Monday Meanderings

Monday Meanderings

Our sofa beds come today!  That means everything will be in the house to finish the studio.  It’s been a long haul!  I will be so happy to have everything done.   Next up will be the dye kitchen.  Hubby and I are already talking.

This past weekend has been very productive for me.  I was able to select photos from our 2017 trip to South Korea and put them in an inspiration folder on my computer.  This past weekend I’ve been sketching possible compositions.

Sketches of South Korea

I will be taking another Karen Miller class tomorrow on materials and techniques. I’ve also signed up to listen to a talk on In My Studio by Judi Miller on artist residences on Oct. 7th.  Plus I will be taking part in the Workshop Week through In My Studio the end of October.  A busy fall of learning!   So nice to be able to do this online.

I have also been hooking more on the South Korea roof tile end caps wall hanging.  I am going slow, having stopped several times for dyeing and travels this summer.  I am hoping to be finished by Christmas.

I managed to tear my Dorr wool into one yard pieces and wash and dry them in preparation for dyeing.  My front loader really shrank the fabric, but it is still great for dyeing and rug hooking.  It is all stacked neatly, awaiting dyeing.

I listed the fall colours swatches for sale.  There are 15 of them at $3 each + shipping.  They are 3” x 16” and Dorr wool.  If you’re interested, contact me either here, through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

I also listed the small landscape I hooked using the swatches for sale  It is 8” x 5” and unfinished.  I’m asking $60CAD “as is”, or $80 CAD if you want me to finish it and include the hidden hanging system.  Again, you can either contact me through this website, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

This week I’ll be working more on the South Korea wall hangings.  I also want to get the issues surrounding my rug photos and branding sorted out. I am likely going to order more fabric dye powder.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week everyone!

 

 

 

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Good morning everyone!  It’s been a busy week.  Monday I heard from my branding expert. She sent an email instructing me what to do with her files.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to even look at her email till Thursday.

Tuesday it rained and blew and thundered. I spent the morning taking Karen D. Miller’s online design course.  It was excellent!  It motivated me to sort through my over 1000 photos of South Korea and pull out about fifty or so to work on for wall hangings.  Some of those are of the same subject, so in reality I’ve only got about 20 different works of art there…enough to develop a theme.  Thank-you Karen!  I’m looking forward to the “Materials and Techniques” course next week.

Hubby and I also spent some time Tuesday downstairs hanging more wall hangings on the second wall of the studio.  We made the call to put our not yet purchased TV in the guest bedroom, rather than on my studio wall.  We can watch it from the sofa bed we’re going to have in that room.

Wednesday Hurricane Teddy was supposed to blow through town, but it didn’t blow very much.  So instead I phoned a friend and invited her over for dyeing fibre using Lucy Richard’s Woolly Mason Jar System.  We did some spot dyeing and some pot dyeing.  We dyed wool fabric while my friend was here.

Dorr wool dyed with the Woolly Mason Jar Dye System.

Drying fibre after dyeing.

After she left I continued dyeing fabric and yarn for my South Korean wall hanging.  I also used up the rest of the fall colours dye solutions I’d mixed up a week or so ago.  I was rewarded with this beautiful spot dyed piece of wool.

Front of piece.

Back of piece.

Wednesday morning I also received the link to the photos the photographer took of my wall hangings.  I have some editing to do.

I also received my shipment from Dorr Woolen Mill Wednesday.  I have natural wool for the next 3-5 years! I don’t go through it fast, but when I need it, I really need it.  I also purchased some different types of backing to try: bleached linen, monk’s cloth, and rug warp.

Bleached linen, rug warp, and monk’s cloth.

I’ve tried a Walmart version of monk’s cloth before and it was not pleasant to work with. This time I want to try the real stuff for rug hooking.

Likewise I’ve tried rug warp before and found it difficult for my wrist and hand. But I wanted samples for my courses.  Now I’ll have them.

The bleached linen is a novelty for me.  I normally use unbleached primitive linen. But I’m thinking I might  be trying some pieces with exposed backings.  We’ll see. If not, I’ll use it for regular hooking.

Thursday my short shank medium Moshimer hooks arrived.  If anyone wants one I’ll sell one for $20 CAD plus shipping.

I continue to hook on my South Korean roof tile end caps rug, ever so slowly.  I’m going to have to pick up speed.  I’d like to be finished it and onto other wall hangings.

If you have been, thank-you for reading everyone.  I hope each of us has a wonderful weekend.  Take care!

 

Make Moves Monday

Make Moves Monday

This past weekend we were busy cleaning out the house and preparing the yard for an upcoming tropical cyclone heading our way. Typical fall weather for here, but Hubby and I have never experienced one. We are a bit nervous, but we’re inland a bit so hopefully it won’t be bad.

One of the things we did was hang some artwork up on my studio walls. Check out the photos of them so far. We still have more to hang above the straight row on the end wall.

I’m really enjoying working in my studio and looking forward to the arrival of the sofa bed sometime in early October. That should give me seating for 4 or 5 people, should Covid ever end. Plus it will allow extra sleeping space for guests.

I’ve hit a roadblock on the South Korea roof tile end caps rug. I need to dye some wool from Lucy Richard’s dye system. I’m trying to arrange a time to get together with a friend to do some dyeing. First, I need to check and see how many other colours I’m short on. No point pulling out the dye equipment just for one piece of wool if I need to do more!

