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Latest Dye Yardage

My latest dye yardage – draped. Peaking out from below (detailed in another post) is silk satin… then metal-shot silk that crinkles up for a wonderful texture because the metal thread shrinks and pulls the silk into a shibori-like texture in the heated dye pot… then a light wool jersey. All the dye combinations from this year’s garden… iris blossoms, japanese indigo, woad, onion skins, carrot tops, eucalyptus leaves – bundled and bound – some with metal rebar and rusted resist.

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2015-09-19 13.41.03

2015-10-03 11.30.29 copy

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2015-10-03 11.31.15 copy

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2015-10-03 11.32.55 copy

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Japanese Indigo I tried this year, such a long hot summer but didn’t grow very well producing very small plants. I used some of the leaves in the metal shot silk which made a lovely blue/green colour but can’t attribute it to the indigo directly as I used lots of iris in that combo which may have given the colour. Completely random with no recorded recipe – lovely! I do enjoy that.

2015-05-09 16.00.25


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This is what I think is a perfectly beautiful video on the eco printing techniques that I use for my fabrics – locally sourced vegetation and found rusty objects! Nicola Brown lives in a wonderful part of Ireland and I was lucky enough to take a workshop with her in Vancouver…where she taught a very unique nuno-felting method. We dyed the nuno-felted fabric using the natural eco printing techniques highlighted in this wonderful video.

It’s a gorgeous little film for the backdrop of that part of Ireland and how Nicola describes her feelings as she unwraps her bundles – it’s exactly the feeling! No two are the same… addictive. Not to mention keeping an eagle eye out for bits of rust on walks to add to the collection.

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On New Year’s day 2015 I was inspired by my lovebug Biscuit and my stash of his hair, from keeping his continuous mohawk in shape.

Biscuit Hair Beads

Biscuit Hair Beads

From each hair cut I give him (which is frequent to keep him handsome) I quickly form his hair that ends up on the couch into soft felted beads and keep them in a silver bowl. From my local bead shop on 4th avenue in Kits, I had some silver findings of posts, jump rings, caps and some chain in my stash, as my intention a while back was to make Biscuit a necklace out of his hair beads. So… I spent a lovely New Year’s Day afternoon watching a movie and making him his new bling. I had enough B-beads left over to make myself a necklace too – and incorporate some vintage silk thread from my Grandma’s sewing box.

B-Beads, silver findings/chain, vintage silk thread

B-Beads, silver findings/chain, vintage silk thread

I am new to jewellery making so it took me a while to put it together – the process was lovely and meditative because I had to finesse the beads with some more felting to make them denser…and it took me a while to get the hang of piercing the beads with the post and bending the posts to make the little loop at the end. I used a thick darning needle to worry the way through the B-Bead for the silver post – probably would have been faster to use an awl but I couldn’t find it! I decided to make my necklace design a bit more sparkly by embroidering crystals from my endless stash onto one of the B-beads. (see detail shot below)


Fierce huh?

Felted Biscuit Beads, silver, vintage silk thread

Felted Biscuit Beads, silver, vintage silk thread

When I wore my necklace for the first time I found that the slippery silk thread would not stay knotted and secure on the jump rings, so I purchased more silver chain and replaced the silk thread… I think the necklace looks much more polished now. I love wearing it. It’s pretty interesting too to hear people’s reaction when they find out the felted beads are made from my dog’s hair. I really don’t think it’s that odd but maybe that’s just me and I’m sure every other dog lover out there! I can touch the beads and think of my little love bug.

Modified original design using more silver chain instead of silk thread

Modified original design using more silver chain instead of silk thread

Detail - I embroidered swaroski crystals to one of the beads

Detail – I embroidered swaroski crystals to one of the beads

I wear it single strand and doubled up

I wear it single strand and doubled up

Lovebug Biscuit

Lovebug Biscuit

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I was privileged to experience the slow art of tapestry with a wonderful instructor (Anthea Mallison) when I studied textile art at Capilano University. Although I was never really any good at it in the short span of time we had with our projects – it was a great experience to understand the art of hand weaving. I feel like if I wove using this technique for years and years (which is how long it takes to complete a large hand woven tapestry) perhaps I would improve my skills – not that I’m going to do that!. I believe I will stick to my somewhat automated Louet floor loom.

The Unicorn - detail - like a painting

Detail – The Unicorn’s hoof

On a recent trip to New York City I was privileged to see the beautiful Unicorn tapestries that are hanging in the The Cloisters in New York City – part of The Met museum. It was quite something to see this series of 7 hangings showing the plight of the Unicorn in this incredible medieval setting.

The Unicorn tapestries - wee rabbit detail

Detail – this little guy is an iconic motif used on the Met’s marketing materials for The Cloisters! No wonder – he is wonderful.

The Unicorn - silver wrapped yarn in collar - to see is to appreciate

Detail – the collar features the silver and gilt wrapped yarn and is so lovely and sparkly.

the Unicorn Taps - Gorgeous sleeve

Detail – gorgeous sleeve showing the visual folds made possible by the skill of the weaver

I just learned that the Unicorn tapestries are being re-created and starting in October are on show at Stirling Castle in the U.K. This link gives all the details and has some great information about the beauty and techniques involved with the slow art of tapestry:

The Slow slow art of Tapestries – check out the wonderful video at the bottom of the link where one of the tapestry weavers is interviewed. The weaver talks about her experience and some of the techniques used to create this art. Hope to be able to see these modern interpretations of The Unicorn one day.

