Sunday, February 19, 2012

Eco Colour by India Flint

Part of this weekend up north at the cottage was spent reading this book that I bought for myself after not getting it for Christmas.  I am very interested in dyeing using natural plant dyes.  Many summer weekends at the cottage have included time spent rust dyeing.  I have an old rusty wheelbarrow that gives me great rust dyed fabric results.

This past summer I went to The Flying Pig in Algoma for a class given by Shelley Ryan from PBS.  The class was on dyeing silk scarves using flowers, mulch, tea, coffee, etc.  You can check out my post dated July 23, 2011.  I think the results were fabulous.

  I also did some dyeing with Black Walnut hulls, post dated October 2, 2011.  Not being fully satisfied with the results I needed to know MORE. Anyway I was very interested in continuing my dyeing experiments.

India Flint, the author of Eco Colour has been dyeing for many years and wrote several books on the subject.  Although she lives in Australia, her methods, philosophy and sense of ecological responsibility transfer to anywhere in the world.  I am very excited to try some of her methods. 

She talks about assessing the choices you make with regard to how those choices impact the earth.  She also stresses that the possibilities for colors are infinite depending on so many factors.  I love that she is a 'wing it' kind of gal that likes to experiment without being terribly specific, though safety is always number one. 

If you're looking for a different, unpredictable, cheap way to dye your own original fabrics I highly recommend this book and give it an A+ rating.  For a professional review of her books, go to

Along with reading the book, I also went for my usual Saturday trek around the block which entails about a 2 mile walk along wooded and swampy areas, a visit to the frozen creek, and a view of Lake Noquebay where its not unusual to see deer, birds, the occasional ferret, grouse, turkeys and other northern Wisconsin critters.  I usually take my camera, my cell phone (in case I meet up with a bear) and this time I brought a bag to carry any plant materials I planned to gather along the way in hopes of doing some eco dyeing at home this week. 

Well I think I was successful.  I gathered three types of red berries, not sure why the birds hadn't found these yet.  Also some little tiny pine cones, some medium size pine cones, some fern fronds, tree bark, lichen, oak leaves and other non-identied leaves.  When gathering plant materials its important to pick things off the ground and not rip bark off of trees.  The object is to use sustainable plant materials, not to overuse or abuse the environment. 

From India's book I also learned about the purpose of mordants, which assist the dye in attaching to the fibers.  Some mordants that are suggested are iron, copper, brass.  Since my husband has a small target practice area on our property I was able to scavenge lots of brass casings.  I also saved my coffee grounds from the weekend, and the onion peels from Saturday's dinner.  I think I'm ready to give this another try. 

If you have done any natural dyeing, please comment or write to me to tell me what your successes and failures have been.  Thanks for reading.  See ya.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Duffy's Dad

Duffy's Dad

Duffy's Dad was finished in January.  This was taken from a black and white photograph from 1944.  Whenever I start a piece with subject matter that I am unfamiliar with, I do a lot of research for similar images.  In this case I looked for aircraft from the era, with the help of my husband who is a WWII army buff.  From the photograph which wasn't very clear he gave me some options for what he thought the plane was.  From there I did internet searchs to get a better picture of the plane.  Then I went on to the uniform and tried to get better idea of the color, details, the cap, etc. 
Inspiration photo
This is the photograph I started with, just the center portion.  I increased the size by about 4 times and then added the wingspan of the plane to fill out the composition.  You can see my pencil drawing on the left and right of the photo.

Strips of fabric

First the background gets laid down.  Fall colors were used for the background.  You can see the sky strips laid down at the top of the composition.

The most difficult area

When you get to the details of the face you don't want to put something there that you aren't sure of.  So, I tend to be more vague in order to let the viewer suggest the details as they see them.  The face was done with inks and then overlaid with sheer fabric. 

Fused but without detail stitching

This is how it looked before adding the stitching.  rough and flat, it doesn't have a lot of deptha at this pont.  The finished piece is the one at the beginning of this post.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cedar Swamp photo by Mary Kay Baum

This is the inspiration photo for my Cedar Swamp series.  I love this photo taken by my cousin, Mary Kay Baum.  She is a very talented photographer.  See my previous post to a link to see more of her photographs.  

Mary Kay lives outside of Madison, WI and takes a lot of nature photos.  I'm so fortunate she lets me use them.  Thanks Mary Kay!