Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Fiber Artist - Cactus Bloom Fibers exciting and luscious! This week's featured artist is Cactus Bloom Fibers.

CoreSpun Recycled Silk Yarn by Cactus Bloom Fibers 

As exemplified by the above silk yarn spun from a recycled silk, Patricia of Cactus Bloom Fibers has given a modern twist to the ancient art of fiber spinning. It is also a wonderful example of her versatility; dyeing and spinning traditional fibers AND transferring this process to non-traditional spinning materials from the world around her. Just take a look at this scarf!

Handspun Wool and Recycled Silk Tie Scarf by Cactus Bloom Fibers
The spinning of fibers into yarn is a fiber art form that dates back to prehistoric times. It evolved from rolling tufts of fiber along the leg, to attaching fiber to a stone and twirling, to a spindle and distaff, and the "revolutionary" spinning wheel. Modern industrial spinning techniques make use of high-speed rotary and open-ended spinning.

Hand-dyed Fiber by Cactus Bloom Fibers
 Though there are many varieties of spun fiber at the big name craft stores, it is artists like Patricia that keep the medium alive and fresh. It is the individual artistic whim that gives handdyed roving and handspun yarns the perfect touch for yarn and needle crafts. The ability to create unique items from the yarn and fiber at Cactus Bloom Fibers is abundant!

Handspun Thick and Thin Worsted Merino Wool Yarn by Cactus Boom Fibers

Plumberry Handspun Art Yarn by Cactus Bloom Fibers
Let's hear from Patricia about how her love of color and interest in spinning came to be:
"Cactus Bloom Fibers is a name I chose for my business because I consider myself a desert transplant.  I currently live in Springfield, Missouri but grew up in Arizona.  When I was coming up with ideas for a name, I kept coming back to cactus blooms.  In Arizona, my brother and I used to explore the desert and mountains around us.  My family used to take us on hiking trips around the state, as well.  To me, the desert is beautiful - and one of the most beautiful things you can see are cactus in bloom with bright luscious yellows, pinks or reds.  Those seem to be the colors I use most in my dyeing, including large amounts of green.
I have a passion for color, but texture is wonderful, too.  I love working with natural fibers such as wool and silk. I enjoy dying & blending my own fibers and spinning them into interesting & beautiful yarn.
I've dabbled in a lot of creative fields, such as silversmithing & jewelry making, quilting, sewing, knitting and needlework.  Lately, I've been designing felt brooches/baubles to coordinate with my handspun yarn.  I've noticed that my best creative moments come when there is no pressure to create - and I'm just living in the moment, enjoying the process.

A few years ago, I became intensely interested in the process of dyeing yarn and fiber. I did quite a bit of online research, read online tutorials (there's tons of them online), checked out books at the library, bought books and also watched any program on TV that had anything to do with spinning or dyeing fiber that I could find. The only thing I didn't do was take a class. I'm just not a class-taker. I like learning independently and and some classes can move at a pace that puts me to sleep!

If someone were to ask me why I love spinning colorful fibers into yarn, I would say that it's the tactile quality that is so appealing. I bet that is why most women who spin yarn like it, too. What's really wonderful to me about dyeing fibers and spinning them into yarn is that I get to use my creativity to make fiber art, but in turn, that fiber art is something that can be made into something useful and beautiful.  It's a 2-in-1 process that I just find amazing.  I would also say that wool is my all-time favorite fiber (as is probably for many spinners). When someone asks me why I love wool so much, I usually say "There's just something about wool..." because I don't want to lecture them on all the wonderful attributes it has - and some people get the glassy-eyed look that tells me I'm being too educational.

I stay busy working full-time at an office job during the day, winning bread, etc. for my family...The most positive thing I can say about the office job is it gets any need for structure and orginazation out of my system.  When I am home working on the fiber arts, I can just let go and let the creativity kick in.  Of course, there's kids to deal with, pets to feed, dinner to be fixed and hopefully (if I'm being really good - 20 minutes of exercise to fit in somewhere).  The weekends are my big creative-outlet time.  
I would love to work as a full-time fiber artist some day and maybe fill any needs for structure or organization in other ways."

Thank you Patricia for sharing a little bit about yourself and Cactus Bloom Fibers. By the way, my daughter has suggested that the roving below would be a perfect choice for me to buy her for her next needle felting project!

Garden Flow Falkland Wool Roving by Cactus Bloom Fibers

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Fiber Artist - TeeGee

Hello fiber arts lovers! I am very excited to be featuring this weeks artist, TeeGee.

Oak Flame Velvet Shibori Scarf by TeeGee
TeeGee is also known as Mom, Beth, and quite possibly "Hey, Lady".  Like many who love fibers and textiles, Beth has fallen for more than one medium. After focusing on quilting off and on for 8 years, she has turned her creative inquisitiveness to the Japanese art of Shibori. This is a form of pleating, folding, stitching, binding, and dyeing of fabric that can be traced back to 8th Century Japan.

Velvet Bomaki and Arashi Shibori Scarf by TeeGee
Beth utilizes various Shibori techniques to create the magnificent scarves at TeeGee's. These methods include Bomaki Shibori and Arashi Shibori. In the Bomaki method, the scarf is dyed, stiched, then compressed on a large pole. After it is compressed on the pole, the color is discharged from certain areas and then overdyed with another color. In Arashi, the scarf is stitched, then compressed and wrapped on a large pole, which creates areas of resist where the dye cannot penetrate. Then thickened dye is applied to the pole wrapped scarf.

