Archive for the ‘Dyeing’ Category

Visions Online Spring Exhibit

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

I’m delighted to share that my Lilies of the Valley quilt has been juried in to the Visions Art Museum online exhibit “Spring.”

Lilies of the Valley, 36 x 36 inches. As always, there is dense quilting to bring the quilt to life. This work is has been juried into the SAQA Connecting Our Natural Worlds exhibit, and is available for sale. However, the quilt cannot be delivered to the purchaser until the end of the SAQA exhibit in 2022.

I love the delicate fluted cups of the tiny flowers near our front porch, the shades of green as the leaves curve around the delicate stalks. And later in autumn the flowers become vibrant red and orange berries to add little glints of surprising color to the fading landscape.

Sarah Ann Smith's Lilies of the Valley art quilt features small white flowers against a field of green
Detail, Lilies of the Valley

The quilt uses my own hand-dyed fabrics extensively along with commercial batiks and cotton sateen.
I encourage you to visit the online exhibit and enjoy!

Little changes help: Rose Hip

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
Not quite done yet, but improved and much closer to done and basting

Better. I finally got a little time in the studio (and the hammering on the roof is more muffled down there–we are having a new, metal roof put on–who knew they could do that in Maine in January?). I had thought the Rosehip top was done when I left it on Sunday evening but, I’m learning I need to let things set a spell, after I looked at it with fresh eyes realized it needed some help. I made a small rose hip quilt (below), and when I saw it next to the big one, I realized the large one looked a bit dead.

My Cherrywood “Vincent” challenge quilt just returned home. Just beneath it, on the left, is the 12″ version. See how cheerful those leaves are? The large one was crying out for some life.
I thought I was going to have to dye more fabric as what I had was either too dark OR too light. Then I looked in my stash and found some fabric Lisa Walton of Australia gave me about ten years (!!!!) ago. I had used a bit of it in a quilt that won my only (so far) ribbon at International Quilt Festival, Houston, but otherwise it was safe. So today I pulled out my Rugosa Rose leaf texture thermofax screen, the paints, and Lisa’s fabric. PERFECT!
I also needed to extend the bottom of the quilt–it will end up square, but I decided it needed more breathing room on the bottom and the stem at the top will just be shorter. Since it is the foreground, a larger motif was suitable. The original colors were plum and caramel…too bright and wrong! So I used ProSilk textile paints to fix.
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a cutting mat that has vastly exceeded its life expectancy, it makes a good surface for painting!

Becoming a rose hip

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Off and on for the past couple of weeks I have been dyeing fabric, drawing or photoshopping images to make thermofax screens, and finally working on collaging the background for the rose hip, the large (36″ square) version. To those of you have landed here from my new newsletter, thank you! To those of you who don’t know about my new newsletter, please go here to the home page and sign up! I will write about mid-month and will never share your info!

When I last checked in with you, I was just getting to this stage–finishing the rose hip on a flat surface.
The next step was dyeing some greens. Kinda looks like pond scum, eh?

While I was at it, I used up the leftover dye for some autumn-y leaf colors for a future project.
Some of the fabrics turned out great–alas, most of these didn’t work for this piece. AND I got smart…I am now adding tags with the pure dyes used in each piece so I have a clue if I ever want to make them again.

Next, working on thermofax screens. This is the photo of a chicken at the Common Ground Fair last September–as soon as I saw the strong light and dark I thought “Thermofax screen!”
And here it is after photoshopping. It made a fabulous fabric, very dark tone on tone, that I’ve used in the background. Alas, I forgot tot akee pics before I cut it up!
I also wanted to make a texture similar to Rugosa rose leaves, so this is my initial sketch, which became a screen.
I tend to work in batches, so while I was making those screens, I made several others. That one on the right, the feathers, is about 20 inches long! The snow is for another future quilt.

These are the transparent paints I mixed, with a little black, to use for the rugosa texture on the rose leaves.
Here’s one of the leaves…..
And the two large leaves, in place. The long one on the left is about 18 inches long. Alas, after looking at it this morning, I have decided those two leaves are too dark and have to go. Back to the dye pots once this post and my newsletter are done! I’ll use the fabric for something else eventually.
LOVED the batik but knew ordering it that it was too high contrast for my process. A little Dye-Na-Flow and ProSilk textile paints fixed that easily: overpaint in green!
And where I am now. I want the quilt to be dramatic, but it feels to dark overall. The smaller version has brighter green leaves and I’ve decided I need to dye something that is midway between the medium-light hand-dyes on my shelf and the dark green used here. Or use some fabric Lisa Walton gave me years ago…I think her bits of green are just right, especially once I add some texture.

So that’s about it for now….thanks for surfing in, share the post, and let others know about the newsletter. I’d love to ramp up my teaching again, and the best way to do that is by showing my work and getting the word out there. Now, off to make cookies for the guys roofing the house in freezing weather, then down to the studio.

Busy busy busy

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Do you ever have those days where you are trying to cram so much into one day you think your head will explode? Yeah. Today!

Rose Hips, large version, testing leaf fabrics
The best news is that the greens will work! This is my enormous rose hip in progress. The 12″ square “test drive” and demo sample is on the left. The big one will finish 36″ tall, probably square, possibly not.

