Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WHole Cloth QUilt or Not to Whole Cloth QUilt

When do you know? I have loads of fabric I can't bring myself to cut up, yet there is something "lacking" about these pieces that I have doubts if stitching alone will bring out any extra qualities (clear as mud?) Normally I know, and I've had these fabrics for a couple of years now and really want to do something with them, but what do I do? Cutting them up just doesn't seem to be the anwser so then what???

They are not entirely precious, though most I'd never be able to recreate so what's the hang up you might ask? I don't know! Are they NOT good enough on their own, and if so why not? And if NOT then what would make them better? Simple seems to be the anwser here - and simple can be quite hard!!!

which one???

This caramel colored fabric is the same piece of fabric that is a couple of posts down. It is cutch dyed and then compost dyed smooth silk dupioni fabric. The center piece fabric is compost dyed, screen printed, and rust dyed silk chiffon.

This photo the background fabric is crinkled silk haboti that was bound resist dyed first with indigo and then overdyed with osage orange. I only have one of the center piece fabric, maybe neither piece fabric is right for the center?
Vote by placing a comment - this is what happens when one gets stuck in the studio whilest auditioning fabrics!

Forest Piece

Vertical or horizontal?
Compost dyed silk charmuse about 45 x 60 inches
Vote by placing a comment.

Carmel Piece

Vertical or horizontal?

Cutch dyed and then compost dyed smooth silk dupioni, I'm struggling with whether to quilt this as is or add something to it, it's time to drag out the pencils and papers and do some sketches and color studies.

Vote by posting a comment letting me know which you prefer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wool Rant 2008

Dirty side of the Jacob fleece, filled with cockle burrs, grass, or hay, from improper feeding and pasture care. I intentionally left the picture files large so you could click on them and see the detail areas of the fleece.

The cut or clean side of the same fleece, see the potential!

Dingle berry, or turd, either way it should have been removed BEFORE the fleece was put into the bag.

Cockle burrs, gazillions of them, and this pasture was reportedly clean of burrs, a little bit of round up would be a blessing in this pasture! Or a teenager with a weed hook, whichever the farmer wishes to do, but burrs seriously decrease the value of ANY wool fleece. I'll spend hours picking the burrs out of this fleece to get it ready for market.

Hay was fed to the sheep in big round bales, well sheep like to rub against objects to scratch an itch and this is the end result, lots of vegetable matter (VM) in the fleece, again many hours of cleaning this to make it ready for market.

More hay embedded in the wool.

Black and white Jacob fleece that needs some TLC, it's full of burrs, needs to be skirted, and then washed before it can be put up for sale. Below: Lilac Jacob Fleece, the fleece is very soft, but a mess none the less. I can't wait to see the final product.

A picture speaks a thousand words right, then these are speaking mega bytes of words!!!
I think it should go without saying that if you are really wanting top dollar for the wool you are growing then you need to keep your pastures clean of burrs, and other vegetable matter.

Got Wool?

Last Thursday dh and I drove about 2.5 hours south of here to pick up some Jacob fleeces, it was supposed to be 33 fleeces, I now have 99 fleeces!!! I have a lot of work to do this week, now that it has warmed up a bit.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


If ever there was an inspiring story for one to stick to their guns, artistically speaking, then it would be that of Beatrix Potter. DH and I watched "Miss Potter", the autobiographical movie of her life and it was a most excellent choice for a Sunday evening. This flick is definately being added to my list of favorites.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hand work

My shoulder has been bothering me, too much lawn care, so instead of wrestling large pieces in the sewing machine I've been doing a bit of hand work.

I started this piece tonight by needle felting various fibers using the Janome Expression, and now I've plans to do a bunch of stitching to the surface. This pic is the inspiration a red velvet spider mite on some moss. I took this photo last Sunday when we were out looking for morels in the woods.

Osage Orange Dyed Fabric

I found this pic in my files it was from 2002 when I taught in Cincinnati for the weaving guild there. The yellow fabrics and yarns were stunning hanging on the line under the large trees.

I have Osage Orange Sawdust available here

Store Update

Well in between sneezing fits, Spring has Sprung!, I've been updating my store with lots of natural dyes and natural dyed goodies!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Etsy Treasury

Liz Plummer created an Treasury and included me how incredibly generous is that??? Here is the link:

I've more work to add to my store tonight, I spent part of today out in the garden removing creeping charlie, a type of ground ivy that is quite persistant. It's supposed to rain for the next several days.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blog and Store Updates

I've been working on updating the blog, main website, and the store today, I hope to get a newsletter sent out tonight or early morning ;-) The Natural Surfaces Blog has been updated, I've made it more streamlined using an actual blogger template this time.

More later from the natural dye pot!


The printer will soon be on it's way here and we will hopefully have not only a zine by the end of this month but also a DVD!

The first zine is toatally dedicated to rust dyeing and upcycling how green is that for Spring!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Barn Series

Getting closer to done! The bottom third needs more stitching yet.

I couldn't wait!

