Tuesday, December 04, 2012


How do you work? Do you spend time planning and thinking about your art, or do you just dive in? Do you make samples or studies for larger pieces, or plot it out ahead?
Since I have two months before the next quilt is due, I’d like to invest some time in the process. By nature I’m not introspective, don’t journal, don’t read for inspiration; this post is as introspective as I’m ever likely to get. My work is created for me to enjoy the process and for the finished piece to make me, and hopefully others, happy. There’s no meaning or message to be found. I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry if that makes me shallow – some of us are owls, and others are goldfinches. (That link is a great image of a goldfinch that’s copyrighted. You should go take a look.)
OK, I’ve run out of introspection for now – maybe this has helped me focus on the next quilt.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Another experiment, craft show & Coursera

I’ve been working on the quilt that’s due on November 15 (no pictures until later), and today I went to the local chapter craft show and took pictures of other vendors booths, and had a good chat with a number of the vendors. This was first thing on Sunday, when it wasn’t too busy. I’ll lose any potential fans/friends out there if I hit them when they’re busy with customers.
Here is a picture of my resist experiment on polyester faille:
It compares thickened disperse dye with no resist on the right, and with the following resists (from top to bottom) on the left: print paste, laundry starch, blue school glue and wax. I was very surprised by how little the print paste resisted the dye, and by how much the starch acted as a resist.
Finally, here’s the results of my homework assignment. I asked several groups of on-line friends, and the members of my quilt guild to finish the following statement:
A gizmo that helps feed fabric into my machine would . . . .
Then I organized the results and submitted them according to the assignment guidelines.
The feed guide improves material handling
The feed guide can be adjusted to hold various seam widths in relation to the needle
The feed guide keeps seams at a consistent width
The feed guide shields my fingers from the needle
The feed guide aligns the edges of multiple layers
The feed guide keeps the layers from shifting
The feed guide trims loose thread and provides a clean edge
The feed guide presses out wrinkles as it feeds
The feed guide feeds layers of fabric equally
The feed guide flattens out ruffles as they are fed into the machine
The feed guide keeps long, pinned seams from getting tangled up before they get to the feed dogs
The feed guide keeps the weight and bulk of the project off my lap
The feed guide keeps the fabric running straight
The feed guide will not allow the edge of whatever I am feeding into the machine to get caught up on the presser foot or anything else
The feed guide reduces frustration with fabric
The feed guide enables sewing a truly straight line
The feed guide keeps the fabric entering under the foot straight
The feed guide keeps fabric at an even tension
The feed guide works with one layer of fabric
The feed guide works with many layers of fabric
The feed guide prevents lighter fabrics from jamming in the dogs
The feed guide ensures an even stitch length
The feed guide is well made
The feed guide is stable
The feed guide is see-through
The feed guide sets up easily
The feed guide is lightweight
The feed guide is available in many colors
The feed guide packs easily for portability
The feed guide will not damage the needle or machine if hit by the needle
The feed guide donates a portion of sales proceeds to charity
The feed guide can be returned to position very quickly
The feed guide works with different types of machines
The feed guide works with a sewing machine or serger
The feed guide works with different brands of machines
The feed guide works with different size machines
The feed guide stands on the same surface as the machine
The feed guide will not interfere with electronic machines
The feed guide works with cabinet-mounted machines
The feed guide acts as a third arm / third hand
The feed guide fits all the way up to the needle
The feed guide works with single- or double-needle setups
The feed guide works with straight stitches
The feed guide works with wide stitches, such as zig-zag
The feed guide doesn’t damage the machine when installed
The feed guide works with different types of fabric
The feed guide works with different thicknesses of fabric
The feed guide works with fabrics with different surfaces (slick, napped)
The feed guide works with dissimilar fabrics
Thank you very much to everyone who gave me their input!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Scarves and more

The scarves are out of the autoclave! And I did some experiments with buttons and bean-bag poly pellets while they were processing. Here are pictures:

All three wrapped pipes

The resulting scarves in the same order

Before processing
After processing

The finished scarf
Buttons and poly pellets
Some buttons did not dye either in disperse or acid dyes. All these buttons were tried in acid dye first.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

More from the Barn and since then, part 4

PA270010OK, my worktable was a disaster. I needed to sew a bit on the tent, so I had to clean everything off. The tent project ended up to be a life lesson – don’t try to sew through adhesive Velcro! Once I got the gummy balls out of the machine it worked fine PA290005again, and I hemmed 4 scarf blanks. Even if I could find white polyester scarves to dye, the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen won’t accept them for jurying. Then I used some of my big roll of white paper to cover the dye-stained surface, and PA290017topped that with clear vinyl. It does look better.

