Thursday, April 28, 2005

My twiddle Angel Posted by Hello

Pepper guarding my dye books. Posted by Hello

Porcupine quills and cats

Usually it's some errant thread hanging off of a piece of fabric I have to worry about, now it's the porky quills. I decided that all of those ice cream buckets, with lids, would make for excellent storage of my quills, and possibly save one very curious cat from a lot of pain. He's cute, quite the keeper, but a tad bit ornery and he gets into everything.

Life & Feet

Well I talked to my dad again tonight, I think after 40 years this is going to take awhile for him to recover from the shock of moms untimely death. He's been cleaning the house like crazy, to keep busy. So he and my SIL went through the hall closet and got rid of a lot of my mother's clothes.

An odd thing about my mother, she hated wearing shoes, I have the same affliction or at least I did until I discovered Naots and Chacos. So it seems rather peculiar that someone who disliked wearing shoes so much had so many of them. Dad said she had close to a hundred pairs of shoes, maybe more he gave up counting them, she also had impossibly tiny feet. So now the problem is how to get rid of shoes that have never been worn, in an incredibly tiny size. They finally took them to Salvation Army. I'm sure someone there will know what to do with them.

So I buy shoes, and drive my husband nuts doing so, then I go barefoot (all of the time). What can I say shoes bother my feet. Actually I go stocking foot, big chunky wool socks. Some I buy, some I knit.

Anyway, it's just an odd thought, or three.

Porcupine Quills dyed in Instant Indigo. Posted by Hello

My feet. Posted by Hello

Porcupine Quills and Life

Above is a pic of porcupine quills I dyed using indigo. I think it was about 6 dips to get this blue. I could have done 6 more but was afraid I would ruin the quills by keeping them wet too long. I have since found out that this is not true.

Here's a pic of my feet as well, this seems to be a trend on blogs recently.

Life is good. A sunbeam and a comfy spot, what more could you need?! Posted by Hello

Fermenting Eucalyptus Bath. It looks black but when I put a spoon in the pot and pull up water it's the richest amber red you have ever seen. It stays covered as well, Euc really reeks when it's fermenting. It's been in this pot since October of 2004. Posted by Hello

Fermented Osage Orange Bath, it's been in this bucket for two years now, living outside. Occassionally I have to add water, I keep it sealed to keep the gunk out. Posted by Hello

Fermentation Dyeing

I forgot where I was at, I either have the flu or a bad case of food poisoning. All I know is I don't feel well at all and I'm supposed to be in Kansas City tonight, not good, not good at all.

I have a book I wrote on the methods of Fermentation Dyeing, it's available on my webstore. It's called Compost Dyeing and Other Fermentation Techniques. It's only available on CD ROM right now, but I may have found a printer in Minnesota so we can get it into book form. Anyway I discuss 14 different methods of fermenting and/or composting with natural items to get color onto your fabrics. If you'd like a copy of the book, on CD, check the link at

I fermented and/or composted all of the pieces in my series Prairie Remnant. I really need to get them photographed and placed onto my art web. The fabric for my three quilts Sandstone I-III were composted. I love the naturalness of the fabric, it's like working with bark or leaves. I made these peices in 2001 I do believe, and have had two solo shows with them. You can view the quilts at Click on the quilts link and then either Sandstone or Prairie Remnant. I'd copy and past the link but I haven't figured out how to do that in yet.

I need to get busy filling orders, I'll post more pics later, I have a feeling we won't be going to KC tonight, not with the way I"m feeling right now.

Fermenting Dye Baths

Some dyes are excellent for fermenting, others are not. Those that are not suitable are flowers, fruity/vegetable type materials. If you want to ferment Cochineal Bugs or Madder Root, it needs to be heated every day or so to keep the mold at bay.

Things that lend themselves to fermentation are barks and tree roots. If you ferment any portioin of the Walnut or Butternut tree you will get purplish tones in you dyebaths. The longer you ferment the better. A friend of mine she's also a way excellent basket maker, Judy Dominic, fermented her walnut hulls in old glass Coke bottles for 10 years, excellent dye color. Her Osage Orange had been fermenting for 3+ years, a very old gold color was yeilded.

Osage Orange, Oaks, Maples (I got teal with my rotting maple, it was a silver maple) , Willows, Birch's, and other trees yeild their best colors only after the barks, heartwoods and root barks have fermented for 3-4 weeks or longer. If you don't introduce any contaminants mold will NOT be a problem. The tannin content is high enough to kill mold. It's the contaminants that cause mold problems, therefore I keep my dyebaths sealed while fermenting. The exception is Osage Orange and I keep it out of harms way. Sealing the dyebaths also keeps the odor down to a dull roar.

Gotta run be back in a bit with more info.

Creeping Charlie and Fermenting Dye Baths

Well somewhere above or below this post are pics of what we call Creeping Charlie in Iowa. It was imported, fable has it, as a substitute for hops, which are used in beer making. It didn't go over well and now we are run amuck with this plant. I"m alleregic, or so it would seem, pulling it out of the yard and flower gardens makes my sinus' seize up and big time, oh and I itch as well.

