Saturday, March 26, 2005


Broken Eagle Cries Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005

Drying Dyed Cocoons

Yes you can place them in the oven on a very low temp. My ovens pilot light is always on, and I just place my cocoons in the oven on a tray, after a trip through the salad spinner. They are dry the next morning.

Silk Cocoons dyed with the catepillar inside; dyed with natural dyes. Out of 60 cocoons only two were stained by the catepillar inside. They both happend to be yellow cocoons. Posted by Hello

Dyeing Silk Cocoons & Carrier Rods

Yes you can dye the silk cocoons with the catepillar still inside. However that being said you need to get the cocoons dry as soon as possible to prevent rotting (the catepillar rots). You will get one or two that are stained due to the critter inside, but out of a batch of 60 cocoons I dyed only two were stained.

I dye my cocoons using natural dyes, if you remove the sericin from the cocoons, after they have been dyed, you will loose the color. The cocoons float on top of the dye bath, if you don't cut them open, I turn them frequently using a large skimmer I have.

Once they are dyed I remove them, rinse them right away, and the run them through a dedicated salad spinner. Make sure all of your dye equipment is for dyeing ONLY! I then put them on a cooling rack to dry. You could use a hair dryer on them as well.

You can also dye the cocoons in the indigo vat, good way to get greens. I take my salad spinner basket put the wet cocoons into the basket and submerge it carefully into the dye vat, now you know why I said dedicated equipment. I leave it about 30 seconds bring them out quickly so as to not get dye liquid back into the vat, let them oxidize and drain into my sink. I do this as many times as necessary until I get the desired shade of blue.

This also worked with the silk carrier rods I dyed last night. The carrier rods take dye differently, there are areas that are bright blue, form the indigo, and other areas that are still that silvery natural color. It's a very interesting effect. They also softened up a bit in the dyeing process, that may be due the high pH of my indigo vat and all of the soda ash in the vat.

Indigo stains on your equipment? Clean it off with a baking soda paste.

Pictures coming soon.

ATC that is almost done. Indigo Dyed bag that hand dyed quilt batting, cotton, is hand stitched onto. Posted by Hello

A post card in progress, 4 x 6 inches, using my compost dyed fabrics, the dark rust color and the lighter mottled yellow. The red violet strip was dyed with brazilwood, and the backing in indigo 2 dips. It is hand stitched using YLI Silk thread, Rajamahal Art Silks and Aurifil Wool thread.  Posted by Hello

Post Cards and ATC's

A little something I've been working on. Getting samples made up using my compost dyed fabrics.

Monday, March 21, 2005


"Gypsy Girl" in progress. She needs lots of embellishing now. Posted by Hello

An Hour A Day

I've decided that I need to spend more time with my two loves, aside from my dearest hubby. My passion for textile art, and God. So I"m taking two hours a day out of my schedule, an hour for each one. I need to go clean out my chair in the spare room so I can read and do my quite times.

I've already taken an hour for my stitching today, I started working on a piece I'm calling "Gypsy Girl". My rules for myself are I cannot run out an buy anything for the project, other than needles for sewing with (my sewing machine loves to eat them) and/or thread, because sometimes I do run out. I"m hoping by imposing this limit on myself, which will probably last until garage sale season, I'll use up my ever burgeoning stash of fabrics, buttons, trims and the like. I have some fabrics, from my paternal grandmother, that I would like to make into something special.

I also have a collaborative project I need to get busy with. I now have all of the materials necessary, except I still need to get my argon tank back, to make my sculptures.

Ranger Inks

I heat set and washed the piece of fabric I have been working on, see previous posts about Shiva Paintstiks. I had sprayed them with the Adirondak Inks, by Ranger Inks. The bottle says it can be applied to fabric, just heatset and cure. Well the reds and yellows work fine, they do tend to crock off a bit. The greens however leave something to be desired, most of it either crocked or washed off after heatsetting. The color called "lettuce" is the worst of the bunch. I will be contacting Ranger Inks tomorrow to see what it is I'm doing wrong, if anything.

This is really too bad because I really liked the color of the fabric, see previous posts. Now it's almost washed out blah. I'll post a pic tomorrow, along with the Payne's Grey fabric.

Payne's Grey

The Payne's Grey came out beautifully! I will take pics tomorrow, the silk dupioni that I dyed Payne's Grey is to dye, I mean die, for. I'm so glad I dyed extra of this color I can't wait to play. This fabric was a special order for a customer, all done with natural dyes, highly mottled as per request. It's so yummy!

