What Happened to February?

Its the shortest month of the year but around here it often feels like the longest month.  Cold, snow, colder, more snow.  This year the weather was terrible, like most of the eastern half of the US but my month flew by.

Circumstances limited my studio time but I concentrated on two pieces with imminent deadlines

Golden Marsh 34" x 34"

Golden Marsh 34″ x 34″

Golden Marsh is my entry for a Michigan Regional SAQA exhibit “Michigan Memories”.  Work needed to be created specifically for the show and while I was tempted to just create something white-on-white to memorialize this memorable winter I decided that spring is a happier memory so I returned to my marsh marigold series.  Working with the bright colors was a good antidote to the white & gray outside my window.

Jazz Flow 29" x 29"

Jazz Flow 29″ x 29″

Jazz Flow was a more challenging project.  Its for “Got Jazz?” an upcoming traveling exhibition of the Fiber Artists Coalition.  I wanted to create something that represents what I hear in the music without using any literal imagery.  I started this last year and various parts lived on my design wall for a while before I figured out how I wanted to make them come together.

I set Feb. 28 as my deadline (to give myself time to be done a bit ahead of the actual deadlines) and photographed them over the weekend.

My goal for March is to finish the samples for a workshop I’m teaching in April.  And to get back into blogging once a week or so.


Filed under abstract, free-piecing, nature inspired

Color Therapy Continued

I enjoyed the process of free-piecing the log cabin assemblies and  decided to use the same 4 colors but with red as the predominate color for the log cabins.  The red called out for more lime green.  Purple and turquoise played supporting roles.

"Don't Worry; Be Happy!"  approx 21" x 21"

“Don’t Worry; Be Happy!” approx 21″ x 21″

And I think though this piece has the same elements it has a very different feel.  I worked on this piece in frigid single digits temps and a snow storm.  I’m wearing a lot of layers and taking breaks to put more wood in the stove. But the colors made me happy and soon I was singing Bob Marley’s song.  So this piece has a name.

I worried a little that working with such bring, saturated color that I might not be paying enough attention to value but when I took black & white photos (something I often do when creating a composition) I was happy to see a decent mix of values:

first compostion

first composition

second composition

second composition

Tomorrow I will start a different grid exercise.  Time for a new palette. Something with blue.  And with blue I will want orange and ???   If I’m more-or-less  snowed in at least I can play.


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Filed under abstract, free-piecing

Color Therapy

It has snowed nearly every day the past two months. The sun has come out rarely though it made an appearance today; something it only seems to do when we register single digits. So this week I decided it was time to bring out the bright colors and have some fun.

I’m working through some exercises I have designed for an upcoming class.  I like to have several samples to share with the class.  This is a grid exercise and I decided to play with free-form log cabin assemblies.

I keep my scraps in clear plastic shoe boxes and I like to start my piecing using scraps.  I can always cut from yardage is I can’t find what I want in the scrap box. I grabbed four boxes holding favorite colors:  green, red, purple and turquoise.

untitled 21" x 21"

untitled 21″ x 21″

Its stitched and back on the design board while I contemplate a matching or contrasting binding.  I have flipped it around several times before decided which way was up!

I’m repeating the exercise with red as the predominate color and more contrast.   I am having a blast and the bright colors have put me in a happy mood.


Filed under abstract, free-piecing

New Year, New Work (finally)

Its hard to believe that it has been nearly three months since I have posted!  I admit to not spending much time in the studio lately.  In October and November I was busy dyeing scarves and socks for the holiday art markets and a couple of the local art centers.

Medium Socks 1 Rayon 4
The rayon scarves sold pretty well.  The silk scarves and bamboo socks did not do as well.  I dyed additional socks as gifts and the recipients love them.  They are soft and comfy.  I am wearing a pair right now so I don’t mind having leftovers.

Right after Thanksgiving I hung an all media art show at the Charlevoix Circle of Arts.   The featured exhibit is a collection from the Fiber Artists Coalition,  “Milagros”.

FAC letteringAnd then December was the usual blur.  However in December I was able to begin a new piece for Loose Threads’ annual show at the Charlevoix Library.  We have an architectural theme this year and members have been asked to create works based on the following concepts:  passageways, roof lines, steps, and windows.  The pieces are to be 12″ x 12″ 18″ x 18″, or 12″ x 18″ (either orientation).

This morning I finished stitching my passageways piece:

Portal 72 dpi

Portal 18″ x 18″

Finishing a new piece is a good way to start the new year and hopefully I will get back into my rhythm.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Still Life with Apples

I decided to participate in a challenge to create a piece focused on negative space.  I had done negative space drawing exercises but not in a long time so I got out my sketchbook and set a chair in front of my design board and drew what wasn’t the chair.    The first attempt was pretty funny, the next a little better, but I decided I didn’t want to do a piece based on a chair so I looked around for a likely candidate and spotted some paper-whites stuck in a vase with milkweed pods.  I set up the paper-whites in front of the design board and repeated the exercise.  The paper whites fell over after I drew them and I couldn’t get them right to photograph, but you get the idea.

DSCN0481paperwhite drawing









I constructed a background that I liked well enough but none of the fabrics I auditioned worked for the paper-whites and I wasn’t sure it was a particularly good attempt of focus on negative space.  Solid was dead and anything else was too busy.


But out walking with my dog, Annie, I noticed the abundance of apples on the roadside trees.  Apples!  Complementary colors.  And many apples are red and green so  I let the background be the green.

Still Life with Apples 14" x 24"

Still Life with Apples 14″ x 24″

Actually it was a lot of fun.


