Dyeing with Friends

I have been volunteering at Greenville Center for Creative Arts for a few months. They have gallery space and offer classes and host studio artists. When I volunteer, I sit at the front desk mulling over proposing some classes. I love teaching and sharing and getting to know creative souls and I haven’t done much of that since we moved to South Carolina. This Summer I am offering two quilting workshops (and crossing my fingers that they fill!). Another class idea that I had was teaching shibori dyeing. It’s so much fun to do and quite “trendy” now in home dec and even clothing. After a lot of thought, I asked some neighborhood friends to be my guinea pigs and help me decide whether teaching a shibori class was feasible. (I offered one many years ago at a craft fair and did remember that it was a lot of work…)

The class idea was to dye 6 napkins, each trying out a different shibori technique. I knew that this class could not be for many students; dyeing takes lots of water and space to dump dye buckets and the venue where I want to teach has limited sinks. Here are some of the supplies I’d need to take – only some of the junk that makes shibori dyeing so fun.

When teaching a class like this, there are so many variables. The main one is how long each person takes to complete the tying or clamping or sewing of their piece. And that’s the creative part – they shouldn’t be rushed then. The actual dye time is set; it’s about an hour. I used to teach dyeing at my house in Illinois and the ladies would bring lunch and we’d eat and chat as the cloth sat in the dyebath. The class I would offer at The Art Center would cost a lot more and I’m not sure the participants would welcome “empty time”, which the dyeing time seems to be. Then there is rinsing and the super fun part – unwrapping the cloth and seeing the results – and then much more washing. My friends and I took so long that one woman had to leave as she had an appointment!

We did have a fun time and here are Gale’s napkins. Poor photo, but wonderful designs and color.

Cheri chose a blue green and had very nice results.

Debbie’s napkins turned out the best, as far as the dye color. They were a different weight from the others, looked to be mercerized and were woven in a twill pattern. Everything makes a difference when you’re dyeing.

Can you guess what I concluded???  I will not be teaching shibori… I’m disappointed but it’s way too much work and aggravation … I will keep hoping that the quilting workshops fill and dream up some less complicated ideas for the Fall session.

 

 

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Neighborhood Dyeing Projects

Last Summer I had so much fun doing tie dyeing with my niece and her family that I offered to teach the ladies some dyeing techniques. First up was tie dyeing and June was game to try. Here is the result of our morning’s work…

and here is her shirt washed and dried! Perfect for gardening or a Summer music festival or kayaking on the lake!

Then I offered a little class on the many sorts of shibori dyeing. I had three ladies who spent another morning working on samples. We wrapped and sewed and tied indoors and then dyed and unwrapped in the shade.

A few weeks later, Joan and June came over to do a project of their own. June came ready with 6 napkins wrapped and ready to dye.

She made them to go with her Fiestaware china. Didn’t they turn out well?

Joan decided to make a pool cover-up. Isn’t it great?

 

Though the best time for tie dyeing is over, I am anxious to get dyeing again. I want to make some shibori napkins and I also have an idea for an ikat warp. This Winter I am determined to try some ice dyeing as well. Stay tuned!

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Fourth of July Tie Dye

I am not a big fan of what I call “Grateful Dead” tie dye and when I teach dyeing I specifically say that we will not be doing that. It’s been so many years since The Summer of Love and communes and all, it’s interesting that it’s still a very popular technique. My niece Kim calls me her “crafty aunt” and so when she said that she’d like to bring her family down here for a visit, I thought there was enough time to make something. And when buying supplies for something else, I noticed the tie dye kits in all the big box craft stores… So with the help of Dharma Trading Company and Pro Chemical, I got up to speed on what supplies I needed and how to do it.

Dharma has an enormous selection of clothing, ready to dye (PFD) and Kim’s family chose their clothing. It arrived just in time. I had most everything I needed, but sent off to Pro Chem for a few things. Tie dye is direct dyeing, meaning that the dye is painted or squirted onto the fabric, which then needs to sit (batch) for many hours for the dyes to set, or become permanent. First the clothing needs to soak in a solution of soda ash, which is the setting chemical, and then it can be wound or bound or otherwise manipulated with rubber bands.

