Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Pink, Purple and Sparkly all Over?

I've been busy doing non-quilting type projects but working with fabric none the less. My
granddaughter turned 3 yesterday and her celebration is this weekend. I've been making some things for her, one of which is a princess dress. She loves pink and purple and of course sparkles. The fabric is the slippery, hard to work with kind of fabric I don't enjoy, but colors she loves.
 So here is the net, the sparkly and faux satin...
 and the pattern, lower right. It's adorable. I took her measurements and made this without any fittings so I hope it works.
The finished sparkly dress heading off to Atlanta tomorrow for the big celebration. I can't wait to see my big girl - great fun! Have a wonderful weekend.
Til next time...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Vat Dyeing

I had the opportunity to take a class in vat dyeing on Saturday. I always wanted to try it but hesitated because of the lye that was used in the process. My friend Denny recently took this workshop and loved it - felt very comfortable with it so I decided to jump in. 4 of the 6 gals in Fiber Junkies all signed up - we were off and running. We did 2 pieces the first being a test piece. The process in a nutshell; you work with fabric, usually silk or cotton dyed with an acid or mx dye both of which can be discharged. A vat dye mix, some paste and I assume discharge of some sort is then applied to surface through screening or stamps. The vat dye image removes color underneath and replaces it with the color of the vat dye. This is done through the final step of steaming.
The paste mix is quite gummy and easy to apply. We all brought stamps and other kinds of imagery to use in the first step.
Here is my piece before it was steamed.
The next step is to get them ready for the steamer. They are layered with fabric in between so no piece touches another. This is done while the dyes are still wet.
After being rolled up in fabric, they are then rolled in paper to capture any excess moisture that might accumulate on the package from the steam.
The steamer is quite sophisticated with double gas burners. It has a rod the pieces are initially rolled on making for an easy placement in the steamer.
Here is my piece after steaming - the colors quite vibrant.
Next piece was more involved; we carved stamps out of pieces of insulation board using a wood burning tool. We all wore masks and worked outside as the fumes from insulation board are not good. Since I have no drawing skills, I used this wonderful stencil created by Mary Stori - it worked out so well. The pieces of board were cut the width of the scarf so we could have a nice design that fit perfectly.

The idea was to remove as much of the background so the color of the scarf would show. I had a hard time with that concept until I actually saw the finished product and then the lightbulb went on! I just kept burning away as Charlie, our instructor told me to.

Charlie had dyed a beautiful assortment of silk satin scarfs, choosing a color was difficult - just so many luscious colors.
Kate did a wonderful design she drew with a sharpie first and then burned it out
and her scarf....before steaming.
After wrapping and steaming once again we were ready for the water soak.
We were all so anxious to see the results - even though they only had to be soaked for 10 minutes, it was the longest ten minutes ever!
Denny's came out beautiful; she worked with rayon as she's allergic to silk. It was interesting to see how the process worked on rayon and it turned out wonderful.
Here'e Kates - beautiful and her favorite colors.
This is Val's drawing as she was transferring it to the insulation board.
She worked with a cranberry colored silk and did a lot of overlapping - and the results were wonderful - no surprise there. Val is our resident artist; everything she does is magical!
And my cat-tails, before steaming which were also overlapped...
and the finished piece I'm doing a happy dance as I'm very pleased with the results and even more so to find the technique fun and comfortable to work with.
And the resident cat - Rudy, I'm a cat lover so he became my pal that day. I have to say that
Charlie Slate in Greenville, SC does a beautiful job with this class. I am looking forward to taking another workshop from her.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fresh Indigo and PTA

Our PTA group met at the Folk Art Center this month to play with fresh Indigo. Connie Brown put this all together, brought a ton of supplies along with her expertise in using this plant. It was  wonderful fun and I learned so much. Connie brought several pots to show us the Indigo plant...
 and then it was time to get to work
 We tried 3 different methods of working with fresh Indigo, first was to strip the leaves off the stalks.
 Leaves and stalks were separated as the stalks were brought home to root and
the leaves were put in the blender with water and ice cubes. This process worked well with silk. I brought China silk and Kate brought noil for all of us to try so 2 very different types of silk - one heavy and one very light weight was good to have.
 Connie strained the leaves through a fine gauze material, probably something they use for jelly making as it was very fine.
 The solution was green and quickly turned our fabrics green when sloshed around.....
and green when removed; the oxygen in the air will turn them blue. They were then rinsed in water and put out to dry.
 Next we tried the direct application of the leaf to fabric. We rubbed it, used heavy objects such as this old bowling bowl which Connie brought...
 also mallets..
and good old fingers which worked very well. We used boards or trays underneath, some of which had great texture and transferred to fabric.
 We then washed our fabric with bars of soap so the soap made direct contact with the fabric - a hard scrubbing as opposed to a swishing through some soapy water.
 Last technique involved using younger Indigo which was clipped off the plant but enough left for it to thrive and grow. This was put in a pot of boiling water along with Rit dye remover which I believe contains Thiox and something else, think it was baking soda. I should have been more diligent in writing things down, but just having too much fun. We let the fabric boil in that solution for a while,
pulled it out with tongs and watched our treasures turn from yellow-green to a beautiful pale blue green. This was by far my favorite technique in working with fresh Indigo. I love watching the fabric turn and this technique was the most dramatic for me.
 Our beautiful fabric set out to dry. The very blue one at the top is just a rag but everything else was done with Indigo. You can see the variety of intensities using the different techniques and also the different fabrics.
 Here are some of my fabrics which have more color in person. They actually match the color of a room I recently painted so I might wind up using them there.
 Kate gave me a beautiful old hankie; we both love old linens, especially those with holes in them.
 This piece seemed to take the color better, more blue and we don't know if it was because it was older, more worn and used but it turned out beautiful. You can see the wonderful texture.
I do work with Indigo using a big 5 gallon pail with cover. I used the pre-reduced as it allows you to avoid the use of lye. It still forms the blossom on top and needs to be kept covered so oxygen doesn't get into the solution. It has to be fed from time to time to keep it alive and going, but the results are beautiful. One of the pieces I did (on left) is next to the fresh Indigo on right. Both are beautiful and very different and I can see places to use both. It was great fun learning how to work with fresh Indigo. I brought home many stalks and they are making roots which I'll transfer to a pot. If nothing else, it will be a beautiful plant. A huge thank you to Connie who organized this wonderful day....all we had to do was walk in and play.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jill's Quilt