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Houston we have shelves! (And a really big mess) Posted by Hello

Studio Still

Well I'm getting closer to finding everything I need, the tree dye list is in here somewhere, honestly.

Friday, March 18, 2005


My future soon to be organized corner. Picture lots of bookshelves mounted on the walls, thread racks, and a sewing table. Posted by Hello

Well my other sewing table isn't accessible either! Posted by Hello

Here's my design wall, totally inaccessible, neither is my sewing table for that matter` Posted by Hello

Design Studio Remuddle

Due to spring cleaning my studio is now out of commission, hopefully it'll be put back together by tonight!

Shiva Iridescent Blending Stick

The interesting thing about the blending sticks is they don't show up on white fabric, well duh it's transparent. But when I added the ink to the fabrics the iridescent blender markings really popped onto the fabric surface. I will be working with this a bit more once I get the fabric heat set and washed. You can see the markings on the top of the fabric, in the pic where you see the whole fabric, it sorta glows.

nnn Posted by Hello

nnn Posted by Hello

Nope Posted by Hello

Inks applied to the fabric. Posted by Hello

Pics Not Coming Up

I've been trying to post pics of the fabric since my last post. Hopefully they will show up soon.

Shiva Fabric, Shipping Tags and Payne's Grey

Updating what I've been doing to the sample piece that was posted a week ago. I'm slowly getting around to pushing the surface further, it's been punctuated with bouts of work.

Anway I applied various inks, Ranger Inks and Tsukineko Walnut Inks, to the surface, it was too white. Now that it has air dried overnight I will heat set the color with an iron and rinse the excess off of the surface. The Ranger Inks I've been using are the Adirondak line, they are in spray bottles and have a tendancy to crock off very easy. The green didn't prove to be wash fast in the past, (the color green I'm using is called Lettuce), but I didn't heat set it with the iron. The reds were very washfast w/o heat setting.

So this begs to be anwsered why would I want to use them on any other surface then? I used the Ranger Ink Pads on shipping tags, one of the colors was called Soot, the other Old Paper. I really like the texture the pads leave on the paper. I did a couple of tags by simply pressing them onto the ink pad. The remaining tags I dropped into a cochineal dye bath and the Payne's Grey dye bath.

Payne's Grey (for a light to medium color) to get this color on fabric/fibers using natural dyes: first an indigo bath, two dips in a weak bath. Rinse/wash the fabric to get rid of the excess indigo. The place fabrics/fibers into a dye bath of Oak Gall Nut Extract, two heaping tablespoons, and a tiny bit of iron mordant, about 1/4 teaspoon. The iron turns the seeminly unimportant drab Oak Gall Extract bath from blah beige to pewter grey. Most excellent color is to be had.

You could overdye any number of colors with this dye bath and end up with a rainbow of exciting colors. Lessen the amount of Oak Gall Extract, to as little as 1/4 teaspoon of extract, if you want to simply tone down another color.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

porcupine quills and studios

The rest of my porcupine quills came today, about 5000 total. They need to be washed and dyed now, with natural dyes. I don't care for the package they came in, a padded envelope, it's going to be hard getting the quills out intact, and a lot of them appear to be broken already.

I'm almost done rearranging the studio, hubby and I spent the better part of last night picking out and then buying shelf brackets. The only way the new studio arrangement is going to work is to put those books way up on the wall out of my way, and so they don't block my window light. So tonight it's shelf time, I'll be moving most of the books today by myself, and then it's back to dyeing fabrics tomorrow.

I decided to rearrange my studio now, the flow was horrible I couldn't get to anything, the design wall or my supplies. I know that once we get into the new building there would be no time to rearrange my home studio. The new configuration will be similar to the pics that are posted on the blog, only better. Why I changed it from that configuration to what I had, that didn't work, I'll never know.

The shelves with all of the fabric are now in the walk-in closet off of the studio (which once upon-a-time was a master bedroom). That west facing wall is now dedicated to storage units, books and more storage. The south wall, in the old pic with the white storage units, will have my new make shift sewing table up against it, with three more thread racks mounted on the wall above the table. It's amazing how much thread, needles and fabric you can accumulate without even trying. And I haven't even gotten into all of the wool that needs to be washed, carded and spun up, 75 pounds worth.

Once the studio is done, hopefully tonight, I'll post pics of it again, tomorrow when it's sunny. I have some work to do in the walk in closet, I wish there was a more effiecient, less expensive way of storing my fabrics, w/o throwing them onto a shelf. Half of my fabric stash sits in the attic awaiting my attention, it's been there about a month now safely out of harms way.