Kim's hoodie

I had squeeze bottles of magenta, turquoise, blue and a yellow mixed with Urea (to keep the fabric wet) ready to go as well as a big box of plastic gloves. And then the fun really began as they squeezed and kneaded the fabric.

Griffin's t

Even the paper towels they used to mop up spills and puddles look like works of art. I gave them three design ideas because I knew they knew even less about the technique than I did. I was a bit disappointed than none of them chose to do the “classic rainbow spiral”, but they all turned out very well.

Pretty towel

A day later, they squirted the bundles with the hose and then cut off the rubber band bindings. (It’s better than Christmas!) My great-nephew, Mr. Tidy and Symmetrical, was a bit hesitant and fretted when the colors weren’t exactly what he wanted while he was designing, but I hope he likes the end result. (He’s 15 – it can be hard to read him!)

Griff's t

My niece Kim dyed a hoodie which was a lot of fabric to deal with. I love the hood being such different colors from the shirt.

The hoodie

I’m not sure that Kim’s husband understood exactly what he was doing and I know my color wheel explanation went right over his head, but he was squirting dye everywhere and rolling the bound shirt in the dye puddles. Didn’t he end up with a really great t-shirt? I love those exuberant colors!

Lester's t

The best part was that the boys wore them to Asheville the next day and looked just like locals!

I hope you all had a Happy 4th of July…

The First Runner/Mat Design

Did you notice that I am weaving again???

Peter took the loom apart more than usual for the move and so I needed his help to get her together again. While gathering her pieces, he decided that she needed to be oiled and cleaned. Wasn’t that nice of him? Doesn’t every girl like to be fussed over? While he was working on her over several days, I got cold feet about what I might weave on her first. What did I want to weave and would I remember how to do everything? I feel this way after every move. So of course I decided to start simply and making my usual rag runner/mats seemed safe. My first idea came from a quilt on a Modern Quilt website that I thought it was a bit dull for a quilt, but seemed like it might make an interesting rag runner/mat. I found some leftover muslin fabric from Santa making for the center section and I have lots of  bits of hand dyed cotton samples which I stripped into 2″ pieces to add at either end. It was a bit fussy to weave, but I am very pleased with the result.

Fussy striped woven runner/mats

I meant to measure the runners before washing them, but I was too excited! Shrinkage after washing is a fact of weaving and it annoys me when weavers sell pieces (which will eventually need to be washed) and don’t wash them! When it looks entirely different after washing, the customer thinks something is wrong or that it was poorly constructed…

These mats are much “messier” than I usually weave with rags. Adding colored strips on either selvedge is a bit tricky and then the spliced overlap of the natural and colored fabrics really shows. After working on it for awhile, I decided not to fret. I like the nubbly texture and the selvedges are pretty darn even given what I was weaving. I don’t usually do anything special where the center of the runner/mat will be. That area usually has candles, or a bowl of fruit or things like salt and pepper or pickles or jam!

I was planning to use this runner on the kitchen table, but decided I would prefer it in the diningroom. I put the runners across the table, so we can use them as placemats, hence the term runner/mat. I bought these multi colored plates many years ago at Tang’s Department store in Singapore. I have always loved them and I think they look very special on this runner/mat.

It feels good to have finally woven something!

{Should you need tips on Macomber looms:  http://macomberloomsandme.blogspot.com }

 

 

 

 

Bo Maki Shibori

Let’s get back to some fiber! The Liebster nomination mentioned my great fiber blog, but it’s been anything but recently….

Isn’t this an odd-looking thing? It sat in the basement for over a year…… It looks like a cocoon doesn’t it? And it will turn into something wonderful!

Bo maki

I sewed and bound it as a demonstration during a class I was teaching and just never got around to dyeing it. When we were cleaning out the basement area downstairs, I spied it and decided that I had put too much work into it to toss it…

Dyeing fabric on pipes is a messy business and I do like to do it warmer weather. I park the bucket by the sewage drains in the yard so I can easily dump the dye water. {Buckets of water are so heavy!} While I was waiting for the Salvation Army truck to come and pick up some big things, I started the brew.

