Last fall I started using more wool in my work and exploring adding needle felting to the mix. Through the kindness of a friend who was no longer interested in using wool, I was gifted a large bag of multiple colors of roving. Another friend sold me her embellishing/felting machine and later sent along a bag of mixed colors of wool.
My normal thrift shop haunts turned up some small bags of colors as well as a bag of raw wool. You can see it is really dirty, probably why it was only 50 cents! A bargain for a pound of wool.
Now my issue became how to clean this. An internet search produced a few possibilities. First clean it with Dawn basic liquid soap or Orvis Paste. Well, that got the dirt out but not the stains.
Internet to the rescue again. I found an older blog with experiments whitening raw wool with hydrogen peroxide. Honestly, what did I have to lose?
My first batch in the peroxide bowl did great. It whitened up to an off white color. I’m happy with that. The rest of the wool is being washed and then laid out to dry. I may try some hair lightening peroxide to see if I can get a brilliant white. Yeah yeah yeah…I know I can BUY white wool and white locks but what’s the fun in that? I will save some of the locks and curly bits to use for texture as is. The rest will be hand carded.
I used some of my Christmas money to purchase some high quality felting needles. I plan on using my machine for large areas and my needles for details. I have more wool coming in extra colors and I am watching some outstanding tutorials on YouTube.
I am excited about the possibilities to incorporate this into my work!
It has been hard to be creative in this time of social distancing and isolation. Ron and I spent a week in Branson, MO at the end of February. The global crisis had not been called a pandemic yet. We were careful anyway and it was fairly easy to do because it was off season. When we got back home on March 1 we decided to impose our own isolation based on the news reports from around the world.
You might expect all of us creatives would be pumping out piles of new work. For me, not so much. I have taken some time to finish some UFOs and up the game so to speak on a few pieces. These are silk pillow covers that needed some oomph. The centers are eco dyed vintage linen napkins stitched to the silk pillows. They are embellished with vintage crochet work that was dyed with oak gall. The hand stitching is all done in some of my hand dyed embroidery threads. They will be showing up in my Etsy shop soon after a good pressing and photography.
I am loving the slow stitching and mediation of working on this piece. A combination of boro stitching on the kantha quilt, yellow felted wool appliqués and more of the mother of pearl (MOP) button waste. A 12 x 16 feather pillow form completes it. It is for sale HERE in my Etsy Shop.
I can’t believe it has been over a year since I wrote a post here. Bless you everyone who has checked in during that time. It was a year of very little creativity.
So where was I and what was going on? My 94 year old father had been checked into a nursing home in Illinois. I had always promised him that I would not allow that. So Ron and I moved rooms and furniture around to make room for Daddy. We became his care givers until he was called home to be with my mother a year ago November 1. He made it to his 95th birthday. I had a card shower for his birthday and the joy he had opening the cards as they came in the mail! Thank you to all who participated.
I was the executor of his estate. If you are ever called upon to do this, let me tell you it is a thankless job. Well, not all the time, one brother thanked me for being strong and standing ground to carry out Daddy’s wishes. It took a year to get his Social Security finished and I am finally free to be creative.
I do have work in a new book. OURstory is available for order on Amazon. This is the label from my piece in the book.
It has been a crazy year with lots of things demanding my focus away from fiber arts. Finally today I had a chance to check on my neglected indigo vat. As I suspected, deep, dark, murky blue. Geesh, Why do I do this to myself? I know when it isn’t attended that this will happen. The indigo was totally out of reduction.
Balancing a neglected vat is like starting over. Here are the things I need to coax this back into a healthy vat. Yes, I do a bastard vat, or in other words, what ever works. The most important part of the formula are test strips. The pH has to be right for the vat to be happy and if that vat ain’t happy, mama ain’t happy!
Because my vat is in an opaque container, it is hard to see the color. So the first thing I did was scoop out a gallon of liquid into a jar. I added some magic but nothing was happening. Even though the pH was right, there was no reduction of indigo so no color was going onto the fabric. I heated the gallon of liquid, then added more Rit color remover. Finally, a bit of color change from dark indigo blue to green. There is a little coppery scum on top but no flower yet. It may take a little more tweaking. I know there is plenty of indigo left in the vat so no need to add any more indigo powder.
The big vat is staring to get some copper, no flower, but it is dyeing a healthy green on the first dip. More tweaking but it is starting to sprinkle and Arkansas needs the rain. I will check on my flowers later today to see if there is any change.
One of my quilts for HERstory, an exhibit and book curated by Susanne Miller Jones, appears in the Quilting Arts Magazine story about the exhibit. It is always an honor to have work featured in a major quilting magazine. But just a note: I don’t live in Arizona, I live in Arkansas. There is a Lakeview, AZ but at the time I created this piece I lived in Lakeview, AR. It’s a mistake often made, or sometimes I get mail addressed in AK. Maybe I need to adopt some of these cities? Road Trip!!
When I explore surface design I want to go beyond commercial products. There are some great commercial ones out there and you can do some amazing things with them. But just like commercially produced fabric designs there is a limit to creativity. I like to dye and paint and print my own fabrics for one of a kind art work. Sometimes I start with a commercial fabric because I don’t ever want to waste something. But what do I use for printing and stenciling?
Here are a few new tools in my tool box for this. These things all were destined for the trash or the recycle bin, depending on their number. When you think of surface design you see these as tools rather than trash. Oh, that black wooden piece I picked up at a sale and I am anxious to see the design from it. The blue container is from mushrooms, of course an empty spool, the clear plastic is from cookies and the other piece is from bottles of fizzy water.
Here is a close up of the fizzy water plastic. I know this is going to be a favorite. It will produce both positive and negative prints depending on whether I use it to stamp or stencil.
I haven’t had time to play with all these yet. I have some deadlines for exhibitions coming up. I wanted to share since it has been a really long time since I posted. Here is a finished piece going to Carol Jones Frank for our small art exchange group on Facebook. I used the empty spool in gold ink for some subtle stamping. It gave just the right amount of another layer of complexity.
….since I was inspired to work on new pieces. I haven’t really figured out what the road block to my creativity has been, I just know that I haven’t been inspired to work! So I thought I needed to get back to some basics. I worked on a couple of UFO’s and they are nearly completed and up on the design wall in the studio waiting for quilting. They will get further along next week for sure. But, I still was in a creative funk. What I do should NOT be work.
Then a couple of things happened a few days ago. I unearthed a treasure of a 221K machine at Goodwill. For those who aren’t machine aficionados, that is known as a Singer Featherweight. And it is white, or as my friend Marie said, glowy green. After getting it cleaned, oiled and adjusted I became obsessed with making something! Ron said if he knew $8 (the cost of the machine) would do that he would have given me $8 sooner! Such a kidder…eye roll!
The second thing that happened was I found fat quarters and 1/2 yd cuts of some fantastic fabrics at the Humane Society Thrift shop. They spoke to me. And they are all fused up waiting to be cut for a special landscape quilt. I am excited! I think I may have my mojo back!
I think I struck gold! Extracting the dye from dried marigolds couldn’t have been easier. Simply put them into a jar and cover with water. There is almost immediate color. The problem was that in all my resource materials the only marigold dye recipe I found was for fresh petals. So as is common for me, it was a seat of the pants moment.
I soaked 50 grams of dried petals overnight. Then I drained them, reserving the liquid gold. I put the soaked petals into a large crockpot and simmered on low setting for 2 hours. Some natural dyes tend to go brown if the heat is too high so I use my crockpot in the studio to keep the heat low and constant.
I love the variation of colors from the dye pot. The lemon yellow silks are a ray of sunshine. The indigo pieces that were over-dyed got some much needed zip. The eco-printed long sleeved tee looks amazing and I love the splash of color added to the linen scarves. There was a lot of color changed on the indigo scarf, but not as much on the logwood. I think they are all keepers. The bonus is that I still have 2 quarts of dye extract. I will have to figure out a WOF (weight of fabric) recipe for fellow dyers who like things more exact!