Need to go check on the corned beef, happy St. Paddy's Day! Now to just convince the dogs that natural sinew, for sewing, is not a doggie chew toy.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Using Pottery Glazes and Fairies

Yes many of the glazes used for painting pottery can be used for painting fabrics as well. You can mix them with soy milk, a little of the iron oxide or pigment will go a long way, I typically use 1 tps to 1 TBS of the pigments and/or oxides to 1 cup soy or acorn milk. When painting wood or leather you can mix the pigments and/or oxides with hide glue.

I typically use acorn milk, as this is what the First Peoples used, and I believe it to be far superior to soy milk. One: it has tannin in the milk aready, from the acorns, and two: it doesn't spoil nearly as fast. I also like the hand afterward, which I feel is superior to soy milk. Howevery, and it's a big however, I have to beat the squirrels to the acorns! That is not an easy task to say the least.

I use the acorn caps as hats for little fairies I'm making. I got the idea from a book called Felt Wee Folk by Sally Mavor , they are absolutely adorable! And I'm not a cute kinda person either. I have adequetly baffled my husband with this habit of making fairies and gnomes. What can I say I can't help myself, and he definately does NOT know what to make of either. It's also a great use of all of those teeny tiny scraps of silk and wool. Oh and did I mention all of those silk flowers I seem to have gathered over the past two decades.

NOTE: Always wear a respirator when handling glazes, iron oxides or pigments of any sort. These things are not good for your lungs or your brain!

Friday, March 11, 2005


This is the other half of the cotton fabric, The stamp pattern I carved myself, so yes it's copyright protected! Posted by Hello

Shiva Paintstik on cotton fabric, trying to emulate rocks in a stream, as you can see I have many more layers to try. Posted by Hello

Shiva Paintstiks

Here pics of the Shiva Paintstics used over textured surfaces. I cut up some old fruit baskets, the kind you get from the produce section of the store, and I used some commercial texture plates. You could do this over a stamp that didn't have very fine details, or over a stencil. If you use a stencil you may want to put a spray adhesive on the back to prevent it from slipping around on the fabric when applying the paintsticks.

Let it air dry 72 hours, heat set with an iron and then wash as normal.

I carry the sticks on my webstore http://www.prairiefibers.com Just click on the picture and it will take you to that particular product page.

Much better view of the stitching. Posted by Hello

Top half of the fabric, it's over 90 inches long. Much better shot of the colors used and of the composting marks. Posted by Hello

Wisdom Keeper's 2

You can hardly make it out on this detail shot but there is machine and hand stitching on this piece of fabric. I used a grape cluster type free hand pattern with the machine to create more dimension to the fabric. It looks much better in person. Here are a couple of more pics of this piece of fabric.

Wisdom Keeper's 2 Detail 2 (Art Cloth) Posted by Hello

Wisom Keeper's Detail 1 (Art Cloth) Posted by Hello

Sample of Rust Dyed Fabric

Here's a piece of fabric that had some metal on it when I compost dyed it, the rusty object, a grill, left markings on the fabric. Wisdom Keeper's 2 the pinkish area is cochineal dye extract painted onto the cochineal dyed fabric. The copper patina area is copper patina I purchased from a local store. The brown and black areas are iron oxides I painted onto the fabric.

Rust Dyeing

When using the rust technique if you want the process to stop you need to neutralize it with a salt water solution. I put about 1/4 cup salt into a five gallon bucket, if that gives you a ratio.

I use straight vinegar and all sorts of rusty objects, I keep telling myself I will photograph those last 47 objects and get them onto the website but it doesn't seem to be happening.

You can do pole wrapping and bound resist techniques with this, also you can sprinkle iron mordant or iron shavings onto your fabric for other patterning. I suggest the iron mordant over the shavings, shavings often imply sharp things that can cut you, and they may be coated in machiners oil.

You can also do this technique using old copper pieces but it takes a bit longer.

If you like your rusty pieces and want to push it further rinse it, neutralize it, rinse it again and then rust the fabric once more. This will help prevent the fabric from rotting through.

Your natural rust is an iron oxide. Wear gloves and a mask when working with it, iron in that form loves to bind with your hemaglobin blocking all available sites for oxygen, ask me how I know. You can become gravely ill from too much contact with raw iron products. And it varies with each person.

Working with natural rust? What color is your natural rust? It comes in about 10 or more natural colors depending on what’s in the neighboring soils.