So far today:

  • Rinse out hand-dyes from yesterday, hand wash
  • Machine wash and dry hand-dyes from yesterday, iron
  • View SAQA Webinar on 3-D artwork considerations
  • Create “artwork” for three simple thermofax screens
  • Add more things to the To Do list as remembered
  • Scan said artwork
  • Manipulate said artwork in Photoshop, sent to printer
  • Eat lunch
  • Send email relating to upcoming The Quilt Show appearance
  • Review email and reply as appropriate
  • Refill RX–call it in
  • Think about booking plane tickets for TQS trip, decide to deal with it later
  • Make another pot of tea — perhaps turn on Father Brown on PBS / recorded
  • Think about making thermofax screens today
  • Think about making stew for supper first instead
  • Decide to blog before dealing the three previous thoughts
Test drive background fabrics for large Rose Hip quilt
These are both the fused or the right side of fabrics I’ll possibly use as background pieces. Some clearly need some over-painting to knock down the high contrast.

So that’s my Saturday…how is yours going? I think I’d prefer a novel with that (decaf) tea right about now, and it’s only 2:12 p.m. I need to “set a spell!”

Getting ready for the next quilt….the herald of summer in Maine

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Before I can start in on the fusing and collaging process, I find that I now need to dye fabric specifically for a project.   While working on my Lilies of the Valley Quilt, I used up most of my good “summer” greens.   My next piece is for Explorations at the New England Quilt Museum (in Lowell, Mass.), a regional SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) show.  I’ve had several ideas I wanted to try for this piece, and really wanted to push myself to do something different and unexpected.  Unfortunately, those ideas are just not wanting to fit into the required vertical orientation and size required!   So I’m going to do a large piece on something I’ve been wanting to do for a while:  Maine’s lupines that bloom in late May and early June and herald the summer.

SAQA members from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were invited to submit a body of work.  If selected, artists would then make a 30×50″ art quilt featuring a specific technique.  We were advised to submit several techniques, so I suggested dyeing, fused collage and machine quilting/threadwork.   I am delighted that I am one of 24 artists selected!  There will be two exhibits of 12 artists each.  We won’t know whether we will be in the Oct-Dec 2018 exhibit or the Jan-April 2019 exhibit until the works are completed and submitted August 1.  That means I need to work FAST!

I was chosen to showcase fused collage.  The exhibit is about techniques, with in depth information and supplementary materials.  From the acceptance letter:

In the exhibit, your piece will be accompanied by a number of items, including your artist statement, a brief bio, a photo of you in your studio, and materials which explain your technique. Each artist has a 20″ x 50″ area that they can use to explain their process. You can use process photos, sample pieces, written materials, even video presentations if you can figure out how to make it work.

But before I can fuse, I need the right COLORS to fuse.   Some years ago I made some cloth that I gave to my friend Kathy, who used it is a fabulous portrait of her granddaughter.   I thankfully kept notes of which dyes I used, and I call this combination “Kathy’s fabric.”  This time, I decided to make it not as dark—summer meadow greens instead of piney woods greens.

I start by dotting dye on, both navy and basic blue. I literally stick my latex-gloved fingers into the dye and daub it on. MANY classes with Carol Soderlund and many MANY yards of fabric and miles later, I can begin to predict what I will get because I tend to refer to my notes and books from the workshops, then go improv.

Then I add two or three yellows, because not just one will quite do what I want. Sometimes, I do a second cloth, as here, where I have actually mixed some greens instead of just doing yellow on blue.

For dye geeks, most of the time I prefer to paint dye onto cloth, then paint soda-ash/fixer solution on top, but this time I soda-soaked first, then daubed on the color.  When I want significant patterning, it’s soda-soak first.

The photo at the top of this post is the one which began with blue dots, then yellow, then greens.

Once I’ve gotten the color on, the fabric needs to batch so it moves under the table for several hours before washout, sometimes (as this time) overnight. Had to make some of my bright spring greens, too.

Then I decided to try to make a field with lupines in it, but blurry, to use as background at the top of the quilt.  I may have messed this one up…..

Sky at the top–good until I put some plastic over the top to batch it overnight. Apparently SOB there were stray dots of dye that didn’t get washed off properly last dyeing session. SOB.

This is what it looked like about six hours later. I like the way the dye is seeping up into the sky. This is when I covered it. SOB.  And most of those dots got covered up. 

This morning when uncovered. SOB. Random specks of pink in the sky. SOB. Will have to see after washout what remains.  Cover it up with tall lupines perhaps.  SOB.

I also decided to try ice dyeing for the first time, inspired by my friend Jim Vander Noot. I used a magazine holder because it was available to keep the fabric up out of the pooling, dripping dye (instead of a screen). Put another piece of cloth in the bottom of the tub to soak up the drips. I use pure dyes, not mixes which is more typical for ice dyeing, so I kinda winged it on this one. I sprinkled the dyes in the picture below on, then dribbled some yellow dye solution I had already mixed up as well.

Dyes sprinkled on.

Today I washed out….stuff in the washer now.  OH MY I am SOOOOOOO gonna do more ice dyeing…totally hooked!   Hope they look as spectacular washed and dried as they did rinsed out!

Stay tuned for an update.

And…gratuitous cat pic of the new kitten, Zabu (named after the Leapin’ lemur on Zoboomafu which the boys watched when they were little)

Sweetness, to be followed when awake by zooming and cavorting and wreaking kitty havoc.

#saqa, #fabriccollage, #artquilt,#artistsoninstagram, #fusedfabric

#saqaexplorations, #neqmexplorations, #saqa, #neqm, #saqamari

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