Tag Archives: textiles

Spray dyeing

Now with a newly cleaned and freshened studio, I jump back into some work!  When I look at this unfinished sketch, it looks a bit sterile.

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I think some texture would help.  So I apply the spray starch to the stretched silk and let it dry.  I cover the cat with  a torn paper  shape to shield it from the spray.

And since I’ve been working with painted paper lately too, I plan to save the paper for later.

Next I  spray it with some dye from a misting bottle.  And I like the results.  2014-08-03 13.50.05



This spurs me on!  I work on another, with lots of torn paper to  form a stencil.  2014-08-03 15.03.27And the paper itself is interesting.

I’ll save it for later.  The dye penetrates the brown paper, and dyes both sides.

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The Scary Next Step…

Stretching the quilt backing onto the kitchen floor, then taping it, is a process in itself!  But my quilt day had just begun! 

Next there was placing down the batting and then pinning the quilt  top to it.

Stretcing the quilt and batting

 I am so HOPEFUL that I will like the results… but as this is my first time trying to machine stitch a quilt, I am not sure about this!

I am linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.  I need the help of these experts!

At Play

sketches on my workbenchI’m playing- experimenting with collage, drawing,  and dyeing on silk chiffon.  It’s GREAT… though I don’t know where this is leading me…Stitching  as a drawing line

paper and fiber sketches

fiber sketches

Painting and Drawing on Silk Chiffon

Silk dye drawing level of transparencyI’ve  started experimenting on silk chiffon.  Wow- what a great fabric. Soft, strong, and it takes the dye great.   I started the underdrawing with my silk dyes, dried out so the lines would stay, and also used magic sizing on the chiffon.  Dyes  being prepped

Here the dyes are drying a bit- when the water evaporates almost all the way it works great for delicate lines and brushwork.

The drawing worked wonderfully on the magic-sizing prepped chiffon. silk chiffon in dye processAfter steam setting the drawing, I painted it as well, again with the silk dyes and magic sizing.   The chiffon works great- the colors spring out vivid, and the details very sharp.    Day Lillies on silk chiffon

And the transparency- it fascinates me.  I love the chiffon with just the drawing, and then again with the painting effect.  Day Lillies painting on chiffon level of transparency

I’m linking up to Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday– check it out!

Winter Tree Series- Can salt resolve a problem?

I’ve identified a  problem with my Winter Tree series. I need to keep the backgrounds simple, but I don’t like them as flat as they are.  So, let me try to add texture, while keeping it simple.  Now, I am remembering a resist technique done with salt on silk… If I can reproduce it, that might do the trick.  Here’s one of the paintings, with a too flat background. Silk Dye over Drawing

So the technique I remember involves dipping the silk into a bath of water and LOTS of salt.  Next dry it, press it, and use a mist of dye to saturate the fabric.  The effect of the salt crystals is that it resists the dye, keeps it from flowing, and preserves tiny white or un-dyed spots wherever the salt crystals are, giving a pointillist effect.

The salt to water ratio I used was roughly 8 cups of water to 3/4 lbs of plain table salt.  I boiled the water on the stovetop, dissolved the salt as much as possible, and removed the pan from the heat.   I dropped in three of my winter tree painting series (they are small paintings).  I let the salt water infuse the silk for 20 minutes or so, and then removed the paintings to the sink and let them cool.  Oh!  I burned myself at this stage! They were so hot!  Next time I’ll make sure to use a wooden spoon to remove them…Drawing Stencil at the Window

Don’t rinse them!  When they are cool, gently squeeze out the excess and hang the silk to dry.  The next day they were dry- and I could see the salt crystals evenly distributed, encrusting the silk.  I pressed the silk with a warm iron, to get a nice drawing surface.  Ready to make a stencil

I taped the paintings to the window- so I could trace a stencil using recycled paper.  I traced the trees, then cut the stencils for each of the three paintings.

After cutting the stencil, I stretched the painting back on the frame, and placed the stencil on top.  Then I sprayed the painting with dye in a mist bottle,  to get some background color.  Cut Paper Stencil

Finally I ended up with a softer background for each of the paintings.   Now I will need to steam set it, and only then rinse out the salt.  A vinegar rinse  after that should make them soft and luminous again.  I’m not quite at that stage- the last painting is still drying on the frame…

After Spray Dyeing using Stencil

Steaming on the Stovetop

Having started several paintings, using magic sizing on the silk for the preliminary drawings, I am ready to steam set.  Here is a quick picture diary of the steam setting I am doing today:

Wrapping silk in a bundle for steaming

The silk paintings have the magic sizing on them, and the preliminary drawings are dry.  There are two in this bundle I am making, separated by a layer of cotton.  I roll up the paintings and tie the bundle loosely with a soft cotton cord.

