Category Archives: Book Reviews

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.





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Book Review: Twelve by Twelve, the International Art Quilt Challenge

I was thrilled to receive  this book from Lark Publishing.  I have followed the Twelve by Twelve blog for some time and this book not only give me a chance to revisit some of the themes but to get to know the artists and their processes on a much more personal basis.

Twelve by Twelve is group of 12 international fiber art who have challenged themselves to create a 12″ x 12″ art quilt based on a theme selected by one  of the members.  The theme might be a concept, such as “Community” or a colorplay such as “BrownSageBlue”.   The group gives themselves two months to complete the challenge.  During this time they use a their blog to explore the concepts and share their journey.

The book is organized into 12 chapters (of course) covering 12 challenges.  In each chapter  features a quilt by one of the 12 members of the group.  The focus of the chapter is the  artist’s creative journey in meeting the challenge.   Each artist shares her background,  gives us a glimpse into the space where she creates her art,  and describes  the technique(s) used to create the featured quilt.  The quilts created by the other 11 artists are pictured, of course, with an artist’s statement for each.

In addition to covering 12 challenges that span a 2 year period, the book features several interesting articles, written by the group members.  Topics range from finding space to create your art to starting your own challenge group.

Each artist writes in the first person so the book has a very personal feeling to it.  Part of me wants to rush through and devour it on one sitting but I am savoring it one chapter at a time, taking the time to really study each challenge and the each participant’s quilt.

The book comes out next week.  I highly recommend you order it.  In the meantime you can visit the group’s website to learn more about the 12 artists and view their wonderful art.


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