Friday, December 26, 2008

Cotton Dyeing Class

Want to learn how to hand dye cotton fabric? I'll teach you how! Go to and sign up for Cotton Dyeing Basics. Class starts January 9th. 5 weeks! Big fun. Easy stuff. You'll love it! Gradation dyeing, over dyeing, making solids, mottling colors; it's all there. See you in class.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fish finished-

I finally finished the fish.
These days when I work on my fiber art I start with a challenge to myself around a perceived area of weakness, or I center myself around a challenging idea. With the fish, I wanted to explore the concept of layers. I love fish! What I wanted to capture is the layers of depth when viewing coi in a pond. You can see the development of the idea in postings below.
I'm not satisfied with this piece yet. It's okay but just okay. I didn't like the way the light is diffused with the silk gauze and the netting is not opaque enough to do the trick. I tried doubling it up; I painted it; I tripled it up. Finally, I doubled it and stitched it down in ripples as you can see.
I have thought about using glass and painting on that and will return to this challenge later. The lily pads will be attached to the glass and if I can get Jerry The Glass Man to cut holes where the fish's mouths come out of the water then that will be the crowning touch.

I wasn't happy with the fabric lily pads when I first attached them but as I scrunched them and anchored them with stitches they improved. I used raw silk and muslin, Next time I may stick with only one kind of fabric.

I know some of you are interested in the comment above about challenging myself around what I see as a "perceived weakness". This is something I explore quite a lot in my own art making. I showed you the three pieces for the December show below- the challenge to myself to was stop (and know when to stop) before the piece was over worked. I am not finished with this exercise! I need a LOT more work on control and leaving things alone at that sweet spot where it says "I'm done!" It's so tempting to just do a little more and then that tips the scales away from the simplicity and beauty of the thing as it was. I hate, hate, hate it when I do that and must train myself to stop before it's too late. Can you relate?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why do you make art?

I asked this question almost a year ago and got so many interesting responses I thought I would ask it again. So...why do you make art? Do you set aside a certain time each day to do it? Do you stick to that commitment? Why or why not?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Silk Test Runs Finished

I just sent off 14 silk runs to Hawaii for review. Lots of fun. Lots of bloopers. Lots learned. It was fun trying to make up recipes to match her colors. I am very anal about how I dye my silks, as most of you know, and Jes is much more of a free spirit about it all so it was challenging and exciting to find my way. I am looking forward to doing more in 09! Let the good times roll!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fabric Designs and A'kai Silks join forces!

I am pleased to announce that I will be working with A'kai Silks to create some of the work you see pictured here. If you would like to look at the web site, here is a link:
I am in hog heaven. Yes, as in a big, fat, happy pig, rolling in yards and yards of luscious silk.
Do yet another happy dyeing dance with me.
The good news just keeps on happening!
Oink, oink,oink.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December show

The opening of the December show was great. Sold two of my three fiber art pieces.The one called Golden Rain sold immediately and the other one called North Wind followed soon afterwards. Pictures of them are in postings below.
This week I will be finishing the coi fish-will post pictures soon!
Let me know if you want to be put on the January Dye Studio e-newsletter. Thank you for your lovely response so far!

Monday, December 1, 2008

New e-newsletter in January and those fish-

I will be sending out a new e-newsletter in January called "The Dye Studio". It will contain other studio adventures than what you see here, as well as give dyeing tips and occasional reviews of new products on the market that can enhance (or not) your dyeing experience. It will come out 4 times a year- January, April, July, and October. If you already are on my e-list then you will receive it. If not, let me know and I will send you the next edition!

I just took the three fiber art pieces you see in my last posting below to the county administration building for the December show. Pictures of them on the walls will be posted next week.

The next Quilt University class is coming up soon. Here is my schedule for the first half of 09. A QU class makes a great gift idea for you or someone you love!

January 9- Basic Cotton Dyeing

February 13- Silk Dyeing

February 27-Quilter's Palette

March 13- Fabric Painting

March 27- Tea Stain Dyeing (expanded to 3 lessons that include spices and organic matter as stain agents)

April 10- Shibori Dyeing

May 8- Gutta Resist on Silk

May 29-Quilter's Palette

June 12- Three unusual Ways to Dye

June 26- Batik

You can sign up 5 weeks before the class opens at the QU web site:

And now about those fish...I finally decided that I had to make a move with this piece. Just commit to something, anything and get it done. One layer of netting wasn't enough. Painting the netting was like trying to nail Jello to the wall. Silk gauze was too thick. The solution was to double it up in ripples and then machine stitch it down to the painting itself. It works. Next step is to attach the lily pads.

