Monday, June 30, 2008

Art Quilt Homework

I've always been a procrastinator. I think of this as one of my greatest assets. It has taught me how to manage time and work very productively when under a deadline. A few months ago I and some members of our local quilt guild started working from a book called "Art Quilt Workbook" by Jane Davila & Elin Waterston. The book is used to create a series of 9" x 12" quilts while introducing new techniques and exercises to improve skills. I have 3 projects due on Tuesday evening. I have two projects well under way and I started the 3rd just before dinner on Sunday night. The first exercise was to create a pear following the steps and pattern in the book. We will each have our version of pears on display at our quilt show in October along with our other finished projects.

Each of the remaining quilts will have a related theme. I chose to work from memories and photos of our trip to South Dakota. The second project is to recreate a photo using fabrics. I chose a shot of a buffalo taken by my husband at Custer State Park.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Before and After

You will need to refer to my previous post for the "Before". And now for the "After"... Here are the results of my experiment. I didn't use typical tie dye methods. When tie dyeing you apply the mordant (soda ash solution) to the fabric before the dye is applied. The tie dye method keeps the dye from spreading and keeps the colors from blending as much as my method does.

I like to wet the fabric, add dye and then apply the soda ash mixture after the dye has had about 15 minutes to spread. It give the illusion of rays of sunlight. On this shirt I used extra strength dye solution because the dye I was using was old. I applied about 3 times the amount of dye needed to fully saturate the fabric. I mopped up the excess dye with cotton fabric. I came up with two yards of bonus fabric with various shades of cobalt, violets & purples. Yummy!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Do Love Leftovers

One of the most creative times of the day for me is the early morning. Sometimes I just can't stop myself from diving in. At 5:30 this morning I broke out some leftover dyes that had been sitting out too long to be useful for fabric dyeing. I am volunteering at "The Red Door Gallery" tomorrow and wanted something new to wear. This gallery is a local artist's cooperative run by volunteers. I exhibit stained glass window hangings, lamps & my jewelry there.

When it comes to dyeing t-shirts for my personal use I like the old dye and some of the strange colors that come out of the leftovers. Note: Procion MX fabric dye should be used with in a few days of mixing. The dye will weaken after a period of time. You can extend the life of the mixed dye by refrigerating it for up to a month.

Today I used the leftover Turquoise, Cobalt, Hot Pink and Light Red dyes. Old reds tend to separate and "freckle" for an interesting effect. Here is what my shirt looks like after the dye and fixative have been applied. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how it turned out. For me the hardest thing about dyeing fabric in not the process, it's waiting to see the finished product.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Treasured Item

I just found out one of my pieces of quilt block jewelry is featured in the Etsy Treasury. I'm so excited! Thanks to you yellowbusybeaver! By the way she has a wonderful shop full of baby things and all sorts of wonderful items for the home.

Fireflies and Fantasy

As a child I was always reading books. I loved mysteries but my favorites were fantasy. The idea of magic, faeiries and mythical creatures has shaped some of the wonder I have as an adult. Last night I went walking in the fields. The fireflies are so plentiful now that I see almost a thousand at a glance. I could spend hours watching them and listening to the crickets and the faint rustling of birch leaves. This for me is the magic I sought as a child. Nature puts on an amazing display for all to see. I see myself in the fairy tale. I live in that coveted land when the heroine lives happily ever after.

The firefly photo comes from Dote's Etsy store

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Home at the Sugar Creek Ranch

Our Shady Grove was known as the Sugar Creek Ranch long before we moved here. Our property is surrounded by sugar maples and the creek starts from two springs behind our house.
I've been waiting for my new fabric shipment to arrive so I've had a few days to catch up on other things around the farm. I had planned to put up my hammock and read all day Sunday but looked around and saw all the landscaping work that needed to be done and decided I would relax better once the work was finished. We had a really tough winter. The rabbits and deer were really hard on our evergreen shrubs. We even lost a few to the hungry varmints. I did some hard pruning on the junipers, transplanted lots of hostas and planted Mugho pines (hope they survive next winter). It was almost dinner time when I finished. The work really paid off . The front yard looks great. Tonight after work I put up that hammock under the Catalpa tree and read for couple of hours before dinner. Oh joy! If you've never owened a hammock highly I recommend one. It's like taking a mini vacation without leaving home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Moonlight, Meadows and Fireflies

I spent most of Saturday outside working in the yard. We have a walking trail on that runs through the lower meadow on our property. It is still waterlogged in some spots from the recent rain. The rain was so heavy that it floated a large log down the hill and left it in the middle of the trail. It has been two weeks since I was able to mow this path. It's a bittersweet job. The wildflowers are abundant on this trail and multiply every year. I hate to cut them but there are still plenty in the meadow to enjoy. Sorry the photo of the flowers is a little blurry. It was very breezy yesterday.

