Monday, September 28, 2015

Overdyeing effects with Procion MX

I love overdyeing. It takes pretty to popping, adding in a multitude of subtlety and interest,  and sometimes surprises! I've been doing some silk dyeing, thanks to a class with Candy Glendening. Highly recommend her classes. She's very thorough, gives you great spreadsheets to simplify the calculations, and is very responsive to queries and comments. 30% off special going on now!

I tried a class with Elizabeth Barton at the online Academy of Quilting, but the classes don't stay online. It's so many weeks, and then it's taken down. I don't always get to a class immediately. I think it's one of the great bonuses of the internet that information stays available. Craftsy and the like have spoiled us rotten. I enjoyed Elizabeth's class, but I won't be doing any more with Academy of Quilting unless they change their access policies. Candy's classes remain available on an ongoing basis, another point in her favor!

I dyed the silk with some trepidation. Procion MX dyeing is not a kindly, gentle process. There are chemicals, pressure and heat, but the silk came out just fine. The first dye bath was ok, but not fabulous. Overdyeing added the nuance. I'm quite pleased with these now. 

The downside of silk is that it is very hard to photograph, and shows up what a rotten ironer I am!

This is Habotai silk. I haven't used it before, and I'm not sure I will again. It's not my idea of silk, being very thin and not silky feeling at all. I used a very delicate range of colors, and you can see that the colors blended nicely. Not sure what I will do with this, I have 3 fat quarters all the same. They will go in the TBD pile (which teeters precariously..)

Here the gray plays nicely with the shocking pink, toning it down and making it more interesting. Good for a Monday morning in my boring day job I think! This and all the rest are charmeuse - more my idea of silk! High sheen and lovely drape. 

 Here's what I mean by a surprise. The blue was the original color, but it was a bit dull, so I added some plummy accents, using up some older mixture of dye that was in the back of the dye fridge. Clearly it wasn't a pink/blue plum, but one that had originally been a red, so some of the yellow split off during batching. It adds an interesting, if somewhat unexpected pop of brightness.

This was dyed to make silk flowers. The colors are much brighter than they show here, and the colors blend into one another nicely. I may just overdye this some more. Not a fan of white spaces.
The copper really shines with the turquoise. Pity about the ambient light effects. I need to find a photography class!
This is one of my favorites. It was accordion pleated and then lots of different colors introduced at intervals. Some lovely combinations resulted.

This was the more sane of my recent overdyeing projects. More to follow.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

But the lion has a name - A quilt for Zimbabwe

The media hype around the death of Cecil the lion got me thinking..why? Canned lion hunting is a fact of life, so why all the news coverage of this lion? A bunch of wildlife was slaughtered for one of Robert Mugabe's birthdays, and the media didn't blink. It occurred to me that naming the lion personalized him, made him relatable, gave him a persona and the phrase "but the lion has a name" came to mind. The "but" makes it part of a conversation. Something must precede the but. I grew up in South Africa, Zimbabwe's neighbor, so I know some of the problems, and I began to research some statistics. There was frustration in Zimbabwe that the difficulties of life there are largely ignored by the media, while the death of one lion got all the attention. As a means of commenting on this, I wanted to contrast numbers and words. For some people words are easier to grasp than numbers. I tried to make it visually unfair for the numbers. They are at odd angles, there are many intersecting lines, I went right through them with stitching. The lion's name, by contrast is bigger, more regular, uncluttered. And then, just to emphasize how Cecil draws the focus I added a hunk of fake fur. Let me tell you, that is not fun to sew. I showed it to my quilting group. I think I freaked them out. I think we should be freaked out, by killing animals for sport, by people living in such difficult circumstances, and by the fact that what the world remembers is the name of one lion. My quilt for Zimbabwe:
But the lion has a name: reflections on the death of Cecil the lion
So many numbers, cobbled together from reports and tables and charts,
But the lion has a name.
But the lion has a name: reflections on the death of Cecil the lion
The numbers don't seem real, like children's words: a quadrillion. Too much, too many to understand, so they slip through our consciousness, displaced by what is familiar, comprehensible. Numbers are tricky,
But the lion has a name.
But the lion has a name: reflections on the death of Cecil the lion
The people get lost in the statistics, their hopes, their dreams, their faces,
But the lion has a name.
But the lion has a name: reflections on the death of Cecil the lion
A child lies drowned on a Turkish beach, a child lies alone, dying from Ebola in Liberia, such gut-wrenching images, but behind them crowd, like photographic negatives, the hoards of others. So many refugees, so many AIDS orphans, so many without work, without resources, without hope. So many, too many. Too confusing to know what to do for the best for the misery of the masses,
But the lion has a name.
But the lion has a name: reflections on the death of Cecil the lion
Another failed government, collapsing infrastructure, tortured economy, dismal prospects. Repeating headlines, just the names of the countries change. So far away, so hard to care,
But the lion has a name.
But the lion has a name: reflections on the death of Cecil the lion
We understand a lion; we understand this lion. We know how to feel about the dentist, no one really likes a dentist. We know how to feel about the lion, noble beast, king of the jungle, innocent victim. Oh yes, we know how to react to this event, after all,
The lion had a name.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday words: Steal now - Don't wait!

