Hold The Vision

Last October, a friend showed me a book by an oil painter whose work I didn’t know. My heart flipped when I looked at the gorgeous layers, all effervescent color and pattern. My mind leapt back to glorious days immersed in surface design. Days when that’s all I did because nothing else had happened to me yet. I was bankrupt and a single mother.

The images in the book stuck to my mind like glue. I planned a December studio retreat for my artist self. I didn’t want to copy what I’d seen. I wanted to be inspired. I felt on the brink of a shift in how I thought about my work, and a deep desire to manifest an important “next step” in my artist’s quest.

December came and went. No work time. Life intervened. A holiday trip I’d not foreseen. A work schedule that ramped up instead of down. My younger artist self might have despaired. But not now. Deep breath. Let’s see about January.

January rolled by. After all, there were classes to prepare. February brought students and lessons and plenty of studio time teaching and sharing. A wonderful studio tour for my students. But no work time for me. Grrr.

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Experiments in Steaming

Someone wrote recently, inquiring about the soy wax dye pastes we introduced in January. She had questions about the colors not being as vivid as what we show on the website and wondered about the amount of steam or timing and pre-soaking her fabric. For those of you who don’t use dyes, in order for fiber reactive dye to bond to a fabric, there has to be a mordant or fixative. When a plant fiber, like cotton, is the fabric content, soda ash is used as the fixative. If a dye bath is the application of choice, soda ash goes into the dye bath. But if the application is painting or working with my soy wax crayons or pastes, then the fixative usually goes onto the fabric first. This is accomplished by soaking fabric in soda ash and water and then letting it dry.

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Book Review & Giveaway: Playful Fabric Printing

There are as many ways to approach the use of fiber reactive MX dyes as there are teachers offering dye workshops. Maybe that’s what makes Playful Fabric Printing such a valuable book. Gifted artists Carol Soderlund and Melanie Testa have together designed a consistent, doable system anyone can use to print MX dyes effectively and efficiently.

I love it when a detailed, well-constructed plan is disguised as play! Too often potential dyers are put off by the set-up, the waiting time, the challenge of color mixing–and we haven’t even begun to figure out designs. Soderlund and Testa cover it all and make it look easy. Before you know it, dyeing doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore. In fact, bring it on! 

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