Happy Friday everyone! This week was short, but productive. I’ve been busy reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I wrote down everything I had in my mind that needed doing, then created a project list from the things I needed to focus on, and then a next actions list for the list of things to do. I’m swamped! I’m also loving it! But I can’t take on anymore.
I’ve also been working on my South Korean roof tile end cap wall hanging. It’s slow going, but looking better these days. A friend was over to help me pick out fibre for the border. I will be doing some dyeing and overdyeing.
We also went through the poetry wall hangings I want to hook. They are on backing and ready to go. I just have to finish this South Korean wall hanging and swing back to them for awhile.
I’m still sketching the South Korean designs in my sketchbook. Lots to do yet. Plus I’m still working through Meryl Cook’s “The Creativity Workbook”. I’m enjoying the inspiration of the fall colours around me.
I’ve been listening to Cindi Gay’s rug hooking podcasts while hooking or afterwards. She is a very wise lady full of all kinds of knowledge about rug hooking. I don’t hook the primitive style, but I still learn from her. Thanks for doing the podcasts Cindi!
The last week of October will be a busy week. The In My Studio Workshop Week is on then. I have a Travel class with Karen Miller, a Words and Images class with Elizabeth Miller, and Intuitive Hooking with Meryl Cook. There will also be a group hook-in and a panel discussion I’m looking forward to stepping outside my comfort zone to learn more from these talented teachers and others.
If you’re interested in taking classes I believe there are a few openings left. Contact Karen D. Miller on Facebook and check into the events she is hosting.
If you’ve been reading, thanks! Have a great weekend!
I hope everyone had a good and happy Thanksgiving! Even though we were encouraged to stay home or in our small bubble, it was possible to get together with family and friends through technology. Long live FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp and other apps that connect us!
I just went through my first Thanksgiving without a deep freezer. Let me say how thankful I am for our food supply chain. I picked up a frozen turkey Friday and it thawed in the fridge all weekend. I have a fridge that runs cold, so it needed that time to thaw. In fact, it was still partially frozen Monday morning! I ran cold water in it before stuffing it and hoping for the best. I cooked it in a Look bag and tin foil roasting pan, as we have no roaster and no place to store it if we did have it! It turned out just fine.
Because our current chest freezer does not work properly and our upright freezer, which we ordered in August, has yet to arrive, I decided, in the best interest of not wasting any food, to gift our Thanksgiving guests (my daughter and her husband) with leftovers to take home. Hopefully little food will be wasted.
Other than Thanksgiving this has been a quiet weekend for me. I took some time off to read, review and reorganize. I’m reading David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” for the second or third time in about 15 years. I realize just how much I have put on my plate to deal with right now. I decided to back off and focus on the big picture – the long term view – for the moment. So I’m back in a goal setting phase, making sure every activity meshes with future goals and my vision of where I want to be ten years from now.
This is a challenge for me. My husband is seven years older than I, and is a senior now. I have discovered that in marriage planning cannot happen in isolation. You have to consider the other person and what reactions or parts they might have in the plans. This is especially true for me as I am not driving at the moment for a variety of reasons.
I am going back through photos and sketchbooks for ideas for mats of various kinds. There are way more ideas than I can possibly hook. It’s so hard to decide what to do and what to leave undone. Do I compromise and hook a small mat instead of a large one? Or is it better to just not hook it at all? In the meantime, I have South Korea mats and poetry mats to hook.
By the way, I discovered the shape of “joy” to me this weekend. I drew a sketch to twig my memory. It needs some revamping, but the basics are there. I may have another mat to hook soon!
If you have been reading, thanks! I hope you enjoy your week ahead. Cheers…Jean.
I found myself really fighting my South Korea roof tile end caps wall hanging this week. I decided to not rush it and just work on it briefly each day. Instead I’ve been busy sketching more designs – both of South Korea and from Meryl Cook’s “The Creativity Workbook”.
Despite spending more time this week drawing designs for South Korea wall hangings, I’m not sure how many will actually make it onto backing. I’m seriously thinking about the viewer, as well as the creative act (by me). There’s a balance that has to be struck there for me. In previous years I hooked too much for the viewer, with the odd exception. Now I’m wanting to get back to the act of just creating. It’s important for me to know what I want to say with my work first though. So I’m thinking.
I’ve been working through Meryl Cook’s “The Creativity Workbook”. I am paused on finding a design that expresses how I feel joy. I did go and experience a couple of things that give me joy – walking in nature amongst the fall foliage. I picked up a variety of shapes and colors of tree leaves and have been busy designing leaf patterns and templates. But to actually draw joy is another matter altogether. I think I know the color/s of joy for me, but not sure of the shape of it…yet.
Wednesday I joined an In My Studio Zoom meeting to listen to Judi Miller talk about artist residencies. It was a very informative talk about the options available, what you need to have a successful one, and her experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and would like to thank Judi publicly for making the time and effort to do it, and to thank Karen Miller for organizing and facilitating it.
I received my ProChem dye powder shipment this week. I’m looking forward to more dyeing. I’m wanting to dye the pine trees, ocean and skies using Lucy Richard’s spot dye formulas. I’ll be dyeing the old-fashioned way – in the oven – rather than in a microwave I do not have a microwave to dedicate to dyeing, nor a place to put it.
