Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Dye Results

I ironed the last piece from my dyefest yesterday, and cut my little squares for my dye book from the sateen. I knew I got good results with the overdyes, but it wasn't until I had my squares all arranged on the paper that I could clearly see how nicely the colors blend into each other. I love these, they are so springy and happy!

The dye painted piece is ok- I'm thinking I may try some other surface design techniques on it, maybe some screenprinting. I do like the way the colors wicked into each other, without making mud.

The sashes turned out ok- the colors not as dulled as I'd originally thought. We'll see if they match anything in my wardrobe.

Karoda asked why I used the skillet like a double boiler,rather than just putting the wax in it. I wanted to make sure I could prevent it from getting too hot, and the thermostat on that skillet was primitive to say the least. No numbers, nothing in the directions to clue me in as to how hot it can get- so I figured I would play it safe with the can. I will need to get a bigger metal bowl or something, since some of the utensils I wanted to try stamping with didn't fit in the can. And, having the can makes it easy to store the wax when I'm done.

Well, off to church- then maybe I'll get some sewing done on a blouse I cut out yesterday.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dyeing Day

With the hot weather we've been having, I'd have kicked myself if I didn't get any dyeing done. And, my soy wax arrived from Peak Candle Supply. I may not have my Dharma order with my tjantings and brushes, but I wasn't about to let that stop me!

First, Shannon and I went to DI to see if I could score a double boiler or electric skillet, and some interesting kitchen utensils that could be used to stamp with wax. No luck with the double boiler or skillet, and the pickings were pretty slim in the utensil department. I did find a few to try, and also a shorter pitcher and a beaker to add to my dye supplies. Then we went to Big Lots, where I did find a 'personal electric skillet,' cheap. Why anyone would need a tiny, individual electric skillet is beyond me, but it works for the wax.

So, here's what I ended up with:

I dumped in a bunch of the soy wax flakes to melt while I made up some dye concentrates. I pulled out some silk scarves I got a couple of years ago, and also decided to do another sequenced overdyes in sateen- this one, yellow to blue.

Once the sateen was batching on our south-facing driveway, I went to work with the wax. I had to play with the thermostat quite a bit, and also figured out that the water had to be about boiling to get the wax hot enough. First I did a silk scarf, using a round mixer we found. Then I appropriated a cookie cutter from our kitchen, and tried it on a rayon sash from Dharma. Aren't I lovely in my dyeing attire?

I was kind of freaking inside while I was waxing. The soy wax looks different from the parafin/sticky wax I used at Ann's workshop after it cools on the fabric. I've got no directions, just a few things I've learned off the Complex Cloth and Quiltart lists. While I was working away, music going from the iPod, I decided that sometimes my impatience gets the better of me, and I jump in without really knowing what I'm doing. I wasn't trying for any masterpieces today, I just wanted to see if the process would work! More stuff for the crap quota!!

I dye painted this on a piece of sateen, just playing.

And here's the silk scarf I did with the wax, after I've applied the dye. Yeah, I slopped some raspberry where I didn't intend to.

I usually let my hand dyes batch twenty four hours, but I was too impatient today. I washed out the sateen sequenced overdyes first, and was very happy with the results. Love those greens, and nice patterning!

Then the four silk scarves and the rayon sashes.

The one on the left was waxed, the one on the right was just bound with rubber bands. The color on the waxed one is kind of blah, but my wax worked!

The scarves--

The dark green one was done with vinegar, and 'steamed' in my studio microwave I got a while ago. It sure is nice not having to run upstairs to warm up salt solutions!

But I was especially happy with how the waxed scarf came out-- love it!

So now I can be patient, until my tjantings arrive and I can lay my hand on a copy of Rayna's book locally. I have also taken over the turkey deep fryer that has been used once in seven years- it's now a fabric steamer! What do I have to discharge??

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Almost Done!!!

I took the day off work to give myself a five-day weekend, with the holiday tomorrow. I made it into the studio early in the morning (my best time), and by early evening I had the quilting done and the binding sewed on my journal quilt. The only thing I have left to do is sewing on the beads, which will be the finishing touch. And I can't show you a picture- arrgh!!

I've learned some things with this piece, and even had some serendipity at the end that enhanced it even more. Definitely not planned, but it added to the effect I was trying for. I may make a couple more on this theme, Shannon has already requested one with some minor changes.

I ordered my supplies for batiking this morning- tjantings, brushes, and a couple colors of dye that I've been wanting from Dharma. I was going to order the hard pillar soy wax that Rayna Gillman recommended from Pro-Chem- but I about died when the cost of shipping two pounds from Massachusetts was more than double the cost of the wax itself. So I googled soy wax, and found a candle supply company in Denver that also had the pillar soy wax. Not only were my shipping charges considerably less, but the price of the wax was better too- I got ten pounds for $13!! Compare that to Pro-Chem, who wanted $8 for two pounds. So I will be on pins and needles waiting for it all to arrive so I can experiment and play some more.

