Monday, July 28, 2014

I have been playing in the dyes again- the first time in awhile, and enjoying getting back in to it.  I was part of an Ugly Fabric challenge in a Yahoo group I'm part of- this was the piece I got to transform.

It was dark except for the one side, and blue.  I knew I wanted to discharge first, and all that blue meant I'd have to use bleach.  So I folded it, clamped it with two plexiglass rectangles, and threw it in a bucket of bleach.

I kind of liked it at this point, the yellow made me happy.  But the brown parts were too muddy for me, so I overdyed it in a bit of red.

This sat on my design wall for a good month while I pondered what to do next.  I knew the red was too orange for me, so I finally decided to overdye again in a very pale shade of navy blue.

The blue overdye really did knock back the orange, just like I wanted.  From a distance it looks like a very toned purple, but up close there are all kinds of colors showing.

After another few days on the design wall, I decided it needed one more layer to tie it all together.  So I used a rubbing plate and three colors of metallic Shiva paint stiks on it.  It is now DONE!

It still has marks that hark back to its past as a dark blue fabric- but it has also been totally transformed.  I'm rather pleased with it!

I also spent a day this past weekend doing more dyeing- but I don't have pictures of the fabric yet, so those will have to wait.

I also got a lovely surprise this weekend.  Del Thomas from California came through on her way home from Indiana, and we met for lunch.  It was great to catch up with her- we had a nice lunch at Olive Garden, and shared a piece of rich chocolate cake at the end.  She is a fascinating woman who has done a lot for the quilt community all over the country.  I've loved getting to meet and get to know her!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summertime Music

I do not know where the summer is going, time seems to be flying by.  I have been loving every hot moment of it, I am nowhere near ready for a change in seasons!

My brother flew out from Reno the last weekend of June, and we went to the Salt Lake Arts Festival.  It was the first time I've been in all the years I've lived here, and I'm sorry I waited so long.  We had fun walking around looking at all the vendors, and trying out the food offerings.  All of my photos are his, taken with his fancy new Fuji.

Michelle doesn't look too happy here- but I think she had a good time!

I loved the scrap metal sculptures from one vendor--

The glass garden was another high point.

The festival includes performance art, and one that we saw was unlike anything I've ever seen before.  It was an Australian group called Strange Fruit, two women and two men dressed in nineteenth century (sort of) clothing.  Their entire performance was done standing on very tall, flexible poles.  There really are no words to describe it, but it was entrancing and highly entertaining!

They interacted with each other, interacted with the audience, and told a bit of a story to a variety of music.  The entire time, they were swinging back and forth on those poles.  Judging from some of the contortions I saw, they all have incredible core strength!  

The setting was also an amazing backdrop to their performance.  That blue sky and the lines of the library building just added to the ambience.  By the time it was over, I had a crick in my neck from looking up, but it was worth it.

The highlight of the evening, however, was a performance by Angelique Kidjo, and African singer that I have followed for twenty years.  I love her music, and she gave an amazing performance!

She came out in full African dress, with a turban, but within a few songs had lost the turban--

She had a wonderful band from all over the world.  Most looked to be her age (fifties), but her percussionist was a young man originally from Senegal.

It was a lively and interactive performance in a small venue, the best kind.  Before her final song, she invited the audience to come on stage with her, and it was filled!  She sang one my my favorite songs, 'Tumba', while those on stage danced around her.  It was just incredible!

It was an amazing end to a fantastic day!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My First Epic Soap Seize!

I have been managing to get some soaping in the past two weekends, although the pace is slowing.  I'm also managing to get some quilting in, hoping to get Michelle's quilt done before the summer is over.  These three pieces of hand dye are staring at me from the design wall- I keep trying to figure out what they are telling me!

The one on the left is for the Ugly Fabric challenge on a yahoo group I'm part of- I think it needs one more overdye, with a really pale blue to knock back the orange tone to the red.  The middle one is a lovely hand dye done by Lisa of my Tangled Textiles group.  I need to figure out what I'm going to do with it for our August challenge.  At first, I thought I'd leave it whole, but now I'm thinking I'm going to cut it up.  I have a couple of ideas that I'll play with on paper first.  The one on the right is one of my favorite pieces from Carol Soderlund's workshop last fall.  I don't want to cut it up, but now I'm thinking I'll border it with Osnaburg, quilt, and add some embroidery.  We'll see- the middle one comes first!

I did several soap experiments.  I made more lavender swirl soap, and was happy with how it turned out.  

See those bubble things?  I learned that those are glycerin rivers, and they are caused by overheating in soap that has titanium dioxide in it.  The soap is perfectly usable, and the texture doesn't bother me- I think it can look kind of cool.

Then I tried salt bars, with a pink pencil line using rose clay.  I also topped them with a dusting of rose clay and pink Himalayan salt.  They look great, no?

Except they crumbled- badly.  Apparently that is a common occurrence with salt bars.  So, I ordered a new mold, one that allows you to make twelve individual bars, so no cutting.  Once that got here, I rebatched the bars with a little coconut milk and water.  They look crumbly as all get out, but when I took them out of the molds this morning, they held.  I do love silicone molds!