Had an interesting response from "Jerry The Glass Man" (you can see pics of him on our excursion earlier this year when we went out into to the countryside to get bamboo). He was looking at my blogging dilemma about these fish and has a glass alternative that I will explore later which may be exactly what I want for this concept. I do plan on doing this theme again in the future. Thanks, Jerry! When are you coming over for peanut butter and jelly?

Happy dyeing everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

New work ready for the December show

"North Wind"
Fabric paint on crepe backed silk satin-charmeuse. Small amount of machine stitching.
"North Wind" detail.

"Ice Storm"

"Ice Storm" detail

"Golden Rain"

"Golden Rain" detail

These three fiber art pieces were done in a short period of time. My goal was to stay loose and not over work the paints.

I lost my composure on "North Wind" but was able to crop the piece and save it from being completely overdone.

The other two pieces are more planned out and more along the lines of what I had hoped would happen.

Special thanks are in order to my critique group. I appreciate their insight in how to close the book on work that is not quite "there". Marjan-better, eh???

I like these pieces. Making them was satisfying and something I want to do more of in the future. I still need more practice holding back and want to continue exercising the power found in restraint.

Next week I will post a picture of the work in the show space. I will also post a picture of the coi fish FINISHED! You can see the progression of the idea in the postings from last month.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On vacation but still working!

I will be taking the rest of November and all of December off from teaching to finish writing the second Dye Studio Workbook- Intermediate Cotton Dyeing, Portrait and Landscape Colors. It will be ready for sale January 1st, or if you would like to reserve a copy now, that can be arranged. The cost is $45.00 for the 5 week course. It can be taken with the Quilter's Palette class at Quilt University ( or by itself. Quilter's Palette starts February 27th, and Cotton Dyeing Basics starts January 9th.

If you email me, it may take a bit to respond but know that I will. I'm still here but kinda, sorta not here.

Fabric Designs will continue to process fabric orders daily.
Monday I will post pictures of the three fiber art pieces I made last week. I have kicked production into high gear to get ready for a show that opens December 1st here in Woodland. I love deadlines!
Let me know what you are doing and how it's going. I'd love to hear from you! If you are on Facebook, I'm there too! Let's be friends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Newsletter going out this weekend!

The newsletter that Myrna and I write to keep you informed of what our various studios are doing will be going out this weekend. If you are not on our list of recipients, let us know and we'll email it to you soon! You can contact me at:

I am working on two painted silk pieces for a show that opens in 2 weeks. (I discuss this in more detail in the newsletter.) I am submitting them to help fill wall space and with such short notice, I'm having to work FAST. Here are two detail shots of them which shows you some of the blending work that I am encouraging with the fabric paints and some funky fabric inks that I hated until now! More pictures will follow of their progress.

"The Ice Storm"

"Bunny Flat, Mt Shasta"

Happy arting everyone! Dye on and dye hard.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lampshades and paint on netting

I've been too busy to make art the last couple of weeks which eventually takes its toll on my psyche. I have had a lot of orders for hand dyed fabric but it's not the same as creating things I want to do when I want to do it. Here is a cool picture of the inside of a lampshade I am painting for a friend. It looks like a flower, doesn't it? The color she wants and needs for her bedroom is kind of a redwood/burnt reddish umber color. I tried dyeing the shade first thinking that it wouldn't work out as well as they actually did but the best coverage came with the paints.

Here they are sitting waiting for another coat of fabric paint. Success.

Meanwhile, the fish have been sitting without inspiration. I tried painting the netting. I have it doubled on itself and the first coat was wimpy. I learned that if I paint the netting while it sits on plastic, the paint will dry giving it more layers of paint on the back of the netting and thereby making a more solid layer of color. I am going to play with that concept some more as trying to get paint to stick to netting is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

Here is the next layer of paint applied in quite a thick manner over what went before which was thinner brown paint. I wanted it to look like moss and/or dark water. I will let it dry on the plastic and then peel it off and see how that looks on top of the fish painting. I think I am going to have to you-know-what- or get off the pot with this piece. I have to commit to finishing it and I am presuming this will be the top layer I will use. In theory this is what I have been looking for- not too thin and not so thick you lose the detailing of what lies below the surface.
Thanks for looking and sorry that I skipped a week.

