Finding my word – Expand

I’ve been looking for my word for this new year and it finally came to me – expand.

Hopefully this isn’t me physically expanding! No, it’s about my life and especially my art.

Last year I really felt I need to focus on fabric, although drawing my mandalas did venture away from that. But as the year progressed I felt as though I had restricted myself too much. If I saw something I liked that involved a medium other than fabric, I told myself I couldn’t do that. My restrictions left me feeling a bit hampered and somewhat imprisoned by my own rules.

So with this year, I will still focus on fabric, but if I want to venture off to another area, I will welcome it. Meanwhile, those passions I currently possess will be expanded.

To give you an idea of expansion, I decided while drawing my mandalas the last week that I’d draw them on small 1.5 inch wood discs. I have lots of these around from previous creative lifetimes. Working small and on wood was not only a challenge, but really fun! I could see a whole set of these mandala discs.

smallmandalasFor several years I have been using Faber-Castell Pitt pens when drawing. I thought I’d try the Koi Watercolor Brush pens. I’ll write a comparison of the pens on a later post.

koipensAnd just a few of my new mandalas on paper.

mandalas22017-1 mandalas2017-2I feel that this word will not only stretch my art, but will also push me to widen what I’m already doing.

And for me, this is exciting. So have you selected your word for the year?

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How to: Dyeing cord

I’ve been loving all of the bowls and coasters I’ve been making. Unlike many of the rope bowls out there, instead of using the cord plain or covering it with fabric, I like to dye it.

multicolorbowlThe above bowl was made with the same three colors as the coasters.

Today I want to show you how I get the variety of colors when dyeing cord. Also, I dyed some of the 3-ply cotton cording and I will show those results.

This bowl is made from cord I dyed for this tutorial.

dyedbowlclotheslineHere is what you will need:

  • cotton clothesline or other cotton cording
  • dye stock in bottles with tips (I use fiber reactive dyes, but you could also use Tulip or Rit liquid dyes)
  • soda ash, water, and dedicated bucket with lid
  • dyeing pan and rack
  • plastic to cover your dyeing when completed
  • plastic container to rinse and soak cord
  • Blue Dawn
  • towel to lay dyed cord on while it dries

So let’s get started. If using fiber reactive dyes, the cotton cording needs to be soaked in a soda ash solution for at least 15 minutes. If you’re not familiar with soda ash which you can find with pool supplies, it is necessary to bind the dye to the fibers.  I added a cup of soda ash to one gallon of hot water. Be sure you use gloves. (After removing cording, cover the container. The solution can be used over and over again. Add both water and soda ash to it when the solution gets low.)

dyeingcord1When I remove the cording out of the soda ash water, it more than likely is tangled. I take the time in this step to untangle and place the cording on the racks. The reason I like to use the racks is that they keep the cord elevated and away from the excess dye that drips off of the cord.

dyeingcord2Now to add the dye stock/solution. I’m only using two colors (lemon yellow and turquoise) on this cording, unlike the three I used in the first bowl photo. To make the dye stock from the fiber reactive dyes, add one tablespoon or more per cup of water. (This dye solution will last for a long time refrigerated. I’ve been using dye stock I mixed last July.)

I dye one color at a time, spacing it out on the cording.

dyeingcord3After the first color is finished, I add the next one.

dyeingcord4Here is how the cord looks all dyed. Be sure and check both sides of the cord before quitting. And don’t be concerned about the colors mingling.

dyeingcord5Now I cover with a garbage bag to keep heat in and wait for at least 5 or 6 hours, but I usually leave it overnight. Be sure at this stage your dyed cord is in a room that is at least 70 degrees. These dyes work best at 70 degrees or above. I have overnighted them in my dye studio with 40- 50 degree temperatures and they worked, but they would have been more vibrant had I brought them inside.

