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!