May 312017

While I understand that most other areas in our hemisphere have been enjoying spring for months, we’re still trying to maintain traction in Cheyenne.

These roses are blooming in the sunlight.

The cats like it, too.

The door was only open long enough to get the mail and when I turned back around to close it, the two smallest cats had already staked their claim and passed out happily in the warmth.

May 262017

Went down to the workshop last night and was facing over an hour of paintbrush line work and I only had 1.5h before bedtime. Then I recalled that I had a squeeze bottle with a needle tip that would dispense the paint in a line much more efficiently, but where did I put it? I just straightened up a couple weeks ago, it couldn’t have gone far. The more I failed to find it, the more determined I became to find it. After an hour, I gave up the search and sat down with the paintbrush. Ended up being over an hour past bedtime to finish at that point.

In this morning’s hindsight, the paint would have beaded up on the fabric and not worked well. The paintbrush was needed to coerce the paint into the fibers, so the bottle would have been useless.

May 232017

Made this zip pouch a few weeks back. In case you’ve noticed the number of zip pouches this year, that is my fallback. Last year was quilts. This year is zip pouches. I still make quilts … and everything .. but if I want a project, this year I’m aiming towards zip pouches.

I have a nice, wide format printer dedicated to artwork. However, you have to print something once or twice a week to keep the heads clear (less ink than cleaning cycles), so I printed out this watercolor of mine onto cotton, then heat set it and bathed it in fixative. Then made a zip pouch from it. All about these little opportunities.

The finished product. 8″x 7.5″ flat.

Fully lined in matching cotton and has an interior pocket for small bits.

Attached a bead to the zip pull for ease of grabbing. Loop on the side for attaching.

The creature.

This item has been listed in my Etsy shop, if you want it for yourself.

Sometimes I ride the wave of creativity and throw paint on a page as it speaks to me and move on. Then, hours, days, months later I’ll go back and see more to be had with it. This is such. I like his fuzzy, amorphous existence.

May 192017

Oz likes my seat best. He often settles in when I leave in the morning and doesn’t give up the spot until I come home and physically move him. Slick says this means Oz spends more time in my spot than I do, but I say it is still my spot.

May 182017

After the dye party, I was looking at the fabrics and thinking about the amount and distribution of ice and how it influences the end result. My hypothesis was that more ice would both dilute the dye and create greater melt patterns with the dye. So, I did a little experiment and this is the result.

The piece on the left had about twice as much ice applied as the piece on the right, but about the same amount of powder dye. As expected, the additional ice did wash out more dye, and also produced more variance spots (once you account for the less dye). Good to know.

This is not one of those things I’m going to test a lot. A large part of the charm of this process is the unpredictable results and I want it to keep that with me. Also, I’m a bit tired of dying fabric now. I have a line of things to finish up and am itching to get stitching. Although, we are right now at the start of a huge spring snowstorm that could mire the entire town in heavy, wet, snow, so perhaps I will get another piece or two in yet.

May 172017

This post took a while, but I wanted to wait until the fabric was done so it could be seen at the same time.

Everyone was warned to wear old clothes and showed up on a Sunday. It rained the two days before, so I was concerned, but without cause. Sunday was the brightest, sunniest day yet! In fact, it was so warm and sunny that the ice ended up melting much faster than I anticipated. That worked out. We gathered inside beforehand to discuss the process, dye blending, and to chose colors combinations.

This is one of my two sample dye combination boards. The two together show all the fiber reactive dyes I have, minus the black dyes (since they vary so much with handling) and some Jacquard brand little jars that I’m not going to buy again. Everyone looked over the colors, picked out their combinations and away we went.

I handed out the fabric to all, fresh from its chemical bath preparation (soda ash, urea, salt). Everyone got a large piece (42″ sq) and a quarter piece (22″ sq) and cotton embroidery thread, if desired.

Here is everyone arranging their ice onto the scrunched up fabrics. Slick helped out greatly by running out to get ice, then loading it into a wheelbarrow in the shade for us at exactly the right time. I know that sounds like a little thing, but when your whole process depends on ice on a sunny day, it becomes a big deal.

Everyone applied powder as desired. The little squares were placed on grids below the big ones, so as to catch the runoff dye. Dye dispersion results varied wildly for those pieces.

Once that was done, we all went inside and had some lunch. I put out a spread of finger foods and many gals brought foods, too. No cooking today! We had a whole table full of deliciousness and sat around talking for a few hours, which was quite nice. Afterwards, we went back out to see the progress.

A lot of the ice was melted. The gal on the back left there wanted extra blendy, muted colors, so she piled some more leftover ice onto hers. Now it is largely waiting. Everyone departed.

A few hours later, when it was getting darker in preparation for rain, I went out and checked on the pieces. The little bits were getting dry around the edges, so I put some of the chemical bath in a spray bottle and dampened them, then moved all the grids together for ease of covering.

All condensed and covered in plastic. I used rocks to keep the edges down, but I also went in with a staple gun when the wind began picking up to keep it all secure.

Then, the hard part, waiting two days. So impatient! At about 52 hours, I processed the fabrics: rinse in cool water, fixative in warm water, rinse, wash in Synthrapol and hot water, rinse for finish. With this many pieces to be washed at once, I was able to toss them in the machine and save myself some work! Nice. It was raining again, so I used the dryer. I did give all the pieces a quick trim with the scissors to remove threads that had washed loose. There weren’t many since I’d hemmed the fabrics before hand. I was tempted to iron them, to completely bring out their beauty, but I calmed the hell down instead.

I highly recommend clicking on the photos to see a bigger version. There are wonderful depths to all the pieces.

This gal had a plan. This piece could easily come live in my stash and join a future quilt. Rich and deep.

I love all these bold, intense, twisting colors. There is so much movement and drama.

Hers looked like rainbow candy sherbert. It looks so tasty on a sunny spring day!

This is an unusual color combination, but she had a theme.

This is the gal that added more ice.

I have to say that after having all these beautiful and vibrant dyed fabrics in my workshop, waiting for their delivery day, it was sad to see them delivered to their artist-creator-owners. They are so pretty I don’t know how they’ll have the heart to cut into them. If they were my pieces, I’d have to simply seam the edges and leave them as one of two pieces, tops.

May 102017

Last week we had one more bit of snow and I took advantage again.

This is: Bright Green (Jacquard – all others Dharma), New Emerald Green, and Mermaid’s Dream on snow, already partly melted.

Wet on the clothesline in the bright afternoon sun.

Four hours later, dry on the line in the dappled sunset. The light has changed the look, but the fabric is still quite vibrant when dry and I am happy with it.

It took me a while to get these photos up because I was busy getting ready for the dying party, which happened on Sunday successfully. The fabrics were complete last night and I’ll share about it as soon as I get photos of the pieces done by guests. They are all wonderful.

May 092017

That title is wordy, but it was the best title for this quilt.

The Cats Ate the Jam Last Night Quilt
43 x 58″
This poor little quilt was started last year when I picked up a sample log cabin block I’d made when designing a quilt for my niece. Her quilt went a completely different way and this block was sitting in the extras pile for months. I had so many pink scraps leftover from that quilt, I figured I could use them to round out some more log cabin blocks to go along with the lonely single. I added purples and grays to the existing scraps to make it more interesting. The off cuts while working became the Tintamarre Quilt, which I loved so much that I finished it first. Then I got busy the end/beginning of the year and I finally got around to finishing this one this spring. Then it sat for two weeks waiting for a load of laundry to add to, then another week while the weather was bad for photography anytime I was at home. Then add one more week that was too busy at work and home for me to get around to editing and uploading photos. It’s done now.

Each of the edge blocks is oriented so that it is facing up if you are looking at it from the edge nearest you. Not sure if that description makes sense, but it is omni-directional. This is simultaneous with the alignment of pink/purple color corners and gray/black non-color corners of the overall quilt. That took some arrangement fiddling when putting them all together.

That skull glows in the dark.

One of the cooler, more purple blocks.

The back is a simple stacked coin stripe of the leftovers.

While there are multiple cats in these fabrics, there are as many rabbits, and there are foxes and crows – BUT this quilt came to life because it sprang from the creation of the niece’s cat quilt (much the way Greek gods would spring from the blood of other gods in battle) the cats get the title inspiration priority.

A shot of the quilt on our new couch. It is a good size.

This one is also going into the Etsy shop once in the next day or two.

May 042017

For my birthday this year, I did another pottery party.

Here’s a shot of us all at the table eating, before starting clay work. At the front right you can see one of the zip pouches (birthday favor bags) I made this year. I should share pictures of those; I think they’re pretty cool. Things got hectic the beginning of this year.

Here are all the finished items. We were the first to go in to pick up items and it was great to see everyone’s pieces. They are all so creative and interesting! I have imaginative and clever friends.

May 022017

More spring snows mean more snow-dying!

I wanted darker colors, bolder and stronger than I got even last time and those from last time looked pretty good. I did a few things to accomplish this:
1. Pretreat fabric with soda ash, urea, and salt.
2. Leave wet dye on fabric for about 22 hours.
3. Used a dye fixative after batching.
4. Used only Dharma Procion dyes (instead of Jacquard Procion MX dyes, brand difference only) *
5. Used bolder, deeper color dyes.

If you know me, you know that when I really want to succeed in something, I will take every extra step even remotely reasonable. That is what I did here, and got total success.

Snow, plus dye. This blob is a combination of Deep Space blue, Mermaid’s Dream blue, and Imperial Purple. I’m trying a new setup with the racks over wood studs so that I can both stand instead of squatting while working and have room to put another rack with fabric underneath this one. This process is inefficient and wasteful, so I thought I’d recoup some of that runoff dye with a second piece. For the group dying session coming up I’ll use saw horses to hold three or four studs so that multiple racks can go side by side with space. Raising them up like this should also allow easy placement of more runoff fabric catchers.

After a few hours, much melt. Those studs are now the most colorful wood we own. Slick said we should open an artisanal stud shop. That would be neat, to have things made of artist-dyed woods.

The next day, after setting, fixing, washing, these are wet on the line. There was a lot of wind that day, so this was the best shot I could get. I had to untangle the pieces from themselves, each other and the line itself a number of times over the hours as they got whipped about.

And completely dry. Good, bold colors, and that runoff recoup piece is pretty, too. My stash of hand dyed fabrics is growing.

In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m trying to show process photos not only for people who might decide to try this themselves, but for people coming to the group session soon that might want an idea of what will happen. Stepped out photos help when you’re trying to achieve results using an unfamiliar process.

* About list item #4, I don’t think there is much, or possibly any, difference in the brand of procion fiber reactive dye. However, I have had slightly better results with Dharma brand than Jacquard brand dyes, there is a bit more in Dharma containers (which are also larger), they are a smidge cheaper, and there are more color choices with Dharma. Any differences are most likely due to my novice mistakes instead of the brand, but like I said, I’ll take any reasonable efforts for advantages.

I’m going to have to buy more PFD fabric – all these spring snows and prepping for the group session are depleting my supply. Oh darn, I have to buy more fabric! HAHAHA!

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