Monday, July 27, 2009

Dye Party

Back in May my friend Anna mentioned that she wanted to change from working with commercial prints to using hand-dyed fabrics.  I suggested that our group could meet and have a dye party, and if we each made yardage, we could possibly swap afterward, and we’d all have a bunch of new hand-dyed fabric to work with.

Today was that day, and though things didn’t work out quite the way I thought, they worked out so that fun was had by all.

First, a few pictures from part of Anna’s wonderful gardens, which are filled with plenty of surprises, including a labyrinth and frog pond.  I took these while June and Lynda set up the tables in the garage for the printing part of the day.

Anna's garden one

A delightful perch for a frog and a woodland friend.

Anna's garden two

A little pink pig hiding out by a giant toad stool.

Once the tables were set up, the fun began!

IAA Dye party one

Lynda and June were working with this “Aztec engine block” a wonderful machine part which Lynda brought for us to use as a printing image.

 IAA Dye party two

Izzy with our table of dyes and chemical water, ready to go.

IAA Dye party three

Izzy going all Jackson Pollock on a piece of fabric.

IAA Dye party five

June working on her shibori totem pole (fabric wrapped around a PVC pipe and tied with heavy twine).

We had all pre-soaked our fabrics in soda ash, and also had a  little extra soda ash solution in a bucket for any impromptu dyeing.  Anna over-dyed a piece of batik fabric she had, and Lynda generously donated some t-shirts for us to decorate as well.

IAA Dye party six

Here’s Lynda helping Izzy print a tshirt with the Aztec engine block (using Deka screen printing ink).  Lynda made a really cool piece by printing a length of fabric using the engine block and other shapes, letting it dry, then sponging thickened dye onto it after lunch.  I wish I’d gotten a picture of it, but I was too busy dyeing my own fabrics, including these:

IAA Dye party seven 

Thickened dye, painted and splattered on.

IAA Dye party eight

A detail of the red passage. 

IAA Dye party nine

This piece looks a lot nicer in person.  It came out really Monet-esque with the misty lavenders and greens.  Anna donated this linen/cotton blend with a nice nubby finish.

IAA dye party ten

This looks like it’s out of focus, but it’s not.  The dyes were applied by sponging.  By the time we were wrapping up, everyone was sponging their fabrics.  I got the idea to use the sponges by reading Ellen Anne Eddy’s “Thread Magic” (thank you Ellen!).

IAA Dye party eleven

One of my favorite combos, Sunset Red and Deep Yellow (I bought these dyes from Dharma Trading Company ).

And,  finally, my favorite favorite favorite, because I’ve had tigers on the brain:

IAA Dye party twelve

I accordion/fan pleated the fabric, holding it together with clothespins, then squirting the fabric with orange dye and then brown dye.

I don’t think any of us dyed pieces large enough to share, but we all had a great time and are already planning a batik day sometime this fall.  Making art in the studio by myself is fun, but it is great to occasionally get out of the studio and make art with a bunch of great friends like these!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tyger Tyger

Let me start by saying that Boogie on the Bricks was fun as always. We did a little less than last year, but the rain stayed away and the crowds were good. The day went by very quickly and was a fun time for all. Thank you to everyone who sent well wishes in the comments, I really appreciated them!

Several years ago, I picked up Rice Freeman Zachary's "Living the Creative Life" and was inspired by the artwork of Kelly Buntin Johnson. In particular, I really loved her Tiger Intercessor. I emailed her about a possible barter, but as we were both kind of skint at the time, it wasn't in the cards. I still jonesed for something tiger, having loved them since I remember the clay tiger my dad made for me from an art kit we bought when I was 7.

Fast forward and several false starts later (beading projects gone awry, tiger colors but I just could not get the mojo to work for me) and I have made one iteration on the tiger theme:

"Tyger Tyger", completed in late 2007 or early 2008. It's about 54" high by 57" wide (I am so precise sometimes. Apparently if it hasn't gone to a show I don't know the specific specifics). Each tiger face was reverse applique on Pellon 40 weight interfacing, then appliqued onto the pieced background.

Detail of one face. I used all kinds of fabric in this piece, from Dutch wax batik prints from St Theresa Textile Trove to the marbled fabric seen here by Marjorie Lee Bevis in this tiger's nose. I based my pattern off the wonderful embroidered tiger hats from China, and went from there. Each tiger is different, and though they are made from the same drawing, each has his own personality due to the different fabrics I chose.

The blue and white stripes separating each panel were inspired by the striping on the selvedge of one of the Dutch wax fabrics, and were my favorite part of all at the end. The quilting and the stripes reminded me of the stitching on a baseball. And on the back I used some yardage I had bought of Detroit Tigers licensed fabric.

Sometimes, like the Rolling Stones said "You can't always get what you want/But if you try sometimes, you get what you need". If I had been able to acquire the Tiger Intercessor, as wonderful as he is and as happy as I would have been, I may never have made this piece, and that Detroit Tigers fabric would still be languishing in the art closet.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ain't We Got Fun

Here's a sampling of some of the necklaces I've made this week. I'm really liking the graphic quality of the Mexican ceramic. I've been reading "Learning by Heart" by Corita Kent and Jan Steward, and the glaze on the ceramic beads reminds me of some of the serigraphs pictured in the book.

