Sunday, January 26, 2014

Another Obsession

When I find something that interests me, I tend to jump in with both feet.  I want to learn everything I can about it, experiment with it, and DO it.  It's been that way with quilting, with fabric dyeing- and with soaping.  Soaping????
I've been aware of hand crafted soap for some time, I've even bought some at local farmer's markets from time to time.  But I did not know anything about the process, and always assumed it was complicated.  Until I started reading Lynda Heines' blog . . . .

She wrote about making her own soap.  It was interesting, and it looked like fun- not a huge, messy project like I had been imagining.  So, last Monday (which was a holiday from work) Marly and I made our first batch of soap.

I really didn't have to buy a lot of equipment- I already had a lot in the dye studio.  Stick blender?  No problem, I don't use it for dyeing anymore anyway since I learned from Carol Soderlund how to mix dyes.  Containers?  You've got to be kidding, I have loads of recycled plastic containers. Safety goggles?  Hey, Shannon just finished a microbiology class, and I went through her equipment.  Safety goggles, check!  Gloves?  Digital scale? I use them all the time in the dye studio.

 I got a stainless steel pot cheap at Walmart, and was even able to find some oils there.  I also got a five pound container of coconut oil at Costco, and we were ready to roll.  Lye was a bit more of a problem- it is no longer easily accessible due to illegal drug manufacturing.  We were lucky, though, and found some at Cal Ranch.  

After measuring out the oils, dissolving the lye (I do that in the garage), we were ready to mix.

After looking at a number of videos on  You Tube and reading several books, it seemed fairly easy to tell when we reached trace.  The whole mixing process took less time than the prep work and clean up!

Marly scraped out the very last of the soap into our molds. . 

and we had our first soap!!

We used coconut, red palm, and olive oils in this soap.  The only place I knew to find palm oil was at the health food store, and they only had red palm, which gave the soap its color.  We scented it with lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which is bright and citrusy.  So now we waited.

Twenty four hours later, we took the soap out of the mold,

and then we sliced it into bars.  We got seventeen bars total from the two molds!

It smells great, and my ph test came out fine.  So now we just need to wait four weeks before we can use it.

Well, I was hooked.  I did some more online research, and found that there are two resources for soapmaking supplies in Utah.  One is up in Logan, which is a three and a half hour drive north- but the other is right in Provo!!  So, I got more oils, and this weekend I made . . . 

 Lavender soap!


 Peppermint Oatmeal soap!


Seaside Showers Shampoo Bar!!
(This one is made with coconut milk- another adventure in learning!)

Let's see- seventeen bars of lemon eucalyptus, eighteen bars of lavender, I'll probably get seventeen bars of the peppermint oatmeal (plus we got ten "mini-muffins), and about nine bars of the shampoo bar- that makes seventy-one bars of soap I've made in the past week!!

This weekend, we figured out that it is easier to make soap in the dye studio, using a big plastic bucket to melt the oils in the microwave.  I can store the lye and oils on a high shelf in the laundry room.

So now we wait about a month before we can use any of these creations.  I have a couple more recipes I want to try- I now have avocado oil (cheapest at Costco) and cocoa butter in my oil stash.  I also figured out that I can get two gallons of pure (not EVOO) olive oil at Costco at a very good price.

I did splurge and buy a few pieces of equipment at Pine Meadows, the supplier I have in Provo.

I got two plastic soap molds, so now I can do four loaves at a time.  I got two soap cutters- one straight, and one wavy.  I am now well set up to continue making soap!

It is rather hysterically funny and ironic that I would end up doing two hobbies that involve lots of chemistry.  I enrolled in chemistry in high school and ended up dropping out after the first quarter, so the 'D' I was earning wouldn't show up on my college transcripts.  I hated the class, it made no sense to me!

And now here I am, dyeing and soaping up a storm, fascinated by the chemistry and wanting to learn everything I can about it.  Pity the chemistry I took in high school wasn't doing stuff like this!

I'll let you know in a month how the soaps are.  In the meantime, I'm hoping to get my mind back on fiber and get started quilting Michelle's pink quilt!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Woodbury Art Museum opening!!!

Friday, January 17 was the opening of the 'Not Bound by Tradition' show at the Woodbury Art Museum.  This museum is affiliated with Utah Valley University, the state university in Utah county.  Our group member Kathleen Baer spearheaded this- and it was a fabulous evening!  I was there for almost the entire two hour event, and I enjoyed every minute.  I'm grateful Sean came with his camera, because all the pictures I have are what he took!

One aspect of the show that I love is that is just doesn't have our quilts in it, they also found a way to feature some of our hand dyed and painted fabric, the jewelry that one of our members creates, and other creations that involve fiber.  The first thing you see when entering the gallery is this spectacular wall of hand dyed fabric.