I’ve been working with a young woman on branding for my studio. It’s been an interesting and educational experience. I’m looking forward to using my new logo!

I’m slowly building up my gallery on ArtPal.com. I’ll be posting a wall hanging for sale once a day for five days of the week. It will automatically post to Twitter, Instagram, and my FaceBook business page – Jean Ottosen Studios. Follow along, and if you see anything you like, contact me through any of those platforms or through my contact button here on this website.

I had the opportunity of taking Karen Miller’s online course, “Getting Inspired” last Tuesday. It was a great shake me up course. I knew most of the concepts, but had never put them together the way Karen did. She gave me a fresh perspective. It worked great for giving me ideas on how to approach a new series or work of art. Thank-you Karen!

This week I’ll be enjoying another Karen Miller course – All About Design! Check it out by searching for Karen D. Miller on FaceBook. It’s hosted on the Zoom platform. Looking forward to class Karen!

As always, thanks for reading and have a great week!

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

There’s been a lot happening this week. I put my website shop on vacation for an extended period of time, maybe for good. I’m debating rebuilding my entire website from scratch. I am frustrated with my inability to navigate WordPress and WooCommerce. I hope to consult with someone in October about the situation.

Highlights of this week were: finding a new platform for selling my wall hangings, selling several wall hangings, and seeing the new logo my branding expert developed.

The new platform is ArtPal. It is free to use, with no commission, but people pay you through PayPal. PayPal still takes their cut – about 3%. Still, it’s good for advertising what you have for sale across various platforms. I can set it to share my listing on FaceBook, InstaGram, and Twitter.

I am delighted I can say that three Prairie Sky pieces, Moss (a.k.a. Northern Exposure), and Sprouts have found new homes. I hope the new owners enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.

As you know,if you’ve been following my blog, I’ve hired a branding expert to work with me in developing a new look for my business. One of the items she’s working on is a new logo. I’m not ready to divulge my new logo yet, but it’s coming! It’s simple and classy, but not too pretentious. I’m really excited about the change and hope to use it for many years!

Well that’s my update for this week folks. I wish you all a great weekend. Stay safe everyone!

What’s up?

What’s up?

This week will be a bit of redirection in my studio. I have an appointment today to see about having a small wall hanging framed.  I’m not sure how it will go. It’s a new custom framer. I’m hoping it’s not too expensive. I have other work that needs framing.

Tuesday I’m busy taking Karen Miller’s creativity class “Getting Inspired: How to Find Ideas for your Art”. I’m looking forward to it.  If other rug hookers are interested there may be more spaces.  Search for Karen D. Miller rug hooker and contact her.

Tuesday I’m also fielding a call from a client wishing to order some art.  Wednesday I’ll be preparing the order and attending my cardiac gym program.  Thursday I’ll be shipping the order out.

Meanwhile I am continuing my studio makeover.  We are hanging artwork on the walls.  I’m having to make tough decisions on what to hang and what to store away.  It does, however, look a lot more homey down there.

Throughout all this, and in-between it, I will be hooking on my South Korean roof tile end caps rug again.  Hubby and I have decided it will hang above the electric fireplace.   But we shall see.  The colours are not what I had planned for that space.  Still, it’s the right size, we think.  We’ll see.

Have a great week everyone!

 

Casserole Dyeing Fall Leaves

Casserole Dyeing Fall Leaves

I’ve seen two or three videos or blog posts on dyeing fall leaves this past week. It seems every dyer has their own twist. Today I thought I’d tell you one of my ways to dye fall leaves. This way is not fast, but it gives fall colours.  Plus you can dye larger pieces of fabric with it.  Are you ready? Here goes.

First, a safety note: all dye equipment is to be used for dyeing only. Keep separate equipment for dyes and food and store it in a different room. No eating or drinking while in the dye area! It’s too easy to cross contaminate food, drink, and dyes.

For this particular dye job I’ll be using ProChem Washfast Acid Dyes – Sun Yellow (119), Magenta (338), Brilliant Blue (490), and Black (672). I’ll also, roughly, be following Ingrid Hieronimus’ “Primary Fusion” formulas. Very roughly. I never could follow a recipe exactly! I’ll also be using a method called casserole dyeing, or spot dyeing in an old metal casserole pan.

First, soak 1/4 yard of wool, selvedge still on, in a bucket of tepid water with Synthrapol or DAWN Original (blue) dish detergent for 2-6 hours. This is one of the actions that will prevent white core. I forgot to add the DAWN or Synthrapol. I soaked my wool overnight. Hopefully the long soaking will make up for the lack of a wetting agent.

Soaking wool

A brief aside here. White core is when the dye does not penetrate the fabric the entire way. A lot of rug hookers do not like the look of it and equate it with an inferior dye job. It means the dye has not adhered to the fabric properly and may rub off or not be lightfast.

My experience has been that white core dye jobs are not as long lasting as other dye jobs.  I’m not willing to put white core pieces in a floor rug. I plan to thoroughly soak and overdye white core pieces so the dye does go completely through the fabric.

I also find white core a worse problem on recycled white or light coloured wool. Remember to thoroughly scour or clean all recycled fabrics before dyeing! Soaking in Synthrapol or DAWN Original opens up the fibres to accept the dye. You can also use Jet Dry. You don’t need much folks. Maybe 1/2 teaspoon in a 1 gallon ice cream bucket with your 1/4 yard wool.