You can mix this natural rust with water or soy milk and paint your fabrics with it. I mix the rust with water, stir really well, let it sit for 24 hours then apply to the fabric, use a junk brush. Let the fabric dry/cure for 24 hours and then rinse. By letting your natural rust sit in the water for 24 hours your ensuring that all of the color will dissolve. I use about 1 TBS of oxide to 1 cup of water.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Snow

It's snowing and throwing freezing rain out there, so this is as good as any reason to stay inside and stitch.

I'm working on some painted timtex, embellishing it by hand and machine. I'm thinking of making a journal sized quilt, right after I go dye some fabric. I need to stitch and create something and soon, lately it's all been paperwork or stuff I'm making for work.

The orange is a bust for this week I think. The sangria color washed right out when I threw the wool fabric into the washer. So I dumped both dye baths, washed the fabric thoroughly and am planning to remordant the fabric with alum. I'll then put it back into a cochineal bath and see what happens. I could simply be that all of the dyes sites are taken up on the wool, but I have yet to have this problem so I"m finding this really hard to believe. Mine while I have an ugly yellow gold fabric to work whose color is begging to be changed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Angel, a naughtly little sheltie but I love her so! Posted by Hello

Weird Dyeing Day

Well today was quite weird, and so was yesterday for that matter. I've been working on orange fabric for quite some time now and for some reason it's just escaping me. I dyed some yellow wool in cochineal on Sunday. I finally took it out of the dyepot yesterday, I ran it through the washer, it looked orange when it went in. When I took it out it was yellow again.

I had done everything right so I don't know what the problem is, I used an all-in-one cochineal bath, the alum was in the pot with the cochineal dye liquor. So why the orange washed out is beyond me. So back into the dye pot it went today, and poof orange again. I'll see what happens tomorrow. It's very mottled parts of the cloth look like sangria it's so distorted.

I brought my dyed silk cocoons up from my wet studio and am planning to remove the catepillar tonight. Then I will probably remove some of the sericin, which will probably remove most if not all of the dye color. I'm planning on decorating some pieces with the resultant fiber mass.

Here's a pic of Angel, my demon sheltie. I can't wait until she's housebroken!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Custom Dye Jobs for the Day

Well I am now exceedingly behind, but hope to get caught up this morning.

Things to do today is to dye fabric a rich Payne's Grey color, this should be fairly quick but I'm still having problems getting a good orange.

We've had two water main breaks in the last month and this is sending a lot of rust through the system making it impossible to get orange. Every red or orange fabric I dye turns purplish when it's rinsed in the washing machine.

Due to yesterdays high winds and the grass fires west of here there's a lot of dust and muck in the air, now my allergies are killing me.

If the Payne's Grey turns out ok I'll post the recipe here later, btw this is cotton I'm dyeing not wool.

For orange on wool I'm overdyeing osage orange with cochineal. I'm using alum as my mordant and am adding cream of tartar to the dye bath.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


A compost dyed quilt I am working on. Posted by Hello

A small sampling of my hand dyed and compost dyed cotton fabrics, that I sell through my webstore. The piece two in from the left is on it's way to becoming a quilt. Posted by Hello

This is just a sampling of the yarns and silk ribbons I have been dyeing and selling. Posted by Hello

The Front of our future store! It needs a lot of work. I'm hoping for a June 1, 2005 opening date. Posted by Hello

My new - ish building

Here it is my diamond in the rough! I put down the earnest money today, hubby is buying it for me for our anniversary! Normally he buys me iris' for our anniversary so I've decided to call it my "iris" building.

It needs a ton of work, the price, however, is right and the location is excellent, Ellsworth, Iowa. It's right off of the interstate in a town that already has a desitnation location business, The Sister Act.

It's also on the way to two big quilt shops, so this traffic flow will definately benefit the business. My biggest obstacle is convincing my one employee that she wants to commute to the shop.

My plan for the front of the store is two french doors, friendlier windows, awnings, big terra cotta pots with toparies and lots of flowers, and a wrought iron bench. We are putting what's called a false front on the top to visually extend the roofline upwards and to have a place for signage.

The best part about the store is no more stairs, praise God! I cannot tell you how much my knees hurt from having had knee surgery twice in one year.

Anyway... I have also attached pics of my hand dyed fabrics and some compost dyed fabrics. I am so excited it's warming up outside and I can get back to dyeing fabrics and yarn in my compost pile again. There is also a quilt in progress, the fabric I compost dyed.

Bad pic of me

Well I've at least figured out how to add photos, too bad I cannot figure out how to get them into the right locations.

This is a very bad pic of me. Lesson don't take your own pic with a digital camera, hand held of course. Who needs a tripod right?!

I am not photo genic at all! Posted by Hello