Category Archives: Home Cookin’ the Cloth

euc in the house

I missed a week at ACAD–summer holidays with the Greyman, and some serious Garden Hard time, both necessary things, and also time to think on things. If the school studio is too cool now for my favourite processes, what else can i do?

My favourite eucalyptus in “in season” again–that means it’s an import, as it just doesn’t grow in Alberta! One of the perks of working in the fffFlower Mines means access to things that just aren’t available in my garden or neighbourhood. There *are* certain “go-to’s” i can pick fresh, but the majority of plant materials that give satisfying results are neither “native” nor zone 3 hardy.

Yesterday i stitched in the home studio while these were percolating.

Two euc “trees” 🙂


LOVE this silk:


It was a good day.





revving and refreshing skills

Honestly, i haven’t done any ecoprinting in probably over a year, so thought i’d best get back at it. I need to refresh my skills for the upcoming res and for some slated workshops in the fall.

Below, cranesbill on privet dyed silk with annatto overlay:

Very soft but quite clear detailing, but you’d have to be very close to appreciate the nuances.

Dock dyed silk, with Grevillea ecoprint, softly coloured, but not wishy-washy at all. And look at the detail from the Grevillea buds!

One thing immediately apparent with this method, is that the base colour has to be STRONG, as some of it disappears in the cooking method. (Steaming has NEVER worked for me.) Next up, some premordanted fabrics to be dyed. In cotton, because that’s what i work with, and prefer, i’m hoping the recent gallnut excursions help with colour development. I never had problems before getting richly detailed, deeply coloured prints from leaves and flowers on cotton/cellulose fibres, but now i want true depth, more colour laying and dye fastness also.



Still just peering over the edge of the rabbit hole, but on the way up now. It was a long fall.

paintPaint on paper above, painted cotton below.



machine-on-paint-1FM on painted cotton above, hand embroidery below.



As i’m writing, i realize this exercise made me think of this:

beading-hoodoo-sky-2009(Hoodoo Sky, 2009, in progress)

Tests for possible work, i still have 2 other techniques to try with the remaining painted fabric.



There’s nothing more satisfying than bringing a cloth to life. I could easily stretch and frame these beginnings on their own, but that needle and thread thing is so addicting, and really, the translation from flat image to textured story is what turns my crank.

“A Birth of Silence”, 2015, base cloth to finished translation

While i “designed” the base cloth for the one above, because it is an abstract, i had no idea when i made it what i would do with it, story wise. Sometimes narratives just happen. Stockpiling cloth like this is like prepping a bunch of canvases, or journal pages, no dreading that blank space!

Admittedly, the deliberate shape and design of a face means the face is the story, but things still can become what they are as they want.

ot translation

“Original Truths”, 2016, from deliberately designed base cloth to completion.

The story will continue.


second batch ice dyeing

While it may look i am on a binge right now, that’s not the case 🙂 I have one more batch soaking in soda ash, and when that is done, there will be a hiatus as i still have lots of stitching to do with Leighton exhibit work! I do however need to rebuild the stash after clearing out a lot of old fabrics that simply are not “me” anymore. (And besides, it takes time to make more ice cubes!)

These are the second batch done yesterday:

ice 1 2


The mandala effect on the one below SUX, for whatever reason…..

ice2 2


I must have discharged or not washed out enough of a resist on this one at some point, because look at those spirals!

ice 3 2


Screen printed scrap:

ice 4 2


Another piece with discharged or resisted spirals:

ice 5 2

Strange how on the one below, that the satin face didn’t take as much dye as the back side of the fabric, a very solid matte:

ice satin face

Not as successful as day one, but there are areas that are definitely very pleasing, and will certainly get pressed into use. The fabrics i used were different from yesterday, one being softer and almost having a nap, the other (previously screen printed) very crisp, and possibly some polyester content? I “batched” as usual, so method is not the problem.

This time i used warm black, violet and red, and i know with this one that because i used “base” colours, there wasn’t as much colour variance, but i also expected the red and the violet to be more saturated. My first batch was using a new warm black, a very old golden-yellow and a very old scarlet, which all struck beautifully. You’d have thunk i’d used many many dye powder rainbows! All grist for the mill, nonetheless, and obviously i’ll be using more of the “mixed” colours. I suspect my “pure” (base) turquoise is not going to be very striking either 🙂

My old Procions are from a garage sale score about 15 years ago, and i don’t know how old they were then! They survived floating around the basement during the 2013 flood, with half dissolved labels and rusted on lids as the only “damage”. I gotta say those lids are TIGHT because the powder was/is dry as a fossil. I don’t know about the shelf life of these powders, and am assuming some potency would be lost, but will see what happens when i use the new i have.

And now, i’m gathering again in the thrift shops, as i need to replenish my stock of dyeables—i have lots of ideas for the upcoming ACAD/Contextural Residency 2016, involving my usual rust processes with natural dyes.