A word about soaking wool. Never shock it. If the wool is at room temperature, use room temperature water. Shocking it will felt it. We want it fulled, not stiff like a boiled wool coat. Think of trying to hook with wool from those thick felted wool coats!

Secondly, prepare your dye space. Whether it’s a dedicated dye space with its own stove (my first choice), or your kitchen (my last choice), prepare the space in case you have a spill.

I have a second larger old metal casserole pan I put all my dyes and dyeing equipment in. You can use a cookie sheet with sides lined with paper towel or newspaper…anything to soak up dye spills. I also place my casserole pan on newsprint, a large paper bag, or paper towel. I prefer to reuse the newspaper. What I’m after is some way to protect my countertop.

Get all equipment out and handy. I use a measuring cup, measuring spoons (in my case, special dye spoons AND regular measuring spoons), and 60 ml. syringes for this dye job. I also have a set of tongs specifically for dyeing. The tips of mine point down, not straight out. You can use chopsticks and a dedicated large dye spoon to manipulate the wool should you not have the tongs.  

Third, prepare yourself! That means: bib apron, eye protection, face mask, and gloves (preferably latex or thin gloves that you unscrew and screw on dye powder jar lids). Wear closed toe shoes!

Now you’re ready to dye your fabric.

Line a 9×13” metal casserole pan with tin foil, shiny side up.

Arrange damp fabric in hills and valleys, all scrunched up, in the tin foil lined metal casserole pan.

Wearing protective equipment, place the dry dye powders in the bottom of a dry measuring cup dedicated to dyeing only. Add a bit of boiling water. Stir with chopstick until completely dissolved. Add water to make 1 cup.

Pour or syringe the tops of one half of the “hills” evenly in your first colour. I recommend going from light to dark. So apply the Sun Yellow first. Then the oranges and reds. Followed by a green, and a reddy brown. Bear in mind that colours do not always work out as you wished and you have to adjust as you go. Go ahead and adjust.

You don’t have to use all the dye solution if you don’t want to. You can store it in labeled glass jars for later use.

Add water to the side of the pan to 1/2”, if there isn’t already a 1/2” of liquid there. Cover with a tin foil lid. Pop into a 350 degrees F oven for half an hour.

Mix 1 teaspoon citric acid OR 3.5 tablespoons white vinegar (5% acetic acid) and hot water to make 1 cup. Stir to dissolve. Pour evenly over wool. Replace tin foil cover and bake another hour at 350 degrees F.

Pull out of oven, remove tin foil cover, check to see if all the dye has soaked into the wool. The water in the pan should be clear. If not, let the wool cool in pan until it has. This may take overnight.

When the fibre has taken up all the dye, rinse in water the same temperature as the wool. Squeeze gently to remove excess water and hang to dry. If desired, press it before cutting and using.

That’s it! Casserole dyeing fall leaves. Enjoy!

The results.
Natural Dyeing Workshop

Natural Dyeing Workshop

Hi everyone. I thought now would be a good time to review the results of the dye workshop with my niece last weekend. The workshop actually lasted from Thursday evening to Monday.

Her request was to learn to dye patterns with vegetable dyes. She wanted bright colors on cotton and silk. I’m afraid I disappointed. But that was largely because she wanted to use beets and blueberries, thinking they’d be good dyes. They aren’t. They’re fugitive dyes. We did have onion skin and carrot tops otherwise, and Staghorn Sumac leaves.

We found the carrot top dye to be one that develops color later. Things dyed with it were noticeably greener after being left in the dye bath 24 hours, and then left to dry out of the dye bath a further 24 hours. Nothing about natural dyeing is fast.

The onion skin dye did not dye as dark as we had hoped.

The wild card for us was Staghorn Sumac. I had heard it makes a great mordant for cotton, so I asked my sister and niece to collect some of it. They did, in spades! I made a mordant bath and put a lot of cotton in it. It turned a lovely shade of yellow that deepened with a subsequent alum and cream of tartar mordant bath. When left overnight we achieved a nice mottled effect, and when rinsed, the color paled a bit. But it was still significantly brighter than we had anticipated.

We could not get the blueberry or beet dye solutions to stick to the sumac treated cotton, however the sumac yellow was beautiful on its own!

I pre-mordanted most of the cloth before I left for PEI to teach my niece dyeing, thinking it would give brighter colors. There were a variety of pre-mordants:

  • Dyer’s alum (potassium aluminum sulphate),
  • Alum (aluminum sulphate),
  • Tea (decaf Earl Grey)/Dyer’s alum/washing soda,
  • Dyer’s alum/washing soda,
  • Dyer’s alum/cream of tartar,
  • Sumac leaves,
  • Sumac leaves/Dyer’s alum/cream of tartar,
  • No mordant,
  • Rust/vinegar, and
  • Rust/tea (Orange Pekoe).