Bundle ready for steaming

Here is the bundle- ready for the stovetop steamer.  I will leave it in for at least 30 minutes.  Silk bundle inside steamerThe steamer is gently steaming over medium heat- and now I put the lid on it and let it quietly steam.  Washing out the sizing

After the steaming is done, I lift out the bundle.  Ouch!  I’ve been too hasty too many times- it is so hot!  And stays hot, as I unroll it.  So- be careful! It can burn … Anyway, now I get to give them  a light wash to remove the magic sizing from the initial painting step.  Some people use a fancy soap- I don’t care for too many chemicals.  I use a tiny drop of dish detergent.  It still may stress the silk if it is too harsh.  Adding a vinegar rinse

I add a few splashes of white vinegar to a final cold rinse, to restore the natural acidic balance to the silk, after the detergent and magic sizing.  It seems to help- it certainly restores the shine and luster.  I’ll iron these dry- or let them hand on a clothesline.  And then I am ready to begin next layer of painting.

New Favorite, Almost Didn’t Make It

Ever had a painting you started, and somewhere along the way something goes wrong?  What about getting it right again?  Saving a painting seems rare enough that I’m ready to celebrate.

Applying Color after Magic Sizing

Here it is, stage one.  I applied Magic Sizing, let it dry, and then blocked out my dominant shape.  Notice… after this moment, there are no more photographs of the painting in stages.  Yes, it went south right after this.

I added some bold green in diagonals, and a soft grey background.  The idea was to capture the shapes of the spring daffodils I had seen, in a graphic simple way.  Well, graphic and simple I got.  But the colors fought, the shapes had no rhythm, and try as I might, I couldn’t blend anything together.

I tried the usual tricks.  The muted colors floating over  a too-flat area.  The texture added in small doses.  Then in desperately large doses.  And my emergency re-boot… flipping it to use the opposite side hoping the composition will be more dynamic reading the opposite way (the benefits of dye on fabric- it goes all the way through…).  Didn’t work.  Reader, I HATED it.

It sat on a shelf for almost a year.  I got stubborn and started reworking it again, without a great deal of hope.  Actually, with no hope.  Just stubbornness.  But for some reason, it came to life again.

Daffodils in Moonlight



Working in a Series

What is more enjoyable than being outdoors on a beautiful day sketchbook in hand?  Sketching in my garden last summer proved to be very motivating.  I enjoyed the process, and felt that some of the work I did had enough creative energy to fuel a number of paintings.  Here’s the sketch that fueled my creative path this fall…Lily Sketch

Here are some of the paintings produced this fall, inspired my my sketch…

Yellow Lillies

I found working in a series a challenge, and I did love it.  The down side seemed to be that some paintings lost spontaneity.  Honestly, I would say that is the case with the one above!

Lillies Bursting

This one turned out better, I think!

The up side seemed to be the link I felt between my drawing skill and what is showing up in my finished paintings is getting stronger.  I recognize my joy in linear play, and as I became more familiar with the shapes I had created, I strengthened them a bit as I went along.

Lillies in the Rain

In this one, I tried to retain the sketch feeling…Sketch Garden View

Green Garden Lillies I never felt like I had the “final say” with any of these paintings, or captured quite what I had imagined.  Still, one summer sketch occupied most of my creative output this fall.   I still feel there is  lot of learning to do from these paintings before I put this series totally behind me.  I’d love to hear from others working in a series- the pittfalls, the upsides, and all.

Inspired to Risk, A Textile Story

Do you ever have a project that starts with great creative force and then for some reason you stall out?  I certainly have.  This particular project has been quite a journey for me, one of the biggest creative challenges I can ever remember.

Silk quilt in beginning stages

Inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood’s remarkable textile work (specifically her Mod Mood Improvisational Quilts), I embarked on my own improvisational quilt.  Without any money to spend on a new project, and with many many scraps of hand painted silk at my disposal, I gave myself the challenge of creating if from throwoff pieces I already had.

I should have known that to follow Wood down the brave and thoughtful path she takes with her artwork, more thinking, feeling, and understanding world be demanded of my creative process that I have ever delivered before.

After much work, I reached a point with my quilt where I simple could not proceed.  It asked for something from me- but what?

Instead of the warm creative wholeness I would normally feel as I worked on a project, I began to dwell on troubling thoughts, dark emotions, and the persistent question “WHY?”

I put it aside for quilt a while, puzzled and a bit troubled.  Inspiration arrived through Denise Burg ‘s textile work, as I had described in my last post.   Her use of color inspired and moved me in an immediate emotional way.

Anyway- I realized that my quilt needed black- against the bright and joyful colors.  Not just as a cold and formal technical solution.  But as an emotional necessity.  The deeper darker questions that have come up in a creative pursuit- had nowhere to go in this quilt.  Now- they do.

Well, this is not the end of the journey.  Only a step along the way.  Technical issues abound with my quilt!   But I feel that I have been true to the creative process- even as I let go of the probability of a beautiful or worthy conclusion.  Many feelings have come up following this creative path.  I think the worst fear is that of looking foolish.  Or is there another fear underneath?!  This process has been incredible demanding.

In a timely coincidence, Sherri Lynn Wood posted some writings on her blog to exactly this point, even as I have been struggling to understand this process in my version of her Mod Mood quilt.

Thank you, Sherri!

Embroidery Project- Quilt Label

I pulled out some needlework projects this week, to try to wrap some up.  This one will be a quilt label for one of my quilts.  I love a vine/leaf motif, and have been doodling and drawing variations of it my entire life.