Friday, February 27, 2009

Short day today!

This morning I rinsed the veils I dyed yesterday. The beautiful, warm, sunny weather we had been having is gone. It's foggy and cold out this morning PLUS...the cedar wax wings are back and sitting in the trees over my clotheslines. I would like to use them today but the birds eat the purple berries and poop all over the place which has on more than one occasion ruined some fabric hanging on the line. In fact, that purple velvet I dyed earlier? They got hit! Fortunately, the berry poo matched perfectly. All I had to do was lightly scrub the chunks off and we were back in the game. Can you believe it???!!!
Here is a pic of one veil hanging to dry in the studio.

Three more to dry........ I believe this is where the rubber meets the road.... This is what separates the casual "sunny day dyers" from the "nothing can stop me dye hards"'ve gotta see my floor....

Indoor dyeing is not for the feint of heart. Messes happen. You've gotta go with the flow and if dye rolls off a piece on the way to the sinks, you throw down a rag and get it later. Or not. Can you handle it? Can you live like this? Many cannot. The worst is what happens to your body...

Only about 5-10 specks of dye on my feet today. I got off easy. I DO have rubber boots and I DO have rubber gardening clogs that I wear when I know I am going to get hip deep into it. So why didn't I wear them? It's an organizational problem. :-)
I'm off to see a college chum and will be back at it Monday. Have a nice, dry, clean weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CFA fiber art show and dyeing150 yards of silk-

So have I told you that the California Fiber Artists are having a show here in Woodland April 3rd? Did I tell you that I'm in charge? Did I tell you that I haven't started any pieces for the show yet? Well now you know. If you live close by, plan on coming to the event. It will be at the County Administration Building on Court Street from 5:30- 8ish. More details will follow.

Remember all that purple silk velvet I dyed? Here is how part of it is being transformed into fiber art. The background is hand dyed cotton and the strips are the silk velvet and the colorful shibori dyed section is also silk velvet. It's called "Hot Flash". I will show you how it progresses as I have time to work on it.

Project #2 is slow in getting back to me so I am moving on to Project #3 which arrived when I wasn't looking. No Grumpy UPS Guy- instead it was Happy US Post Office Guy.
Pictured above (It's sideways. Sorry) are three bolts of silk for me to cut up and a truck load of dyes for A'kai Silks in Hawaii. It will become 50 belly dancing veils. It will be a total of 150 yards of habotai silk transformed into lusciousness. Just pinch me in because I think I am dreaming. This is work. This is my job. Badda bing! Am I the most blessed person alive or what????

Here is one bolt cut into the sections waiting for the dyes. More tomorrow!
By the way, the banners arrived safely in Texas.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The calm before the storm---

Today I played. I had lunch with a friend and worked in the garden as it was a sunny day with more rain is on its way, not to mention TWO large dyeing projects. I thought there was only one but now there are two.
The only things I did in the dye studio were mundane events like cleaning up and organizing. I always try to have at least one day after a large project where I play and then one day to organize before starting whatever is next.
Here are my lovely sinks. Under those tubs are more tubs needing rinsing and stacking.

Here is the area where I mix the dyes. It may look chaotic to you but I know exactly where everything is amazingly enough. It really needed wiping down and papers put away and the lids put back on safely.

Okay! Sink is clean and tidy.

Dye area is clean and tidy.
So what's next? Tomorrow The UPS Guy is coming with three bolts of silk from Jes in Hawaii. THREE BOLTS. She asked me to dye 50 belly dancing veils for her. This translates into 150 yards of silk. There isn't anything I like better in the whole world than dyeing silk...I dream of dyeing silk.... If silk were available, I'd marry it. If silk were fattening, I'd weigh 6,000 pounds. If silk get the idea. Sending me three bolts of silk to dye makes me so's like throwing a steak to a hungry lion or like cheese to a rat, or like______________. Fill in the blank for me here. I'm embarrassing myself now.
So....tomorrow....tune in as I wait for The UPS Guy. Some of my QU students know about my relationship with The UPS Guy. He is a total Grumpy Gus. I have been trying to get him to smile for over a year now. He actually said a barely audible "welcome" last time as I waved at him and yelled: "THANK YOU, UPS GUY!!!!!!!!!!!!" as he drove away as fast as he could. He really is antisocial and gets so irritated when he has to deliver bolts and bolts of fabric to me each month. I just can't imagine why he would mind all the mad dogs and the stairs and the 60,000 pound packages I need him to carry into the house for me.
Maybe I can get a picture of him for the blog tomorrow. That ought to cheer him up. :-)
See you tomorrow. Let the games begin!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

New week, new project!

