Monday, March 29, 2010

Protein and cellulose fibers-Shearing Time at the Wool Mill

The question was asked of me by a Quilt University student about Procion MX dyes becoming suitable acid dyes if left unused for more than 2 weeks. This was interesting to me as I had never heard of this theory, but another student confirmed this thought after reading in a book called "Dyeing Wool and Other Protein Fibers" by Susan Rex:
"It was once thought that the storage life of fiber reactive dye solution was their biggest downfall. On cellulose fibers (plant material such as cotton), dye stock must be used within 2 weeks for repeatable results. However, dye to the nature of these dyes, dye stock may be stored for 6 months and still produce reliable results with protein (silk, wool) fibers."-Italics mine.

Above you can see results using acid dyes (green) on wool and the results on cotton underneath. BIG difference. The top raspberry colored wool was dyed using Procion MX dyes that had sat out without chemicals for about 4 weeks. The wool was dyed with the same technique as acid dyes with fine results.

The samples under that one are also Procion MX dyes that were aged. I got good results and the cotton came out more on the blue side but better than the cotton dyed in acid dyes. Interesting?

All of the wool used came from the Yolo Wool Mill.


Yesterday, I went to the Yolo Wool Mill where our daughter works to see how wool is removed from the sheep to start the process of becoming batting and/or yarn. This is the only part of the process I had not yet seen.

This particular animal had the system figured out and gave the sheering guy a run for his money.


Most sheep when turned on their backs become immobile and stiff. This gal had been through the routine so many times that she knew that if she went limp, it makes it a LOT harder to do. She was like a wet noodle and once she slipped down far enough she could kick and wiggle and try to get away. As a result it took 5 times longer to get the job done.




Here's the wool ready to be picked. Lots of weeds, poop, mud, and who knows what else was in there. Next step is to wash the wool. I'll show you the rest of the process next week.



Do they look like they know something is up? Not particularly. Not yet anyway.
So this week at the Dye Studio, I need to finish up dyeing some silk veils for Japan, work on my next fiber art piece that will be a part of a show this July in Chico, California, get ready for my critique group which is coming to the Dye Studio in 2 weeks to do some dye painting, and try and figure out if I should do a teaching gig at the university this summer or not. It's a class called Introduction to Textile Design Structures. It's been a long time since I taught in a real live classroom with real live students and having to cart real live materials into real time. I don't know. Right now I just want to read my book in the sun and drink iced tea. Yeah. Or take a nap.

Thanks for looking at my blog.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let's see if I can fix this blog for you-

Somehow I really messed this blog up so that it now is all squished up and small rather than wide open the way it was before this so...sorry. I seem to be able to see my pictures now so that's good.
Here's a pic of Susan and Beatrice. Adorable. 1 week old. We love them which is, I know, kind of odd. I know there will come a day in the not so distant future where they will find a way into the Dye Studio and then the fun begins.
Stay tuned.
Okay...now let me see if I can fix this blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

In the beginning, things don't always appear to be as good as they will be at the end-






Pictured above are some items that look less than what their potential will be once time has passed. Silk dyeing in a ball and chicks. Both have to start somewhere and both have the potential to be a beatiful thing. (Yes, the chicks are standing on my keyboard).

Tomorrow, after I work the kinks out of this sorry blog, I will show you the silk finished. The chicks won't be living up to their potential for a few months but I'll show you pictures of them later as well.

In the meantime, I've done something dumb to this blog and don't have the time to fix it yet. I will try and make all this larger tomorrow.

For now- think about this concept----that most things do not appear to be as good as they will be at the end.

More tomorrow.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coming up at Quilt University-



If you've never thought of taking an online class, perhaps now is the time! Above, you can see two paintings by my online students, Bente and Carolyn. In Fabric Painting, we start by playing with abstractins and by the time we are finished, you will have the confidence to make something more realistic to enhance your fiber art projects. Join us March 26th at www.quiltuniversity.com!

Friday, March 12, 2010

OK,OK,OK....so I missed a Monday!



