I took my camera with me when Sadie and I walked tonight. I never know what I will find on the river trail. Tonight we found thistles, tons of them. We may not be able to grow a lot of things in the desert, but we grow great big thistles. On one part of the trail, they were on both sides of the walk, and taller than me.

We saw them at every stage- early flowers,

wide open, (sorry it's a little fuzzy)

exploded, having sent lot of seeds out to make more thistles,

and finally, totally dry. I really like the look of these- and apologize again for the fuzziness.

We also saw lots of the summer snow- cotton from the cottonwood trees.

The wild sunflowers are just starting to appear.

I've had a fondness for flowering weeds ever since I used them as a theme for my 2006 journal quilts, my best (I think). Now I'm wondering if I can use these images in a batik--

Sadie is now thoroughly pooped, I'm tired. But a good day nonetheless!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Wild Life. . .

It was hot and humid (for Utah, anyway), but we had a great time at Patti's. And lots of new critters to get acquainted with! Ben came to Patti's directly from doing an education show with some of his birds, so he had some we'd never met.

Shannon and I fell in love with Takal and Savannah, a macaw and a cockatoo. They both loved attention, and say some words in addition to the loud SQAUK that parrots are known for. He is very interested in that shiny silver necklace Shannon has on-

Both birds had spectacular coloring. Takal is in-your-face bright, with several shades of blue and turquoise, bright golden yellow, and some green. Savannah is a much more subdued creamy peach, with some yellow on her tail feathers.

Ben and Savannah have a little show they do, and they entertained us later in the evening. Savannah has a crest, which you can see in the next photo. She gets to talking, and her head bobbing up and down, and we were all on the ground laughing.

We helped Patti feed some of the birds. She had just gotten a baby Swenson hawk- you can see he still has downy feathers on his head. Bentlee helped feed him some meat- he was hungry!

There were also two birds I asked to be able to photograph up close. This harrier (hawk, I think) fascinated me the first time I saw him. He has a hawk body, but a small owl's head- his eyes are on the front, not the sides. The blue band is a splint for his broken tail feathers.

The other is the raven, aptly named DB Cooper because he is an escape artist. He also talks, but not when people are around. He has picked up some interesting phrases from Patti's teenage sons- "I didn't do it", for example. He loves water, and we got the hose in his cage to cool him off.

Patti is starting to take bears as part of her wildlife rehabbing. You don't get close to them, but I managed this shot of him through the fencing.

I spent some time with Takal on my leg, having an interesting conversation. I tried to get some photos of him up close, and he was fascinated with my camera. I got a lovely blurry shot of him going after my lens with his beak wide open! This is the best shot, you can see his wonderful coloring.

Lastly, Shannon got out the young (descented) skunk that Patti now has on an education permit. He is just so cute!

Good food, good friends, what better way to spend a hot summer evening!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Crunch Time . . .

I have been working on a piece- my journal quilt piece, which I can't show pictures of. The background is assembled, mostly what I have left to do is the quilting. While I do understand the rationale behind the 'no pictures' rule, it is hard to not show the progress!

We are off to our wildlife rehabber friend Patti's home tonight, for a barbeque. Last I heard, she had a young bear- if he's still there, hopefully I can get pictures. And it's also the annual Llama Fest at the Hari Krishna temple, so I'm sure we'll hit that before we head for Patti's!!

Next week is a holiday weekend for Utah- the 24th is Pioneer Day, and I'm taking the 23rd off work too to make it a 5 day weekend. I'm starting the quilting this morning, but my goal is to have it completely done, bound, photographed, and the entry submitted by July 28. The deadline is August, I'm hoping to not be dealing with it the night of the 31st!!

Hope your weekend is fun, I'm off to the studio--

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And the Results Are. . .

All five pieces from yesterday have been batched, rinsed, and the wax ironed out. All I have left to do is dry clean them, and then a couple of good washings in Synthrapol.

My first piece, I played with a tjanting, drawing spirals and dots. Mostly they came out ok, except for one where the wax got cool, and I tried to melt it with a butter knife. I didn't do such a hot job with the knife. Love the colors, this will find its way into a quilt.

From this I learned that unless you want all your designs in white, don't do all your waxing on undyed fabric. So then I did a little bit of waxing, dyed, waxed again, and dyed again.

I was excited to see I got CRACKLE on this one!!

This one is probably my least favorite. I dyed it a pale shade of green, then waxed, then dyed. I think I waxed again, but somehow lost track of exactly what I'd done. I do know I overdyed it first aqua, then peacock blue.

The last two, I went crazy with the wax. On this one, I waxed the white fabric, dyed it yellow. Then I waxed again, and dyed it coral. I waxed a third time, then dyed it maroon. And voila, I have a batik plaid, thanks to a potato masher and a toothbrush.