I love books, and I love to buy books for other people that I think they should read. Sometimes I even read those books myself.. Recently I discovered Austin Kleon. He is someone I think my son the artist should read. Sonny Jim has oodles of talent and way too much angst. My mother had a favorite expression. She would go to galleries and "steal with her eyes", so I grew up well acquainted with the idea that no creative endeavor began with a blank slate. I desperately need other people's ideas as a jumping off point.

Somehow though, 4 years of very expensive art school has taught him the following paralyzing lies:
1. You must somehow emerge fully fledged before trying anything 
2. If you even think you are plagiarizing, you should chop off your own fingers

Ok, that's a little over-dramatic, but today's Wednesday words are for him and everyone trapped in that way of thinking, courtesy of Austin Kleon, who probably stole it from someone else: 

Don't wait until you know who you are to get started.

Find things you like to look at, and learn how to look at them. Find people you like to listen to, and listen to them. Find blogs you like to read, and read all the blogs the blogger likes to read. And start doing stuff. It won't be your masterpiece, but it will be something that will lead to something else. Process is a bitch, but it's a very necessary bitch, and one you will thank one day, like your mother. Don't wait till you can FMQ perfectly to FMQ. Don't wait till you have binding down pat. Don't wait till you can design like a pro. Do something. Now do something else. Now you're cooking! 

Before the lawyer's letters start pouring in, I'm not suggesting you indulge in plagiarism and copyright infringement! But I am suggesting you get the book Steal like an artist. It's awesome. Here's how awesome: I bought it for Sonny Jim, and at my art quilt guild last night someone else recommended it, and now I'm actually reading it, and stealing from it for this blog post. I hope Austin Kleon would be proud.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Weekend dyeing part 3

Here's why I love hand-dyes, the texture and the range of colors that play so nicely together! Now if I could only sew straighter seams...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Weekend dyeing part 2

20 yards of fabric dyed and in the process of wash out. This is half of them. No one said dyeing wasn't hard work! Once they have all sat in the first washout in their own little tubs, I move similar colors to buckets. I know some people throw all the colors together, but I am an untrusting soul and prefer to work slower and not have to redo due to backstaining.
Tubs of yummy color batching

The male members of my family call me "Adolphia". They are not being affectionate. They say that they built me a perfectly good sewing room in the basement, which is true. I still remember the complaining that went on when I explained how many closets I needed, and they whined about what a pain they were to frame! But then my son moved out and his basement bedroom became a guest room, which meant it was just fine for storing batting when there were no guests. Batting takes up a lot of space. Some now call that room "Czechoslovakia".

At first I ironed my hand-dyed fabric upstairs, but I don't always finish right away and we have a very open plan house, so I started ironing in the basement living area. TV alleviates the tedium, right? And the chairs are useful for draping ironed cloth over. Somehow the cloth doesn't get put away very quickly, and the table in there is really useful for holding fusing supplies in process. My cutting table is always cluttered somehow, so a second table really frees things up. I always have a lot of things in process. Some now call that room "Poland".