I will post some pics of my fermenting dyebaths, I can't wait to use my Osage Bath, it's been sitting outside for almost two years now.

My neighbors old fashioned Crap Apple. I love spring, however it bugs my allergies. I took this with my digital camera. The pics are far superior with my Nikon F100! Posted by Hello

A better pic of the Creeping Charlie. Posted by Hello

Creeping Charlie, or at least this is what we call it in Iowa. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Dyeing with Berries

Tis the season for novice dyers everywhere to be surfing the web and coming up with some pretty lousy dyeing information. This forever turns them off from dyeing.

A note on dyeing with berries, with the exception of pokeberries, and this requires a special technique, all berries are fugative dyestuffs! Fugative means the color flees, it does NOT stay on your fibers, no matter the mordants, chemicals and spells you chant over the dyepot. Sorry but it isn't gonna happen. So save your berries for pie or making jam.

Now with that said, you can take the green shoots of the blackberry brambles and cook them up for a lovely green color. Just don't leave them to soak in a rusty wheelbarrow for a week like I did. Many of the berries that are out there have vines, canes or roots that will actually give a color that will last. But the color will not be the same color as the berries, usually it's yellow or some variant thereof.

NOTE: Strawberries fall into the same category as other berries. Oh and while I'm at it I know that purple mulberries will stain your favorite white shirt/blouse/suit/car purple, but you need to apply Murhpy's Law of dyeing here. If you want the dye color to stay, it won't, if you don't it will. Tomatoes suffer from the same phenomenom, as does catsup and mustard.

On my website I have charts of colors you can expect, lightfast and washfast charts, scourning instructions, etc. Check it out at: I will be teaching at the Iowa Wool and Sheep Festival, in June, in Adel, Iowa if your interested in learning more.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Last years Bee Balm. Posted by Hello

Clouds above my house last year. Posted by Hello

It's Monday Again!

Yep it's Monday again! I don't care for Monday, as I suspect most of the world doesn't care for it either. Monday is fraught with paperwork, ordering inventory, and getting all of those orders out the door that came in late last Friday.

What I really really want to do is work in my herb garden before the sky opens up and pours another 1 to 3 inches of rain on us. It looks like my Bee Balm made it through the winter, I'm really happy about that because it is very pretty. I bought some Verbena last weekend, smells wonderful, but can't plant it because it's too cold outside (at night).

If I couldn't be in my garden I'd be in my studio dyeing fibers.

Above is a pic that is fits todays mood.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Indigo & Dips, Shoe Hounds and Rain

In my last post I inadvertantly said 46 dips of indigo, no that's supposed to be 4 to 6 dips in the indigo bath. I used Instant Indigo, I love the stuff, and so do my customers it flies out of the store and fast!

I bought a new pair of shoes today, my Nikes are getting worn, both pairs. Last weekend I bought a new pair of Chaco's (the kind w/the toe strap), but there are times when I need something dressier. I need to send one pair of Chaco's off to be resoled, who knows maybe they will throw in new straps for kicks and giggles, that may be asking a bit much.

So today I went shoe shopping, I'm a bona fide shoe hound, and the blacker the shoe the happier I am. I bought a pair of burgandy Naots today, burgandy it's the new black!!! These have to be the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn, I love them. I also suspect they were designed by a woman having hot flashes, the model I bought "Rome" has little side vents on them, so your feet can breathe, what a novel concept.

It's raining turtles and fish again, and here I was worried we were going to have a drought year. I'm still using water conservative methods when it comes to dyeing, I wish I could say the same thing about rinsing out the wool yarn. Unlike everything else I dye I can't stick it in the washing machine to wash/risne. There has to be a better way of risning the yarn so I'm not using as much water.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Some of the yarn I've been dyeing. All of the yarns are wool or a wool/mohair blend. Posted by Hello

Dyeing yarn and more dyeing

I've been dyeing yarn for a couple of days now, I've had a lot of requests from specialty yarn shops for my yarn. So it's time to get busy, as it twere. I like the varigation I got on this last batch of textures. I dyed the various wool yarns with Buckthorn Bark and Osage Orange Extract, with an over dye of Indigo; probably 46 dips on the indigo.

My next project, from one of my Prairie Starter Kits. The compost dyed fabric in the back center is begging to be transformed into a forest scene. Posted by Hello

Some tag art in progress, the white chunky stuff is modeling paste. Posted by Hello

Painted Wonder Under, I did light washes with the Liquitex Paints and Createx Paints. I also stamped it with one of my hand carved stamps. Posted by Hello

Three different colors of Angelina, melted between layers of parchment paper. It will eventually be bonded to a chiffon scarf and stitched to something. Posted by Hello

Same Piece of Fabric now with a background wash of golden yellow Seta Color Paint. It was lacking before, and it still needs help. Posted by Hello

A piece of cotton painted with Seta Color Paints, Liquitex Paints and Jacquard Lumierie Paints.  Posted by Hello

One of those days

Today was one of those days, allergies and a migrane just don't mix.