After the batch time, the colors will change a bit. You can see how the yellow and blue have combined to make green.

dyeingcord6Now to wash out. First rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.

dyeingcord7Once the water is clear, rinse in hot water and then fill the tub with hot water adding Dawn.

dyeingcord8Let the cording soak in the sudsy water for at least 30 minutes.

dyeingcord9Since I’m not washing this in the machine, in order to get all of the loose dye out, after this soak, I’ll rinse again. If there still any dye coming out in the water, I’ll do another hot soak. When I’m sure all of the dye is out (the water is clear), I’ll place it on a towel to dry. Once it’s almost dry I’ll hang it to finish the process.

Here is how the cording looks after it’s completely dry and ready to be made into a bowl.

dyedcordclotheslineI mentioned that I also dyed 3-ply cotton cording the very same way. This cord is much thicker and took the dye differently as you can see in this picture. The colors are lighter and there is very little blue left.

dyedcord3plyHere is how the two bowls compare in color.

bothbowlsThat picture shows how there is little blue left on the 3-ply. I was quite surprised at the difference.

The more I thought about it, I realized that the 3-ply is so much thicker. To make the colors as dark as the other bowl I really needed to use more dye. You will notice in the center of the 3-ply bowl you can see white. That’s where the center of the cord wasn’t dyed because the dye didn’t penetrate all the way. To fix this bowl I could use a marker to touch up that area.

As far as the 3-ply bowl, it is much more sturdy than the clothesline bowl. Since the cording is bigger, it sews up faster. Also, I love the texture. I’ll definitely be making some bowls out of the 3-ply.

As I blogged in an earlier post, I’ve been wanting to make these bowls for years and so glad I’ve finally gotten around to playing with the cording. If you decide to dye some cording, I’d love to see your finished projects.

Thanks for dropping by.


Posted in clothesline bowls, dyeing, fiber reactive dyes, Sewing, tutorials | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

How to: Dry Brush Dyeing

OMG! I am so excited about dry brush dyeing. I could hardly wait to blog about it!

drybrushresultsI found this technique in Making Your Mark by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan. This book also includes a video. I absolutely love watching these women create.

makingyourmarkOf course, there is some prep. The fabric needs to be soda ash soaked and hung to dry before you begin. Once the fabric is dry, you can take a warm iron to the cloth. I didn’t do that though.

You also need to make up some chemical water. I mixed 200 grams of urea, and 13 grams of Ludigol (optional) into 85 ounces of distilled water. I used distilled since our water is hard, but you could use tap water.  The unused chemical water will keep for a long time in a cool place.

Once mixed up, put a small amount of the chemical water into a bowl and then add your fiber reactive dye powder. Except for the black, I added already mixed dye water to this chemical water. I’m trying to use up the dye water I had mixed up last year.

So let’s get started. Lay the pre-treated fabric on your surface. For the demo photos I used my printing board which I covered with fabric before pinning the fabric to it. However, since I only have one of these boards, the other pieces were dyed just taped to the plastic covering my tables. That worked fine except any creases in the plastic showed up on my pieces. For me that’s just more texture.

I’m using cheap brushes from the paint section at Walmart. I bought three  2- and 3-inch brushes. I cut them a bit jaggy so they wouldn’t lay down a perfect line.


I used three dyes: Turquoise, Fuschia, and Lemon Yellow. I started laying the dye down with the 2-inch brush starting with the yellow. The object is to put down very little dye each time and why it’s called dry brushing.  You see on the right side of the piece where I started I have way too much dye. The more I did this, the better I got. It’s like stenciling – less is more.

drybrush1Then the next color was added.

drybrush2And the third color.

drybrush3Then I started going over the colors. This time I used the 3-inch brushes. After a couple passes, I left this piece alone and started working on another piece so this one could dry a bit.

drybrush4I kept adding more color and then added a pass of Raven black dye.

drybrush5I really liked how the black looked so all of the pieces have black except one.

