Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Snow Dyeing Part 2

So here are the trays of snow covered fabric five hours into the great experiment:

On the left, A deep purple and forest green and on the right, B brilliant blue and forest green
               Notice how some of the dyes have soaked through the snow already and are hardly visible on top.

 On the left, C Amethyst, lemon yellow, mist gray, and on the right D Amethyst, deep purple, mist gray

                            E deep purple, lemon yellow, dots of amethyst

Here is tray B with a side shot showing how much dye has migrated.

The fabric was supposed to be at room temperature at the end of seven or eight hours, but I had left mine in our cold basement and things were moving slowly so at five hours I moved them upstairs, and here they are at the end of eight hours, still looking a bit frosty:

The next morning, as evidenced by tray B below, all was melted but I let them sit a full twenty-four hours to get up to what felt like room temperature.

And here--ta dah!--are the final results:

        On the left, A deep purple and forest green, and on the right, B brilliant blue and forest green

C Amthyst and lemon yellow with a little mist gray

E deep purple, lemon yellow, and dots of amethyst

D Amethyst, deep purple and mist gray

This was a success, in my view.  I like the tiny crystalline patterns but I particularly like the watery patches where the colors have captured the liquid nature of the dye and flow into one another.  Alas, almost all our snow is gone, after a winter rain, or too gray specked or frozen to use.  Now I have another reason to be excited about the next snowfall.  It will be interesting to see if a different snow--dryer, wetter--would produce different results.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another Way to Have Fun in the Snow

I had begun to get a little itchy at this time of the year to get back to dyeing some fabric, but the basement workroom is too cold for me to spend much time in--and too cold, I thought, for the dyes.  But then I heard about snow dyeing and had to try it. Beth Hartford has a good intro to the process at

 We had quite a bit of snow on the ground; it had been there a while and was fairly wet from the warmer temperatures of the week--good packing snow, perhaps too good for dyeing but I couldn't wait.  So three days ago, on Friday I mixed up some soda ash, soaked some fabric and got started.

I used five of those plastic bins that salad greens come in--knew I was saving them for something!  And I crumpled up about a yard of fabric in each.  Then out I went and filled each to the brim with firmly packed snow.

I had mixed up some dyes and just chose some of my favorite colors without really thinking about how they would play together, but the suggestion was to use two colors in each.  So I began to add color.

A I poured on some forest green, but thought I might need a bit more control so I put the deep purple in a squirt bottle and squirted it on.

B forest green again with some old brilliant blue; both poured on.

C amethyst and lemon yellow both squirted on and some mist gray poured on.  Couldn't help adding a third color.

D deep purple and amethyst plus a little mist gray

E deep purple and lemon yellow squirted on with dots of amethyst

The dye immediately started to migrate through the snow to the fabric below.  But then I had to wait for the snow to melt. . . . .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good Way to Start the New Year

As part of my attempt to try new techniques, I joined an online challenge group a couple of months ago.  This group posts a challenge the third Thursday of each month and finished projects are supposedly due in a week.  Some people actually make the deadline, but there are usually stragglers. I had not had time to fully participate in one yet, but just reading the explanation of the challenges and looking at the websites sited for further information has been well worth my time.

The December challenge (right before Christmas, for Pete's sake) was intriguing:  look at the colors used in  product packaging (food, cosmetics, toys, anything) and make a quilt using those colors.  But there is more: create a still life composition that contains a plant (nature is the theme for the year).  In between wrapping packages and planning meals, I began noticing the boxes and cans on my kitchen shelves.  One morning as I looked at the box of Numi tea (one of my favorites) I was pulling a bag out of, I realized that the rich warm brown that bordered the front panel was just the color I had been trying for when I was dyeing this summer and I thought I still had some left.  Soon I was pawing through my other hand-dyes looking for other matches.  I had assumed, for example, that the lettering was white, but it was not; it was a very pale yellow.  I came up with reasonable matches and decided that I could cheat a little and use the teal from the teacup on the top panel as well.  The color combination, very different from my usual strong reds and purples, was enticing--but it was Christmas . . .

After New Year's, when the last of the family units were on their way home, I treated myself to some quilting time, and the pile of challenge fabric caught my eye.  But what to do with it?  My quilts tend to be abstract rather than representational so the still life/plant requirement slowed me down a bit until I decided on abstract simple shapes--a trapezoid for a pot, rectangles for what it's sitting on, and some ovalish shapes in yellow to pull the eye into the piece--with perhaps leaves as contrast.  I played with the composition a bit  and came up with what to me is a very restful piece--like sitting down for a cup of tea.

Deciding on the quilting probably took the most time of the whole project.  Every quilting pattern I tried complicated it, made it busy, or distracted from the composition until I came round to where I had begun--simple shapes with little quilting.  I have started to face more of my quilts instead of bind them and I tried a slightly different method of facing on this quilt, which turned out so well that it has become my preferred method.

I posted a picture of my piece--it's about 17" x 22"-- and the box of tea on the challenge blog, where other members of the group may critique it.  I saw four comments--and then I left for a visit to Massachusetts, and when I came back three days later there were more, all quite positive--and  an e-mail message from one of the members, who wanted to buy my quilt!

I was very pleased with this little quilt, and so it took me a while to decide to sell it, but it will soon be on its way to its new owner.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Now that the delights of family immersion are over, I have returned my focus to my quilting.  Nature gave me two gifts today:  a thoroughly self-possessed coyote trotted across our back hill just a few yards outside the kitchen window this afternoon.  His coat was so thick and long you could easily have sunk both hands into it--gray on top and shading to a deep, rich red brown, a color that I worked a long while to capture this fall as I was dying fabric. It was one of those Oh-my-gosh!-moments.

Earlier in the day Tom and I got a thorough look at a sharp-shinned hawk that had perched in the chestnut tree outside another kitchen window.  He had the same striking color of brown on his breast and on the front and sides of his neck.

I had to do something with that color and later in the day I began a challenge piece that yesterday I had decided not to do because it was not close enough to my usual range of subject matter and technique.  That shade of brown is an important element in it, and working on this project that is a little outside my comfort zone has been satisfying so far.  With luck, you will see more on this.

And I had to remind myself that, not only would I not have gotten any quilting done today, but I would have missed both those beautiful creatures had I been working at the library instead of working at home.