Thursday, May 30, 2013

Awesome New Stencil Shipment!

I just got a shipment of new stencils and have loaded them onto my site at I think some of these designs are absolutely wonderful, think of the many ways that you can use these images.....paint, Shiva sticks, discharge paste. And of course, I'm thinking about using soy wax.....not sure how that would work! Some are 6"x 6" and others are 8 1/2" x 11"

There are so many possibilities, I'm rushing to my studio right now to play! Here's one I did earlier with the Cathedral series:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One Word Wednesday


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dye Another Day!

How often you you get inspired with a new dye colour or idea and want to rush to the pots eager to try it out? Then discover you have to make up the soda solution and dye concentrate before starting? Maybe you only have 30 minutes and would love to try creating a new rich, soft brown with tints of red?
Why not make up the solutions and have them ready for when the inspiration strikes?
I have dye concentrates made up in 12 ounce squeeze bottles in two sets of primaries, plus a few extra colours and store them in my dye room. The room is cool all year round, but if your space gets warm, then invest in a small bar fridge.
I generally buy my dyes twice a year and make fresh concentrates every 3-4 weeks, more often if I'm having a particular colour splurge!
I buy my dyes from, they ship quickly and I like their service.
The colours I have are:

Cool Primaries                      Warm Primaries
Fuchsia                                    Scarlet
Lemon Yellow                        Golden Yellow
Turquoise                                Royal Blue

And I add in Bronze, Purple, Black (sometimes 2 or 3 different ones)' Avocado, Moss Green and Eggplant. I often will try a new colour and see if I'd like to add it to my palette, but generally am happy with this selection.

Here's the dye concentrate recipe I use:
Dye Concentrate:

            1 cup Chemical Water
            1 Tablespoon Procion MX Fiber Reactive dye powder
            Stir dye powder into Chemical Water until dissolved
            * I generally double the amount of black for intensity

Chemical Water: Urea is a wetting agent that keeps the dye solution from drying too quickly. This is important when laying the fabric flat to batch. Use this recipe for making the Dye Concentrate and Print Paste. The solution will keep indefinitely.
            4 cups lukewarm water
            9 Tablespoons Urea Granules
            Stir Granules into the water until dissolved.

I measure fairly accurately, but I know to get repeatable results it would be best to weigh my powders. I make little funnels from strips of paper to fit into the neck of the bottles, plastic funnels would work but I'd need one for each colour if I'm making multiple colours.

I make the soda ash solution in jugs or plastic bottles so that its ready to pour into cups with the dye concentrate:
Soda Solution:
            2 quarts lukewarm water
            4 Tablespoons soda ash
            Stir powder into water  until dissolved, soda ash will often take a little while to  dissolve thoroughly.

 Safety First!
·         Always wear a mask when working with dye powders.
·         Do not drink or eat in the dye area.
·         Reserve all equipment to use only with dyes and paints.
·         Label all dyes and chemicals clearly.
·         Work in a well ventilated area
How do you like to mix your dyes?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Books on Sunday

Mixed Media Master Class
with Sherrill Kahn

A few years ago I was fortunate to take a workshop with Sherrill and was amazed at her joy, enthusiasm, talent and willingness to share all she knows about the techniques that she taught us. This book is a compilation of many of the those techniques, plus much more.
The step by step guide with extra large photos allows the reader to see exactly what Sherrill is teaching and what results can be expected. I found that the pages are not cluttered with unnecessary colour, the photos are clear and easy to follow. I think any beginner, and those much more advanced, would find this book to be an excellent addition for their library.
Topics include:
  • Chalk Pastels and Matte Medium
  • Glazing with Paint Washes
  • Inkjet Images
  • Printmaking
  • Silkscreens
  • Inktense Monoprints
Plus much more! You can visit Sherrill's website at: and see her YouTube video at:
ISBN: 978-1-60705-423-8
Published by C&T Publications

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Soy Wax Workshop this Summer!

I hope that you will join me for five days of creative fun while we explore the many ways we can use soy wax resists to create pattern , colour and design on fabric.
Red Deer College, in central Alberta is offering an excellent summer arts programme and thye have asked me to teach two workshops.
Soy Wax Resists is being held July 29th- August 2nd and can be either a residential week or you can stay off campus. Click HERE  to the full information about the programmes and workshops that are offered.
In Soy Wax Resists we will be exploring pattern, texture, design and colour using soy wax as a resist method on a cotton, linen, silks and sheers. 

 We will experiment with painted wax resists, stitch resist, and screen printing with thickened dyes and paints using inexpensive tools such as brushes, masks and sponges. 

Time will be spent learning design principles and mark making and colour theory as well as discussions of how the fabrics can be used in clothing, home decor, mixed media and quilts. Soy wax
is a renewable resource, kind to the environment and easy to remove with washing! 

I hope you will be joining me in Red Deer!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lessons My Quilts Have Taught Me

It's a good feeling to finish a quilt! I often tell my students that every project and every quilt teaches us something. It can be a lesson about colour, design, piecing or an unexpected surprise.
A couple weeks ago I finished Wild Thing. 
 This quilt started out as plain white fabric, I used a combination of PFD cotton and Essex Cloth,  cotton and linen blend. I used thickened dye to paint circles onto the cloth, then batched and washed it. The next step was to apply soy wax to areas where  I wanted to preserve the colours and then painted a variety of colours of medium/pale strength dyes.
After washing and ironing, I cut the fabric into squares and then cut the squares in half and reassembled the rectangles on my design wall. The piecing and sandwiching was straightforward.
 I chose to quilt with a variety of weights of thread from a heavy 12 cotton down to light 60 rayon. I ordered another 12 spools above the 20 I had chosen from my collection because I wanted to follow the colour changes across the surface, matching the thread colour to the cloth. Therein lies the lesson!  
 When you create colours on cloth, then add more colours to blend and mix and create more, there are endless variations in values, tints and tones. When I look closely at a particular place on the quilt and start to think about the colours I see it can be challenging to narrow my choice of thread colour.
When I look at a blue, I need to decide if it leans towards a red-blue, a green-blue, does it have a tinge of orange or purple? How and where does it change on the surface? that can determine my thread choices and how often I have to change the spools.
I began by quilting the areas where it was simpler to choose the thread colours, dropping the feed dogs and using a top stitch needle. I followed the lines where the colours changed and worked across the entire quilt. Once the easier areas were quilted, I moved onto more challenging colour areas, sometimes a variegated thread would be useful but I often found the changes occurred where I didn't want them. It was often better to switch the thread to another, closer colour.  
 I am very pleased with the results, I learned so much about colour, how colours can be changed, looking closer at the base hues of what makes any particular colour. Maybe I also learned that one can never have too many threads.... I may have to go shopping!
What lessons have your quilts taught you?