Hi Everyone! I sent away the banners to their new home and because I temporarily misplaced the cable for the camera, I didn't get to blog what happened at the end of last week. We'll do a little back tracking and catch you up to date on what's happening.
Above you see the banners in the box.

Here's the box ready for the Post Office. Big box. Heavy box. Done and done. I'm kind of sad to see them go but I need to get on with the next project.
When I get pictures of them in place, I'll let you see how they look.

The next project is to custom dye 100+ yards of silk velvet (silk backing with rayon pile) which I will then transform into acoustical panels for a church in Tennessee.
Before committing to the purchase of 4 racks of velvet, they requested a prototype to make sure that they like the fabric and the color and the effect it will have when suspended from the ceiling. In order to do this accurately, I knew that I shouldn't dye just one panel (3+ yards) because as my dyeing students know, there is a huge difference between what happens in a dye bath when 3 yards are submerged in the dye as opposed to what happens when 9 yards are in the same mix. Well...I did dye one panel and then decided to test my recipe know-how by dyeing 3 panels to see: a) if I could do it accurately, and b) so that when and if I need to increase the fabric, how will the recipe hold up when that much more yardage is present. It worked beautifully and I am feeling very smart indeed. Badda-bing!
You may wonder what will happen if the church decides they do not want the silk velvet? I wondered that as well but I love dyeing this stuff so much that even if I get stuck with all of it, I will undoubtedly use it somewhere along the line. I mean look at that color!!!! If it doesn't become a fiber art piece, I'll wrap myself up in it and make a turban and high heels to match.
Here is a picture of the 3 panels hanging to dry in the California sunshine before the heavens opened and began to deliver.
The custom color matches a swatch of upholstery fabric sent for me to work with which was helpful. I think of grape soda when I work with this stuff. I can feel the fizz.

Here's the stuff waiting for me to sew them into panels. Each panel will be 45" x 120". Making a sample that was just 1 yard long showed me how much to expect it to shrink. Making the prototype also showed me even more accurately how much 1 panel will shrink and how long I will have to cut each before dyeing.
I do not plan on dyeing all 100+ yards at the same time or even dyeing the full 30 yards that come on each rack. I will certainly wash the 30 yard sections all in one piece and then dry it in one big hunk. It's at that point that I will then cut it to the size it needs to be to dye. Once it has gone through the process of dyeing, I then do one final trimming because it does shrink a bit more.
Next step is to sew the sides back on themselves; put the hem in the top and bottom and that's it. 28 times. 27 times actually.
Want to come along for the ride?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday

This is the best I can do as far as photographing the banners, finished and ready for the final pressing before I send them away.
You really cannot see the side panels very well. Hopefully, someone at the church will be able to get some nice shots once they are up and in position.
So today will be spent picking the last of the dog hair off them, ironing them one last time and packing them up and trekking to the Post Office.
Tomorrow I am going to make one of the acoustical panels for the church in Tennessee which has been waiting patiently for me to finish this project.
I hope you enjoyed the process and that you learned a few things with me as we journeyed along together.
Stay tuned if you want to see the next marathon.
Thanks for watching!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday and I'm heading toward the finish line!

Here are some pictures of the sanctuary where the banners are heading. (Gwen- I hope it is okay to post these here.) Beautiful place, eh? They will go on the two brick walls to the right and left.
Right side.

Left side.
Big space for big banners.

The finished size of these banners will be 120" + a few inches between the side panels x 108".
The rod will undoubtedly need a wall bracket right in the center to support the weight of the banners. To accommodate that, I have put a "keyhole" slot in the sleeve of the center banner so that the bracket can easily slip under the rod. Here's a picture of what that looks like.

So today the sleeves were pinned to the backings of the central banners and then stitched into place. Tomorrow I will sew the sleeves onto the side panels and be done! I hope to get some pictures before sending them on their way this Wednesday.
This has been such fun to do that I know I will miss them when they are gone however I do have another mega-project waiting for these to ship out...100+ yards of custom dyed silk velvet to make into 28 acoustical panels for a church in Tennessee. Not quite as creative as this one but a hecka lotta fabric. It would be great to have the company if you want to come along.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday- almost done!