Monday, October 20, 2008

bathroom tiles and gold fabric paint

Hello. It's Monday and that means Blogday. Here is a picture of one of my experiments with metallic gold fabric paint mixed with black on silk. I am trying to see how much metallic paint can be diluted with another color and still retain the metallic effect. So far the answer is- a lot. I have even rinsed brushes that I used in the gold paint and then used the rinse water to pass over silk and a fine dusting remains which is then heat set with great results. So my findings to date are that even less than 20% pigment gives good results which is what they advertise about their product which is Jacquard Fabric Paints.

Here is Steve in the bathtub starting to put the tiles on the wall. If any of you have every BEEN in our bathtub/shower you will remember what it was like before this. Very scary place.

Large section part way done. It's going to be nice! I am planning on using grout that is scum colored for obvious reasons. I asked the Home Depot guy which gray looks most like scum and he didn't even stop and look at me or smirk or balk but said something like "you'd be safe with this one or this one. " Maybe this is a question he gets a lot of the time. I do plan on reforming my ways with this new redo. Some day we may get a water softener so that this is not an issue. Someday.

Have a great week everyone. Happy dyeing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No fabric but pics of the kids!

Okay, so I don't have any fabric pictures to show you this Monday but I do have some pics of my kids (who are adults). Be grateful I'm not posting vacation slides.

This is Joel sitting on a tractor. We started taking pics of him on large scale machinery at an early age (and his sister too) which is all a part of living in rural America I suppose.

Here is Marcail. She got those glasses when she lived in Japan. What you do is go down to the train station and it takes "about an hour" but only costs you $50.00 if you have health insurance there. She got those teeth when she was in elementary school and it was more than $50.00 and took more than an hour. She is living in France at the moment slopping hogs, drinking champagne, and composting. Perhaps all at the same time. I'm so proud!

Joel again when he worked on a TV show about celebrity rappers. There are other scary pictures of him doing this gig but I find them too alarming to post here. Handsome is as handsome does.
That's enough about the fam. Sometime I should post a pic of Steve. He is currently fixing the tile in the bathroom which would make a great picture. Maybe next time.
I do have a large silk dyeing project to start tomorrow so if I think of it, I will take some pictures for you to see.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Self Disclosure!

In the Cotton Dyeing class, we have been talking about my mountain of extra or "dud" fabs. Here is a picture of it all! Yes, much of it is very usable and will be used in fiber art work that I will do sometime in the near, and not so near future, and some of it will get sold or donated to auctions or other artist friends who are "needy". I should iron and fold it and put it neatly away. Yeah, right. I just read that the word "should" is Anglo Saxon and came from the word "scold". Perfect. Okay...let's move to the next thing I will confess to you- my recipe books...

Here are a few of my most used recipe books. If you are starting to purchase my Dye Studio Workbooks, you won't be like me and be so disorganized about this aspect of the process. You will be able to keep the books clean and your notes much more concise.

Here is one of the easier pages to read. Things to note and NOT do...make sure you attach the fabric swatch to the page and do not wad it up like this. If you leave it loose and then drop the book, you run the risk of all the fabric falling out and not knowing where the samples go.

This page is a bit more complex to read in that I have a number of different silks on the same page so I can see the difference the same dye bath makes when using different weights silk.

This is the worst (or best) example of a hard to read page in that I have multiple ways to do the same thing and the adjustments I have made to that recipe over the years. I know what to do and where to look but someone who would want to use this page would never be able to figure out my calculations. Maybe that's a good thing???

I hope that you are able to be much more organized than I am.

Happy dyeing!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Develpment of an idea- continued

The next thing I needed to do with this fish overlay piece is dye the two best overlays I have found so far. The netting just didn't do it for me but it may in a future piece so thank you Lousie for the idea. I have been doing a lot of olive green dyeing lately so into the tub went the silk gauze and the cheesecloth.

Hard to see the cheesecloth from this distance but I really love the rustic look of it and the loose weave. This has possibilities. It dyes SO beautifully. In the new class that I will be developing for Quilt University, cheesecloth will be on the list of "Fantastic Fibers" we play with along with bamboo and on and on...but... I digress...

Here is a closer look at the dyed cheesecloth.

Next up is the dyed silk gauze. This, while fairly dense, is beautiful as well. I like the contrast that happens in the spots where the coi have broken through the water. You lose that with the cheesecloth.

Detail of the silk gauze.

So my next round of work on this piece will be to make more lily pads and pin them onto each overlay and make a decision. Next week- what I decided.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Online art auction!