When I processed the turquoise dye rag, I also processed another shibori pleated piece of georgette. I’m working on an elephant quilt and really want the shibori texture for his PA290018trunk. These pieces were also an outgrowth of the black sampling I showed earlier this week. The deadline for the elephant quilt is November 15, so if we don’t lose power (the hurricane is just making landfall as I write this) I’d better get some sewing done! And by the end of November, I need a lot of product for the holiday craft festival at the Elaina Fine Art Gallery. Scarves for sure, and the camo piece quilted for a start, plus some Kanzashi flower pins. More on that later!

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More from the Barn and since then, part 3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         This is a value sample made simply with drops of dye mixed with gradually increasing amounts of water. Click on the image to see a larger version.


PA290011The second photo shows some DSP prints that I made while in class. When home, I pulled out my plastic faux wood grain tool and spread thickened yellow ink on clear vinyl, then took a monoprint from the vinyl. A detail is below.PA290012


PA290006Finally, I have another monoprint made using colors from the screened sample pages. I made a DSP screen using leaves from the park out back. While that was set aside to dry, I rearranged the wet leaves and made a monoprint from them. When that was done, I used some thickened dye and a wallpaper brush to color the background all over with tan. Looks somewhat like camouflage, but pretty camo! Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More from the Barn and since then, part 2


When I got home, after unloading everything out of the van that we’d taken for the show, camping and class, I had a series of black to pales grey fabrics to dye for a customer. This is the result. After that, the next project was processing the color PA290007samples from class.

This first picture is a color sample made with thickened disperse dyes painted onto paper. The different values of yellow were printed onto fabric as full sheets; the various values of red and blue were cutOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         from paper and arranged onto paper by color and value. The the result was heat pressed onto each value of yellow.

The last photo is a truncated series of color samples that were mixed the same way as above, but the thickened dyes were printed directly onto the fabric. The colors are delightfully rich. The yellow was screened onto the fabric first, then it was heat pressed and washed out. Once dry, the process was repeated with red, then blue. The next experiment will be to put some clear print paste onto fabric, then screen colors on top. That should show if the print paste resists dye the way it does with MX. It might not be the case because of the dyes subliming. The gaseous dye might just migrate right through the print paste. If there’s no difference, I’ll be able to screen all the colors on as soon as the last has dried, and only heat press once.

Monday, October 29, 2012

More from the Barn and since then, part 1

Here are some pictures of the work that came out of my week with Carol Soderlund at the Nancy Crow Barn, and what I’ve been working on since.


This fabric happens to be a ‘dye rag’ that I used when working in class. I like this picture because it shows the difference that happens when a piece has been heat pressed. The next thing I did with this piece was to run it through the smocking pleaterPA290015 with widely spaced needles.  Once that was done, I soaked it with a different blue color and let it dry. Then I processed it in the autoclave to set the color and texture at the same time. The second photo shows the finished piece.PA290016

The last photo shows one end that has been spread out and taped down. You can see that the original turquoise remains and the dark blue migrated to the high points of the fabric.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More from the barn

On Wednesday Carol showed us monoprints from two different surfaces.

Ink on purple plastic sheet
thickened dye spread on heavy (violet) plastic

Monoprint from plastic sheet
Here’s the resulting print.
Then she spread dye onto the hard plastic-topped table – a large surface for a bigger piece of fabric.

Spreading the thickened dye

Scratches in the surface make their own patterns in the spread dye


patterns made in the dye with a notched spreader
Adding marks from the pointed tooth edge

More thickened dye was spread, then patterns were made in it with a stamp, left, and a sea sponge, right.
Here’s the cloth being spread onto the dye-painted surface. Only problem – I never took a picture of the finished fabric!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Master Class at the Barn

Last week I had the privilege of being in Carol Soderlund’s Visions/ReVisions Master Class at the Nancy Crow Barn in Baltimore, Ohio. No finished work at this time, but I do have lots of pictures!

PA020137Here’s a good picture (I think) of Carol, the Master Cat Herder! She wearing an ensemble of a retired hubby shirt with an applied yoke, plus a tee shirt colored with thickened dye rolled over snow fence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         We started working with thickened dye and building up layers of it on screens for DSP (deconstructed screen printing.)  I applied dyes to a screen that was laying on top of several oak leaves plus some string. This was on top of a piece of vinyl, and the dye created a nice layer on the vinyl, except where the leaves were. I laid a piece of fabric on top of the dye that remained and made a monoprint. Then I peeled the leaves off the screen and laid a moist piece of fabric on the leaves. Both pieces are interesting, and both can use more work to be complete. And I haven't even gotten to pictures of DSP yet!
Thanks for looking, more soon.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Feedback from one reader