Dyeing in the yard

I was in a hurry, so I dumped some blue and magenta into the bucket, stirred it around and put the pipe in. Every now and then I moved the pipe around to stir the dye, but of course I generally want a mottled look so I don’t do it often.

Here’s the finished piece. The long stripes are the Bo Maki part. Can you can see a dark line between the two scrunchy parts? The fabric was folded there. Above and below the scrunchy lines, you can see the holes where I hand sewed the pleats or ruffles to the pipe and then gathered it. In the top photo you can barely  see that strips of bike tires are tied around the top and bottom of the fabric to keep it tightly gathered and on the pipe. I learned this interesting technique from Akemi Nakano Cohn, who called it Bo Maki. She is a fabulously talented fiber artist who spent years in her homeland of Japan learning dyeing techniques from masters. When I google that term, nothing like this comes up but I certainly believe her.

Completed bo maki

The wonderful floral bursts are marbles with rubber bands wrapped around them. They are so fun and easy! This fabric is now stuffed inside some box or other, wondering what it will be used for…

Focused on Shibori

On Friday, Eloise, Yolanda and Eula came for a class in shibori dyeing. What a day we had! They made some incredibly beautiful fabrics and were so intent on wrapping, clamping and tying that I could hardly get them to stop so that we could put the fabrics in the dyepots and eat lunch.

Yolanda used lots of marbles to make a beautiful piece of fabric which you can see further down the post.

Eloise brought some commercially dyed fabrics and got great results.

Like this – this fabric was a gold and was dyed with in the red violet  bucket – wow! Isn’t it amazing?

Eula wrapped and wrapped what I call spider webs…

…and look how lovely they are.

This is the front and back of a white on white print. Yolanda got a “two fer”. The white on white looks very Japanese to me.

Clamping always looks so dramatic.

And here’s the clean up at the end of the day. Isn’t this an interesting assortment of stuff?

Arashi Shibori Quilts

When preparing for my class the other day, I dug out some of the quilts I made when I was last dyeing these lovely fabrics. I don’t think my students will have trouble coming up with ways to use the fabrics, but many do. I find when people take dyeing classes, they feel very “precious” about their work. It’s even worse with any sort of shibori fabrics because you have taken a good bit of time to make a truly one of a kind fabric. I do not save tiny bits of commercial fabrics, but believe me, I save all my shibori bits!!! When thinking about quilts to make, what came to mind was plain Amish style quilts which would showcase the fabric. I wouldn’t do – say – a drunkard’s path or something with weird shapes which would waste my fabrics.

One difficulty I have is thinking of how to quilt them, as quilting is not my strong suit. For “New Age Nine Patch I”, I had to think of something to do in the plain blocks. I finally did a flower shape using a straight stitch, so a lot of rotating under the needle was involved.

It’s always nice to see your work after some time; you get a different perspective on it. And it makes me want to make some more! I really got caught up with the oranges for a time. I dyed using a magenta and a fuchsia with the same yellow and came up with a myriad of yellow and red oranges. I keep trying to do something very abstract, but it doesn’t seem to be in me. Perhaps I can move from these simple quilts to one that are more abstract; this is as close as I have come.

Many years ago when I started dyeing cotton and became a quilter, I wanted to make a progressive quilt where the color moves. I never did it as I thought it would be too dull in plain hand dyes, but when I dyed the arashi shibori I knew that this was the fabric I needed! The center color is pure fuchsia and it moves out to the edge which is a pure blue. This one gave me fits – I didn’t know how much fabric I would need as I moved out and I spent a lot of time dyeing to match. A color would look “close enough” but jump out when I sewed it in place…..

This is my take on Chinese Coin quilts, made wonky, and was made to use up “bits”. The inspiration for the applique design came from the back of a woman’s blue jean jacket at a craft show! I whipped out my pad and did a quick drawing. You never know when you will see something interesting!

I hope this gives you some ideas for quilts and helps you make yourself cut up beautiful fabrics that you have. If you’d like to see some close-ups, I have added a page to my website.