I've also been digging deep and using some of my button collection as well as some of the more unusual African beads that I've been hoarding for over ten years. I figure it's time. If what I make doesn't make me happy, what is the point after all? Another lesson I'm taking away from this week's explorations.

If you are in Athens OH tomorrow, we will be vending at Boogie on the Bricks. I will have jewelry and other small works, both old and new, and Izzy will have his awesome polymer clay work. After that, I will be posting more of the jewelry to my 1000 Markets shop. Fun times!

Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jello Necklaces and Polka Dots

Day three of madly making things for the Boogie on the Bricks event on Saturday, and today I am playing with some old Mexican ceramic beads we bought when we first opened our bead shop way back when.

funky yellow necklace full view

This piece just tickles me.  It reminds me of that “Mad Max” style from videos like “Synchronicity” by The Police back in the day. 

funky yellow necklace detail

Detail.  The round yellow beads are the Mexican ceramic, while the black discs are coconut shell and the yellow discs are old Czech glass (I love rondells as a design element, I just can’t get enough of them).

Inspired by that piece, I went on to make several more (we bought a LOT of those beads, though most of them are tubes).

green jello necklace detail

This one is the green and aqua range, with size of the beads around 12mm –14mm.  I used some faux ceramic 6/0 seed beads to fill out the piece, as I don’t like to hide fun beads near the top of a necklace, where they may be hidden by a collar or long hair.

green jello necklace detail detail

Detail of the green beads.


Another one, in the pinks, reds and oranges range.

blue jello necklace detail

This one is with larger beads, 16mm-18mm.  I used rondells in between each donut, and two of the smaller tubes at the end.  For some reason this series reminds me of Jello, so they are the “Jello necklaces” of the post title.

I am also using other beads in stash:

black and white choker

Choker, made with old horn beads (the long tubes), polka dotted lampwork from India, and wood and glass rounds.

green ceramic necklace detail

This one is made with sandcast glass beads from Africa, aqua white heart pony beads from India, and more of the Moroccan ceramic rounds.  I love the teal-ness of it. 

green polka dot necklace detail

And, finally, the polka dots.  These glass beads were from Java, I got them at a really cool wholesaler called “Elephant Talk” when they were located in Charleston, West Virginia.  They had all kinds of really cool stuff, from intricate lampwork beads, pendants shaped like corn, leeks, mushrooms and more, and those wonderful carved flying dragon puppets that you can see in funky boutiques.  The other beads were ceramic discs from stash and more of the 6/0 seed beads.

The lesson that I took from all of this is that I need to remember how much abundance I have, and that I only need to open my eyes to see it.  None of the beads used to make these pieces are new, they have all been sitting in my studio the whole time, just waiting for me to wake up and realize what I have. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Preparing for Boogie on the Bricks

Every year for the past three years, we have vended at the Uptown Athens event “Boogie on the Bricks".  It is held in conjunction with the annual "Brew Week” which is a celebration of small breweries, and is a fun family event during a long summer month.

This week I will be busy working on some jewelry to take, and here are a few pieces I made today:


This piece is made with porcelain, shell, and Czech glass.  I wanted to have something a little fun and funky.  I bought most of the beads at Hobby Lobby, and the rest came from my personal stash.


Detail of the pendants.


Side view of a cuff bracelet made with Moroccan tile beads and Czech glass “druks” (round beads).  Each set of tile beads are strung on a headpin which is then looped at either end and then slid onto two loops of bracelet wire.


Combo top/side view to give you an idea of how the bracelet looks from a different angle.  I used two magnetic clasps to keep the cuff securely on the wrist.

And finally, because I found the center beads while cleaning my art table and wanted to make something with them:


The round discs and the white bicone beads were what I found under my art table.  The rest was improvised from my stash that I still need to put away from working on the Lark “Beading With World Beads” queries last year.


Detail view of the ceramic discs and wood and glass beads along the side.  This piece is strung on “imitation sinew” which I believe is just a very heavily waxed polyester thread.  It splits into smaller sections and knots up beautifully for this kind of funky work.


Detail of the original beads which caused all the fuss.

And, finally, something I did for me, which is still in process as I need to make a hanging loop for her.


What stated out as a mermaid type figure and which morphed into a seahorse.  The funny thing is that I wanted to make a seahorse to go with the piece I was intending this for, but didn’t know how to go about it.  I started this by beading the face cabochon (from Earthenwood Studio) and then beading the bead to make a vase/body.  It needed something else, so I ran a line of peyote down one side and then chose to increase rapidly, creating the ruffle.  All she needed was a little flat spiral from the base of the vase and voila! Seahorse!  I’m going to peyote stitch a loop off the back of her head and run a chain through it.  Hopefully I will be wearing her if you come by our booth on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Thank you to everyone who commented and entered for the drawing. The winner of the signed copy of Beading With World Beads is Upper West Side Writer. I will be emailing for details. Thank you again and happy beading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Jamie Ridler offers bloggers to join together each Wednesday to express our wishes and support each other in achieving them. This week she asks what we wish to nurture.

I wish to nuture my imagination, to expand the ideas of how to make a living with these gifts I've been given. I've been so focused on the day to day existence that I've forgotten how to play and how to access the bigger vision which I know lies within me. I've found that struggling and stressing over how to make things happen hasn't worked so well for me, and it is time to take a different path. Growing my imagination and being open to the possibilities is what I wish to do now.

Check out Jamie's blog and join in! There's power in numbers and you'll meet some great new people along the way.