This was created by Kathleen and Cathy, and it is a gorgeous abstraction of our mountains and valley.  They spent hours starching the fabric to the wall.  You can get an idea of just how large it is from the picture!

Opposite this is a wall with the round robin quilts the group has created over the past year.  There is a lot of variety and creativity here!

Behind the fabric wall are the three 'rooms' with the rest of our quilts and fabric displayed.  

The middle room had this snowflake quilt as the focal point.  It was stenciled by most of the group (I missed that meeting), and quilted by Liza Ann.  It is beautiful!

One room had a tree theme.  We created leaves for this tree, and hung tree-themed quilts in the room.

Sue Swinyard's gorgeous jewelry is displayed in a couple of cases, as are her airbrushed pillows.  You can see those in a previous photo.

We had walls displaying fabric. . . 

and we had fabric hanging from the ceiling!

It is a beautiful show, and I am so happy and proud to be part of it.  I had a wonderful time talking to people, and got some fantastic feedback on my work.  The college and a non-profit organization, EngAGEUtah, sponsored a workshop earlier in the day, Creative Aging, with a speaker brought in from New York- Susan Perlstein.  She is not only an artist, she is a social worker, so I was very interested in what she had to say in the workshop.  She also came to the opening, and I had a chance to visit with her.  It was the frosting on the cake!

Here are most of the women who contributed work to this exhibit.  Fittingly, we took our picture in front of the fabric wall.  The one person missing is Sue, who was off on a cruise.

 From left to right, they are Bonnie, Liza Ann, Kathleen, Francine, Cathy, me, and Lonnie. 

So there you have it- a fantastic Friday indeed!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tangled Textiles- 'Digital'

We had our reveal for our latest Tangled Textiles challenge last week- Music.  Here's what I came up with:

I thought a lot about this challenge before I started looking at fabric.  I considered the visual aspects of music- the staffs, the lines that denote the notes- all of which are straight.  I thought about the feel of music, which to me seemed to be best represented by curved, flowing lines.  How to combine the two?

I started searching through my stash, and came across this piece that I did last summer on my week-long dye fest.  I liked the straight lines on it, and the 'exclamations' provided by the Rorschach-like images at points along the lines.  Honestly, it reminded me of an echocardiogram readout- but that has a beat, just like music!

I quilted it in flowing, curved lines.  That showed me how rusty my free motion skills have gotten.  After the quilting, I hand embroidered the 'notes.'

After I'd completed it, I asked my son if it 'said' anything to him,  He immediately responded that it looked like a readout of digitally recorded music.  That made this whole creation complete, and also gave it a name- 'Digital'.

We had lots of fun pieces for this challenge.  Hop on over to the TT blog and see what the others have done!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Back to Work

I took vacation time from Christmas until January 6- I've spent the last couple of days trying to get back into the work mode.  I certainly had plenty to keep me busy!

I didn't get to spend anywhere near the time in the studio I'd hoped for.  I did get a little bit of dyeing done.  I tried some more snow dyeing- after my last success overdyeing dogs, I got more dogs with my subsequent tries.  I just don't know if it is worth the hassle!

I did some scarves.  

I was really happy with the one on the right.  The one on the left, I ended up overdyeing with some blue.  It's not as gray as it looks in this photo, it really is a pretty shade of blue.

I did a knit infinity scarf that turned out to be boring orange red.  I went at with Shiva paint stiks and a rubbing plate, and it is much better!

Another infinity scarf was printed first with white paint, then dyed black- I thought.  I did everything right, and ended up with this insipid green.

Apparently the black dye I used was too old- it's the only explanation I can come up with.  So I overdyed it with a black dye I knew I'd gotten within the past year.  I also upped the amount of salt in the dye bath, and dumped in dye concentrate above and beyond a 10% DOS.

It's not quite black, but it is a nice neutral dark charcoal gray.  And my printing held up over two dye baths and washing, so I will be doing that again.

I spent most of January 2 helping to install a show at the Woodbury Art Museum in Orem.  My art quilt group will have a show there from January 14 to March 4, and it looks like it will be really nice.  It not only features quilts, but hand dyed fabric and other fiber.  Here's a sneak peek at one part-

All of us made fabric leaves, then we hung them on this tree.  It looks very cool!

I also got my Tangled Textiles piece finished- but that reveal will happen this weekend.  One thing I did learn with this one- my free motion quilting skills are rusty.  I need to get some practice in before I quilt Michelle's pink quilt.

That's what I've been up to- hopefully I'll have more to report in the coming weeks.  Stay warm!