Archive for the ‘Dyeing’ Category

Freshly Picked

One of the new things I’ve been working on for a big show that’s coming far too quickly is something for the wee ones of the world. I found some lovely soft, snuggly snap crotch rompers (onesies if they’ve been made by Gerber) made from Organic cotton – woohoo! I dyed up a couple of batches, embellished them with a patch that I free motion quilt a like natural motif and Voila! Cute, and freshly picked! I’ve got some wee socks I’ve dyed as well, and I’ll sell each romper with a pair of socks that matches the patch…but I was too excited to show you them to get the socks attached cutely, so here they are:

If you need to see even MORE, I’ve put them all up on Flickr:

Are these way too cute, or am I just hallucinating?

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Guest Post on Hue

Hello again! I’m a guest poster over on Hue, the color-centric design blog of Rachel Perls. She’s on vacation in Tuscany, lucky gal, while all I’ve got is this shirt:


Actually, my post is all about trying to match hues on silk, rayon and cotton…go take a look!


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A New Palette

One of the tools in my toolbelt is to choose a limited palette and work with it. One of the issues that used to stymie me was that as a fabric dyer, I could literally have any color I wanted – the overwhelming amount of choices would freeze me. I discovered the joy of working with a limited palette 3+ years ago as I began making quArt. I worked with my warm palette for quite a long time, and found it very freeing!

Warm-Pallette  Nicholle baby copy Clutch Warm Colors_0011 copy Going Green Journals Warm Fan copy

Nicholle Construction copy

The point is that I can work with these colors in all different modes of textile art, the work in one area feeds the work in another! I still love working with these colors, but my very first custom bag customer asked for a red bag – turns out she was actually talking about the deep dark orange I use, but I dyed some lovely red canvas, and made her bag:

Which was lovely…but I wanted to come up with a new set of colors that brings out the cools tones of red, thus my “cool” palette:Cool-Pallette

Grab n Go 0061000


Home is Where the Art is_ Aurora 0203189319119_8ffbb1e456_b

Well, this is all a long way to say that I’m contemplating another set of colors: There’s a certain plum and dark tealy-turquoise I’ve been trying to dye, and I finally hit on the what I’m looking for. Here’s a 1st glance at another palette I’m calling the Jewels:


I can’t wait to see what I can make with this!

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Organic test dye #1

Well, I’m working through the backlog of photos in my to-be-blogged folder! One of my goals has been to start using organic fabrics. I finally found some white organic cotton sateen that wasn’t too expensive, and put a couple of yards through some side by side tests with 2 of my usual PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabrics as well as some non-PFD Kona muslin. I dyed all 4 fabrics in the same dye pot for the single color ones, and side by side for the painted fabrics. The single color fabrics are dyed to test the fabrics ability to allow patterning and mottling to happen as well as overall uptake. The painted fabrics are dyed so I can really see the fabrics ability to support color movement and mixing.


Organic-PFD-test_0006 Organic-PFD-test_0017

Yes, I was VERY disappointed. Seriously, WTF? I really did not expect to see such a marked decrease in color saturation. Granted, the fabric is NOT marked as PFD, but I (wrongly) assumed that organic fabric would have less processing, thus less chance there’s some finish that would interfere with the dye uptake. I’ve been emailing someone who has dyed this sateen in the past, and she says there’s some sort of soy softener they use in the finishing process.

So, the search continues!

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Well, if you follow me on twitter, you heard me wail this morning – I’m back to work, teaching at the University of Redlands. As I was wandering around my building yesterday, photocopying syllabi and primping my powerpoints, I realized that I do love my job…it’s just that I love vacation more! Sigh…

Any old who, I did some dyeing this weekend just for me! My usual fare is tie dyed tees, usually whatever random white shirt I can dig up at Target in 5 minutes. Here are some tees dyed with a class in mind:

I teach a class called Mother Earth Chemistry in May, one of the big projects we do is brew beer. There is a local craft brewery, Hanger 24, we toured last May, I bought a tee there and dyed it some subltle shades of blue, and a big of brown, to help the orange/brown logo pop:

One of the classes I teach this Fall I call CSI: Redlands, so thought this shirt my hubby bought for me in Las Vegas would be appropriate:

Not for any class in particular, but a Yellowstone tee dyed with my one of many attempts to capture some of the colors I saw this summer:

BUT, what I really wanted to show you are these – rayon blanks I bought from Dharma, they have a much better drape and feel (but have to be ironed…but they’re so pretty, it may be worth it). I’m trying to recreate my silk color palettes on cotton & rayon, it’s not as simple as using the say recipes. I’m getting pretty close with these though:

Earth, Wind & Fire

Wild Rice

Ocean Surf

Black Orchid


There you have it, MY version of back to school shopping!

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A photo is worth…

Even after dyeing 100’s of yards, the sight of neatly folded stacks of fabric still thrills me…oh the possibility they represent!

 August Stacks1 August Stacks2 August Stacks3

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Well, I’m still working on the big book switcheroo, but I couldn’t wait to show you pix of the newly dyed slipcover. I LOVE being able to dye fabrics – often times, you can set out to do something, and get exactly what you wanted…and this my friends is exactly what I wanted! My favorite shade of green, with some texture – not too little, not too much!


Chaise_0018 copy

I KNOW that I will be sharing this space with Stirling – he loves to sit in front of the window and watch the world go by!

Chaise_0011 copy Chaise_0014 copy

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So, I don’t usually blog about my day job – I’m a Senior Lecturer (just got promoted this week!) in the Biology department at the University of Redlands. Anyway, in May we teach one intensive course, which I’ve just finished! So as soon as Graduation is over, I’m free for SUMMER VACATION!!!! WooHoo!