For dye solutions we made up:

  • beet = 3 long cylindrical beets, peeled, in 2 quarts water. Brought to boil, then simmered for 2 hours.
  • blueberry = 3 c. thawed frozen blueberries and 6 c. of water simmered 1-2 hours.
  • onion skin = 75% yellow onion skins + 25% red onion skins = 45 grams total onion skins. Simmered 1 hour.
  • carrot tops =478 grams carrot tops + 2 gallons of water. Used a 1:5 ratio of tops to fabric. Brought to a simmer over medium low. Turn to below a simmer and steam for 1-2 hours.
  • sumac = 338 grams sumac leaves to 2 gallons water. Used 500 grams of cotton fibre. Bring to simmer and steam fabric overnight (12-24 hours).
  • sumac, alum, and cream of tartar = half of the sumac mixture above with 4 tsp. Dyer’s alum + 1 1/2 tsp. washing soda for every 100 grams of fibre. Add fibre and heat to simmer. Turn off heat and let sit 24 hours.

We used cotton and silk fabric. In my samples I included wool and pantyhose that had been stripped of dye previous to dyeing.

Results? Not the best. We achieved great color with the beet (pink) and blueberry (purple), as my unwashed samples attest. However, I am waiting a week before I try and set them. We heat set the beet with an iron, after finding that the salt or vinegar assists on silk simply washed out the color. We hope the heat setting made a difference.

The blueberry will need to be set with salt on the cotton and vinegar on the silk. My niece has a nicely dyed silk scarf with blueberry tie dye. I’m afraid it will be toast as soon as we introduce vinegar to it. We’ll see. I’ll experiment with my samples again.

Onion skin was great on my samples, but not on the actual tie dyed cloth. I suspect it’s because the samples were left in the dye bath overnight. I achieved great color on wool and silk. Even the pantyhose showed a great yellow. When we used it with my niece it was on an unscoured, unmordanted piece of cotton. I did not expect much and was rewarded by disappointment on my niece’s part. We tried to use it to spot dye some other fabric, but it just didn’t take in the short time we had…even though we did let some of the tie dyed items sit overnight. Other colors were stronger.

Such as sumac. The Staghorn sumac leaves were the surprise of the event. They gave a firm and fast clear pale yellow on their own. They did not dye the pantyhose and there is no discernible difference on the tea mordanted cotton.

What surprised us was when the Dyer’s alum and cream of tartar were added. The dye bath turned a bright yellow! We had a lot of cotton in the dye bath, so I’m surprised everything stayed as yellow as it did. My niece had a t-shirt she wanted dyed and it was a nice mottled yellow after sitting in the dye bath for 24 hours. There was a lot of sediment in this dye bath. It paled a bit in color, but held its yellow even after being washed with regular detergent in the washing machine.

Then there were the carrot tops. We discovered you really need to wait 24 hours for the fabric to fully dry before the color develops. Mostly, though, it has settled out to a nice pale yellow, except on silk pre-mordanted with alum. There it produced a bright, clear, almost neon yellow. On the silk scarf my niece spot dyed the carrot tops produced a nice green hint throughout after being left to sit overnight.

Here are the “finished” products…not hopeful they will stay as they are!

A useful experiment though, and one that taught my niece and I a lot about natural dyeing with vegetables. Next time I go back to my serious natural dyeing with madder, cochineal, etc. That’s if my niece wants more dyeing experience. She is already proficient in using Dylon dyes for tie dyeing, and may just want to stick to that in the future. We did talk about trying different dyestuff, and not just giving up based on blueberry and beet. There’s a whole plant kingdom out there to explore!

Natural Dyeing Resources

Natural Dyeing Resources

Hello everyone! This weekly review is on the various books and websites used this past weekend at my niece’s. She wanted to learn patterned natural dyeing, not dyeing all one colour. She also is interested in growing a dye garden.

I taught her some of the natural dyeing I knew, and we spent one afternoon with Linda Wallbank, a spinner and weaver, who just happens to also knit and dye. She grows her dye plants in amongst her vegetables. So we checked out her garden too, and her animals – alpacas, llamas, and horses.

At any rate, aside from Linda’s and my expertise, I also used a bevy of dyeing books and websites to help us on our natural dyeing journey. Here are some of the websites I found useful:

I also took the opportunity to make use of my natural dyeing library with this workshop. I found the following books useful.

  • “Wild Color” by Jenny Dean
  • ”The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing” by Eva Lambert and Tracy Kendall
  • ”The Craft of the Dyer” by Karen Leigh Casselman
  • ”The Dyer’s Garden” by Rita Buchanan
  • ”Natural Processes in Textile Art” by Alice Fox (rust dyeing)
  • ”Harvesting Color” by Rebecca Burgess
  • ”Natural Dyes” by Judy Hardman and Sally Pinhey
  • ”Eco-Colour” by India Flint
  • ”Shibori” by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, Mary Kellogg Rice, and Jane Barton
  • ”Stitched Shibori “ by Jane Callender

While we didn’t do any shibori per se, we did spend a lot of time on tie dyeing. Looking at shibori books inspired my niece to stretch her tie dye design repertoire. We surfed the Internet and found some interesting patterns to try.

The top three useful books for this particular workshop were: “Wild Color”, “The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing “, and “The Craft of the Dyer”. Having said that, we did have difficulty getting beet dye and blueberry dye to stick to the pre-mordanted cotton fabric, no matter whose instructions we used! And of course, we discovered they are both fugitive dyes. While I suspected the beet dye of being fugitive before we started, I did not know what to think of blueberry, having never used it. Other dyes we used were: carrot tops, onion skins, and staghorn sumac leaves.