I rolled them up in plastic garbage bags to batch.

drybrushrollingupAnd let them batch for 24 hours.

drybrushbatch I washed them out starting with a cool rinse until the water was clear. Then rinsed them in hot and then soaking in a hot sudsy tub. Love the colors!

soakingbrushedfab I then put them in the washing machine and washed in hot water, rinsed twice, dried, and ironed. And the final results!

drybrushresultsHere are the individual fat quarters.



drybrushangleThe following one I didn’t add black dye. The line at the top is from the plastic. The other lines are from the fabric not being ironed.

drybrushwoblackThis last one is way light. I’m not sure what I did different, but it needs more dye.

drybrushlightOf course, any of these can be over dry brushed. They would make great backgrounds. Anyway, this was so much fun. I will be doing much more of this in my future. Next time I will use the dye powder instead of the dye water so I will get more vibrant colors. Also, will use a different color combination.

It’s so much fun trying something new! Been looking for my word for this year and it may be “experiment.” Well, maybe not. I’d love to hear your word for this year if you’ve decided yet. Or you might be like me, still looking for it!


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Happy New Year 2017!


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Looking back 2016

Oh my! This year has really gone by fast. So how much did I accomplish during 2016?

This year I spent a lot of time teaching. After a year of planning and thinking about it, I finally opened my online class, Icy Delights: Dyeing Fabric With Ice, for registration in May. It’s been so much fun to share my love of this technique, and to see all of the lovely fabric students have created.


It also was the year of teaching local classes. I taught almost 200 students.

Ready to get the class started

I taught three classes for kids: tie dye bandanas at Patchwork Central and tie dyed t-shirts at Gilda’s. I also taught the Patchwork group to dye silk scarves.

tiedyedshirtsThe Easy And Fun Silk Scarf Dyeing class was so much fun. Students found out that they  could create something beautiful and wear it home! I taught a couple classes at Gilda’s and many more at Scattered Art in Newburgh. I also had a couple groups contact me to have their own dyeing party.

gildassilkdyeing I taught a prayer flags class at Gilda’s and a Painted Zip Bag class at Scattered Art.

PaintedzipperbagclassBut besides teaching, my biggest accomplishment this year was sewing! Not only did I sew up these lovely bags, but I felt confident enough to give the one in the back on the right (my favorite of the bunch) to a local silent auction.

Craftsy One-Zip Way

I’ve wanted to make those corded bowls for years now, and finally this year I did it! I’ve been having so much fun, but instead of covering the cording with fabric, I’ve been dyeing it. Then I got on a roll making coasters.

coasterprojectI also had the opportunity to share my art on WEHT Local Lifestyles. I appeared on this popular local program seven times this year with my friend and lovely host, Ange Humphrey.

angeandmeoctI also completed another project I’ve wanted to do in years and that’s sew those little cloth dolls.

Cloth Dolls

I moved my mandalas from paper to cloth and painted them with watercolors.

watercolormandala10This year was the third and last year for The Printed Fabric Bee group. It’s been a fun run and it’s been so exciting to meet this great group of creative women. During the first two years when we did a project every month, I felt it really helped to stretch me as an artist. This year we each took a month and posted on our specific topic. During my month I talked about adding resists to ice dyeing. This was one of the posts.

soywaxsamplesIn June I headed to Cincinnati for an Eco Print Retreat “Exploring Nature’s Patterns” with Jacqueline Sullivan. I had fun and loved meeting Jacqueline and the other lovely women, but decided eco printing  just wasn’t something that I wanted to pursue. And that’s a good thing – marking off something from my list!


But of all of the wonderful stuff I did this year, the highlight was traveling to Honolulu with Dave and recreating a picture with him. We tried to find the exact location where mom and dad’s photo was taken. We were close, but so much has changed since they were there. I talk about this journey on this post.


What a great year! Thanks for dropping by. Now for 2017. Happy New Year everyone!

Posted in art, eco printing, ice dyeing, teaching, The Printed Fabric Bee, year end review | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

2016 Christmas Ornaments

Every year Dave and I exchange an ornament that we’ve made.  This tradition started back in 2005 when we were dating.  The very first ornament he made for me is the birdhouse at the center bottom of the tree. It’s amazing to see that our little tree is almost full of these special ornaments.

fireplaceThis year I tried a variety of ideas and they just didn’t work. However, I had made several of the rope ornaments for the tutorial and also my TV segment, so I ended up giving him one of those. This one I made with cord I had indigo dyed.