The author of this ran out of characters in the comment option, so she has given me permission to post her words here. All I can say is ‘wow.’
Lisa- I applaud your choice to put voice to your considerations. Before I chime in, can you bear with my story? It will illustrate WHY I am going to give you the opinion that I do....I was, until Sept of 2006 a police officer, mother of 8 and 9 year old boys, and a quilter - oh yeah, wife too. :0)
Thanks to a 19 year old I tried to arrest for his 4th (? can't remember) OWI, we ended up on the ground, and I ended up with 5 back surgeries: spinal fusions and now, a morphine pump. In one year, I went from being 145 lbs at 5'9”, running 5 mi a day, weight lifting etc, to a complete, bedridden invalid, unable to quilt for over a year, or care for myself. That was Dec 2006. Now, with a morphine (internal) pump, I can quilt for 60 to 90 min at a time, if I am lucky.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to buy $750.00 worth of dye/supplies for $145.00. My DH was upset, as we are middle class and I cannot work, no $ coming in etc. I thought dyeing would force me through the pain and give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning (which it does). I also hoped, in time, it would make me stronger (which, apparently, it will not). I also wanted to learn to dye so that I could make the colors for my art quilts, now that I cannot afford to buy the fabric.
My DH applied immense pressure for me to make money through dyeing. In the beginning, I was dyeing for the masses. I was physically straining myself because of his desire that I make more money, since I can never work again. I felt guilty, so I was doing as he wished, and eventually, in more pain and hating it. Because I can only be "active" (including standing) at total of 3 hours a day, I had to make a choice: dye for myself, for the love of playing with color, discharging, shibori, etc . . . or dye items to sell at shows. I had people to sell it for me, but my time would mostly be making for others.
I chose to dye for me. The odd thing is, I will make 20 yards, really enjoy the process, and it must show in my work. I go to the 2 quilt guilds I belong to, hold up a piece at show and tell, and people ask to buy it out of my hands. True, dyeing and selling this way will never make me enough money to get to Carol's class – and I have accepted that. I only HOPE she writes a book someday.
Our circumstances seem similar to me in that, if you do dyeing for profit, the schedule and activities of it will take you away from the creative process and maybe your family. For me, dyeing for profit was wearing me out so much that I could not physically dye for me OR quilt. I had some money coming in (a very small amount of cash compared to being a cop), but I was creatively dead, unmotivated, uninspired and uninterested in my art quilting.
My house is 1100 square feet, my kids, now teenagers, have a lot of second-hand things, but they know the value of a dollar. We drive older cars that we own, we have no credit cards, no big family trips on a plane, but even though I spend every day in pain (I am laying down to write this right now), I LOVE to plan my next project and dye the fabric for it. I even felt "unchained" enough that I am starting a local dyeing group here in Sept. Not everyone can make this choice: art full time. I happened to be living frugally, so when forced into the choice by the limits of my injury, I was able to convince DH that the bit of extra money wasn't worth it, for me to starve creatively.
Not sure if this helps you, but I think "making art" is most successful – if not the most enjoyed – when done for oneself, not "arranged" to fit a financial plan or roadmap. If you feel free to create, you may make better art, which in turn, may have its own better financial reward, later. I still get requests for my fabric, I just couldn't imagine missing the weekends with my boys, while vending at a show. The oldest is nearly 16. If h*ll freezes over someday and I can do it, great. But until then, DH and I are happy to live with much less, with my quilting and dyeing making up the difference. How could I spend $40 on eating out…all I could think about is "You know how much dye/silk/fabric I could buy with that?" :0)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Choices and decisions; rambling on

Some choices are easy, and others are harder. I recently chose to sign up for the Visions and ReVisions class at the Crow Barn. Carol Soderlund is the teacher, and I already know how good she is, so it was an easy decision to make, except for the money. The class format is sort of independent study, and the size is very small, so my next choice was what to focus on. By chance I found out that a small piece of paper helped me narrow down the choices. I ended up deciding on polyester.

A decision I’m trying to avoid is whether I should just give it all up and try to find a regular 40 hour a week job. Lately I have been doing odd jobs for another quilt show vendor, so that will take care of the short run. Then the seasonal retail jobs are just around the corner. A motivational poster I saw once said ‘Not to decide is to decide.’ So until I can’t put the decision off any longer, I will chose not to decide.