All in all we had a great time experimenting, and the above resources were a great help. Check them out if you’re interested in natural dyeing!

Natural Dyeing – Mordant Types

Natural Dyeing – Mordant Types

This a continuation of my mordant post last Friday.

There are lots of mordants out there. Mordants cause dyes to be more lightfast, or to fade less. They act as a bridge to hold the dye to the fabric. Different types of fabrics use different mordants. Sometimes in different combinations and order. Here are some of the more common ones, and some not so common ones, I have used.

  • Dyer’s alum (potassium aluminum sulphate) – wool and silk
  • alum (aluminum sulphate) – wool
  • copper (copper sulphate) – wool
  • iron (an old rusted steel horseshoe or spike) – wool and silk
  • black tea – wool, silk, and cotton
  • Staghorn sumac leaves (used with Dyer’s alum and cream of tartar on cotton) – cotton
  • onion skins (a mild mordant that I use with other mordants) – wool, silk, and cotton

Modifiers can be added to change or alter colours or pH of the dyebath too. It is usually added after the dye. These help to ‘set’ the dye. Some of these are listed below.

  • Vinegar
  • citric acid
  • baking soda
  • washing soda
  • cream of tartar

The biggest concern with mordants is always safety. Mordants are needed for natural dyeing, but you can have too much of a good thing. I won’t use the iron powders sold because they are too dangerous. Likewise with copper sulphate. I used it once and will not do so again. Nor tin, nor chrome. Alum is a much safer alternative.

The key to successful and safe mordant use is to exhaust the mordant bath before disposing of it. That means saving it and using it over and over again until it no longer works. Checking the pH with a pH strip to make sure it’s neutral before disposal is a good idea too.

Mordant and modifier samples on wool fabric.

The above is before dyeing. After dyeing you may get results like below…

You can see the difference a mordant or modifier makes!

Natural Dyeing – Mordants

Natural Dyeing – Mordants

Hi everyone! This weekly review is a bit different. If you’ve followed along on my blog, Instagram (@jeanottosen), or Facebook (JLT Studios) you know I’ve been planning to do some natural dyeing. So this past week I prepared some nylon, wool, cotton, and silk for natural dyes. I’m still working on the process, exploring colours and mordants.

What is a mordant? Natural dyes often need help sticking to fibre. A chemical or agent called a mordant does this job. It can be something as simple as the tannin found in tea. Or it can be a more complex and dangerous metal like tin, or chrome, which I do not use due to health and environmental concerns.

The most common mordant is alum in its various states: potassium aluminum sulphate (Dyer’s alum), aluminum sulphate (pickling alum), and aluminum acetate (used on cotton). My preferred mordant is Dyer’s alum. I have never tried aluminum acetate. Aluminum sulphate has the benefit of being safe to use, but doesn’t give as bright or clear colours as Dyer’s alum.

There are many ways to apply a mordant:

  • You can apply it before dyeing the fabric. This is called pre-mordanting.
  • You can apply it at the same time you dye the fabric by adding it to the dye bath. This is called simultaneous mordanting or meta-mordanting.
  • Or you can add it after the dyeing is done. This is called post mordanting.

Plus to make things interesting, using different mordants, and different combinations of mordants, and different times of application, changes the colour of your cloth.

To complicate matters further, you can use two or three mordants on a piece of cloth at any point in the process. Cotton, for example, absorbs and hold dyes better if it has a tannin mordant followed by at least one alum mordant before even hitting the dye pot! Some people prefer to follow the tannin mordant with two alum mordants.

Do you see the excitement and intrigue for me? Lots of potential to experiment! And that’s what I’ve been doing!

This week I’ve been cleaning (known as scouring) cloth to remove any finishes that might get in the way of dye absorption. I have also been pre-mordanting wool, cotton, and silk.

Follow along and hopefully this coming week I’ll have some photos, formulas, and stories to tell!

My Portable Dye Kitchen

My Portable Dye Kitchen

The contents vary according to the types of dyeing I’m doing, but for my most recent round of natural dyeing it consists of a medium sized Rubbermaid tote which contains:

  1. Natural dyestuff,
  2. Liquid one cup measuring cup,
  3. Measuring spoons for measuring powders,
  4. Mordants to set the dyes,
  5. Washing soda (a.k.a. soda ash or sodium carbonate),
  6. Small/medium/large syringes without needles for applying dye solution to fabric,
  7. Wooden spoon for stirring cloth in my dye vat,
  8. An enamel pot for mordanting and dyeing,
  9. A kitchen weigh scale,
  10. Non-latex gloves,
  11. Labels,
  12. Permanent markers,
  13. Masks,
  14. Metal casserole pans for spot dyeing,
  15. Tin foil to line the casserole pans,
  16. An old dish rag or dish towel to wipe up spills,
  17. Dye samples for the workshop,
  18. Fibre to dye,
  19. Scissors for snipping and tearing fabric,
  20. Bib apron
  21. Synthrapol or mild dish detergent to soak the fibre in to prepare it for dyeing,
  22. Tongs,
  23. A strainer to separate natural dye material from the dye solution,
  24. pH strips to test water,
  25. A small sample finished project,
  26. A one litre spray bottle, and
  27. Any items particular to my specific dye workshop.

I take dye records and formulas in a binder separately from the dye kitchen. No room in the tote by the time I’ve gathered all that! I also take my reference books, if any, separately.