The smallest piece was first dyed yellow, then waxed with a different potato masher and a tjanting. Then I scrunch dyed it maroon. This piece actually looked pretty good after that maroon dye bath, but I decided to go one more step. I coated the entire piece in wax, scrunched it good, and left it in a baggie with navy blue dye overnight. Look at all that crackle!!

I am really happy with the results. I will use all of them in some kind of quilt. And I'm already thinking about designs I can do, and then add threadwork. Batik panels look great stretched on a frame, and if you add threadwork, I think it makes them even more special.

The only thing I think I will do differently is trying soy wax instead of parafin and sticky wax. More environmentally friendly, and much less hassle getting the wax out. My only question is about the crackle, wondering if that is achievable with soy. I have been looking out for Rayna Gillman's new book, since I know she uses soy wax exclusively, but it hasn't shown up here yet. If I don't find it in the next month, I suspect I will be ordering it online. This is just too much fun!!


Oh my gosh, I am tired, my legs ached- but Saturday in Salt Lake learning to batik was FABULOUS. The group was small enough so everyone got individual attention, but big enough we could see very different ways of working and results. Anne Munoz, our teacher, is a local batik artist who has been doing this since the 1970's. Her work is gorgeous!

She had us set up in her backyard, with two separate stations. The waxing station was two long tables set up with four wax pots, and lots of tjantings and other tools to use. I never knew there were so many configurations of potato mashers! Kathleen scoured the antique shops in northern California recently, and brought some treasures for us all to try. Here's a shot of the waxing station-

You can really tell with the wax when you get it right. You don't have long with the tjanting before you have to heat it up again. If the wax is too cool, it just sits on top of the cloth rather than soaking into it.

On the other side of the yard was the dye station. Anne had lots of dye colors for us to choose from, most of which I'd never used since I tend to order the primary single shade dyes and mix my own colors. I had a ball trying colors I'd never used before. Suzanne is getting ready to dye her waxed cloth, and Kathleen is looking on.

Here's another view of the dye station, later in the day. Look at all those pieces drying!!

We batched pieces in the sun, then went to work on another. You quickly learned time management- have a piece batching, one drying, and another to work on. These four pieces are mine and Suzanne's, baking under plastic.

By the end of the day, everyone had at least one piece for show and tell. Suzanne is filling in gaps in her stash, and now has the perfect medium light orange yellow she's wanted. The marking on this piece was done with a toothbrush.

There was some wonderful work produced, and also learning about what works and what doesn't, depending on the effects you want. But I don't think there was a single dog, if a piece didn't work as a whole, it would still be great to cut up for a quilt.

I only ironed out one piece at Anne's, the rest I brought home to batch overnight. I'll post pictures of them later, after they are dried and the wax ironed out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Two Playdays in Salt Lake--

Yesterday some of my small art quilt group (WAQ) met at the Fine Arts Museum at the University of Utah to see their special exhibit of paintings- 'From Monet to Picasso.' It was a very nice overview of painting, beginning with the Impressionists and some of their precursors, all the way through the twentieth century- Picasso and Dali. There were also a number of scuptures, Rodin and some others. Obviously, no pictures allowed.

I loved seeing these magnificent works of art up close. When I was in Europe in 1970- a young college student taking time off to see the world- I spent a lot of time in the art museums of London, Paris, Florence, and Amsterdam, to name only a few. That experience gave me an appreciation of great art that I have never lost.

Today, I'm off to a batik workshop, given by one of the members of the Utah Surface Design Group who does wonderful work. What could be better than a day in the dyes??

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happy Fourth of July (albeit a day late!)

We did the usual Fourth activities, including fireworks- watching the big show at the Stadium of Fire from the hills above BYU's football stadium. Earlier in the day, we went to some of the Freedom Festival activities in Provo. My favorite was a reconstructed colonial village, including people dressed in the fashions of the time, and doing everyday activities. This broommaker has an eighteenth century hearing aid!

These ladies are making baskets. They had some awesome ones they'd done on dislplay.

But my favorite was this woman, making bobbin lace. I had to laugh- four of her bobbins had metallic thread on them!! She agreed they probably weren't of colonial vintage.

And a closeup of her working--

Despite being up late last night doing fireworks, we got up and out of the house before six am for the last day of Balloon Fest. I have never ridden in one, but I think hot air balloons are magical, and I didn't want to miss the launch.

Only one balloon was being filled when we arrived. The rest were like this- basket on its side, balloon laid out on the ground in a long line.

Then they rev up the cold air fans, and start inflating the balloons.

Once they are filled with cold air, then the fire blowers go to work. I'm sure they have an official name, but I haven't a clue what it is. I was just glad of their warmth when you were near, the morning air was a little nippy with just a tee shirt on.

A little bit with the hot air, and we are close to liftoff!! I loved being on the field right with the balloons.

In addition to the colorful 'round' balloons, there were a couple of unusual ones. This balloon, sponsored by a bank, is a giant piggy bank!

And a character from my childhood, Smokey the Bear--

We hung around until they were all airborn.

A lovely, magical way to start a Saturday morning!