So I won't be trying to sell these, but they are perfectly usable.
Last weekend I wanted to try making an ombre soap using a natural colorant.  I decided to try baby carrots.  I waaay overthought the ombre bit- I should have just thought of dyeing a value gradation!- but I am very happy with how these turned out!

I just hope the color holds- from everything I've read, that seems to be more of an issue with natural colorants than ultramarines and oxides.

So that experience had me thinking- how can I use charcoal to make a black to white soap?  I thought I had it figured out, so made my batch this morning.  I think I even had the gradation bit figured out to make it easier, but the soap did not cooperate- I got what is known as 'soap on a stick', which meant the soap solidified in the bowls.  At first I thought it was the charcoal, but then I realized the soap I'd left white seized also.  So that meant it had to be the essential oils.  I'd used three- cedarwood, oregano, and peppermint.  Oregano was the only one I'd never used in soap before.

I made an identical batch of the soap, but left out the oregano, and instead just used cedarwood and peppermint.  The second batch behaved perfectly!  I didn't do the ombre, but it does have three colors in it.  I got a lovely swirl on the top, the best I've done so far.

I am purposely not insulating this soap, to see if that eliminates the glycerin rivers.  There is also a surprise inside, which won't be revealed until I cut the soap!

I have also been packaging and labeling the soap I will have for sale at the quilting festival in mid-July.  Doesn't Michelle's quilt make a good backdrop for this soap?

The paper wrap and button is not a long term packaging solution, but it looked appropriate for a vendor at a quilt festival.  All I need to add is my label on the back of the soap- you can see the ingredient label on the bottom of the soaps.

I love all the felted soaps I've done!  I have more to do, I'll need to find more roving before too long.

All in all, a busy couple of weeks.  Four more days of work, then my brother arrives from Reno for a short visit- then I'm off on the train to Colorado to see Shannon for a few days.  I'm looking forward to the break!!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Absent- and Busy!

Almost a month since I blogged- and for once, it's not because I've had nothing going on.  Au contraire, I feel like I've been running the past several weekends.

Memorial weekend we went to Moab for the Art Festival.  I was so enjoying it all, I did not take a single picture.  I managed to get more earrings from a vendor I love, got a naturally dyed silk scarf from another vendor, and spent some time speaking with a natural soap and lotions vendor.  The only downside was the not very cooperative weather- not as bad as the car show weekend, but still cooler than I wanted, interspersed with rain.  I do love Moab!

Last weekend we went exploring up Payson Canyon.  I'd hoped for some hiking, but that turned out to be more of a short walk than anything.  We drove up to Maple Lake, thinking it would be a mile and a half hike to the lake.  Turned out to be a short walk to the lake, then maybe a mile around it.  It was beautiful, however.

The greens and blues just seemed incredibly intense that day! While starting to walk around the little lake, I thought I saw a heron, then decided I was mistaken.  Then Shiloh scared something, and I realized I had seen a heron!  I got this shot of it up at the top of a tree, safe from my crazy dog.

Since the hike was so short, Sean fished for awhile- then we decided to drive the entire Nebo Loop.  So we kept going up the canyon, stopping at places that looked interesting.

Turned out, the loop wasn't open yet- we got over the top a little ways, then hit a gate.  I can't believe there would still be snow there- but maybe they haven't finished all the maintenance.  On the way back down the way we came up, we stopped at the viewpoint for Utah Lake.  It really was a spectacular view of Utah valley.

This weekend, I've done some quilting, and I've done some soapy stuff.  Michelle's pink quilt is coming along- if I can just do a couple of hours every weekend, it shouldn't take that long to finish.

The thread I'm using isn't really orange, it's a dusty pink that blends well with everything.  I'm planning to throw this quilt in the washer and dryer when I am done, hoping to get that crinkled effect.  Once that's done, I figure my somewhat wonky quilting won't show much at all.

I also spent several hours wrapping soap.  This idea will work for the show I'm vending at in July, but it is not a long term solution.  I still need to figure out some inexpensive embellishment for this side of the soap.  My ingredients label is on the bottom, and my other label will go on the other side.

And, I finished the last of my felted soaps.  I hope these sell well!

So that is what I have been up to.  Work is crazy making right now- this is the stuff that feeds my soul and keeps me sane. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fiber and Soaps. . .

I am on to something that combines both my avocations.  I am thinking more and more about what I want to have for the booth I'm part of at the Utah County Quilt Festival in July.  I showed the soaps I have so far to some others that are part of the group, and they asked to buy some of my inventory!  They also thought my soaps would sell well, so I am really encouraged.

I had one batch of soap that I wasn't happy with- I cut some up into small bars, the rest I rebatched.  Then I remembered that I had some wool roving I got in Moab a year or two ago, planning to do fiber bowls.  Never happened!  So I got out the roving, watched a YouTube video on felting soap, and then went at it.

This shows the soaps I covered, some of my first attempts, and some of the roving I was using.

