Monday, June 29, 2015


FIRST - thank you, thank you to those generous readers of this blog who've taken the time to share a comment or connect with me personally, offering insights about eco-print dyeing.  Clearly, there are a host of methods to achieve results and there are a host of variables within those methods that can alter the outcome.  AND...finally, one's willingness to accept surprises will also impact the success of such experiments.
 I'd brought a few cotton hankies, dollies, and piece of machine made lace.  After realizing our initial approach wasn't providing good results, we began to simply experiment. I loosely scrunched the items on plastic lids.......  
 ....then poured some iron solution over each and let them sit in the hot sun for hours.  (After they were dry, the larger piece was unfolded and displayed on marsh grass for the purpose of this photo.)
By now we were grabbing everything within reach to see 'what if'.  This piece of silk noil contains salt, turmeric, cumin, red pepper flakes, and blueberries.  It was rolled as usual onto a dowel, tied and processed for at least 2 hours in our iron solution.
 We didn't give up completely using turns out that ferns printed nicely....and the addition of the spices we used added a lot more color.
 We did give up using rice steamers, realizing that they simply didn't provide enough heat to achieve anything but very pale color.  But, before we did, we added ground red pepper to the water....hoping that would help.  It didn't.

Instead, a simple hot plate with an inexpensive aluminum pan worked very well.
Kate got super interested in working with she's smashed blueberries and cherries, along with some turmeric.  It too was rolled on a dowel, tied and processed in the iron solution.
Judy gave me a piece of China silk. Kate had also been playing with tea....interested to see what the tannin would do.  It wasn't as successful as she'd hoped.  However, that left a bunch of wet tea bags on our supply table so after sprinkling turmeric and red pepper on the fabric....along with a spritz of vinegar, I arranged 6 tea bags and folded the whole thing into a package.  It too was processed in the iron solution.

Here's the finished piece.....which I quite like!

So....this concludes the "Eco-Print Storigram".  We have so much fun together, honestly if we'd have ended up with cow pies we would have been happy!  Why not grab some of your like-minded pals and plan a day or two to do your own experiments?

Sunday, June 28, 2015


The day we departed from our mini eco-print dye retreat....we did a quick session of flat dyeing.....using up premixed dyes from a recent Fiber Junkies meeting.  As I've said over and over, we are an adventurous group.....and will dye, print, paint, mess with anything that's standing are a few pieces of fabric that surprised me.
 Top center is a decorative cotton napkin, far left was my cotton clean up cloth (which I love), and far right was a section of curtain.....obviously some of it was synthetic since it didn't take the dye....a nice bonus I felt.
 Recently a friend gifted me an embellisher machine.....I haven't had a chance to play with it yet.  Along with the machine she gave me a huge hunk of very thick and sort of fuzzy wool....did I say it was thick??  Yes....very and quite boring.  So I wacked off two small pieces to dye.
 I was stunned, given the amount of dye it accepted, and the huge amount that washed out that there would be anything left......but both of these pieces are pleasing to me.  Due to the thickness, it will require brain storming to figure out how to use them. 

I'm still going through the 100+ photos I took of our eco-dyeing.....check back tomorrow......

Saturday, June 27, 2015


I fear my last post left the impression that I was totally unhappy with eco-print dyeing.  Though the results were a far cry from what I expected.....I'm actually over the moon with every piece.  In fact, I think the designs will be very adaptable to my work.

I have lots of photos to share and am trying to organize them to provide as much information for you as possible. 

First let me mention.......we understood we needed to mordant our fabric.  Both alum and unsweetened soy milk seemed to be recommended.  So our fabric was soaked in one or the other.  We saw no difference in the results. Another recommendation was to keep the bundles rolled tightly. Check...we did this.  We also read that it was helpful to spray the foliage with vinegar or vinegar/water once it was placed on the fabric.  Check.  

There was a lot of conflicting information about how long to process the bundles:  everything from burying them in dirt for weeks, boiling with other organic materials for days, or placing in a steamer with plain water for as short as 2 hours.  We used steamers and a large pot on the stove with water.  After that failed, on day 2 we switched to simmering the bundles for about 2 hours in our iron solution on the stove and in an aluminium pan on a hot plate.  
Kate removing bundles from the iron solution - wrapped on PVC pipe, wood dowels, folded bundles with rubber bans, and a GREAT idea....sections of flexible tubing that could be bent to fit in the pan!!