Arashi Shibori Class – the Reveal

Fall definitely seems to be here, but I had hoped that it would be warm enough last Thursday for us to sit outside to do the messy job of adding dyes and chemicals to the buckets…. Instead, I put lots of sheets of plastic, covered with old towels on the kitchen floor. Dyes were mixed at the kitchen table. As you can see, there were lots of different colors and I had everyone using their smart phones to time the various buckets!

Another reason I like to dye outdoors is emptying the buckets. This size bucket, with lots of water in it is very, very heavy to lift up and try to accurately pour into the sink. However, Peter was working at home and I asked him to help carry the buckets outside where we dumped them in the sewer grate in the backyard. The hose was on as well, so that the bucket could be sprayed to get the excess dye out, as could the pipes with the drippy dyes. And here we are indoors again as the reveal begins.

It’s amazing how much dental floss is used to wind around the fabric. And look how pretty! Unwrapping arashi shibori fabric is so much fun!!!

This is Debbie, impersonating a tree trunk! No really, she brought a new brown dye to try – isn’t it a great color? Earlier, when they were dumping buckets outside, I did see her photographing the trunk of our gorgeous burr oak. Perhaps a project is in the making.

Barb is washing a nice piece of red-orange.

And here is one of the pieces of fabric that Bev overdyed. She creates art quilts and these fabrics could be the inspiration for a new series – I hope!

I really enjoy teaching shibori and surface design classes. Helping students learn a new technique and be inspired, inspires me as well. I asked them to send pictures and a write up when they use these lovely fabrics in a new project, so look for a guest post coming soon. Barb took me seriously and this morning I found this picture of all the fabric she dyed on Thursday – thanks Barb! (And sorry, I can’t get the picture to turn….)

Arashi Shibori Class!

I haven’t taught arashi shibori for some time and have been really looking forward to it. On Thursday some of the “Ladies Who Dye” as I call them, came for what I had planned to be a morning of wrapping. Turns out I underestimated the amount of time it would take to – catch up, demonstrate some techniques, wrap, prepare the dye buckets, etc! Luckily there is a sandwich place nearby so the ladies did not starve.

Arashi shibori is so lovely! For years I had admired it and “knew” how to do it from reading books and articles, but just never tried it. When I was able to take classes with Akemi Nakano Cohn, I jumped at the chance. She studied with many fiber artists in Japan and went to Cranbrook, so she is an expert.

The technique is not all that difficult and there are many variations. Frankly, each strip you dye is a one of a kind piece, never to be duplicated even if you wanted to. Strips of fabric are wrapped around a PVC pipe, so that they look like candy canes. Then thread, twine or dental floss is wrapped around the fabric and it is compressed. Two variations are: pushing the fabric straight down the pole or pushing with a twist. We used cotton, though the results are even more amazing with silks.

It’s fun to experiment with a variety of wrapping fibers, though the twine made Debbie sneeze so much she had to stop using it!

You need many hands when wrapping; it’s quite awkward when you are first learning. Barb has run out of hands….

And here is Beverly, overdyeing a surface design experiment that she didn’t like. When you are a dyer, anything that doesn’t please you can be overdyed, until you have a result you like!

Here are some pipes ready to put into the buckets and let the magic happen… Check in a few days for “the reveal”!

Such a fun class !

I haven’t taught Hand Dyeing I for quite awhile, but some ladies found my dye class info and gave me a call. They had seen hand dyed fabric at quilt shows and balked at the price. Evidently they are game to try new quilt related classes, so they spent yesterday dyeing with me. It was dreadfully hot for this time of year and splashing in the cool water was a pleasant indoor activity for all of us.

I love teaching beginners of any sort. Learning something new can be so exciting and Eula and Eloise were pretty excited with their brightly dyed fabrics. We talked during lunch about what class they might take next. Dyeing can be addictive.

I’ve had students say “These colors are too bright, they’re garish”….

After the ladies left, I wandered around the yard checking for new blossoms and look what I found. Some might say garish; I say gorgeous!