a 4th piece of fabric on top of the ice layer, added more ice and dye AND then placed fabric in the tray to catch the drippings.  Brilliant!
 Another layering method we tried was a bucket with plastic webbed trays between layers of fabric and ice crushed ice here.
They were all covered tightly with plastic, moved into the sun and batched for a min. of 4 hours.  Some sat overnight.

Come back tomorrow to see more......