Last night I took a moonlight hike with my husband. The fireflies are just starting to show up at dusk. In a week we should be able to see hundreds at a time. It is such a magical feeling to be in a field of sparkling fireflies.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Girly Things

I finally broke down and purchased some of the youth dress blanks (white cotton dresses) from the dye company's catalog. These have been catching my eye for a couple of years. I raised a son so I never had a chance to buy any of those cute little outfits made for young girls.
I used a hot pink dye on one group and an orchid purple on the others. I'm really happy with the way they turned out. The two tier dresses are really cute but I just love the halter dress with the elastic smocked back.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Greetings from Wall South Dakota

What would a trip to South Dakota be with out a stop at Wall Drug? We've always wondered what there was to see there and they had more than we imagined. Lots of places to shop under one roof and kitschy fun, just the way I like it. Matt & Whitney tame the wild Jackalope, a wall of Jackalopes and more Jackalopes?

Monday, June 9, 2008

6 Step Color Gradations

I have never been able to choose a favorite color. I love bright colors. I remember being very depressed in the late seventies and early eighties when pastel clothing replaced the bright colors from the past two decades. In my mind I think of that time as the death of color. Current fabric trends really excite me.

I added 6 step color gradations to my Etsy store today. Each group of 6 fabrics is made from a comination of two colors and in different amounts to create these fabrics. Golden yellow and hot pink make fabulous color combinations. Tuquoise and hot pink make beautiful purples.

Flood Update

My friend Patsy was the one and patient today at her dental office in Reedsburg, WI. The office had to close because of flooding. Check out her photos and story at the link to Patsy's Middle of No Where. Unfortunately this is what a lot of our area looks near the waterways. 30 counties in Wisconsin have some sort of storm damage from recent weather.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A River Runs Through It

This blog was supposed to be about my hand dyed fabrics but something else has taken that place today. Our area has been hit with heavy rains for the last few days. Things let up for a while this morning so I headed to the grocery store to to stock up while it was dry-ish. On my way back I took a drive through the nearby town of Yuba, WI to see how they survived last night's rain. It was clear the water had crossed the road and some of the local businesses were pumping water from their basements. I truly feel for these people. Last summer our area experienced catastrophic flooding and Yuba was hard hit. Water rose high so quickly that is washed out roads in many places nearby.

About an hour after I came home the rain started again. Most of the roads leading to town are now closed due to flooding. I'm very glad to be home.

One of my favorite things to see in the summer is steam from the rain rising for the cool limestone rocks that are common in our area. The shot above is looking out of our valley to the west. It is a similar shot to the one in my last blog, just a different day. The shot below is of our dry creek bed. We are about 100 feet higher than the river valley so we will stay dry (except for the basement :( ). I'm praying others will fare as well.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Last Night in the Shady Grove and Dog Dreams

The weather was constantly changing yesterday. The sky turned from bright blue to the threat of storm on and off all day long. There was a wonderful breeze blowing through the house all day while I worked (I have been very lucky to be able to work from home for the last six years). I couldn't wait for the day to end so I could get outside to enjoy it.

Jack, the ever faithful, took me for a walk in the meadow. The wind was blowing through the grasses and the sun and shadow from the clouds played light on the brilliant green grass. The wildflowers are starting to come in. I'll have to get out with my camera and get some shots as they mature.

The weather turned rainy today so I gave my house a LONG overdue cleaning. I started the dye procedures for my next batch of fabric. I hope to have the fabric ready for sale by the end of the weekend. I hand dyed some youth girls dresses one evening this week. I have a few more touches to add to them before they are ready for sale. Jack worked really hard playing frisbee yesterday so he has been sleeping near my feet most of the day. He is barking and running in his sleep as I type. What do dogs dream about?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Greetings from Wyoming

When we made our trek from South Dakota to Colorado we traveled through Wyoming. It was one of the first places I've ever traveled where I understood the meaning of last gas for 100 miles. Wyoming was a different place all together, both beautiful and solitary. The east side of Wyoming is full of buttes, wide open spaces, desert scrub, sage brush and grass lands. We saw the entrances to 50 or 60 cattle ranches and long roads leading over the hill to some unknown homestead. About the only humanity we saw was a ranch hand riding the fence line. He had two horses, one he road and the other was carrying a bed roll and supplies. I stopped for gas and had to take a photo to remember our jaunt. I didn't see the complete irony until later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Keeping Track of Creativity

When I started hand dying fabric I decided it would be a good idea to keep track of the results. Here are two examples of recently dye lots from earlier this spring. I made one six step color gradation using Hot Pink and Turquoise and another using Golden Yellow and Aquamarine. I make note of the basic colors used and place a sample of the base dye next to the six samples made from combining the base dye colors. I also note the type of fabric used when dying the fabric. In this case I used unbleached muslin with a thread count of 78x76, a good quality quilting fabric.

I took the idea a step further when I started making my jewelry. I purchased acid free plastic baseball card holders. In each I put a picture of the finished piece of jewelry with its inventory number. I then added a samples of the fabrics used in each piece. This reference has come in handy more than once.

Don't these 3 ring binders just call for fabric & fabric ideas inside?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Fabric for Sale

I have been planning to sell my hand dyed fabric for some time. I finally listed some 12 pack fabric sets for sale on my Etsy store today. I have more undyed fabric on the way and will soon offer 6 step gradation sets. I plan to spend next weekend up to my elbows in dye. I use a low water immersion dying technique that leaves the fabric with a lovely mottled finish wonderful for applique work.

I thought I'd include a photo of my favorite workspace. Today it is much neater than usual so it was a good time to take a photo.

Below is a close up of some of my fabric. Click on

the picture for a closer look.