I just bought a metal pot too big for the Rubbermaid tote to use to scour, or clean, my fibre before dyeing it. Normally I wouldn’t take that to a workshop. I’d scour my fabric at home beforehand. But this time I’m teaching my niece how to scour cotton and silk, so it’s going with us. We will be doing some rust dyeing as well, so I have rusty metal in my dye kit.

And that’s it. That’s what’s in my portable dye kitchen. Do you have a portable dye kitchen? What is in yours?

All ready to go!
Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Hello everyone. I’ve had a great week! We came back from Scots Bay, Nova Scotia earlier in the week. I spent the last day organizing myself for September.

I have a niece who wants to learn natural dyeing. So I put together a bit of a binder of information and selected a book to give her that has clear explanations with lots of illustrations and photographs. I’ve been planning a simple workshop for her using onion skins.

I also put together a portable dye kitchen to take over the next time we visit. We will spend a few days dyeing cotton and silk with her. I have wool, nylon, and silk to dye. We’ll be doing spot dyeing, shibori rust dyeing, and tie dyeing. She already does tie dyeing with synthetic dyes. She specifically asked to make cloth with a pattern, not all one even colour.

I have instructions for everything either printed out, in a book I’m giving her, or online. I ordered a few natural dyeing books the other day and a few have already arrived. I’m taking them to my niece’s as well, mostly for her mom and I to look at.

Then I reconnected with a friend. In February we went to a workshop together. She was an observer while I actually did the work and made notes. It was a weird arrangement, but it worked. It was supposed to be a private workshop for me, but the instructor graciously let my friend attend and watch.

Now my friend is all excited. She has the tools, the dyes, and the formulas. She wants to learn. So I’m off to her place sometime in September to have fun in the dye pots using ProChem dyes.

The same friend was gifted some Procion MX dyes and supplies, which are primarily designed for cellulose fibres like cotton, linen, hemp…plant based fibres. I once took a workshop in that and have a couple of books on it, so I offered to help with that too.

I’ve been busy planning for the blog future as well. I’m trying to think of fascinating (?!) topics to share with my readers. If anyone has any ideas of rug hooking related topics they would like me to write about, feel free to leave a comment or send me a comment under the “Contact” tab at the top of the page.

That’s it for this week folks! I’ll leave you with a photo of work in progress. 😊

Artist Retreat #3

Artist Retreat #3

I have been incredibly blessed this summer. I just finished my third artist retreat for the summer. We went back to Scots Bay, Nova Scotia for the weekend.

This time I focused on plein air hooking. I took all my miscellaneous leftover “worms” – strips of wool and silk fabric, pieces of yarn and nylon stockings – and tried to hook the scene of Scots Bay from the window of the cottage.

Why indoors? It was far too hot and sunny for me to be outdoors. I could have moved to the deck and been one foot from where I was, but why? I would have loved to go down on the beach to paint and hook, but the sun and heat prevented that. I think I need to take my artist retreats earlier than July and later than August, when the weather is cooler.

But I’m not complaining! These three retreats have been great for jump starting my creativity and getting things done! My camera has been mega busy, followed by my paintbrushes and my rug hook. Plus I have managed some reading and work on my business plan. I also have had great quality time with Hubby. I’m hoping to have a couple of retreats a year from here on.

Prairie Sky – Sunset
Plein Air Hooking

Plein Air Hooking

On Friday I left my readers hanging about plein air hooking. The term plein air is a French term that means “plain air”. In some parts of the world it is referred to as plain air. It was used to describe artwork painted by artists who painted the landscape while outdoors.

What is plein air hooking? Simply put it’s hooking the outdoors while outdoors. In more severe climates and recent years plein air hooking also includes sitting near a window and hooking the outdoor view.

Plein air requires a quick eye and hand. Light changes rapidly, causing colours and shadows to shift.

How do I do it? I take a lawn chair, a hat, a water bottle, a small piece of backing, lots of miscellaneous colours of fibre, usually leftover scraps, called worms, from my other projects, a hooking frame, hooks, my sketchbook, a pencil, a permanent black marker, and a pair of scissors. I set myself up, draw a quick sketch…no detail…just to check composition and maybe note dominant shapes, line, colour and value. I try to simplify shapes in my sketches and note colour.

Then I draw directly on backing. No time to make a pattern. The light and shadows move too quickly. I have at most two hours to make my plein air piece. I mark my colours, lights and darks by hooking a bit of the colour in the appropriate place in the backing.

After that I hook as fast as I possibly can to finish the piece. I am a relatively slow rug hooker. It takes me an hour to hook an area the size of my hand. Later, I will take my plein air piece back to my studio to decide whether or not to enlarge it and create a studio piece.

I love the immediacy of plein air hooking. However, because light changes so fast and I hook so slow, I have to keep my pieces small.

Plein air hooking is a good way to stretch yourself. There is a group of plein air hooking artists with a website. It is Plein Air Hooking Artists. It is composed of rug hooking artists from around the globe.

If you are interested in plein air hooking, check out the Plein Air Hooking Artists website, grab your supplies and go outdoors! Start with your own yard to give you a trial run. That way if you forget anything its a short trip to the house to pick it up. Once you feel more comfortable on your own, move to a nearby park or the great outdoors somewhere near you. Enjoy!