It was our intent to keep a written record of every step/material/timing etc.  But after opening the first bundles and seeing nothing but blank fabric, we threw caution to the wind and just played.  However, we did 'try' to take some notes. I'll admit to giving that up at some point since there really didn't seem to be one constant that we could count on.  

So.....let's see how one specific piece was processed.
 Regular readers will recognize this fabric....yup...I STILL have some of that peachy colored National Non-wovens woolfelt that I didn't care for.
 It had been soaked in alum & line dried. Then sprinkled with ground turmeric and curry powder, covered with fresh pine needles and spritzed lightly with vinegar (mainly to keep the spices in place). With help from one of my pals, it was tightly rolled onto a wooden dowel.  Tied and placed in our iron solution (made by steeping rusty iron pieces in 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for 2 weeks)..
 Happy dancing and lots of squealing went on as I unrolled it.
 Great, isn't it?
 Yes, this really is the same's too bad it didn't retain the look straight from the pot, but of course as it was rinsed, it took on a much more rusty appearance.  In person, it's actually quite nice....sorry the photo didn't do it justice.  It was a surprise to realize....pine needles turned our fabric blue.....yeah!!!!
I brought the curled, cooked pine needles home which needed to be washed twice to eliminate the Indian curry smell.

Pretty soon they were calling to I decorated the top of a felted bowl.....

More to come....thanks for visiting

Friday, June 26, 2015


What a couple of days I just enjoyed.....fabulous fun!!  Along with two buddies, I spent a couple of days along the SC shore near Charleston in the pursuit of learning the secrets of eco-print dyeing. I'll share much more in the days that follow....but because I'm totally pooped, this overview will be brief.
 Armed with pages and pages of guidelines from the Internet (all lacking specific step-by steps), a car full of supplies, and great enthusiasm.....we began. One of our first tasks was to gather foliage/flower heads to print. 
 .......Which were arranged on a piece of pre-mordant fabric. 

 .....Then rolled around wood rods and tied into a bundle.  Our first bundles were placed in a steamer and left to cook for about 2 hours.
 Honestly, we could hardly contain ourselves as we opened the bundles, expecting colorful prints of the leaves and flowers.  WHAT?!?!  Nothing....we got big fat nothings.  
Well...some had a tiny bit of color....the majority of what you see here is the remains of the plant/flowers...stuck to the fabric.....geesh.  Our disappointment was pretty extreme.  How come this didn't work???
So, the next morning we were up bright and early, determined to try again and save what we had already printed (or not printed as was the case).  With trial and error and a lot of the end of our time together....this is what I came home with.......stay with me.....I'll go through all the drama after a good nights sleep.

See what others have been creating this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Whoop, Whoop, Fridays, Crazy Mom Quilts, Richard and Tanya Quilts.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


It's interesting to me when authors of the blogs I read pepper their posts from time to time with insights of their home life This is one of those posts.....I'll keep it brief.
 You've read about my daily 'forced march', which takes about 90 mins. and consists of four 1,000 feet elevation changes.....oh my......  If I wasn't guilted into going by 'the husband', I'd stall until the day was over.....honestly, this is not enjoyable for me but as one reaches the 7th's even more important to keep moving! 

I try to remind myself to keep my mind open to appreciating our beautiful surroundings. (Rather than concentrating and mulling over the sewing projects that await me!)  There are only 40 lots in our small subdivision, less than half are built on.....probably the result of the housing bust.  2 sections allow horses....with the morning sun just coming over the mountain, Angel (the horse) is standing in a field of daisies.
Our black lab Sooty rarely pays attention to the horses....she's on alert for moles....yes....Sooty is an accomplished mole catcher.  Gross......

What are you ignoring as you make your way through your day?  I guess we all need to give ourselves permission to STOP DOING......just for right now!

Monday, June 22, 2015


Eco-print dyeing has been on my "goals" list for several years.  Not having any luck finding a hands on workshop locally, AND, being a DIY kinda gal......I decided there's no time like the present to start experimenting.

I've read everything I could find online.....lots of fabulous results but not many reveal step by steps fully.  I suspect, like so many dyeing methods, there's more than one way to achieve results.
I've previously rusted fabric but never made an iron solution to be used to soak or steam foliage printed fabrics.  Using some rusty bed springs my pal Kate shared with me several years ago....I added 1 part vinegar to two parts water.
 Covered the bucket and let sit outside in our unusually warm weather for nearly 2 weeks.  OH MY's developed a deep frothy foam blossom.....

