Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse on the Lake and into my quilt

The weather people said it was going to be cloudy and very poor viewing, but yea they were wrong! My daughter and I packed up a picnic, including "eclipse" cake I made. Vanilla cake for the sun, fresh blackberries for the moon and swirls of lemon glaze for the few little clouds we had.

With our eclipse glasses off we went to the lake. Watch a minute...

then into the lake to play football.

Ok, this is my pathetic try at taking a picture while wearing the glasses, it didn't work.

My resist dyed indigo wool from a couple of weeks ago,

becoming the base of my eclipse block, which will eventually be sewed into my Sun and Moon quilt. The "moon" hasn't been cut out yet just folded under and will be embroidered with lots of moon "texture" using rayon floss I bought in Mexico years ago. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Natural dyeing cotton fabric

I challenged myself to natural dye with cotton this past weekend. I'm trying to learn the secret. Wool grabs and holds the dyes so beautifully and cotton is a challenge. I started a week ahead mordanting the fabrics. First a drive along country roads to pick sumac leaves to began the first mordant. I simmered the leaves in water, then soaked the fabric in the solution for a few days. Next step, mordant with aluminum acetate, simmered altogether in water for 24 hours. Take out, add a little more alum and simmer again.. The final mordant step is to add the fabric to wheat bran water. I left it in that solution for a few days until I dyed the fabrics.  

Some friends came over Saturday and the fun began. We all had hand-carved wooden stamps and hand-made copper stamps, also a few modern stamps to share.
Working with different natural resists we played with printing the fabrics.

My grandson began stamping with natural henna mixed up with soy powder, lemon juice and water. A bit of practice and I began.

I dyed this piece with cochineal then stamped the design on.

I love the old look with henna designs.

The fabric first dyed with Osage orange bark, then stamped the design in with wooden stamps.

The cotton really grabbed the Osage orange dye.

Cochineal dyed fabric, stamped and over dyed with indigo.

Osage orange dyed, stamped with wooden stamp, and over dyed with indigo.

Thank you for my stamp, Deb C.!

This piece was stamped with a clear resist on white cotton, then over dyed in indigo.

Clear resist in indigo.

My collection of cottons after washed and dried.

A lot of indigo was used last weekend! Yards and yards of cotton by Windi and Becky.

Some with shibori.

Indigo everywhere!!!

Even the skies were indigo.

Ok, we did play with a little wool. Kay tightly twisted  21/2 yards of wool, and soaked it in the indigo pot. It came out beautiful. She's going to layer it and have it machine quilted.

She also played with different plastic resists.

I made this wool Sun piece. Beginning of an eclipse block?!?

Windi over dyed some of her indigo with cochineal.

Becky began dyeing wool blocks for a someday quilt. She dyed many more during the weekend.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Fun

The plants are calling me, it's dyeing time.
I laid out a length of raw silk, wool and a piece of cotton, picked leaves off my purple basil plant, laid them on the fabrics, rolled them up tightly, and steamed them for a couple hours.

I also did them same with red blanket flowers in cotton.

Rolled up in my steamer.

Lid on very tightly, steamed on my antique stove. Left them overnight before opening the pot.

The next day, this is the purple basil dyed fabrics. From left to right wool, silk and cotton.
They say purple basil is a wonderful plant to dye with, it will stick to the inside of the pot, the stir stick but not to the fabric. I solved that by rolling it up into the fabric.
These fabrics have been washed.

The cotton fabric from the blanket flowers.
I love dyeing wool fabric but I'm challenging myself to also use cotton fabric this year. It's a bit more difficult to grab the dye.

Quilt bee last night, a picnic on a deck overlooking Lake Michigan.
Joni with her fun patriotic table runner.

Cathy O. with her beautiful finished quilt.

My Herb Society meeting Tuesday night was held at this restored Dr.'s office from the early 1900's.

A new medicinal herb garden has been planted.

And my favorite part Dr. Hobson's vegetable prescription for "Diseases and Weaknesses of women". For Irregular and Painful Menstruation, Excessive and Scanty Menstrual Flow. Etc.
Price $1.00
And when the Dr. died in his wife (who was not a Dr.) took over his practice!

Off we went to another herb garden and picnic, this was their fence out back, with wine corks along the top!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

St. John's wort

St. John's Wort is in full bloom and ready for making oils/salves and dyeing fabrics.
It takes a lot of blossoms and buds to make a dye bath and to make a healing oil/salve. I find mine along the country roads and fields. I never pull them up from the root, instead I cut the tops leaving some behind for the bees and reseeding.
St. John's Wort is sold the world over as a supplement for anxiety and depression issues, and many, many people use it.
St. John's Wort oil/salve is wonderful for healing skin, such as sun burn, bug bites, skin rashes and irritations.

Up close you can see the dye/essential oil in the tiny black dots along the edge of the flower petals.
There are two types of St. John's Wort, if yours doesn't have the black dots it's the wrong kind for these projects.

After pulling off all the petals and buds I put them in a jar filled with grape seed oil. Olive oil is wonderful to use but I don't care for the smell and grape seed oil is lighter.

I put it in a crock pot on low for at least 24 hours. In the bottom of the crock pot is a folded dish cloth the jar is setting on and water up to the top of the crock pot, like a double boiler.
After simmering, strain out the plant matter, I use double cheese cloth, sometime twice. If you want it thicken (like a salve) add a little melted bees wax after straining. Pour in a glass jar and use when needed. I keep mine until next year when I make a new batch.

Another pot full of blossoms and buds for my wool fabric.
I simmered the flowers in water for about an hour or so.

First I add a piece of alum mordanted wool and simmer it until it turns green. Next, I add a piece of unmordanted wool, simmer a long time until it turns a rosy tan brown. Add another piece in and it picks up the last of the dye in gold tones.
What a great plant, very medicinal and dye plant. It does it all!

When I was out picking the flowers, the sun was shinning through these horse tail plants making them glow lime green.

I did do a little bit of weaving on the Fourth of July, weaving several rows of bittersweet and a couple rows of indigo blue. My arms were so tired after "coaxing" the bittersweet through!  

I wanted to share with you these glass bottles,
my friend who taught herself how to make glass beads with a torch has now taught herself to make delicate glass bottles to hang on a necklace.
Beautiful, Windi.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My first natural dyed wool quilt.

The wool fabric I used in this quilt was natural dyed from1994-1997, when my girlfriend Deb Hardman and I first began learning/experimenting with natural dyes. In 1999 as my husband and I traveled the United States in our RV, I designed and hand appliqued different blocks from our wilderness adventures. When we came home I pieced the tree and star blocks and hand quilted it all. The boarders represent the four seasons of plants and critters living in our yard. The dyes have mellowed some in the last 20 years but it has been in continuous use in our cold months and I have machined washed it. I have been careful not leaving it in the sun. This quilt has so many wonderful memories sewed into it from gathering the plants, dyeing with them, our travels, family, friends and home. It's a treasure to me.

A section of the winter boarder,

with snowflakes and holly.

Spring with robins and a nest.

Part of the Autumn boarder.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo