Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's dye some wool!

I talked to Carol, the dean of Quilt University, and she said she was interested in me pursuing the new class idea of dyeing wool! Wahooooo!

Thank you to those of you who responded with positive energy and words to the effect that yes, you would be interested in taking this class.

It takes quite a bit of time and energy to write, test, and document a class so expect to see it at QU after the first of the year or so- if she likes what she sees.

Above are some test samples of different kinds of wool that students might want to dye. I will probably offer some of the lighter colors on my web site supply page for students to buy if they do not have access to natural yarns.

I think this will be a five week course.
Week one will be dyeing yarn and getting used to acid dyes. Above is a raspberry color I got from combining red and black.


In week two we will dye roving for those who want to spin their own yarn or do some felting. If this isn't something you want to do, we can always dye more yarn using the same recipes and techniques.
Above is a very pale robin's egg blue. I was experimenting with how light I can go after I went as deep as I could go on some wool that was dyed black.


Week three will be dyeing wool fabric. I do not have any pictures yet of that process.
Week four will be natural dyes. Above is a picture of some tea stained wool yarn. This should be fun stuff.



The results we can get can span the value spectrum from very soft pastels to deep, rich color absorption as you can see.

The last lesson will be using left over Procion dyes that are more than 2 weeks old as acid dyes. This is something that I have just learned how to do. Very exciting.
We will also intentionally dye variegated colors which make for exquisitely patterned pieces when knitted or woven into their final form.
I'm very excited about this new adventure and hope you are too. This should add a wonderful new element to your fiber art creations.
Response? Let me know. Anything else you would like to see in this class?

Monday, June 21, 2010

E-Newsletter going out this week-Sheep to Chic!





I am putting together the e-newsletter this week. If you are not on my mailing list but would like to receive a more in depth look at what is happening in the Dye Studio, email me and let me know.




This quarter's news is about the process I am calling "Sheep to Chic". I wanted to learn what happens during that mysterious gap between sheep sheering to the time I buy the wool to dye. I photographed the process which I think you may be interested in seeing.




The reason for this exploration came when I realized last fall that there are still a few gaps left in my dyeing experience. I am trying to close those gaps now that I am entering my fifth decade as a fiber artist.
Wool dyeing using acid dyes were a weak point in my repertoire but now that I have figured this part out, I have found it to be extremely easy to do! I am so confident in my new skills, that my daughter and I are considering a team teaching workshop to be held this time next year in Oregon to correspond with The Black Sheep Festival in Eugene, Oregon. We have access to a lovely McWilliams owned resort on the McKenzie River where we will offer respite and lodging for the festival; transportation to and from the festival; and evening workshops where students will learn how to dye roving, card the roving, and then spin the dyed roving into yarn for future fiber art projects. Sound like fun? Save the date and time and let's get together and have some fiber fun!
Happy dyeing!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More wicking work

"So you just slap on the dyes and this is what comes out?"

That comment was made about my work this past week. Essentially they are correct. That's exactly what I do, but the comment kind of took me by surprise because it has taken me 40+ years of dyeing to arrive at this place in time.

To make myself feel better, I was reminded of just what goes into "slapping" on the dyes. This white board and the large pad of paper beside it currently hold the directions to one way of "slapping it on" that actually takes 2 1/2 hours to accomplish that "slapped together" look.

Like ballet, the trick is to make it seem effortless.



Here is the piece I was working on last week called "Organized Chaos 3". It is the third in a series of I don't know how many, dealing with wicking. The size is 45" x 108". It is dupion silk.

I spent a lot of time manipulating this silk. There are hours of time in between manipulating sessions. I blocked the magenta from going too far and encouraged the gold to travel up the white areas away from the rest of the colors. The blues were encouraged to run into the middle and then eventually south before being allowed to leak completely off the table.

Total dye time- 9 hours. Total time working the dyes- about 30 minutes. Total planning time- about 8 hours. If that is slapping on the dyes, then so be it.


This piece is called "Organized Chaos 2". It is 8 mm habotai silk as I may have told you below when I showed you a section of it. It is about 36" x 50". It is impossible to photograph. The depth of color is amazing. Originally I had thought that I would add some very light stitching into the deep purple caves but have decided that understated is best for this one.

I spent about 1 minute planning this piece. Spent another 2 minutes slapping on the dyes. Did not manipulate the dye at all. Time spent in the dye- overnight for a total of 10 hours.

Other comments through the ages that I have enjoyed are the ones that people make about how "Aunt Mildred used to do tie dye like this". Oh Really? Fantastic! Or regarding my batik work- "I did that in Girl Scouts." Wow. How progressive of your leader! Or the best ones of all in regard to batiked fiber art pieces- "How do you tie the knots so it comes out looking like a painting like that?"

Yes, I suppose I do do tie dyeing. And yes, I'm sure Aunt Mildred was an amazing artist. Don't you miss her gifts at Christmas time? God bless her. Rest in piece.

Thank you for looking at what I did this past week in the dye studio.

Next week- more slapping around of dyes. Maybe you'd like to have me come show your Brownie Troop how to do this professionally? There's a career in this, you know. (wink)

Monday, June 7, 2010

More wicking projects

I blogged about the first attempt at organizing chaos using batik methods with wicking dyes on silk. That went well with a lot of things learned. Here is how it looks finished. I like the pooling silk on the floor which went well and I like the agitation lines where the wax was intentionally left thin to absorb color.

I did NOT like the fact that the dyed backing could be seen from the front so I opened up the whole thing, inserted two layers of cotton so that it would be less opaque and that worked fine.

I'm still not happy with the way it is hung on the clear plastic rod I had made for another fiber art piece called "Layers", which you may remember me posting awhile back.

I'm still thinking about this piece. Not 100% happy yet.



Had to try it again. This time I applied different dyes to 8 mm habotai silk. This one is very subtle and lovely with only very small hints of red here and there. This piece is very much smaller but is begging for some machine stitching. I will be working on this some more so you will see it again.



And one more time (at least). This time on dupion silk -45" x 108". I did a LOT of manipulating this time using wads of fabric under the plastic and plastic garbage cans as hills to keep dye from traveling too far.


The color on this one is smashing. I will show you a finished photo next week. No backing this time but a rod in sleeve system to hang. So far so good.

For my QU students- I tried using a mini crock pot to melt the soy wax and it worked fine except that it took FOREVER to melt the stuff. I think it should also work just fine with regular waxes. It never smoked. Temp was just right. Live and learn.
I am feeling the pinch as I have several deadlines ahead of me that I am fighting to beat. While I do best under pressure, sometimes I sure wish I was better organized so that I wouldn't get so goofed up and lose my peace. I have a chuppah to dye, several silk custom orders to dye and mail, 2 fiber art projects to finish and currently, 15 things on my "to do" list. What I really want to do is take a nap. The neighbor's dog barked at 5 a.m. and then 6 a.m. I have visions of just opening up their backyard gate and saying, "BE FREE! GO! SEE THE WORLD! START RUNNING NORTH AND YOU'LL SOON FIND DOGGY NIRVANA." But...alas...I do know that what goes 'round, come 'round.....

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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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