“The Barn”
Weekly Review

Weekly Review

I finished both “African Dream Mini” (10.5” x 15.25” – wool, silk, nylon on primitive linen – #6 cut) and “Hearts”! Both have a hanging sleeve on them. Next up is to cut dowels for the hanging system, find some cup hooks for them, and create Certificates of Authenticity.

After that I’ll be planning my next retreat. It’s actually going to be a painting retreat. No rug hooking. I have a third retreat in mind that I’d like to use to explore plein air hooking in the Maritimes.

What is plein air hooking? Check my blog post Monday for the answer!

Hearts – 5.5” x 19.5” – wool, silk, and nylon on primitive linen – #6 cut.
What’s Up?

What’s Up?

Things are moving along here. I spent this past weekend hooking on the “African Dream Mini” for a friend. I’ve finished the hooking. Now for the binding and hanging sleeve. I hope to finish it this week.

I’m also planning my second and third retreats this year. Nothing like making hay while the sun shines! I have no idea if I’ll be able to take advantage of my friend’s cottage in the future. One of the retreats I’m planning isn’t really a retreat. It’s a visit to see relatives. But while there I’m hoping to fit in some photography, sketching, and painting.

Later this month I’ll be talking to a new web designer/graphic artist about redesigning my website and logo. We’ll be talking branding and marketing.

In the meantime I continue to sell supplies and greeting cards on the Facebook group Buy and Sell – Rug Hooking – Canada. I’m slowly emptying out bins in my studio.

Currently I am editing another video on my studio. It is an almost final peek at it. It is not perfect. The sofa bed won’t arrive till the end of September into October. That means I’ll be short sleeping and seating in the basement till then. I also am using the studio “as is”, so it’s a bit cluttered.

I hope everyone is geared up for a great August! Take care and catch up with you on Friday.

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Hi everyone! It’s been a productive week for me. I’ve been practicing my watercolour painting, preparing for another art trip.

I’ve also started a small “African Dream” wall hanging for a friend. I drew the pattern on backing during my last retreat. It’s taken awhile to get to it.

I’ve also been selling plaid and check swatches on Facebook’s Rug Hooking Buy and Sell Canada. This is a group for rug hookers who live in Canada. I’ll be listing more plaids and checks throughout the weekend. I have fifteen listed and another fifteen to go. Then I have some heavier woollens, more like tweed, which I’d like to try hooking before selling. I’m just not sure they’ll hold together to hook well. Perhaps on a wider cut they might.

Plus I cleaned up my studio to entertain a photographer who is going to photograph some of my wall hangings. I spent Wednesday evening auditioning and selecting pieces for him to photograph. The resulting images will be used for greeting cards, promotional material, show applications, and my website.

Well that’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a great weekend! Take care!

Frenchy’s!

Frenchy’s!

I was on a wonderful trip to New Brunswick this past weekend. Partly to see family and partly to deliver all my scrapbooking cabinets and supplies. While there I had the opportunity to visit the gardens at the Irving Plantation in Bouctouche. I took a lot of photographs and did some sketching.

While in New Brunswick I also stopped at the Art Shack store in Moncton. It’s a friendly little store with knowledgeable staff. I picked up a couple of watercolour pads for my next retreat. I’m hoping to go to the cottage again before fall – this time for photography, sketching, painting, and hooking.

Frenchy’s!!! Need I say more? All the local rug hookers know Frenchy’s means fun! We stopped in Shediac and I went into a Frenchy’s thrift store for the first time in about ten years the other day. To be fair I lived about 1500 miles from the nearest Frenchy’s up until six months ago. I spent half an hour in the store and came out with two silk blouses, a wool skirt, a long wool vest, and lots and lots of pantyhose. Total cost was under $45 CAD.

What am I going to do with this haul? I am going to wash it, deconstruct it, and dye the nylons in preparation for rug hooking. Then I will cut it into swatches and strips to use some and sell some. It all sounds like a fun time to me!

That’s it for today folks. I hope you all have a wonderful week.

Plaids & Checks

Plaids & Checks

Hi everyone! Just a quick post to let you know I’m listing plaid and check swatches for sale again in my website shop. These are wool and mostly wool garments that have been washed and deconstructed and torn into swatches roughly 4” x 12” or larger.

I cannot guarantee they are 100% wool because, well, I don’t know. I did a burn test on everything so know they are mostly wool at the very least.

If you want any please do NOT order through the website.

My shipping feature is not working properly at the moment. Instead send me a message through my “contact” page or to jo6865@gmail.com, telling me which ones you’d like. I’ll tell you the total and the real cost of shipping.

Payment will be by e-transfer at this time, until I can get the shipping feature mess sorted out.

Have a great weekend!

Making time…

Making time…

This weekend I decided to rest and relax and just “be”. Funny thing about that. As soon as I made that decision oodles of possible activities and things to do crowded my mind and I ended up scheduling them in my planner on my ‘to do’ list. So in reality this weekend became a time for planning and doing.

What did I plan? Saturday I rested, tended to my deck garden, and put down everything I could think of to do in regards to my business in another mind map – a six page mind map. I also dried some peppermint.

I also connected with someone who wants to buy all my scrapbooking supplies. My goal is to deliver them before the end of the month. I’ll be truly dependent on digital scrapbooking after that.