I have to post a picture of my trusty sewing machine. This baby has been with me since 1978 when I bought it used for $120.00. I went into the shop and said, "All I want is a machine that goes frontwards and backwards and does a zigzag. Whuddaya got?" I wonder how many miles I've logged on it since then. Anyway, it is solid metal; it weighs a ton; the manual is about 20 pages long and written in English only. I have dropped it a few times and never have had to have it serviced. Probably should but who does that kind of thing these days?
Last year I came this close (see my fingers almost touching?) to buying a brand new Bernina and would have gotten a sweet deal BUT decided against it when my husband lost his job at CitiBank.
So today me and my machine (Kenny) went 250 yards together before I ran out of thread. Well ding-dang it! I needed to walk 3 miles for the program I am on to get in shape and shed some unwanted winter fat so I walked to Joann's and back. I will be able to finish the banners tomorrow....maybe Sunday. Notice how the finishing date keeps getting moved back and back and back?

You know what it was about the Bernina that I liked the best? Oh my gosh! Welcome to the new millennium....there is a button you can push and the threads get cut for you- front and back. Beautiful. Perfect every time. I know it does about $5,000.00 worth of other things as well but to me that was like some sort of wonderful magic. Alas! I'm back to threading the needle myself and -heaven help us- winding the bobbin on the top of the machine on the bent spindle that got that way when I dropped the whole thing narrowly missing my foot somewhere around 1982.
See you Monday.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today I pinned the backings to the fronts. Here is how it looks all put together- INSIDE OUT. This is the back side of the batik and side panels.
I have been looking at it so long this way that I all of a sudden got to thinking that I'd just spent all this time pinning it and it's actually the right side that faces out! In had to go look at the original and am happy. I did it right! Phew. Ever done THAT before? If you are a quilter it's obvious which side is the right side. With batik it's not always so clear.
Halfway through the pinning I had a monster hot flash. Had to start removing clothing. Decided not to take pictures for the blog of that OR of the dog drooling on the side panels. She would NOT stay off these banners. She was eventually tossed outside. Animals. They love it when we are down on the floor with them.
I'm quitting for today. Tennis is calling me and I have some things to walk down to the post office.
I finished revising my Dyeing with Tea and Spices classes and sent them to Carol this morning. This is going to be a great class! If you have taken this class in the last year or so, you got to experiment with the spices portion of the lessons. So now, we not only stain with teas but we get turmeric and mustard powder and saffron and onion skins and all kinds of good stuff you have already in your kitchen that can dye up cotton into beautiful subtle colors.
See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Today I pinned the fronts to the backs and trimmed the bottoms so that they have a gentle curve to soften the look. These banners are so large that I can't do this work on my work tables. Thank goodness I have a large kitchen floor. Drawback is the dog hair but I did wash the floor last week so that was one thing I didn't have to do today. :-)
One other thing I did today was send out a sample for the next big project coming right up on the heels of this one. 100+ yards of custom dyed silk velvet for 28 acoustical panels for a church in Tennessee. Whoo hooo. Let the good times roll.
I used the rest of today to rewrite a Quilt University class that is coming up in March. It is my tea stain dyeing class that I decided to expand to include spices and household food items such as cabbage and onion skins. We have been experimenting with these stains for a few sessions and I have collected enough pictures and samples that the class is a "go" ...BUT...I have to have it written and submitted by tomorrow so Carol can review it, edit it and have it ready to go in time. Almost there. Tomorrow will be a sewing day and finishing up the QU class. Phew! I'm running as fast as I can. Next week I plan on sitting in the sun and not doing anything for a day or two. That's the plan...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


No pictures today.
I am so mad at myself! I ironed the front side panels and was laying out the pieces and found the first backing had been cut 1/2" too narrow. Unbelievable. Were they ALL that way? You know that cold, prickly sweat that breaks out on your forehead and that roller coaster swoop that grips your stomach when you realize you've just dug yourself into a deep fiber art hole? Picture that right about here.....No, thank goodness. Just the one.
So......I pulled myself together and cut another panel and dyed it all by it's lonesome self. It's now drying in the laundry room because it looks like it is going to rain.
Let this be an object lesson for my students- see how important it is to keep a dyeing journal? All I had to do (she says) was find the notes for the recipe for the backings and adjust a bit because I was only dyeing one rather than all the yardage and there you have it. Back in the game!
Sometimes my head is just off in the clouds. I would like to replay the tape and see what I was thinking when I cut that you ever do that? Something that should be so simple becomes a BIG old hairy project because you simply made an error somewhere at the beginning of the process.
What's that saying? Measure twice, cut once? For's measure 6 or 7 times and hopefully cut only once but be prepared to cut several times. Dumb bunny.
I'm going off to the courts to squeeze in some tennis before the first rain drops hit the ground. A few nicely placed put away shots should do me good. "Gimme some overheads!" Tennis anyone?
See you tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's Monday and we're on the home stretch