Three hours later, I had about twenty of these small felted soaps.  I got quite the upper body workout, but loved the results.  I have five larger bars from this same batch that I will cover, then I decided to cover another less than successful soap, with some purple and pink roving.  I think the soap is fine, but I just am not happy with how it looks.  I'll post those when I get them done.

And, I had to make more soap.  The Peppermint Honey Oatmeal has been a favorite with almost everyone I've given it to, so I did another batch- but this time, I reworked the recipe to make it palm free.  I used cocoa butter in the place of palm oil, and I am not sure I like the results.  The color is different, and even allowing it to sit twenty four hours after unmolding, it felt sticky.  But, it is sliced and on my drying rack.

Hopefully after four to six weeks curing, it will be fine. However, I am going to re-think how I changed the recipe, and will play with that again.

I also made another soap recipe I've done before, with an added twist.  I put silk fibers in the lye solution, and let them dissolve.  Silk is supposed to add a nice 'slip' to soap, so I am eager to see how this feels.  I also used an ultramarine colorant, and hopfully got some nice swirls in the soap.  Here it is, unmolded along with the oatmeal soap before I cut it.

I think I will be happy with this one!

I signed up for a Craftsy class I've been eyeing, waiting for it to go on sale.  It's on product photography, and I am hoping to improve the looks of my photos on the blog, among other things.  These are my first attempts to 'stage' a photo shoot with my products- we'll see what the teacher says! I am enjoying the class, and know I'll refer back to it.

We have finally gotten some good weather, and I suspect that has helped my mood and motivation immensely.  Next weekend we will be in Moab for the art festival- another Moab event I thoroughly enjoy.  And, there is something brewing with the Tangled Textiles group- I got a package in the mail, with instructions to leave it unopened until the 21st.  I can't wait to see what Lisa is up to!

Monday, May 12, 2014

More Dyeing

We had a lousy weekend weather-wise, so I spent more time in the studio.  I've decided I need to add to my stash- mostly value gradations.  I've had an idea for a quilt bouncing around in my head for awhile, related to the colors in the desert and mesas around Moab.  So I'm dyeing very toned, desert-y colors.  Yesterday I did a muted purple and what I hoped would be a sage green.  This is what I got--

It's hard to see in the photo, but these have texture- I did them low water immersion, with what I thought was plenty of scrunching and squeezing.  I was hoping for some, but not a lot of texture.  I think next time I will use more water- almost as much as with regular immersion.  I have no desire to sit and stir eight buckets of fabric, but all that water should help minimize the texture.

The two on the right are fabrics I dyed last year, and didn't like- so I folded them, clamped them, and threw them in bleach.  I am much happier with them now.  I did another one that I really disliked-

It was drip dyed with navy blue, fuschia, and probably some yellows.  I folded it into a square, clamped pieces of plexiglass, and bleached it.  You can see the original fabric in some of the dark marks. I like it much better, haven't decided if I'll do anything else to it or not.

And, I overdyed the ugly fabric I showed last week.  

Not sure about this one, I may overdye it with a bit of blue.  I was hoping for more of a burgundy color, not the almost but not quite orange that I got.  I'll look at it for a week and decide then.

And, as a Mother's Day present to me- I signed up for a Craftsy class, Shoot It! A Primer on Product Photography.  It looks like it will have lots of good information on shooting fabric and soaps to make them visually appealing.  I'll let you know how that goes!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Ugly Fabric Challenge

A couple of months ago, I decided to participate in another ugly fabric challenge.  The moderator of a group I belong to sends all the participants a piece of fabric she has dyed and considers 'ugly.'  Our job is to try to create a swan out of an ugly duckling!

I got this half yard piece of fabric.  

I quite like the bits of golden brown on the one side.  I wondered about the blue- since this is so dark, I knew I had to discharge first.  With blues, that generally means you are limited to bleach.

So, I folded it into a square, and clamped a piece of plexiglass on both sides.

With all those clamps, I didn't have a bucket big enough- so I had to remove some, which means the plexiglass didn't resist as well as I'd have liked.  Here it is soaking in Bleach Stop,

and this is what it looked like after being washed.

I tried to fold it so the lightest areas were inside the package, but it's pretty light on the two sides.  I'm happy that I lost most of the blue, and that I have the very dark rectangles left.  Now I will look at it for a few days, trying to decide what the next step is.  I'm thinking an overdye in a warm red.

As for soaping, I now have over a hundred bars curing in the closet.  I decided I had to slow down making them, I need to see how they sell!  So far, those who have been gifted with soap have liked it, and I am enjoying using it too.  One of these days I'm going to have to do a blog post on the similarities between soapers and quilters!

I can feel the muse slowly making her way back into my psyche after what feels like a long absence. With Lance's wedding done, Shannon moved to Colorado and starting nursing school, and Sean graduated and pursuing his plans, I'm hoping for a little more emotional energy and space to devote to both my artistic outlets.  And if the soap doesn't sell, I guess we'll just have a very clean family and circle of friends!