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Some draping images showing the work I did this week – silk jersey and silk organza fabric eco dyed in an onion skin dye bath (with rust). The plant materials used from my urban dye garden were eucalyptus leaves, purple sage leaves, cosmos flower blossoms and wild geranium. The dominant print motif is from the eucalyptus leaves which turned out a lovely purple colour in my dye bath.

2013-10-15 17.41.47 2013-10-15 17.54.29 2013-10-15 15.09.46 2013-10-15 17.49.12 2013-10-15 15.17.06 2013-10-15 15.21.00 2013-10-15 13.59.43At a recent workshop with Nicola Brown a group of us created nuno felted wearables. Nuno felting is a wet felting technique where you incorporate unspun wool into a piece of silk fabric. It produces a lovely airy and light fabric if done right! Besides being re-inspired to try my hand at nuno felting thanks to Nicola’s expertise,  (I had been introduced to nuno felting during my Capilano University Textile Arts days), the workshop was a great reminder that onion skins are a gratifying and reliable natural dye. Particularly in combination with rust.  And particularly on the natural fibres of wool and silk. Other than a bit of a vinegar soak – no pre-mordanting (preparing the fabric to accept the dye colour) is required.

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Nuno Felted length (silk & wool) – eco printed with tea, eucalyptus leaves and buds using onion/rust dye bath from Nicola Brown’s workshop

After my past few months of a lot of experimentation with different natural plant materials from my urban dye garden – some successful and some not – it was wonderful to get back to basics using the onion skins in the dye pot. Not only do the onion skins produce a lovely chocolate brown dye (when combined with rust) you are also assured that the dye on the fabric is resistant to fading because of the substantive qualities of onion skin.

Thanks for the great technical learning experience and the inspiration to get back to it Nicola!  http://clasheen.wordpress.com Can’t wait to try some more nuno felting.

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Super felt and prints at the second Vancouver workshop!.

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Crazy symmetrical pattern left on the dupioni silk yardage - from the rusty rebar and plant resists. This pattern repeats down both edge lengths of the fabric.

Crazy symmetrical pattern left on the dupioni silk yardage – from the rusty rebar and plant resists. This pattern repeats down both edge lengths of the fabric.

Some images from my latest August dye batches. I used a selection of botanticals from the garden including my muse – the fennel. The plant material was laid out on the fabrics that had been previously dyed with natural dyes and indigo (silk dupioni, silk chiffon, cotton mull) then securely rolled and wrapped around rusty rebar from my rust stash… tied very tightly with a very strong cotton yarn I save for shibori work.

Some previously dyed fabrics that needed over dyeing to add interest

Some previously dyed natural fabrics that needed over dyeing to add interest (silks and cottons)

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Dupioni silk – oyster coloured – mordanted with alum – Catnip  & rusty rebar resist


Fennel resist – placed on silk and tightly bound prior to dye bath

I used last year’s freezer stash of dahlia blossoms – with an addition of one huge fresh dahlia blossom from this year…brought to a simmer and placed my wrapped and secured bundles into the dye pot. I simmered for 1 hour then let cool and sit for 4 days. Because I used rusty rebar in all the wraps as well as a shibori dye resist (two rusty squares) – the dye left a rich dark brown on the cotton mull – verging towards black on the silks. The rust definitely produces a deeper colour effect the longer you leave it. The silks were undamaged (you have to be cautious using rust as it can stress natural fibres) but one section of the cotton mull had a couple of holes which I think was more in how I unwrapped the package. Imprints from the plants were left in varying colours even some red spots!

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relatively clean imprint left by the fennel resist – on silk chiffon

Bundles from dahlia dye bath. Prior to unwrapping

Bundles from dahlia dye bath. Prior to unwrapping

Some people are concerned about the mold that forms (depending on how long the bundles are left to cure) but mold is also a legitimate mordant that helps bind the colour to the fabric. Safety first though. I always wear my mask when unwrapping and rinsing and my lovely dog Biscuit (miniature poodle) is out of harms way. With these fabrics (as in all my dyeing work) I unwrap and hand rinse first using Synthrapol soap. With these fabrics most of which were large pieces of fabric (yardage) I also soaked them for a 1/2 day in salted water to neutralize the rust, then washed in the washing machine with Ivory snow. The fabric still retains a lovely botanical smell or if you wanna be fancy- a scent.

Sage leaves (purple sage) left imprints in different colours including this bright yellow on silk

Sage leaves (purple sage) left imprints in different colours including this bright yellow on silk

Cotton mull previously arashi shibori with blue indigo - overdyed in dahlia dye batch with a rusty square resist

Cotton mull previously arashi shibori (angled blue indigo stripes) – which was then overdyed in fresh dahlia dye batch using an acrylic square as the resist  (left original white repetitive squares like the middle one in the image), then finally overdyed in dahlia dye batch with a rusty square resist with a hole in the middle – which left the stronger repeated squares. Need to use this yardage!

This image shows off the fine quality of cotton mull fabric - you can see the garden behind it. It's lovely and drapey.

This image shows off the fine quality of cotton mull fabric – you can see the garden behind it. It’s lovely and drapey.

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