 A couple of years ago or less, my daughter Jill bought this quilt kit because of the finished piece on display in a quilt shop. It was a great piece but I thought to myself, my daughter doesn't even own a needle and thread so hmmmm.....wonder how this is going to go together.
 Well, I found out quickly when I offered to do it and she jumped on the opportunity. It really is a wonderful piece even though I'm not prone to kits, but it would have been difficult. There were 5 pieces to each block - A, B, C, D, E,  but each letter had a different size depending on the block; Each block had to be handled individually. I've had the top done for ages, also had made throw pillows out of fabric we bought that matched some in the quilt.
 Well before the pillows wore out, I thought I needed to finish this piece. I did an overall quilt/stipple type pattern which was fine as the fabric patterns were busy.
 We chose the backing to be plain and I thought maybe to use it also as a binding, but no, it was way too light. What to do - I went to the quilt shop and bought a few I thought would work, but not so. Sometimes the best choices are right under our nose and we don't realize it.
 The scraps left over from the quilt might do, especially something dark, many tiny pieces except for this one piece which was used only once in the quilt.
 It was perfect as a binding, cut on the bias, making this strip like pattern easier to work with. And note that this was all that was left after binding this large quilt. Guess, luck was with me this day.
 The binding really was a winner for this piece....
and the final piece. I think Jill will love it. Like I mentioned before, I'm not usually thrilled with kits, but this one was darling and I love both the prints and the way they were combined.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The American Flag

This is a post I wrote years ago and always one of my favorites and worth repeating...

The late, great Erma Bombeck was a gifted writer who gave us her light-hearted insights into life, people and mostly herself. I read her column on a weekly basis; I looked forward to it. She always made me laugh but on a few occasions, brought a tear to my eyes. I'm not a saver of articles and such, but one particular column I've saved for over 30 years; it's yellow with age, it still brings a tear to my eyes. In honor of Independence Day, I give you Erma's take on the American Flag - What's red and white and blue and true?

"No one ever taught me about the flag.
When I was 5, I was in a dance recital. My costume was a silver leotard. Attached to it at the shoulders and wrists was a flag. During the last few bars, I spread my arms revealing 48 stars on a field of white. The audience went crazy cheering...I learned a flag could make you look like you had talent!
 A few years later at a baseball game in Cincinnati, 2 men were calling each other names that would starch your underwear. One said Ted Kluszewski hit like a girl and the other guy threatened to rearrange his nose. Just then, they hoisted the flag; both of them stood with their hats over their hearts. I learned that a flag could break up a fight!
 During the second World War, my Grandma sent her son to war. I never saw her cry when he left, or when he wrote or when we talked of him, but one afternoon when she thought no one was watching, she went and put a little flag on the sill in the front window. There were flags all up and down the street in windows. I learned the flag could bring tears to the eyes of people who didn't usually cry.
 When I was in New York once, I saw a group of demonstrators protesting the war. They lit a match to the flag. I watched in horror as the silk stripes curled in flames because I knew what was coming. Within minutes, there would be a bolt of lightning and thunder to strike them all dead - Nothing happened; the earth didn't part, the sky didn't fall and the VFW was open regular hours. I learned that a flag could touch the ground and life could go on.
 Later I was to learn that people would make underwear out of the flag, key rings and toilet seats. The flag was a successful commercial venture. 
 I would learn that you wouldn't think about the flag for a long time, then you'd see it being raised slowly over a gold medal winner at the Olympics and you'd get up out of your chair quickly and say "Anyone want a beer while I'm up?" and go to the kitchen to hide your tears.

I'm still learning about the flag. It's an enigma to me. I've known it all my life. It's so familiar, yet it occasionally touches a nerve that excites to the point where I square my shoulders and say to a perfect stranger at the UN, "See that one with the red and white stripes and stars? That's my country."
Have a safe and wonderful Independence Day.