Back to Greys

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I have found some great grey dyes – Dharma Trading in the US have bought out a range of Hot Water Reactive Dyes and I now have a lovely range of real greys – not slate blues or greens ….

They do have a downside – they need more manipulation than Procion MX to stop blotching which means it is not possible to get the same level of texture I usually want. On the left is the blotchy effect and I has soaked the fabric in soda ash before dyeing – and on the right is the texture I get with Procoin MX.

I also bought some ebony black so I added a full tsp and a quarter tsp of ebony to the grey to get darker colours.

Although the image on the left looks like dark blue, it is actually grey -something to do with my ability to take photos on my phone!!

If anyone knows more about these dyes, I would love to hear from you.


South West Textiles Group

I belong to the South West Textiles Group who have an exhibition stand at the NEC in Birmingham, March 20th to 23rd. We have a set format – 12″ square thick canvases in a limited colour palette to the theme of Anglo Saxon or Medieval. So I have used some of my stash of fabrics created using rusted farm implements found on a friend’s French property. I added partial images of medieval keys. Fun to do though the machine is not wild about rusted fabrics – I should have got out one of my old machines.

Here they are, in case you are not going to the NEC:

Medieval Keys 1
Medieval Keys 1
Medieval Keys 2
Medieval Keys 2

I enjoyed doing something different for a change.

Dyeing in Bags

After watching a DMTV show on dyeing in bags using complementary colours, I decided I should have a go.  I usually tray dye if I want more than one colour.  The result can be reasonably controlled.  Dyeing in a bag with two colours tends to do its own thing.

The theory is that you make up three primary colours and then use those to make up the complementary colours. So I started with magenta, golden yellow and turquoise.  I already had the magenta and turquoise made up and decided that acid yellow would be too cowardly when mixed with the magenta.  Next you mix the complementaries. I aimed for the purple to be plummy and the green to be sludgy. Testing with kitchen paper, the colours looked good.

Here are the results of my first session – of course I carried on!  From the left, yellow and plum, red and green, (the red overpowered the blues in the green) and orange and blue.  The last piece used up some of the extra plum and blue.

I then tried using primaries and charcoal.  Charcoal splits if not very carefully handled – so I didn’t carefully handle it as I wanted it to split. The results were yummy.

And lastly, a lovely picture of sticky cinnamon sticks from a marmalade sauce which went with poached pears.

Natural dyeing 1

Last weekend, Karen and I had 3 days of messing around in my studio.  The objective was to trial a number of natural dyes.  I have 3 favourites – walnut, potassium permagnate and logwood. Here are my walnut trials.

The photo below is plain walnut on silkco (silk cotton mix approx 50/50).  I have deliberately left some white paper at the edges so the depth of colour is apparent.

We also stick wrapped pieces of silkco and put that into the dye bath.

We added some cotton and linen fabrics to the dye bath – the colours are much lighter, almost pretty beiges.

In a steamer, we added bundles of wrapped walnut husks and got a very textured sample of an “eco print”.  Again left edges of white paper to show the depth of colour.

We also did a number of other trials which I will blog later – here is a photo of the stash.

Journal Quilt for July

Slightly out of sequence, I have finished my July JQ.  The yellow has not photographed well – the yellow patch and beads are much closer in colour than the photo shows.  Also feel the quilt is a bit messy, lacks good design principles and not professional enough – it very nearly became a UFO however, time is marching on and I need to start on my September JQ.

New method of designing – starting with fabric

I have recently bought Lyric Kinard’s book, Art + Quilt, Design Principles and Creative Activity Exercises. It is based on the principle that design can start from your stash of fabrics.  So I did!

First, one has to photocopy in black and white some of one’s fabrics, cut them up and make paper designs.  These are “visual texture”.  It was a brilliant way of designing a number or pieces.  Here is one of my designs with added text.

I made one of the designs up into a journal quilt.  There are plenty more that could be used either in black and white or colour.  The fabrics in this quilt are discharged with formosul.

The next exercise is called “actual texture”.  I made two journal quilts.  The aim was to use neutrals, so I did one using walnut dyed fabrics and another using fabric dyed with cochineal.

The pink one is not to my taste at all but was sort of rescued by adding raspberry text!

Yesterday, I moved onto the “shape and meaning” exercise.  I am really pleased with the quilting – not perfect by any means but a good start to overcoming the procarastination that happens prior to quilting – I can spend ages trying to decide how to quilt and then not liking what I have done.  I like this and just got on with it.