Filed under Uncategorized

Color by Accident – DVD set by Ann Johnston

DVD CoverThree weeks ago I received an email announcing Ann Johnston’s new DVD set Color by Accident:

Take a workshop with Ann Johnston in your own home. This color-filled video is packed with information and will inspire many experiments by those of all skill levels who are ready to use their own unique fabrics in their quilts, garments and textile artworks.

Color by Accident: Exploring Low-Water Immersion Dyeing is an extension of the techniques Ann introduced in her ground-breaking book, Color by Accident: Low-Water Immersion Dyeing. In an orderly progression of topics with over 250 samples of fabric and 17 live demonstrations, Ann teaches how and when to vary her basic method, including how to:

  • mix colors without exact recipes
  • create a smooth value gradation across one piece of fabric
  • manipulate the fabric to create many different textures
  • manage large pieces of fabric in small spaces
  • see the differences in the single-chemical dye colors
  • adapt the Procion® dyes to silk
  • follow up with your own explorations with dyes

I followed the link to Ann’s website which gave me the opportunity to see a trailer and the table of contents for the two DVD set.  After viewing the trailer I knew this is exactly what I have been looking for:  a class that explores many techniques of low immersion dyeing that I could follow at my own pace in my own studio.

About a week ago I wrote a post about my first 5 dye sessions.  I’ve continued to explore the techniques this week and have barely scratched the surface of what I can learn.

The DVD set is really an extension of Ann’s book by the same name.  The first DVD starts with Ann’s explanation of how she developed her method for low immersion dyeing.  She then demonstrates the basic method of low immersion dyeing which is crucial for a novice dyer but is a great refresher if its been a while since you’ve dyed fabric.  Next Ann shows fabrics that were dyed using the same dye solution but different methods of fabric manipulation, all of which she demonstrates later in the workshop.

There’s an extensive section on color mixing using the 14 single chemical colors of MX Procion dyes and how they react.  Ann mixes by feel as she’s much more experienced that I am but after using the single chemical dyes in my experiments I am convinced that this is the way I want to proceed.   I am keeping a pretty careful record of what I mix and what my results are because I am learning.

The Color Mixing portion of the workshop has 6 different demos based on:

  • Mixing Colors Before Pouring
  • Color Blends Across Fabric (in a tray and flat)
  • Colors Stacked

Color blends in traysColor Blends





The second DVD gets into some really exciting techniques.   Ann demonstrates five different ways of dyeing values, including dyeing blacks and grays.  Then there are four more demonstrations on folding, clamping and twisting fabric.  This is probably my favorite part of the workshop.   I really like is the way Ann has organized each section with an introduction that shows many examples of fabric that she has dyed using the methods that  she is going to demonstrate, followed by very clear demonstrations, and finally a summary with more examples and ideas.  In many cases Ann explains the variables that affected the results and shows examples where she has changed one variable such as the amount of time before adding the fixative.

ice bue and brown fold and clamp

The last section of the DVD is devoted to dyeing silk.  Ann shows how the exact same dye mixture reacts differently on cotton and silk, and how it reacts differently on different types of silk.  The last demonstration is a direct application of dye on silk scarves.

Yelow overdye and then shibori

Over dyed twice

I’ve made a few mistakes in my own experiments but I’ve been able to save them by over-dyeing and I am becoming more confident with the dyes.   I’ve watched the workshop a couple of times and have found it really helpful to be able to go directly to the section or to the demo that I want to review before trying a method.

BAD green day 6 3 in pip3

Not the green I wanted







Now that I have had 8 studio sessions and tried 33 different techniques and/or color combinations I feel I can really say that I am thrilled with Ann’s DVD set.   Ann is a wonderful teacher and I’m so happy that she has produced a video workshop.   I’ve just watched the  DVDs all the way through again and there are so many things  that I still want to try.   I know I will be returning to this workshop over and over again.




Filed under Book Reviews

Adventures in Dyeing

Last Monday I received Ann Johnston‘s new DVD set:DVD Cover

I had already ordered some additional dyes to fill in the gaps and a bolt of PFD.  I was anxious to get started but my schedule delayed me a bit.  But I was able to watch the DVD all the way through in a couple of sessions, mix 12 different dyes and prep the “wet” area of my studio.   I am fortunate have a decent place to work with a deep sink and a large table that is separated from my sewing space.

The DVDs are fabulous.  I feel like I am taking a class with Ann.  She shows many variations for each technique and explains how they were created and then gives a demonstration,  sometimes showing how you can get different results using the same exact dye mixtures applied in different manner.  There are more details including a preview of the DVD on her website and I highly recommend it.

I’ve managed 5 session in the past week.  Some days I have only been able to work (play?) for a few hours.  Last Thursday I had the entire day and it was wonderful.   I’m at the beginning of a series based on the seasons so I am trying to dye with that in mind.   I am also trying the different techniques Ann demonstrates and its great to be able to review her demos as I go.

Green on plastic chain

wrapped on a plastic chain

Wrapped on a plastic chain

I’ve had some luck with Shibori both on a 3″ PVC pipe and wrapped on foam pile insulation.  Ive played with rope, marbles, rubber bands

Shibori and Spring Greens

B W shibori

Shibori on 3″ PVC

Shibori overdye on pipe insulation

Shibori overdye on pipe insulation

Also with variations of folding, pleated and clamping

Red and blue on folded square

I am keeping track of the techniques, timing, recipes, etc. in a book.  Everything is numbered and dated with samples of the test strip and photos of the finished pieces.  I am up to #25 now and just getting warmed up.

Project Book

This is so fun I’m amazed it is legal.  Thanks Ann!

Fall Parfait

Color “parfait” – fall


Filed under surface design