Saturday, June 27, 2020

Moving into the 21st Century a few years behind

I had forgotten I have this Blog Site under a name I jokingly called myself (Outta My Mind) when I first converted from using acid dyes to learning about and trying to use botanical (natural and historic) dyes.  Maybe at some point I'll come back to this and figure out how to link it to a website.  

For someone who used to be in the computer industry, I am SO FAR BEHIND!  However, in this COVID-19 crisis, I have realized I need a new (to me at least) and different way of doing business.  Now that some grant money is trickling in, its time to consider moving into the 21st century!

Keep watching!  Spring Creek Art Works LLC doing business as A Botanical Dyery.  I just purchased the website hosting.  Hopefully, I still own the two names as dot coms.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Silk silliness

Oh, the dyeing of the silk has not been going as easily as I thought!  The preparation for the dye is a lot of work and now even the dyeing is much harder - at least for the silk roving.  Dyeing the silk yardage is fun and easy.  I guess the difference must be the amount of Sericin (silk worm spit) that remains in the roving.  Perhaps if I purchase it from a different source it would be easier, however I am finding it not so easy to purchase either!!

I also think the poor old (well, I've only had it for a year), electric roaster that I have been using has now gotten too rusty.  I can't seem to ever really get it clean, no matter how I scrub.  One of the problems is that this house only has a cold water source where I work in the basement.  I did find a 24 cup coffee maker at Goodwill that I purchased for all of $6.00 that I use to heat up water - but I've generally only used that for pre-mixing the dyestuffs and for nuno felting.  It's making me crazy not to have a proper set up and I sure hope the new basement work studio can be a better set-up - like with BOTH hot and cold water, a proper laundry sink and room to set up work areas.  I get the housekeys tommorow and the first stuff I plan on moving in will be the trailer contents and the studio stuff.  That way I can start in on all the work I need to get done for the upcoming Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair and Quilt Odyssey.  I have a TON of work to do to get ready for both shows.  I have about 10 nuno felting kits just about ready (waiting on the dyed silk roving and the written directions).

Speaking of Quilt Odyssey - I have to come up with an ad for the program.  There are some days when I hate being the one wearing all the hats for the business!!  Graphic artist I am NOT!  I also have been looking at patterns to purchase (which also means new samples made to go with them) and really, really don't want to go there anymore.  I will have new surprises and I have to come up with my own designs to best present them.  Oh, Lord - I never could draw very well!

Well, off to clean the house first - it helps to "clean up" and clear out my mind as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How I got here

First an introduction.  I have been playing with fiber of some sort or another from at least the age of 5.  I started out sewing doll clothes for my baby doll.  Then, the advent of "Barbie", the fashion queen came along and of COURSE, I had to create fashion for her!  My dad built me a doll house and for a while, I had to create all my own furnishings.  Soon, I received a whole set of wonderful Danish Modern furniture for the house (including a lamp that lit).  I had to make slipcovers, quilts, window dressings - and more clothes to hang in the new wardrobe.  My meager allowance was often spent at the remenant table of our local department store (I think it was a Sears & Roebuck).  Along the way, I took up embroidery, learned a bit of knitting, needlepoint, macrame - all string of some form or another.  At the first Smithsonian Folk Art Festival on the National Mall, I returned, day after day for all 7 days, to the tent where the ladies from the Ozarks were sitting around a quilt frame.  They finally just asked me to join them at the frame and there they taught me to make a Cathedral Window Quilt and to do the quilting stitch.  For many years after, I collected and made the Cathedral Window Squares to make a large enough quilt to use - it's all still in a shoebox somewhere.  I learned many years later by taking MORE quilting classes, that I had reversed some of the instructions they had given me and mine is not a true Cathedral Window - but it is my first quilt.  Well, actually, the Barbie bed got my first quilt.  I just didn't know it was called a quilt!  An aunt would send me the fabric swatches she would get from a mail order place - there were mostly wool suitings, but all cut to the same size.  Needing a blanket for my Barbie bed, I stitched all those little rectangles together, covered the seams by making a lining (using my mom's sewing machine) and, voila (!) had a bedspread that I learned later in life was actually a quilt.  I still have that one, too.

In college, I decided to switch from Anthropology to Costume Design for the Theatre.  I was talked into believing that I could learn all I needed there to go on to be qualified to work my dream job - restoration of clothing and textile for the Smithsonian.  I didn't graduate, although I did learn a LOT.  Unfortunately, I also learned about college politics and because I was not "serious" about going into the theatre, was not given a senior project that would allow me to graduate.  Instead, I started just working to earn a living.  I moved to Cambridge, Mass and worked at Harvard, in one of the libraries.  Not one to enjoy (or own) a t.v., I soon discovered some art-type classes that I could take locally and signed up to learn to weave.  AH - stringing along again!  I also took on a very part-time job in a very new business - a tiny little corner of a small shopping mall in a shop that sold cotton fabrics and the few other supplies available for quilting.  I had begun to read about quilting while I was in college (the old mimeographed "Quilter's Newsletter") and had made a couple of quilt tops for myself of my own design.  I had no idea where to purchase batting or how to quilt; which of course, did not stop me.  Finding that I actually knew something about quilting kept me moving forward and I cut and assembled a number of tops by hand.  I have never stopped quilting, or being involved with quilting.  I have taught, made quilts to sell, and have more dollars than sense dropped into the industry.

About 18 years ago, I started selling patterns, speciality fabrics, and accessories for cloth doll making at the quilt shows.  One of the doll designers I admired used "felted" wool to make jackets for her dolls.  Another doll designer was also making doll jackets from felted wool and decorating them with small applique pieces.  I decided to buy some wool and "felt" it to sell.  The customers didn't much go for it, but I LOVED it.  Pretty soon, I was wanting specific colors and adapting cotton applique patterns to wool applique.  As I did more research, I learned about Penny Rugs, dyeing, fulling and everything I could about wool.  I gave lectures on how to sew with fulled wool and the history of wool used for clothing as well as the history of Penny Rugs.

Felting is a misnomer - when you shrink wool fabric (woven wool), it is called "fulled".  Most wool flannel will shrink about 20-30% in length and about 10-15% in width.  The looser the weave, the more it will shrink.  As the wool fiber gets wet and is agitated, the fibers lock together to form a pretty impervious fabric!  The edges don't fray when it is cut, wool does not burn with a flame, repels water and still contains enough air pockets to keep you warm even when it gets wet.  Prior to Industrialization, wool went from the weaver to the fuller to finish processing it for use in making clothing.  Felting has caught on with knitters and crocheters as well - but technically, it is called BOILED wool when a knitted items is shrunk.

Over the past few years, I wanted to learn more about the various sheep and animal fibers and what makes some wools felt more than others.  I also wanted to learn more about working from the roving - the wool after it has been cleaned and carded and before it is spun.  I have been working on needle felting and really wanted to learn about NUNO FELTING.  I started taking a class from a wonderful felter who has been wet felting for over 30 years.  WOW!  I'm loving this!  AND, now I have more opportunity to dye.

Oh, did I forget to tell you - I love playing with color - always have and always will. 

So now, I am a vendor at quilt shows selling my dyed wool and now dyed roving for felting.  I've primarily been selling all the stuff needed for making penny rugs and some needle felting supplies.  Now - a new venture....I have added silks so that I can make kits for wet felting, nuno felting and silk work of most any kind.  I am going to try a few Fiber Arts shows now because I have crossed the quilting line.  I won't stop quilting, but now I think I will be incorporating silks, nuno felt and other wild fibers.

WAH-HOO - here I GO!