magic horizons? shop update

Nothing subtle about these naturally dyed chunky ombre goodies! Wonderful for imaginative landscape effects, or to riff off intuitively.
4 packs available, 3 colourways.

Easter dyeing

No eggs!

OH MY GAWDZ, this 34 year old madder!!!!!

No fuss, no messing around, our mountain-hard tap water, a couple of Tums, a bit of a simmer and BANG.

I think i’d be hoarding this stuff if i was parsimonious with my cloth–but then what’s the point? Just wish the supplier was still around!

Coupled with a chunk of silky silk velvet dyed in quebracho rojo, there are TWO of these packs in the shop, along with others (ONE each) in various permutations of osage, sandalwood, quebracho rojo and cochineal. DELICIOUS! EDIT: ONE pack left of the seven.     SOLD OUT    

I will be dyeing again this week, and will have more packs in the store, slightly different.

a manipulative day

I’m doing some “self directed” workshops again, which means getting into the studio and (usually) experimenting with old techniques, or trying to make something from old techniques 🙂

Today, i spent four hours burying the cat playing first with my quebracho rojo dyed silk velvet, then some indigo cotton, and lastly an indigo and cochineal overdyed ecoprint silk habotai (reverse order in photo!) (Sorry for the crossed out bit–i always hear Monty Python when i hear “i spent blahblahdeblah hours blahdeblahblahing……..”)

Each type of fabric had it’s own attractions, and responses to the manipulation. I love the silk velvet, as it’s actually more forgiving than the silk hab, which slithers like an intoxicated snake, and the cotton is nice and crisp, though i may flatten that with an iron to set creases for a different look.  The silk hab and the cotton also have more “rounds” than the silk velvet, and better size variations, so they look a wee bit fuller. I’ll add to the next silk velvet rose as three i think, is a bit skimpy.

I dug through the bead/embellishment stash for the centres–gotta use them! Since i have 14 variously sized drawers full………..

No pattern for these, sorry, as they are “prototypes”. I developed them by accident while rolling velvet! Beyond a minimal minute spent on the machine, these are small, portable and easy enough to make by hand, though the enhancements have to be done in the day in the studio, due to light and old eyes.

the dye that keeps on giving, Quebracho Rojo

My previous results with a fresh pot were in the pink and purple range.

This dye/tannin was definitely worth the expense. I’ve had a pot sitting for two weeks in the back room, where it’s quite cold in the winter. No mold grew, no funny smells, no questionable sludge, so i decided to throw a few odd bits in to see what colours i’d end up with. (I know there’s still a lot of colour in the pot, as an experienced eye can tell when a pot is exhausted and when there’s still dye stuff left.)

A few scrappy bits of sheer silk chiffon from 8 years ago (the original hollyhock had completely faded: no mordant!), i love the purple/pink cast to this brown. The cotton lace was a surprise as well. (Note none of these were premordanted, in this case because QR is also a tannin, which can be a mordant. Normally i would have premordanted, even old scraps.)

Since most of the cottons i had done before were not terribly exciting with the QR, this bodes well.


The gold in the photo below, to the right, was an errant piece of previously ecoprinted POLYESTER, that had snuck into the pot long ago. GOLD? All right!

But that deep reddish brown on the osage (yellow) silk velvet–OOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So, the Quebracho Rojo has gone from giving striking pinks and purples to rich warm browns., money well spent.

OOOOyeah, and shop update

After auditioning fabrics for the areas behind the wings, i was inspired enough to finish the second one in two days. Admittedly smaller, but the idea of the velvet really got me going! The first one is finished and attached to its backing.

OMG i love this.

Because the velvet itself is so tactile, and the colouring from the osage and quebracho rojo so gorgeous, i decided to keep the stitch there as simple as possible. No point in hiding all that beauty! This velvet, though lush as silk velvet is, was easy enough to do without having to lay any stabilizer to stitch over, but the stitches still had to be solid enough not to sink in, so i stuck to a whipped backstitch–i love the line effect of this on any fabric.

And Borgles. Gotta have Borgles, one of the FrankenStitch mainstays. Picking one out to redo though, and have to add one more small one.

Thought i’d share my results too with the Quebracho Rojo: obviously not a winner for saturation on cotton (cellulose), but it sure is on silk (protein)!  The description on the website is a bit confusing, i think: “Quebracho is suitable for dyeing cellulose fibers and also performs well on silks and wool, and yields a lovely pinkish peach to brown rose color.” It’s obvious that the silk is INCREDIBLE, and look at those distinctly explicitly PINK shades! Wasn’t impressed with the uptake on the wool (first photo left top), but perhaps it was the pomegranate it had been premordanted with…. However, some post modifying, and some overdyeing with osage did give me a wonderful range of colours.

Do i know what i’m doing with natural dyes? I do, confidently, correctly from first step to last.