2016ornamentDave made his out of a gourd. So cute!

2016davesornamentIf you’d like to see our Christmas ornaments from years past, check out this post.

It’s fun looking at the ornaments we’ve made over the years. It’s just a little tradition that I really love.

Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday. Won’t be long and it will be another new year!


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Best of 2016 Tutorials

As we end another year, I am again looking back on my best of 2016 tutorials.   If you missed them, the links are at the top of each picture.

I really loved drawing on fabric, using watercolors, and then free-motion quilting. See tutorial here.


Playing with Jacquard SolarFast was fun and I loved my results. Tutorial here.


I’ve been wanting to make cloth dolls for a long time. I finally got around to making these cuties. Here is the tutorial.

Cloth Dolls

Cloth Dolls

Loved my leaf printing. Check it out here.


The last tutorial is dyeing with silk ties. This was a new and updated tutorial.

Dyeing silk scarves with ties

If you’d like to see other “Best of  2016″ check out Meadow Mist Designs the “Best of” linky party.

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Happy Holidays 2016


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Coaster Birthday Giveaway

Congratulations to Carol and Barbara who were the winners of my giveaway.               Thank you all for entering!

This is my birthday month so I am celebrating by giving away a set of my coasters to one of my readers.

giveawaycoastersAll you need to do is comment below. Be sure your email is listed so I can get back with you. The giveaway will close on Tuesday, December 27 at 8 am CST.  Good Luck!


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How to: Playing Cards Case

Here is what I made with my painted canvas – a playing cards case.

playcard17playcard14Of course, I could have made a variety of other things with this painted canvas including, but not limited to, journal covers, zip purses, and wall hangings.

However, the reason for choosing a playing cards case, is that on vacation Dave and I play cards. We never bring them out when we are at home, but on vacation we play lots of cards! Usually I throw in a deck or two in my suitcase, but I’ve been known to forget them and we’ve ended up buying them while out of town. Now we have a nice supply of them and they reside in my suitcase all year round. Dave will bring a notepad, and then we’ll scrounge around for a pen. With this playing cards case, everything is together. But really what gave me the idea was what I found while going through some old boxes in the basement last summer. This was my mom’s.

playingcardholderplayingcardholder2When I saw it, I decided I had to make one. I made one in fabric and really didn’t like it. I wanted something much sturdier. That’s where the canvas came in.

So let’s get started. Maybe you have someone who would love to have a playing cards case.

Cut the canvas to 6.5 inches by 20 inches.

playcard1Lay the canvas painted side down and fold both edges in 5 inches. This way you can audition which side will be the front.


Once you have decided take pinking shears and cut around the whole piece.


playcard4Now fold back the two 5-inch flaps, fold in half,  and iron.

playcard9Open up and cut the left side so it’s 5 inches tall, except at the corner where I’ve left about a half inch.


Cut the right side so it’s 4 1/2 inches wide.

playcard8Iron again to find the center fold and mark it.

playcard10Now we’re ready to take this to the sewing machine. First sew around the whole outside. Then sew the center line that was marked.

playcard11Then I sew a quarter inch on both sides. The one side will hold down the tablet pocket.

playcard12So here it is all sewn up.

playcard13Now all we need to do is add out tablet, pen and cards and we are set. Two decks of cards are in the right pocket. My tablet is 3 1/2 x 5 inches.

playcard15Here it is closed.

playcard16If you want to add a strap to keep it closed (although it really doesn’t need it), cut a thin strip of your fabric 23 inches, cut with pinking shears, and add a snap.

playcard17The strap could also double as a bracelet!! As I said earlier, this canvas could be used for other projects including journal covers, zip bags and/or wall hangings. It was so much fun to paint on the canvas adding all of those layers.

Now I’m ready to play cards! Thanks for dropping by.



Posted in Journal Writing, Sewing, stencils, surface design, tutorials | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments