Monday, August 29, 2011


I'm getting into a bit of a rhythm with eco dyeing now.  I have a continuous cellulose-fabric premordant operation happening.  I'm hot processing bundles a couple times a week, trying different mordant schemes (pre- and post) and using a selection of different plant materials and fabrics.  I'm especially loving eucalyptus stuff.

All of these pieces except the last one are eucalyptus prints.  I've got two species growing nearby that I have easy access to, and looking for others whenever I can.

These four samples are silk fabrics.

The last piece is rayon with one or another maple-type leaves growing in my neighborhood.

I've been enjoying the late summer sun when we have it.  Also getting close to finished on current Fiberactions' challenge quilt.  And otherwise laying low, under the radar as much as possible.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cold Bundling

I couldn't wait any longer to unwrap a cold bundle of eco dyed was sitting for nearly a month and I just opened it.

The top image is a piece of silk chiffon that had crocosmia flowers, stems and leaves wrapped inside, along with an old rusty tube.  That was wrapped with an old linen hankie, photo below.

Mostly what you see are rust prints, the plant prints are much lighter.  And I took the tube out of the bundle after a week because I knew it would eat right through the fabric -- in fact, it did on the linen piece.

I'm steaming new hot bundles today with cellulose fabrics that have now been premordanted four or five times (the fifth soak being alum) ~ also some small swatches of raw silk and kimono silk.  These packets will wait for a week before I unbundle them. 

Gotta go gather more plant material!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Discharge Trials

I've been working on my quilt for Fiberactions' "texture" challenge, to be revealed September 15.  In preparation for creating the top, I did some sampling with thiox discharge paste on black linen.

The only thing I can tell you about the quilt is that it will be a wholecloth piece of fabric.  You'll have to wait until 9/15 to see what I come up with.

While we're talking about Fiberactions, I also want to mention that the current challenge is the penultimate one for the group, and our last batch of quilts together will be revealed on November 15.  That will be the 2-year mark for the group, the end of our initial round of challenges.  At that point five of the original members will be leaving the group to pursue their own directions in fiber art, and we'll be welcoming two new members.  We'll proceed beyond mid-November with nine of us.  We'll be using the same blog but it will look different when the group changes.  Just stay tuned and you won't miss a thing.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eco Shibori

These are all cellulose fabrics that were dyed with eucalyptus.  I made two dyebaths with euc leaves ~ the top one had a small piece of copper in the bath, and the two below had some rusty iron in the bath.

All the pieces had been wrapped or tied up for shibori in some way, and they sat in their respective glass jars solar dyeing for a week after the initial hour-long steep in the liquid.

The fabrics had been premordanted once in either alkaline (soda ash/water) or protein (soy milk/water).  The bottom piece had been dyed previously with plant dyes, which also deposited tannic acid on the fabric, hence the darker color. I have one more batch of hot bundles that I'll be unwrapping today after a week-long sit.

Now I am premordanting cellulose fabrics four times, alternately with alkaline and protein, to build up a better foundation of color acceptance.  So I'm anticipating that further eco dyeing I do -- hot or cold bundled or pot-dyed -- will result in more darkly colored fabric with much better plant prints.

It's all such an experiment ~ just like life itself!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Humble Rewards

These are photos from a couple of recent eco dye batches I did.  I'm getting quite a little stack of eco dyed fabrics but I haven't yet been able to get really good leaf prints although I've thus far tried several methods of processing.  With any luck I'll be able to amend that last statement a few days from now when I unwrap some of the bundles I dyed over the last weekend.  Time is of the essence in these matters ~ as in, more time to let the fabric sit before unwrapping.

The first photo above, probably my best yet, is onion skins on silk.  Protein fibers -- silk and wool -- take eco dyes much more readily than cellulose fibers.  But rather than run out and buy a lot of silk which I don't have on hand and can't easily afford these days, I'm using mostly cotton and linen fabrics which I'm premordanting in either protein or alkaline solution, or both.

The middle photo is cotton.  The photo below is silk gauze and it's very shear -- you're looking at the piece folded four times so the dyed coloration is evident.

In addition to three batches of bundles air processing, I have a pot of pieces stewing in eucalyptus extract.  The dyeing is almost finished.  Then I'll let it cool completely in the dyebath and unwrap.  Hopefully there'll be a few nice pieces to show.  I am finding, though, that the best way for me to proceed with this whole thing is to have no expectations and be delighted with whatever shows up.

Just a note here, and possibly for myself more than any of you readers ~ Even though I am experimenting now with eco dyeing, I have no plans to give up fiber reactive dyeing.  I did too much work earlier this year developing my own color palette with FR dyes and I like the results too much to give them up and move entirely to a new dyeing paradigm.  And yes I know there's the toxicity issue and environmental concerns.  All things in moderation, I've always said.  Too many times in the past I've thrown out the baby with the bathwater, and I don't intend to do that with dyeing.


Saturday, August 6, 2011


Thanks for all your great comments and well wishes for my show!


Friday, August 5, 2011

August Solo Show

My second solo show this year is happening now through August 31 at Los Bagels Truchas Gallery in Eureka.  The entire gallery space is one long old brick wall of this lovely cafe in the heart of Old Town Eureka, at the corner of 2nd and E Streets.

And this is the entire show, 17 pieces.  If you're in the Humboldt area, please join me during Arts Alive! this Saturday, August 6 from 6-9pm at the reception.

In other news, yesterday I unwrapped those hot bundles of eco dyed fabrics that I steamed last Thursday.  Interesting results for my first go round with this dyeing method.  I'll post photos here over the weekend.  I prepared a cold bundle last week as well ~ although I plan to leave it sit for another three weeks (one month total), I did remove the very rusty iron tube I'd put in the bundle last week because I knew it would have eaten right through the fabric if left untouched for another three weeks.  Now the bundle will sit uncovered, damp until it dries through for the rest of its time.

Thanks to the women who purchased all the handmade fabric scraps I had.  About half of them went to the Netherlands!  I have a growing number of online friends and blogs reads originating in the Netherlands.

I'm feeling distracted today, as I did yesterday.  I'm learning to enjoy these spacey places, taking them for what they are ~ interstices or segues between thrusts of creativity.

Have a great weekend!