Front of the quilt, I did some lose bound resist so you can still see the pink from the madder lac bath behind the blue. Typically if you over dye with indigo you WILL strip the base colors some if not completely.
I couldn't wait until tomorrow to over dye this piece so I dipped it six times in an indigo vat tonight, say 11:45 pm! And lets just say this is a major improvement over the previous color. Currently it's air drying over my shower curtain rod in the bathroom, silk side down on the rusty part of the rod!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In Progress

Well this is the before shot from about two years ago, everyone said it needed color, and they were right - to some extent. I do love the white on white work in this piece, I think a lot of folks just don't get subtlies of abstract art, I know my husband certainly doesn't.

Shot of the front the darker pink is Tsukineko ink that was mixed with aloe vera and applied with a dauber. It was never heat set so imagine my suprise when it came through the bath, and two trips through the washer and dryer, intact!

Detail of th wool batting notice it's pink coloring.

And it's taken a couple of years to get through this one! I"m thinking of compost and rust dyeing this piece next. Silk dupioni front, cotton fabric backing, and wool batting, it has been sitting in a Madder lac dye bath for about a week, no premordanting. I think the bath may have exhausted after the first rounds of silk fabrics that went through.

Monday, April 14, 2008

genuine fungus

Black Fungus

Appears to be a lichen of some sort, here's a pic with the original packaging.

Lichens on my Cinnamon?

There appears to be a lichen of some sort growing on my cinnamon - well I don't know if it's still growing or not, it is currently living in a glass jar with a lid.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fairie Names

I was visiting Au Fil du Jardin's blog and found a link that will tell you what your Fairy Name is and I found that my fairy name is:

Your fairy is called Hex Icefilter
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in places hexed and tainted by black magic.
She is only seen on midsummer's eve.
She wears black feathers and rose petals. She has icy blue butterfly wings.
Hmm a person could produce some very interesting artwork based on this description alone!

And How Was Your Day?

Mine started out with a fizzle and has gone down hill and quite well from there. I'm not feeling well - so not a good way to start as Saturday. And then I go to deep freeze in the basement, to get some ground to make burgers with, oh did I say I was wanting frozen ground? Well lets just say that the good news is I didn't lose everything, but I did lose all of the fruits and vegetables and a considerable amount of meat in the deep freeze. It's a very old very LARGE deep freeze that was very full (of meat), how old??? we estimate somewhere around 45 - 50 years old actually. Yes I do know that that is very old for any appliance and it IS unreasonable of me to expect say another 25 - 30 years out of my freezer, but hey a girl can wish right!

So here's the kicker, the upright that's an upright deep freeze, as opposed to the monstorous chest freezer that had just died, didn't want to start when I turned it on. Seems that after a year of sitting empty going back to work wasn't in the cards - and it's a brand new freezer.

The good news is in approximately 10 - 14 days we should have a new deep freezer, chest style, and the upright will be serviced on Tuesday.

I hope everyone else is having a much better weekend than we are.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Studio Clean Up

The studio clean up continues, today John came home and asked me what I was doing, moving back into my studio I stated. It seems it's going to be awhile before I'll get the studio out of the house again so I have no choice but to unpack So I've been cleaning the storage units out and am reorganizing and am thinking of packaging some things up to go off and live with others. For some reason this seems to be a necessary task every few years or so.

The mess behind Gretchen, the dress form, is cleaned up and she is now living in the Wild Hyacinths room, our very small guest bedroom. Yes I've taken to naming the rooms in my house, doesn't everyone?

Studio Clean Up

Drawers of goodies neatly organized.

Vintage faux pearls, picked up at variou yard sales over the years, I plan to put them in a jar of some sort.

I've been cleaning and organizing in my design studio!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Barn No. 1 Update

I've added more stitching today, will finish it by Sunday. I trimmed the sides flush a bit ago and put zig zag stitching across the top. The colors really are this intense, will try to get a better picture with better lighting.

Barn Series

Yes the colors REALLY are this vivid! Acquired using Cochineal on silk fabrics.

About two weeks ago I found a series of sketchbooks, from the 90's, in my wet studio, much to my chagrin some of my sketchbooks had been ruined when a flower pot had been placed on the top of them.

So I've been photographing the contents of each sketchbook, when I came across a set of abstract barn color studies I made in 1999 (I took Color Theory as one of my final undergrad courses). I wanted to make a series of quilts back then but didn't have fabrics that spoke to me that wanted to be barns! I've been dyeing fabrics the past two days and am now getting much closer to that goal, this is going to be a great series!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Barn No. 1

I have to take a break after over two hours of stitching on this piece. I dyed the fabrics today, the bottom half is dyed with indigo ala bound resist and then over dyed with cochineal. The top fabric, and middle two fabrics were dyed with cochineal cream of tartar and citric acid. The top fabrics are as follows crinkled silk haboti, deeper middle red fabric is silk organza, and the lighter middle fabric is silk dupioni. The backing is osage orange dyed cotton batik fabric and the batting is wool.
Size approx 43 inches wide by 60 inches tall. I won't have a traditional binding on this piece, I very rarely ever put a binding on my quilts. I haven't stitched the bottom half or the middle field yet.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Vintage Cotter Pin Container

I'm not sure where John found this tin but it's absolutely lovely! It is about three inches tall and about two inches across.