What did I plan Sunday? My next retreat! I also finished drying the peppermint – there was a lot of it – and dried some parsley. Plus I made sourdough discard crackers.

I also managed to serge the edges of all the patterns I drew on linen during my retreat. Plus I colour planned a medium sized African Dream wall hanging. It’s about 10” x 16”.

I set up some books for my business. I had officially shut my business down the end of 2018, when we made the decision to move in 2019. Now we’re relocated I’m wanting to keep records for the taxman or woman. Plus, I’d like to know my income and expenses for my own general knowledge…and planning. I’m in the process of starting my business up again now.

After a walk Sunday evening I updated my plan. LOL! So much for sitting and just “being”!

Retreat Time!

Artist Retreat, that is. This week I had a lovely time at a friend’s cottage on the Bay of Fundy with my husband and my creative gear.

I took far too much stuff. We could barely fit it all in the car! But we did! Aside from gear we had to take clothes, bedding, food, and water for five days. Hubby took his bicycle to fit in some riding. We both took technology to work on various projects. It was forecast to rain.

I took work to finish. I took my camera for inspiration photos. And the tripod, just in case. I took my rug hooking frame and South Korea rug. I took my sketchbook and watercolour pencils. I took reading material and watching material. Also I downloaded some podcasts. I took linen and Red Dot interfacing to transfer those patterns I enlarged last weekend.

Our destination had no internet, so I used my cell phone to create a hot spot every day in order to finish an Udemy course on composition.

I organized for this retreat using an app called Simple Mind. It is a mind mapping app that allows me to see a lot of information in point form at one glance, and how it’s all interrelated. I was able to adjust my retreat plans as it happened, to accommodate for finishing things early. Not being distracted can really be a big boon to productivity.

We went on a lot of walks, with and without camera. Some to the beach, some not. Some with sketchbook, some without.

I read “The Art of Botanical Painting” by Margaret Stevens. It’s a great book if you want to be a botanical painter. I am not that detail oriented. I did garner quite a few colour and composition ideas for an upcoming series of wallhangings I plan to develop.

I also took Keith West’s “How to Draw Plants”, “Nature Drawing “ by Clare Walker Leslie, and “Drawing Scenery: landscapes and Seascapes” by Jack Hamm. These were more for reference. I haven’t drawn a seashore close up before.

I did manage some watercolour sketching for future design ideas. Lus I finished the Hearts wall hanging and coasters.

It was very productive.

Pattern Making

Pattern Making

It’s pattern making time! I spent the weekend going through my sketchbooks, scanning sketches, and enlarging some for patterns for more wall hangings. This week I’ll be putting them on backing. Time to finish a few series and design some new.

I’m prepping fibre for more hooking on my South Korea rug. I’d like to hook more, smaller images for a series there. But don’t know if I will.

I finished the Ken doll clothes and they’re on their way to their new owner today.

Recent books I’m enjoying:

  • Rug Hooking with Fancy Fibers – Gail Dufresne
  • Rug Money – Mary Anne Wise & Cheryl Conway-Daly

Recent podcasts I’m enjoying:

  • Fiber Nation by Interweave Press

I hope everyone has a great week! I’ll have a much longer post come Friday. Take care everyone!

Production!

Production!

Face masks are finished!

Ken doll clothes are happening. There is a great disparity in sizes between free online patterns and commercial patterns.

Knife sheath attempt after all. Can’t get my domestic machine to sew through the suede leather, even with a leather needle. Will take moose suede to a leather worker and see what they say.

In my pile of things to finish by my chair. Notice the hooked heart hanging and coasters from February. They’ll be ready for next February.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and a productive one. Till next time, take care everyone!

In the Making…

In the Making…

Happy Monday everyone! It’s been a productive weekend and day, primarily thanks to some unpredictable weather. Today has been raining off and on, making it a wonderful day to be in my studio.

I finished the doll clothes for the 16” Briar dolls. Here are the last few items I made. I shipped them all off Friday. I hope they all fit.

I moved onto the knife sheath. I had a chat with a friend who is a more experienced seamstress than I am and determined, after careful thought, that it just wasn’t going to work. The moose hide I have is actually quite soft. It used to be a woman’s suit jacket. I don’t think it will hold its shape well enough to hold a jackknife. I decided to make another gift for my nephew, and possibly include the moose hide in that.

I moved onto printing and cutting out the Ken doll patterns. Today I cut out all the pieces to sew. However…

I received a phone call from someone looking for the face masks this week. So I switched gears and cut out face masks. I’m in the middle of sewing them at the moment. I’m using the Olson pattern still. I use a batik quilting cotton for the front fabric, cotton sheeting for the liner, and a filter of diaper flannelette (single layer).

This weekend I decided to try selling some items on the Facebook Canada Rug Hooking Buy and Sell group. It was quite successful. I’m quite pleased with how it went. I sold several patterns. Time to update my website store to reflect the changes. I will be selling more that way.

My studio update as of Sunday? Hubby and I are slowly getting things sorted out. I went through all my rug hooking and made piles of what to mend, what to hang upstairs, and what to hang in the studio or downstairs. Basically we keep whatever is upstairs and whatever is downstairs is for sale. I sold a bin of old patterns over the weekend. Here’s the current messy, but functional, state of my studio.

Well that’s it for this weekend! I hope everyone has a great week! Take care!