Sunday, September 26, 2010


Kind of boring results!  
I left the blackberries rolled up in the fabric for several days - until the fruit flies were starting to get thick and the whole concoction was beginning to ferment!
I think I made a mistake by washing the fabrics with synthropol in the machine and drying in the dryer.  They ended up just a boring purplish grey.  Hmmm. The one pictured above is the darkest of the group.
Off I went to get more blackberries.
I took the two fat quarters that were the lightest in color and slathered them with the fresh blackberries (I didn't freeze them this time and I wonder if that made the difference in the color I witnessed) and mashed them in.  This time the color was definitely redder.  I rolled the whole mess up and let them sit for a whole week!
When I unrolled I rinsed them really well in the sink, catching the seeds in a sieve.  
I let them dry and then gingerly ironed them - I was worried the heat might change the color, but it didn't.
I'm really pleased with the results this time - 

I rinsed off the captured slurry of blackberries and tried to separate the seeds from the pulp.  I wanted just the seeds, but it was too much work to get it all off, so I rinsed as best I could then spread the seeds over a fat quarter that had been prepared for 'flower pounding' with alum and soda ash.  I sandwiched the seed-covered fabric in plastic and ran it through my etching press.

The press tends to take all the liquid and push it to one end.   It was fun, I could hear the little seeds exploding.  I thought there would be some kind of liquid in the seeds that would burst open and squirt it's essence onto the fabric and I'd get...well, who knows what I'd get!
The purple juice that was developing this time was definitely different than the juice from the berries.  It's more purple.  I rolled it up and left it for several days.

 Look at that color!

But, what I got was probably the opposite of what I was expecting.  The seeds acted as a 'resist', meaning there was color around the seeds and little white spots where the seeds were embedded into the fabric.  I hope you can see that in the photo.  It's a very interesting texture.

Sorry, my camera doesn't like closeups!  But I think you can see what I mean.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I picked some blackberries and put them into the freezer for a few days.  I took them out this morning, to let them thaw a little, then put them into a colander and started crushing the liquid out of them.  That got old fast, so I just took the mess and spread it over a fat quarter of pre-mordanted cotton fabric.  I put another fat-quarter on top and rolled the mess up in a piece of plastic sheeting.

I'll leave it like this for a few days.

I took some of the liquid and put it into an aluminum pot and heated it to 130 degrees F and then dropped another fat-quarter into the pot and removed it from the heat.  I'll leave it in there overnight also.

Boy, does this smell delicious!  No kidding...way better than rotting petunias!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I had an irresistible desire to find out what fabric dyed from the petunias at work would look like.  So, I couldn't help myself and picked some last weekend and put them in the freezer.  These petunias are everywhere, there are plenty of them and I only picked a few from each plant and picked them from the backside, so no one would notice!
I was intrigued because of the color.  The only way I can describe it is FUSHCIA pink:

According to Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles  by India Flint freezing the delicate flowers causes the individual cells holding the dye to rupture, so not much heat is needed to release the dye.

I was surprised when I brought the flowers out of the freezer they had changed color to a deep purple.  In fact, when I started stuffing the frozen petals into a nylon sock they were already releasing the dye all over my hands and the countertops!

I put the sock of flowers into a pot of hot warm (from the tap) and heated it.   After squeezing all the liquid from the petals in the sock, I divided the liquid into four glass quart jars.  I left one of them 'plain', one of them I added a little alum to, one of them I added a little copper sulphate and the last one I dropped some rusty pieces of steel, which would be akin to adding iron.  Then I put a fat quarter of cotton, which had been prepped with an alum mordant,  into each one:

Instantly you could see the color differences.  The plain is, well..., plain.  The copper has a decidedly blue-tint.  The alum leans more to the red, and the one with the iron is definitely blacker.
At this point, I realized that I had made a big mistake by heating the flowers too much.  And, I probably added too much water to the dye pot.  These mistakes resulted in a very poor showing of the fabulous color I was seeing from the iced-flowers.  The next day I took the fabrics out of their baths and let them oxidate for about an hour and then put them back in.  I will leave them for another day or two, but I don't think that they will improve or get darker.

Pretty sad looking at this point.  But, I have really learned a lot.  And, after all, that's what this is all about!  I think next week I'm going to gather some more of the same flowers and try again.  This time without the heat, and less water.  

(I went out into our garden and picked all the petals off some of our flowers.  We don't have a lot, but I picked all the blooms off of our purple petunia, one red geranium, and one small yellow plant.  They are in the freezer, I'll be putting them in the dye pot tomorrow! My husband was stupefied as to why I decimated the flowers!  Hey, it's raining, they'd be gone soon anyway.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I quilted the Rust Experiment today.  I wanted to just quilt around the 'rust' circles made by the metal disks.  But I don't think I've ever quilted or sewn 'perfect' circles.  I've seen a device that attaches to your machine that holds the fabric in place for sewing perfect circles.  Since I don't have one, and don't even know where to get one, I came up with a simple solution - a pin inserted through the center of the circle into my sewing machine's table.  Good thing it's wood - huh?

After I got the initial circles quilted around each of the rust circles I felt it needed more quilting.  So, I did the easiest thing and just echo-quilted around the circles.

Usually, I put binding around the outside to finish a quilt.  But the colors on the outside of this piece of fabric I used as the background is very interesting!  It has picked up stray dyes somewhere, making these interesting changes from blue to green to yellow.  I'm not sure how I'll finish it now.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Being bored, I started cutting out rectangles from the group of fabrics I recently sun-dyed.  (A great group of fabrics, I really like the colors - and more than that - I love the fabric.  I need to find a source for it.)
I arranged the rectangles on a piece of fabric I had made in the recent workshop at Pratt.  It was one I made, with sad results, using a paper litho-plate technique.  It works well as a background.

I've taken numerous design classes and workshops.  I want there to be a 'formula', you know?  But, I'm realizing, there just isn't.  I can't say what makes a design work, for the most part.  But I can 'feel' when it does.  I just moved the squares around and around, until they 'felt' right.  I would take them off, and put them back and realized there are endless possibilities that work just as well as the next.  Hmmmm.

After I was tired of this game, I stopped at the latest arrangement.  Then I stitched around them to secure them to the background.

Then I dampened it and arranged some metal discs on it.  I wanted rusty circles!  It took two days until I was tired of watching it rust.  I had to re-wet under the discs the next day.  I removed the aggressive rusters and moved some of them to the lazy ones positions.

Here it is now.  I think I want to quilt around the rust circles.