Ice, ice, Baby

Part of my “training for creative strength” over the past three months, is to try things i haven’t done, or at least haven’t done successfully :). I signed up for Susan Purney Mark‘s ice dyeing class, thinking i’d like to add some more colour fabrics to the arsenal.

Good thing it is ice dyeing, because Calgary this winter has had a great dearth of snow. It’s been the brownest one i’ve ever seen. And OH MY, what a difference having proper instruction makes!

ice 1

ice 2

ice 3

I know now that my previous results were extremely wasteful of dye powder—another reason i gave up at that time. Though i know it’s not the last available, any i have is hoarded until i periodically slap myself and wonder what the use is of just storing them 🙂


I also am tired of trying to re-ecoprint failures, as they have never worked for me. Once done, they seem to be done, and most of the time if they DO ecoprint again, i end up with a muddy dark ugly mess of a cloth…….This means i have more than a few boxes of fabric that is uninspiring, horrific, embarrassing and with a face like a can of smashed ass****s. Cloth of course should NOT be thrown out regardless, and can always be overdyed. Naturals weren’t cutting it either, so for this next little while, i’ll be winnowing out the deformed and grotesque, and whacking some ice and Procion over it. There’s no rule book that says you can’t combine natural and chemical. And i LOVED the golden yellow and violet Procions bits added to the indigo overdyed grevillea ecoprint in previous posts :).

This is the last week of Jane‘s class as well. I admit to falling behind and must spend the coming weekend catching up—no point in not pushing myself to the limit, and hopefully beyond. I’ve learned more than a few things about myself, the way i work, and why i work the way i do, valuable.


colour prompts

We can all agree that usually FB is a colossal waste of time, gets our blood boiling with some postings, or makes us want to puke with the schmaltzy canigetanamendreaminspirethislittlegirlwillamazeyouhavethepowerchangetheuniverseyouarethequeenoftheuniverse memes, but i do find it handy as a prompt also! I think of the old history programs, when FB kindly reminds me that “on this day, you posted this” and shows you what happened each year on that date–assuming anything did happen 😉

On Feb 8 of 2009 i posted this:

metal and lace 2009

WOWZERS, look at that colour saturation and look at that texture! Now WHY am i not still doing this? I have the tulle, i have the metal (remember those stacks of things in the stoodio that rarely get used???)–what am i saving them for? (I’m NOT getting rid of stuff like this i admit, in the interests of honesty and Purge.) And you know what else? I COULD, CAN, WILL do this with the naturals and neutrals too.

The recent lessons with Jane Dunnewold’s Creative Strength Training class are paying dividends: colour, new designs, deep thinking, writing exercises, i’m getting it all.

A playful piece, the colour of this is rich and saturated. There are ideas here that will go into more “serious” work. I still can’t merge fun and “serious work” from those labels, these colours and techniques……Working on it! I DO believe you can do serious concepty work and still have fun—pleasure is subjective (metaphorically maybe!)

prima vera figuresAnd there is still scissor work slated for this one.



*my* purge pack :)

Well, hell, i can’t get rid of ALL of it 🙂 Most of it i DO want gone, but there were some treasures i had totally forgotten about. Some will become cushion covers, pillow cases, and summer wear, and some will get into the art business.

my purge pack

Shades of Porcella! Yvonne was famous for adding black and white geometrics to her work, but i think i like it better below.

my purge pack b

Maybe bits of these too:

pop colours

A friend recently posted a photo on FB of her gorgeous Tibetan Folkwear vest, and that has inspired me also to make another one for myself. Seeing the photos again of my old blue one that was lost in the flood,  it looked rather ungainly: lumpy and mishapen (but then so am i now…), so i’ll pay more attention to marrying weights of fabric. I was an excited neophyte then, and the thrill of it was in making it fast (despite all the handwork) with whatever i had. That poor thing incorporated everything from cotton velveteen, to rayon muumuu material, sleazy lining fabric and thin cheap cotton, but i loved it to death, layering it over a big fat sweater and many scarves because i couldn’t afford a real winter coat. I actually found a piece of the blue flowered cloth from the first one, so i’ll have to incorporate it! I doubt however that a new one will be finished as fast as the first one!

old blue

I also found the red velvet appliqued coat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll re-photograph it, but i think it may end up being cannabalized, quite honestly. It doesn’t fit me, and i doubt anyone else would want it.

Cleaning out these bins has been a rejuvenation of sorts for colour. Mixing and matching for Purge Packs was fun (lots more to come!), and i pulled a few pieces to use in current ***JamDay efforts.

loud printsI have NO idea why i bought the flower fairy fabric, but the gerbs are useful for adding to, or as applique. The top fabric will become summer pants–if i can fit into the expanse available when the time comes….

*** JamDay: “Jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today”–a lament from Alice in Wonderland. HAVE a Jamday then!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Home Cookin' the Cloth