Here's something to look at while I run around like a crazy woman. I do apologize to my loyal blog lookers.
What you see above are the beautiful belly dancing veils that are consuming SOME of my time. Not ALL of my time but as you know by now, dyeing silk is my sanity. To make these for A'Kai Silks in Hawaii and it's owner Jes, who is my friend and business partner is a pleasure. Isn't the photography spectacular? I could look at these pictures all day long. And sometimes I do. :-)
So what is consuming my time so that I didn't blog on Monday as promised? Here's the list:
1) I have four Quilt University classes going at the same time. I sometimes have five but four keeps me busy. Sometimes I forget what class I'm in and say something stupid but fortunately we teachers can go into a file and fix our stupid or brainless comments.
2) I am starting another small business that is not fabric related. Imagine that! It is a transportation company for disabled people. There is a desperate need in the city where I live to get dialysis patients to their treatments. This is time consuming but fun work. My husband is going to be the driver and we will be starting to hit the streets this summer. Very time consuming but also fun. We have to get all our bases covered before we start.
3) We are getting chickens! My daughter and I have researched what kinds work best in a backyard city environment and will be picking up two of the newly hatched chicks next Wednesday! We can hardly wait. In about 3 weeks we will get the other two chicks as they are a special order kind coming from some 'special' place. Pictures will follow, I'm sure. We're going for egg layers who are quiet, personable, and friendly. Did you know such a thing was possible? It is! We also want their poo for the compost, doncha know?
4) Spring is springing here in northern California. That means it is time to turn out the compost and get the vegetables in NOW! I have been working in the garden between rains and have planted beets, carrots, broccoli, squash seeds that came from the organic farm my daughter worked on in France, and pumpkins. I will buy zucchini plants and one tomato plant. More of the back lawn is giving way to the vegetables. It never looked all that great anyway so why not dig it up and use it for food production.
5) Interclub tennis has started. Played my first team doubles match Monday night and all three sets went down to the opponents. The third set was rained out and we were down 3-5. Maybe that was a good thing. My team moved up a division this season. Much better tennis now but we lost. I think it will be a good move. I certainly had to concentrate on what I was doing because if I let my mind wander, I was fried.
If I keep my camera out I will be better, maybe, about taking pics for you to see what is happening in the dye studio. I do need to show you some of the production on these veils. I have the next round to do today and early next week- 18 rectangular veils in turquoise and cobalt and 25 of the mottled veils you see above in various pastel colors.
So.... did I do okay today? I WILL post something Monday. It's on my calendar now.
Thanks for looking.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What's up? More wicking and fiber art-

As many of you know, I partner with A'Kai Silks to hand dye silk veils for belly dancers. Each veil gets trimmed before sending, leaving me with a basket full of ends that are glorious. What to do with them is the question. Throw them away? Doubtful. My mind has been racing thinking up my next fiber art project. I will be making this piece using the left over scraps for the California Fiber Artist's next show in Chico, CA. I want something representative of the work I do, that moves in the breeze, is colorful, is happy and affordable. Watch my blog as this piece unfolds.

I am still thinking through the "problem" of color wicking along with at last mastering a cold water fiber reactive recipe to make a good black on silk. When I come to the end of a bolt of silk, I save the end for one of these practice runs. Here is my latest recipe. Yes. Looks very black but....so did the one below:


Fabulous piece of silk but so very brown. That happens. It truly is a beautiful recipe and one I will be using because the color DOES wick out but it wicks INTO black which is wild! Most of the time the colors wick OUT of black and into other wonderful things such as the first example that you saw last week...here it is again:



I love this one. The depth of color is exquisite. I will use this recipe as well.
So what's the problem? The problem is that with just a few grains of dye powder, the color can flip into brown or eggplant or olive green. The balance is so minuscule that it blows my mind!
I do have a good black recipe but it cannot be doubled. I said before that it is most stable when in liquid form and what I have learned in the last few weeks is that when applied to heavier silks such as crepe backed silk satin it performs the best. Decrease the silk weight and it gets wobbly again. So....add one more variable to the heap and away we go. Stay tuned. More to come on this for sure.
P.S. I realized that it is almost spring and I never sent out a winter e-newsletter. Imagine that. I forgot something. Pffffft! I'm thinking I'm doing well for blogging once a week.
Anything you want to see or have me tell you about? Talk to 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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