Tonight I decided to play with some materials, mainly using some techniques from Raising the Suface by Maggie Grey ( if you want to buy a copy). I finally found a shop in town that sells second hand nylon scarves. Temperature is critical when ironing them otherwise they just disappear.

Right now everything is drying, I will paint, and dye, more fabrics, fibers, and tyvek tomorrow. Tonight I painted some Wonder Under, a chiffon scarf, a piece of cotton fabric and I applied Tsukineko inks to some lace. I also melted some Angelina fibers, between two sheets of parchment. I applied some shiva paintstiks (available on my webstore) to the Wonder Under, it is very interesting to say the least.

Over all I think I need to dye, paint, and ink up more colors so I will have a larger selection of pieces to select for stitching.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dyeing with Onion Skins

Lets say you decided to dye some fabrics, cotton of course, with onion skins this weekend and failed to pre-mordant your fabrics, or prescour for that matter. Your attempts at dyeing with onion skins is not all loss.

You can actually take your fabric and post mordant it using alum and tannin. When dyeing cotton fabric with onion I use alum, onions have a good amount of tannin.

Assuming you have about a pounds worth of cotton fabric (The weight varies depending on the weave and width of the fabric) wet it out really well and then place it into your dyepot with 1 ounce of alum and enough water to adequetly cover your fabric.

Bring the fabric to just under a boil and let it simmer for two hours. This should be suffecient to retain color. You will probably loose some of the color from your initial attempts, or it may become even darker.

If you want you can add more onion skins at this point. NOTE: Your onion skins will give the best color if you heat the dye bath up, cover them and let them soak overnight.

You can check out my website for information on scouring cellulosic fibers, which is a must when dyeing with natural dyes.

NOTE: I don't ever use chrome or tin, I either live w/o those colors or I use other dye methods, that involve tons of work, to achieve the colors yeilded by using chrome and tin.

NOTE: When dyeing any fibers use only dedicated pots and utensils. Never re-use this equipment for food preparation.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A better pic of some of the flowers we made. My cherry tree is blooming on only one side and I'm not sure why.  Posted by Hello

Garden Sheds

Here are some pics of my garden shed, and the Norway Mape, I think, in my driveway. The tree is trying to sprout leaves.

The side of the garage. The trim still needs to be painted, it was supposed to be burgandy, but hubby started painting the trim yellow instead. It looks good actually.  Posted by Hello

Baby Maple Leaves Posted by Hello

My potting/garden shed wall. My garden shed is a nook that projects out from the main garage. Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Favorite room's and potting sheds

My favorite room in the house was my guest bedroom, that was until we started storing lots of extraneous junk there. That's changing this week though! Everything is going to be gone through, all of the bookwork and filing will be done, etc...

My potting shed is now my favorite project. It's way cute cute cute!. It's not really a potting shed but an extension on an old 1905 single car garage to fit a 1960/70's length car. It has since been walled off and I store my gardening things in there. There's no room to walk in there, so that's about all you can call it is storage!

Today hubby and I nailed a bunch of my old farm equipment rakes, and some old rusty iron rod, to the exterior wall of the shed. they look like flowers. I have a bunch of plow points to nail to the shed still. It's way cute, we also added a couple bucket style of planters I found, now to get the plants into the planter. And to get hubby to make me some bird houses, I've only been asking for them for about 3 plus years now.

I'll take pics tomorrow of the garden shed wall. It's also time to drag out all of those gardening magazines I"ve been collecting with the way cute/cool garden sheds in them, and implement those ideas. I think I may need a hummingbird feeder, or two, as well. And wind chimes, I have no wind chimes.

It'll be interesting to see what plants grow there this year, I've added Jerusalem Artichokes, sunflower seeds and various other perrinals to the area in front of the shed. I also have a sweet cherry tree growing in front of the shed. I may need some short plants come to think of it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Flutes and such

Now that hubby is almost done with the wood studio for the evening I think I'll go out and select my wood for my flute. Instead of cedar I'm thinking of using the maple that is out there, since my hackberry was used as fire wood. Ever since I discovered that my cedar split to eternity and back I've been a bit lost. (It got left in hubbies truck for a week while we were out of state for my mothers funeral, it was way too hot in the truck). It's too bad because it's a gorgeous piece of cedar.

And I'm not sure why I have such a strong bent to make one or even play one, but it's an urge that will NOT go away, no matter how hard I try to ignore it. And I'm sure I'll have a dickens of a time getting hubby to do what I want, you try to take over a guys wood studio and see what happens. But then I won't let him anywhere near my sewing machines.

Old beads and such

Below are a couple of pics of some old beads I picked up in a thrift box at a thrift store. There were some old, or at least very well abused, large beads the diameter of a nickle in the box as well. And to think I was only interested in the antique ric rac and lace at the time.

Old beads, not sure what they are made of, ceramic maybe? They are very porous and the same color throughout.  Posted by Hello

Old wooden beads, not sure how old, but some of the paint has worn off Posted by Hello