Well that’s my review for this week. If you’ve been reading, thanks! I wish you all a happy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, wherever you may be. My next blog post will probably be posted Tuesday. Take care everyone!
I had the delightful pleasure of meeting Susan Logue this weekend when she showed up on my doorstep to look at some wool for a friend. I really enjoyed contact with another rug hooker. Susan wrote the “Past & Present Antique Dyes” books, which I have and have used in the past. It was a fun time chatting with her about rug hooking, and it was nice to meet her friend.
One thing the visit made me realize was how starved I am for other artistic people in my life. I’m enjoying the online classes because of that, but somehow they aren’t the same as real live one-to-one encounters. They have their good points too though. I sure am glad to have the online experience too!
Saturday I tuned in to Lucy Richard’s FaceBook LIVE dye workshop. It was an interesting experience for me. I hadn’t microwave dyed before meeting Lucy. To be able to do a spot dye by microwave is great! And the pine tree, ocean, sky colours were great! If you head over to her website or FaceBook page you can find a link to donate to her video making efforts. If you donate $10 or more your name is entered to win a gift box of goodies. This time she is including the wool she dyed, among other things. It’s a half yard of wool folks…just saying. It’s a great deal! And a great gift. And it keeps Lucy doing videos.
I’m so anxious to get my dye studio up and going. Hubby is finishing painting the upstairs hall and then wants to do the guest room. It will be awhile before he gets to the dye studio/laundry room.
I hooked more on my South Korea roof tile end cap wall hanging. It’s slow going. It’s been awhile since I’ve hooked circles. There are a lot of circles in this wall hanging. It’s a challenge.
I started Meryl Cook’s exercises in her book “One Loop At A Time: The Creativity Workbook”. I was surprised how I could pull out one issue that was really bothering me, journal it positively, and create a rug design in under half an hour! I now have at least an 18”x18” design to put on backing and hook! I may have to expand it to 20”x20” or larger to fit in all the lettering, or cut back on the lettering.
Two new sofa beds are in the house! That completes the seating for the studio and the guest bedroom cum family room cum classroom. I do not have room in the studio for my comfy chair and the sofa bed. So we will be rearranging furniture in the near future.
Karen Miller’s class on Tuesday was a blast! I had to design a piece on the fly…like a minute or two…and start hooking. I’m a slow hooker, especially with materials new to me. The object was to experiment with new materials. I tried dental floss, pink elastics (off broccoli folks!), fabric strips, parchment paper (yes, the kind you bake on), acrylic eyelash yarn, wool yarn, wool fabric, silk fabric, cotton fabric, sewing with buttonhole thread, some twill weave tweed that shreds like crazy, and more. It was a fascinating exercise! Karen is an excellent teacher. Here’s the results.
The South Korea rug is slowly progressing. I’m sticking to wool, silk, and nylon for that one…so far.
I spent more time sketching the South Korea photos. Lots of options for wall hangings. Lots of elements I might piece together to form one wall hanging.
Branding progress…I think I have what I need now. I’ll be visiting a local printer eventually for new business cards, hang tags, greeting cards, etc. I’m hoping to find a local affordable printer who can do an excellent job. I currently use an outfit in the US, but I’d rather use local, if I can keep the quality.
Meryl Cook’s book “One Loop At A Time – The Creativity Workbook” arrived this week. I’m looking forward to her class during the In My Studio Workshop Week the end of October. I may sidetrack into some of that workbook before the October class. I don’t believe it’s required for the class, but it is a good little thought provoking book I hope will get my creative juices flowing along different lines.
I am thoroughly enjoying online learning. I hope once Covid-19 is behind us it will continue. It is just so much easier for me, not just financially (no hotels or air fares), but logistically too. Three cheers for the rug hooking artists out there putting in the tremendous time and effort it takes to create these online courses. Know that I, at least, appreciate all you’re doing!
And that’s my review for this week. I hope everyone has a great weekend if you’ve been reading, thank-you .
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 dedicated to dyeing), 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.
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/Dyer’s alum/cream of tartar,
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
The above is before dyeing. After dyeing you may get results like below…
You can see the difference a mordant or modifier makes!
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!
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:
Liquid one cup measuring cup,
Measuring spoons for measuring powders,
Mordants to set the dyes,
Washing soda (a.k.a. soda ash or sodium carbonate),
Small/medium/large syringes without needles for applying dye solution to fabric,
Wooden spoon for stirring cloth in my dye vat,
An enamel pot for mordanting and dyeing,
A kitchen weigh scale,
Metal casserole pans for spot dyeing,
Tin foil to line the casserole pans,
An old dish rag or dish towel to wipe up spills,
Dye samples for the workshop,
Fibre to dye,
Scissors for snipping and tearing fabric,
Synthrapol or mild dish detergent to soak the fibre in to prepare it for dyeing,
A strainer to separate natural dye material from the dye solution,
pH strips to test water,
A small sample finished project,
A one litre spray bottle, and
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?
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. 😊
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 email@example.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.