And i am willing to share the current silk velvet bounty 🙂 Small packs in the shop! You’ll LOVE Making with it, stitching on it, fondling it!

working up some courage

Natural dyes and silk velvet have an affinity for each other, like a love poem whispered into a breeze, like feather soft caresses, cool water on hot naked skin, sensual and earthy, sharing the privacy of deep emotion and quiet solitude.

I’ve always had a secret love affair with velvet, coveting the “lavender panne velvet pant” described in a 1972 Vogue magazine ( i was all of 15 years old and it was certainly not either in my world of farm town, or in my 60cents an hour babysitting budget…) , but never really comfortable wearing any as i got older, feeling slightly fraudulent and as if i was demanding attention i didn’t deserve. But oh the slither of it, the voluptuous animalistic tactility, in the hand, on the back of the neck, under the legs…………

Ahem. Mystery and imagination, in deed, and in thought! Sometimes it’s sexy, too often it’s overblown and tawdry—what’s the expression? “Mutton dressed as lamb”?

Down to earth now. It’s also A BITCH to sew, by hand or by machine, so i’ve stayed far away from it, though once in awhile i pull out a chunk of rayon velvet i dyed some 25 years ago, when all i knew about was Rit. Odd bits of it have shown up in wearable art i made in the 90’s, some Hoodoo work when we first moved to Calgary and i was so enamoured of the spectacular rock formations in and near Drumheller, a few Christmas bits, but nothing really serious.

BUT, these from the last 4 days:

HOW could i not try again?

EDIT: Nov 21, i forgot to mention this is primarily using Quebracho Rojo extract (with the exception of the 2 greys/greygreens which are on osage), and are mordanted and modified with a few different processes. So all these colours from 2 dyes, and 5 mordants/modifiers!!!!!!!!

Now to dig through old sketchbooks.


feeling in the pink….and purple

Now that i have a good stock of green threads from the osage and indigo work, it’s time to add some pinks and purples! Not talking about wishy washy, not talking about raspberries, beets, beans or any other silliness i see on too many blogs who haven’t the sense of a sack of potatoes 🙂

I did get a wonderful hot pink from madder by accidentally boiling over a pot of madder (considered a VERY VERY BAD BAD as madder shouldn’t go above a certain temp or you just get browns), some useful colour variations from cochineal in the pink to purple range, and a very deep purple with logwood. Cochineal however kind of puts me off now because i worry about Ph shifts–and some Ph shifts WASH OUT with an ordinary tap water rinse!!!!!!!!!!!– and i fret too about the lightfastness of logwood, because unless it’s got a lot of iron in the mix (which can damage fibres…), i’ve seen a noticeable change in the depth of colour within months of dyeing. (I do wonder too about the current craze for it in ecoprinting: are these people going to have a shock somewhere in the next few months/year with dramatic colour shifting or fade??) So………………. my next experiments/tests/results are from a type of tannin in the “catechic” range, more red-browns that the clear “gallic” or yellow “elegic” types. Tannins are an important part of premordanting fibres, especially cellulose which doesn’t work well with just alum, but very well with a tannin first, then the alum. Some tannins are also used as dyes by themselves, notably in the elegic and catechic types.

This tannin/dye IS more expensive, but i now am comfortable spending the money to get the best results. There’s no point in cheaping out with some things: it’s a waste of time, effort and resources, from water to electricity to containers and materials used, something i am very conscious off, having been raised quite frugally and with much common sense 🙂

When i threw the Quebracho Rojo in the pot, i first screamed (silently, as Greyman was napping). The colour was PHENOMENAL. However, that silent scream was from my excitable take it at face value 9 year old child self: my rational XX+ self reminded me that what you see in a dye pot is NOT necessarily what you get from a dye pot, as  i swear they deliberately skull xxxk with you. Ahem.

Looks fab, ay?

Wet, ooo ooo oooo:

Above, rinsed, barely any wash out!

Dry, bearing in mind that colours can dry 20-70% lighter with ANY colourant, natural OR synthetic:

See what i mean by dye pot deception? Respectable colour, but not terribly excitingly scream worthy. Now mind you, the cottons that are paler pink were unmordanted, the darker cotton premordanted with tannin and alum. The silk habotai and silk velvet were also unmordanted, but because QR is a tannin as i mentioned, i figured “let’s try it as a tannin first”. Interesting too that most sources says it’s best on cellulose, “but performs well on silk and wool”, since obviously both silks did better……………………

The next phase of natural dye colour work is post mordant/post modify (though you can do these first, i don’t because i don’t want that active stew in the mix all in one pot.) Now this a is a nice range of colours!!!

Guess what though? I forgot to put any threads in, so now i have to go wind some skeins, scour ’em, then premordant some…………..


PS you can still click on the photos for enlargement, but you can no longer comment on them–i had to shut that off due to the number of STOOPID ASSHAT SPAMMERS.