The course I’ve just finished is called “Mother Earth Chemistry: The Science of Self Reliance”, which I describe in m syllabus thusly:

In the last 100-200 years, we have become systematically more detached from where our food/clothing/shelter comes from and how it is prepared. In this class, we will attempt to rectify this by studying the chemical/biochemical processes behind many simple processes that used to be performed at home, as part of the everyday work of feeding and clothing a family. These include activities such as the making of soap, beer, cheese, yogurt, tofu and dyeing.

This class touches 2 of the things I care deeply about – feeding our family with food made from the raw ingredients as much as possible, and creating beautify things with fabric. This years class was really detail oriented, so when it came time for tie dye day (after a lab that studied the effect of pH on how Procion MX dyes cotton), they wanted to get some pretty specific things, so we had a blast using all my different swatch books to created just the right colors. Here are some of the results, there’s a bunch more on my Flicker site. Yes, we had a great time…and yes they learned a lot too!Mother Earth 09 017Mother Earth 09 023Mother Earth 09 026Mother Earth 09 028Mother Earth 09 032Mother Earth 09 034Mother Earth 09 037Mother Earth 09 046Mother Earth 09 064Mother Earth 09 072


Have I mentioned…SUMMER VACATION!!!!!!!!!!!

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So, I had a large deadline  to meet, – the Red Dirt Art festival, was April 24. I was overly optimistic about all the things I wanted to get made for the show, and able to accomplish the following:

Item Date Due % Done
Floral quArt 3/20/2009 100%
30 Tie Dye shirts etc…for Elixer 3/20/2009 100%
Design Clutch – Will Tuba 3/26/09 100%
10 Notelets 4/24/09 100%
5 Warm Colors Grab & Go 4/24/09 0%
5 Warm Colors Clutch 4/24/09 0%
30 Going Green Totes 4/24/09 70%
5 Cool Colors Clutch 4/24/09 0%
Cool Colors quArt 4/24/09 0%
Crazy Colors Bags 4/24/09 0%
5 Cool Colors messengers 4/24/09 15%
Candied Fabrics Quilt 4/25/09 0%
Medium tote for Nicholle’s sister 5/30/09 0%
Laptop bag for Liz 5/31/09 0%
Edit 2 baby quilt presents! June 0%


One of the things I’ve been doing this month is re-evaluating what exactly I want to accomplish with my business. I posted about this earlier this month, when I realized that I was actually beginning my 3rd year of business with this month’s Red Dirt Festival. I defined success as:

Being able to financially support my artistic endeavors, and to continue to grow as an artist.

And then promptly forgot it! At Red Dirt I did receive 2 commissions for bags, one of which needed to be done before this coming Wednesday. I was able to complete it, but really hit a wall while working on it. These complicated bags I make really take a lot of time. I AM able to save some time when I do multiples of them, but as each bag will take 4-5 hours to complete (less for the clutches) I really have to commit to a large chunk of time to make them happen, and it makes me miserable. So, DUDE, what is your goal? Making more bags does not help me grow as an artist, and although if I made more I could sell more, as long as I’m making enough $$ to support the endeavors, I need to allow myself time to make more art!

In the midst of my little nervous breakdown I had while discovering I’d left out the cell phone pocket on this commission bag, I told my husband(well, shrieked is closer to the tone, but you get the drift…) I wasn’t getting paid enough for this stress! This has led to a decision to switch my bag making efforts to commission only. It means investing time in setting up an album to show options regarding artistic style, color, and bag structure, but I really don’t want make any more bags unless I know someone really wants one. I also need to consider raising my prices…but in this economy, I’m going to hold off on that.

So, as definition of success includes artistic growth – my new goals for the month of May, both business & artistic, are:

Item Date Due % Done
Little Wallets 5/9/09 0%
Dye & IRON 47 scarves 5/9/09 70%
Custom Bag info album 5/9/09 0%
Send out package for giveaway 5/9/09 0%
RAA Newsletter 5/11/09 0%
Medium tote for Nicholle’s sister 5/30/09 0%
Color Fields Quilts 5/31/09 15%
Cool Colors quArt 5/31/09 0%
Candied Fabrics Quilt 5/31/09 0%
3-d Birdhouses 5/31/09 0%
Mega-messenger for Linda 5/31/09 0%
Laptop bag for Liz 5/31/09 0%
3-d Row Houses 5/31/09 0%
Scarves Website Created 5/31/09 0%

I know not all of this will get done, but it’s a little more skewed towards making the art I need to make, rather than another 10 bags I may or may not sell!

And because no post is complete without a picture, here is a new colorway I came up with while dyeing a batch of scarves this past weekend (ironing on all but 1 still to be done!) While I was stopping by the Redlands Art Association with more scarves for sale, the member behind the desk mis-heard my name for a scarf as “Earth, Wind & Fire”, when it was actually called “Earth & Sky”. Anyway, I was taken with the name and decided to try and dye a scarf that is Earth, Wind & Fire…what do you think, did I hit the mark?

Earth Wind and Fire

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Dyeing Day

This doesn’t look like much… scarf dye 001

but it’s 47 scarves being dyed!!!!scarf dye 002 scarf dye 003

I had an incredibly busy week, the month of May I teach one intense class that meets for 4 (or more hours each day), but the students get a lot out of it, and it exhausts me! I’ll have my tent set up next weekend at Art in the Park, so I needed more scarves! It’s always amazing that some thing that looks so blah like above turns into something like this:

Silk Charmeuse Crocus 002

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