I removed the bed springs and tried to work the foam back into the liquid to avoid losing any of those goodies.  With a funnel placed into an empty milk container, I carefully transferred the iron solution from the bucket.

I talked two friends into experimenting eco-print dyeing with me.  I'll keep a photo record and report back in a few days.

Friday, June 19, 2015


This piece was created using fabric recently described here.
Artist microwave ice-dyed felted wool, mono printed, 
hand appliqued & embroidered, bead embellished.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Two pals have been expressing interest in learning some beading techniques. What a lovely way to spend the day....
 Don't they look studious!
 We concentrated on the even count peyote stitch...used to attach objects such as mirrors, cabochons, and agate slices.
They both got "A's" for their diligent work!
Here's an agate slice incorporated into a wall piece, using this method.  It's fun to find slices with holes.....providing an opportunity to add some fringes.  You can view the entire piece in my blog shop.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


So....'the husand' asked me to tackle a project for him.  It seemed simple when he described the task....ha, surprise, didn't take the 15 minutes I thought it would.
 These are SUPER, SUPER strong magnets....that I was to sew into the top of a flag.
No problem....says me.  I set about sewing a casing at the top of the flag.
 Thinking....I'd slide each of the 8 magnets into the sleeve....and machine stitch lines on each side to hold them in place.  NOT.....I was literally laughing out loud when I plopped the flag onto the bed of my sewing machine (with 1 magnet in place)......well....smack me in the face!  Of course the magnet stuck to the machine....and couldn't be moved.  Naturally, immediately I tugged it off....worrying the magnet could affect the computer in the machine.

So....I had to stitch little pockets by hand....NOT easy as the needle kept stitching to the did the scissors when I cut the thread.  Really, it was comic!

But......finally they were all stitched in place and the 'flag' will now be firmly secured over the auto's windshield.  One of the annual car races we attend is located in an area where the soil is particularly nasty.....this hopefully will save the windshield.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


FIRST  - nearly 8 year old computer (which worked just fine I might add), had to be replaced due to technological obsolescence.  My browser was too old and my equipment could not be upgraded to a newer version anymore......which infuriates me.  So I've spent the last 4 days, swearing, cussing, banging my head while trying to migrate the old with the know the've probably gone through it yourself.  Why oh why do they have to change things??  I LIKED the way my programs worked before.....and even if they worked differently, I wish they'd at least work.  Today was call # 5 to Apple Care.......this time it only took an hour to solve the current problem!!!  

Okay....I feel better....hope you don't feel worse.......

Back to fiber talk.  Over-all, I'm pleased with the results from the Fiber Junkies dyeing day.
 Originally light green silk noil
 All the rest were mercerized white cotton.

My goal had been to create background several above will have to be chopped up to use.  I did too much playing around which led to 'patterns' rather than interesting backgrounds.....  Oh time.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dr. McDreamy - a new career

WHOOH....HOOO...... I guess the career change has worked out for Patrick Dempsey......his team came in 2nd in their division at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans!!!

Porsche also placed # 1 and # 2 in the overall main category.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Really, life is good when one has fiber meetings two days in a row!  
 PTA (Professional Textile Artists) member Lynne recently moved from South Carolina to Flat Rock that she's settled we got to visit her beautiful home.  Look at this view from her living room window!
 11 of our 14 members were able to gather.....all talking at once.....sharing so much it was sometimes difficult to absorb it all.
Here's a fabulous idea!  Credit goes to Lynne for this clever way to inventory possessions.  Two moves ago, she packed up some of their 'treasures', and kept pictures of the wrapped items in the top of each box.  As things go sometimes......they were never unpacked after the move, and now they've been moved again!!  She has no room for these items anymore, so....she passed the photos around for us to choose anything that interested us.  Brilliant!!
 Connie Brown (an AQS appraiser) was sharing Paducah quilt show news.....and brought two interesting photos.  This year, the appraisers had an opportunity to enter the quilt museum's 'vault'.  Here you can see how boxes of quilts in their collection are labeled and stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.
And what a coincidence.....she was standing next to box #52.....which holds a quilt by our very own Judy Simmons.
Though we had an inspiring show and photos didn't turn out well enough to share.  But, I'm happy this one did. Dort is so skilled at creating 'story' is one in progress.