Today I did my last pass on the two side panels for the second banner. It is still wet in this picture so imagine this 3 shades lighter.
Even though the wax is ironed out, there still are opportunities to carefully go back and fill in places that needed a bit more color.

Last thing I did today was iron the backings so that tomorrow I can iron the fronts and sew them together. We're getting there!!! Hopefully I will be done and ready to ship on Thursday or Friday.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Today I did the first pass on the side panels for banner #2.

I debated whether or not to show you this but then thought I would because "stuff happens". Notice how I have the small area rug scrunched up and out of the way so that no dye will slop on it? I guess I should have known this was just asking for an accident to happen. Even though it is pushed under my work table, as I turned to see if the window was open, I knocked over the full container of olive green dye I was going to use on the side panels. It didn't just spill- it spewed! My dyes hardly ever just drip or merely trickle out in a spill. 9 times out of 10 it FLIES! Nice, eh? As for the rug; it will eventually become all olive green. When I have the time, I'll post a picture.

After the spill was mopped up, I turned to the task of ironing out the wax. First I put down a layer of old computer paper. Remember this stuff? I am now on the very last box left of it. I used to have boxes and boxes of it from my husband's work but now this is a thing of the past.

A layer of paper is then put on the top and the iron heated up and away we go. The paper absorbs the melted wax. I have a lot of fabric to cover. I iron until the paper doesn't absorb any more of the wax and then move to the next section. It took me 3 hours to do both banners.

That's all for today. I almost did everything I wanted to on this project today. I had planned on ironing the backings but had to work on other orders so it will have to wait until Monday.

Tomorrow I am playing in a tennis event and then having lunch with the bums downtown. Sunday is church and maybe some fun with our small group. See you Monday!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


All righty then! Third and final pass completed today! Here is a pic of it wet. Once it dries, I can move it and tomorrow I will do the first pass on the side panels. I also have to tackle this....
...the backings and side panels have to be ironed. This is the ONLY time I actually like to iron and the ONLY time I DO iron except for the other thing which needs to be done tomorrow which is to iron out the wax. This will make me feel lots better as it goes fast from here on out. Once everything is ironed, I will be ready on Monday to start sewing backs to fronts. Zippity do-dah! Badda bing, badda bing! Yadda yadda yadda, I'm back in the game and doing a happy dance.
Any questions out there? Ask away.
See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


A blog viewer asked me to post some pictures of what I do when I want to fix a place that bled. Here is a section on this current banner that needs fixing. I am applying the second layer of blue and all I have to do is dye over the brown that jumped the waxy barrier.

Reapplying more blue, making sure that this next layer is dark enough to cover the mistake, is all that is needed.

I think you can see it better on this one of the flames. See the orange that bled through from the underside?

I reapplied another layer of blue to hide the spots...

Here is how it looks once it dried. Voila!

I made good progress today and feel like I'm back in the game. Tomorrow I will do my last over dyeing adjustments and then the side panels.

What happened to Tuesday?

I totally forgot to blog yesterday. It was wild and wacky anyway so what you see here is all I could do which was to complete the first pass of painting on the dyes. They are still wet in this picture so remember that when dry, this will be 3 shades lighter.
Today I am staying in the studio to do the second pass and the side panels for this set.
I will post later today what I was able to accomplish which I hope will be a lot.
Thanks for looking!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day...

Today I started painting the dyes onto the second banner. It is still wet in this picture and the color came out funky in the photo so it will NOT be this bright in real life.
I got this far when a friend in need stopped by causing me to have to abandon work. That's okay! Then life snowballed out of control from there. Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment and errands to run out of town. I will finish the first pass of dyeing tomorrow afternoon. Wednesday will be the day to bury myself in the studio and do at least two more passes on this piece. I am behind by about 3 days. This is where things get dicey. I want to go faster but faster usually means accidents. Need self control! I will have to cancel my monthly meeting with my critique group to pick up the pace. See you next month Louise. :-(

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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