A quilt or cloth as artOne thing I’m starting to explore is more venues to sell my hand-dye and surface design fabrics. (Because, if I sell more, I don’t have to decide to give it up.) So far I have lost money at shows for garment sewers. Now I am considering putting my toe into the fine craft show waters. I have chosen not to do that before now, because I have been selling only yardage. So I need to come up with something that can be well-made quickly and easily from my yardage that will sell. I’ve seen some fine art painters that are selling works in a 5” – 6” square size. A small wall hanging that isn’t square is a possibility. (I found out when I made my first miniature wall hanging that the square format looks like a pot holder.) Another option is a jacket. There’s plenty of room to research the possibilities, and to go to a lot of craft shows to see what else is out there. (A tough task, but someone’s got to do it.) And I could include fabric in my booth, so that I could offer a jacket or quilt or cloth as art on commission.

Finally, I have chosen to spend some time talking to Morna of the IAPQ about her business coaching program. That call will be taking place next Tuesday, so when it’s over I will have another decision to make. At least she has a payment plan. Now I am going to chose to post this and not spend any more time on it. Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 23, 2012

New and clearance items on website

Well, I've been updating the website and have posted a total of 15 new items, and moved several pieces of fabric and some odds and ends to the clearance page.
Here's one of the new items - it's discharged Kona.
And here is one of the clearance items - discharged and overdyed black Radiance.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another polyester experiment

Here’s a picture of a piece of polyester double georgette that I dyed with disperse dyes. It was an experiment, and technically it’s not my best work. Even so, it’s really neat.Poly georgette transfer print - click to shop

The whole piece is 58” wide and two yards long. I applied disperse dyes to a cotton gauze which was hung up to dry. That’s what created the chevron effect in light and dark greys. The finished fabric itself is flat. Then I had to affix the gauze to the polyester, and I tried a light coat of spray adhesive. Then the whole piece was heat pressed. That accounts for the rectangles – it’s the size of the heat press surface. White areas are spots I missed, and darker straight lines are where I pressed the same area twice.

Next time I have a better idea of how to adhere the two fabrics together before I heat press them. I will try using print paste as an adhesive. I’m not sure how to resolve the problem of the missed and double-pressed area. Maybe layout lines on the back.

This fabric and four others have been added to the DippyDyes website. My day job is a little dry right now, so I have to use my time profitably, even if it means NOT dyeing stuff. The goal is five per day. Thanks!

Friday, May 11, 2012

New class at Innovative Beads Expo

Next Sunday, May 20, I will be teaching my felted and beaded coin purse kit at the Innovative Beads Expo at the Allentown Fairgrounds. There's a picture there of a coin purse in progress; here's another one that I'm working on now:
I have another, but it's in my purse. This project features a hand-dyed piece of Peltex, wool roving and beads, and is for beaders who haven't felted and felters who haven't beaded and quilters who may not have tried either! Hope you can join me!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

New polyester results

Some polyester georgette came in the other day, along with another roll of the iridescent polyester organza. Here are some pictures:

P5080032Organza wrapped on a polypropylene pipe. Dye applied, then bound with dyed string, then thickened dye was applied.

P5090036This is the resulting fabric – it’s sheer enough that you can see the color of the ceiling and walls through it. Another neat thing is that the polyester keeps the texture through many washings!

P5080033The upper fabric on this pipe was pleated lengthwise, wrapped and compressed. Then unthickened black dye was applied.

P5090038This is the result. The pleats give the mirror image in the pattern.

P5040030The georgette is very nice but has a mind of its own. To contain it until I wrapped it around the pipe, I wrapped the pleated fabric with Wash-away thread.

P5050031Then I wrapped it around the pipe and bound it with string. You can see the un-dyed organza already on the pipe below the georgette.

P5080034Here’s a close-up of the georgette on the pipe after the dye was applied. The dye was squirted all over the bundle and then it was allowed to dry. As it dried, the evaporating liquid wicked the dye particles outwards to the surface of the bundle.P5090041

The finished georgette. The dark areas are the ones that were outermost on the bundle.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick picture of discharged shibori


This is a piece of Testfabrics black broadcloth that I discharged with Thiox and over-dyed with MX. It was folded in half and wrapped around a pipe, then bound with thread. I’d love to do this again with a really sheer fabric.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shibori patterns on polyester, take 1

As long as I had the dye out, I decided to try a little reverse dyeing experiment. (Hey, we call it reverse sewing, right?) I put disperse dye on the cloth, let it dry, then bound it and rinsed it with the sprayer hose. Here’s the fabric with the dye on it, after manipulating and before heat processing:
No thickeners of any kind were used with the dye. This piece also appears in the first photo next to the colander. And here’s a picture of it after heat-pressing, washing out and ironing:
The color shift is awesome, huh? And a detail from the top edge, left of center:
I like it – it’s fairly subtle patterning, but so not-solid. What do you think? Thanks.