Wednesday is the opening of the Surface Design Organization's art auction! Go to this web site and you can see a scarf I donated and some other amazingly wonderful pieces of art to inspire and cause you to have your money fly out of your checking account.

My scarf is on the last page at the bottom- gold silk with iris and I describe making it on this blog but back a ways.

I have some pics for you to see but am running fast today. More tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Different fabrics in the same dye bath

Left to right:
Fabric Designs cotton muslin, habotai silk, silk gauze, silk chiffon, crepe backed silk satin, silk dupion, raw silk,silk organza, edge of silk velvet with the dark pile being rayon which is woven on top of silk.
I didn't work specifically on the fish piece this week but did do some dyeing for the fabric I will use for the lily pads. I thought you might be interested in how different fabrics take the dyes. Whenever I do seminars or give talks about what I do, this is the thing that interests the most people. They love to see and feel the different textiles and see how they respond to the dyes. The most dramatic piece is always the silk velvet combination.
Hopefully this week I will get to making more leaves for the fish piece and try dyeing the silk gauze and the cheesecloth.
Happy dyeing!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Evolution of an idea -part 2

I bought three different colors of netting to see if one was better than the other. Light beige, brown, and light blue.

While I was at it I bought some cheesecloth. It is more sheer than the silk gauze and of course a looser weave. I really like it. It's rustic and rough and a real possibility. I am going to dye it and see how THAT looks as the overlay.

Here is a detail.

Here is how it looks with one layer of the light tan netting. Not bad. It adds a bit of shimmer to the piece which I like.

Here it is with two layers which is a bit too much as I am losing the detailing again. I am thinking that I may need to dye the silk gauze and try it again for one more option.

I moved on to the lilies. I cut out some silk shapes to add to the cotton and now I know for SURE that not only is the silk a pain in the rear to sew this small (and then top stitch), but these colors are TERRIBLE. I didn't know they would be SO bad until I tried a few. Wow. Violent reaction! I am going to need to hand dye some more olive and dark olive green cotton as I am convinced that this needs to be an all cotton piece. Back to the tubs I go. More next week. Thanks for looking. Leave a comment if you want.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The development of an idea-

Yes, I said I would blog every Monday and I didn't get to it yesterday. I am a day late.... BUT...if I had posted yesterday as planned you would have only seen me going to the grocery co-op and buying organic peaches, doing other errands, and taking a long nap. How fun is THAT to see? Today I have decided to finish a project and thought you might to come along on my thought process... First thing was to dig out this fish painting I did a year ago. I have done some machine stitching on it and like it but want to take it further.

The size of this unfinished piece is about 20" x 30" or so.

Here is a detail of the machine stitching which adds so much to the interest of the piece. I intentionally did NOT put in a lot of painting details as I knew I was going to do what comes next and it would be lost so why bother...

Next step was to pin on a layer of silk gauze that has not been dyed. What I have been toying with is how to create a piece that looks as if we are viewing the fish through water. I'm not sure this is where I need to go with this but I need to experiment. Maybe glass would be cool. Then I would paint leaves and grass on top of the glass for dimension but can I get Jerry The Glass Man to cut holes out of the center of a piece of glass? Does that work? Can that even be done?

Here is what it looked like with holes cut into the silk. Kind of cool but I am sad that SO much detail is lost with the gauze. Is there an even thinner fabric that would be better? I'm thinking, thinking, thinking.

So how will it look if i start to build up a layer outside of the gauze so that there is more detailing on top of the silk. Hey. Not bad. Need
to add some more leaves. I may paint detailing on the leaves or may just do stitching instead.

After studying it a bit I am wondering how it would look without the silk...

Not bad but the value of the leaves and the background are too much the same and it just looks flat. Back to the silk...

Yes, this is more interesting. There are good things about it and not so good things about it. First of all, I am losing the detailing but I am gaining interest. It cuts the light but that's what water does. Can I get the same effect using something thinner or more transparent? Do I want the hardness that glass would bring to this piece?

At this point I have to stop and take a break. I came up to the office to post this blog and eat lunch. This is when my art starts to "cook". The ideas percolate around in my head and as I go about other things the ideas start to mature and when I come back later to see how it looks, most of the time I will have the next piece of the puzzle. It may take a few days or a few hours. I'll let you know what happens next.

Hope you find this interesting. I find it most fascinating to watch the development of a process. You don't get to see it very often in artist's studios. You MIGHT see the preliminary drawings and the finished piece but rarely do you see the development so I wanted to share that with you.

About Me

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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