When I started dyeing I was terrified of the powder, and did all the mixing in the garage. Until the winter day when I came inside and couldn't feel my feet for about 10 minutes. My hh (handy hubby) put up some serious lights over the basement sink for my birthday last year. Dyers have odd birthday and Christmas requests! However, the sink is in the unfinished section of the basement, where the boy toys live. When I moved the dye in there, and the box for measuring the dyes, and the jars for holding dyestock, and the table to hold the box for measuring the dyes, and the racks to store my batik and surface design tools, and took over the bar fridge for dyestock, and the coat rack for dried soda soaked fabric for screen printing, eyebrows started to rise and the name Adolphia was born. Boys are mean...

It is not an invasion, just a wise use of resources, including space. Dye drips on concrete are less of a train smash than in the laundry room, where I managed to get fuchsia splashes on the wall, despite my best efforts.

The basement bathroom is a perfect batching room. I live in Ohio. Batching outside occurs about 1.1% of the time. It's more of a snow dyeing region...A space heater keeps the bathroom at a toasty 75 degrees, as long as everyone remembers to keep the door shut. I make sure there is a path through the piles of tubs with fabric batching, should anyone need to use the facilities. I don't know why someone has put a label with "France" on the basement bathroom door...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Weekend dyeing

20 yards of fabric torn into fat quarters for color testing. 80 fat quarters labelled and soda soaked. Dyestock prepared over two evenings. One twisted ankle as of a week ago. ^*%$^#!!! Fortunately I have a great gel mat and found I could still stand.

So you'd think I'd be all set for a Labor Day weekend of non-stop color right? Wrong. 

I love my children, I really do. I love having adult children living nearby, I really do. I love that my children are highly creative, I really do. I love that they are able to think outside the box and make the tools they need for their creative projects, I really do.

But...when Sonny Jim shows up with 64 two by fours that need to be thickness planed and table sawed (sawn??) it really puts a crimp in my weekend plans!

I did get some dyeing done, he still isn't good at mornings fortunately, but the noise and the stress of big boy tools drove me out of the basement eventually. Luckily my best bud/daughter came over and we went to see Meryl Streep being amazing as usual. Is there anything that woman can't do? 

So now for a week of washout and then some pics may emerge.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Color perception and emotion

Fascinating article in today's Washington Post about the link between emotion and color perception. It appears that when we are sad we struggle to see colors in the blue and yellow ranges. Interesting that blues are traditionally associated with calm feelings, and yellow with happy feelings. When our inner landscape is clouded with sadness, it may be that we don't even derive comfort from the calm and happy colors around us! Talk about a double whammy!

On the other hand, when I am sad or stressed, I find working on a creative project such an outlet, partly because it requires concentration. My brain works best when I leave it alone to get on with processing, and don't keep poking it for answers. One more reason to keep dyeing and stitching!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Quilting Arts index

Quilting Arts article index - yes please! I find Quilting Arts a wonderful resource, but how to remember where that one particular article is? QA made an index annually for the first couple of years, but then they stopped. It was a pain to do, but I created my own. The original is an Excel spreadsheet, but it is just waaaay too much of a mission to try to get that to work in Blogger, so here is a searchable PDF.
Quilting Arts Article Index
Click the link above to access the PDF. Here is a screenshot of what it looks like. Sadly, you won't have the sort functionality of Excel, but you can search for "batik" for example, and find the issue and page number for all articles to do with batik.

UPDATE: Ha! I win. Here is the link to the Excel format of this document. Click on Google sheets to allow column sorting. If you share, please link back to this blog.

Over the years the things that interest me have changed. When I first started adding color to fabric I was terrified of Procion MX. After taking some classes with Candy Glendening it has become my go-to method. Now I can go back in the index and find all those articles I skipped over when Procion MX wasn't something I cared about. Ditto with thermofax screens, and who knows what I will get into in the future! There have been such a range of articles over the years, that keeping track is important. The great thing is that most of the advice is still relevant, although some of the products may no longer be available. It has also been a great resource for finding artists I like and tracking down their blogs. 

Hope you find it helpful! As always, comments appreciated.