Although anyone who knows me is familiar with my love of silk scarves(you should see my coat rack), I absolutely love the Bamboo Rainbow Socks. I love how she incorporates the use of Shibori to create these fun and colorful socks.

Hand Dyed Rainbow Socks for Little Kids by TeeGee

Here is Beth in her own words describing her creative evolution:

"As a kid and in high school I tended to gravitate away from sewing and needlework as crafts and more towards building and tactile type arts, like pottery and sculpture.

I returned to sewing as an adult, first as a utilitarian quest, making linens and so forth for our apartment and making costumes and sometimes clothes for my little ones.  Quilting caught my attention early on and I found I really enjoyed staying up till all hours after the kids were asleep designing & piecing quilt tops.  Like a lot of quilters I have come across- I seemed to have an aversion to actually finishing them.  I just like the designing & piecing. There is a shelf full of unfinished quilts- just waiting for me to get them sandwiched and quilted.

It was when I was looking for “just the right color” for a quilt I was putting together, that I tried dyeing my first fabric, just a few fat quarters, in the sink.  I loved doing it but didn’t really have enough room to go all out with a dye studio, so that hobby was shelved till about 2006 when I picked it back up again and I started dyeing gradations and full color wheels on cotton. Soon after I started doing scarves in Low Water Immersion- which I really love doing because in a way it seems so simple but can go oh so wrong if the wrong colors start blending. 

I also love playing with wax on fabric, and honestly I think the most “fun” is using splattering soy wax in random patterns. I’ve also experimented with mono-printing with thickened dye, and various kinds of resists like potato & corn starch, and even old fencing from my garden.

I’ve been reading and studying about shibori for the last few years, I love the effects of the colors on velvet, especially when discharged and overdyed a few times. It’s always a surprise, usually a good one.  It is very labor intensive, but so worth it when you unravel the threads and start rinsing – I love that moment more than any other when I’m working with dyes.

I have a bit of creative ADD- as I can’t quite always focus on one thing. Right now I’m taking advantage of a new sewing machine and finally returning to using the raw fabrics I’ve dyed. So far in the works: a quilt and several shawls & constructed scaves and a few bags.  I’ve also finally tried dyeing fiber again and hope to find a way to work it into my work with all these textiles.  I love the process of taking boring white fabrics and manipulating it texturally and with color to make something completely different. Now if I could only find the time after my day job and my family to do that on a regular basis- then I’d be golden."

Batiked Willow Branch SIlk Charmeuse Scarf by TeeGee

I want to give a big thanks to Beth for allowing me to feature her and TeeGee on Desert Dyeworks. If you have any questions about Shibori or any other techniques that Beth uses, please feel free to leave a comment with your questions.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Star Mandala Tutorial Part 2 - Dyeing

So you've let your folded and bounded fabric soak in a soda ash solution for about 15 minutes. I prefer to let my items dry after the soda soak. You can do this, or wring out excess solution and get busy dyeing. So, let's get to it!

Find a good spot to set-up. When it is warm out I like to set-up outside. Another good spot is the the tub. I set-up using a milk crate with some newspaper on top to dye on.

So, let's get the dye ready! Using a glass jar with a good lid is great for getting the dye thoroughly mixed. Once you have put on your dust mask, fill your jar with one cup of water. If you want to make a lesser amount of dye, that's fine. Just adjust the amount of dye and water proportionally. For 1 cup of water add 1 tbsp. of dye powder. Secure the lid on your jar, and shake vigorously. Some colors mix more easily than others i.e. yellows vs. reds. Shake until all the dye particles are dissolved. Funnel your mixed dye into a squeeze bottle.

So, your dye is mixed and your dye area is set-up. Put on your gloves and get dyeing!

I prefer to start at the tip of the mandala and work my way outward. When working on smaller areas using steady drips of dye instead of a stream of dye gives you better control of where the dye goes. It also helps to keep you from applying too much dye and ending up with a puddle of dye on your dyeing surface. When you are getting the dye on folded areas and areas around where the folds are bound, it helps to stick the nozzle into the folds to get the dye down into the fabric.

Once you have completed dyeing one side of the mandala, flip it over and begin dyeing the other side. A quick note though, I prefer to wait to dye the outer fill color area of the fabric until after I have dyed both sides of the inner mandala.

Get the tip of the bottle into the folds
 When dyeing the outer fill color area, you can use one color or use more than one. When I use more than one color, I start with the lighter color first, and then add the darker color(s) in lesser amounts. When applying the dye here, I give the fabric gentle squeezes to encourage the dye into the inner layers. I then flip the fabric over, and then apply the dye similarly to this side.Once you have finished dyeing, wrap your fabric in plastic wrap or a plastic bag to ensure that it stays moist during the curing process. Find a warm spot for you dyed mandala to cure for about 24 hours. For the dye to react and cure properly it needs to be kept at or above room temperature. When it is not sunny and warm outside I like to place my dyed silks on a baking sheet and set it inside the oven(not on).

Apply dye to the outer area last
After your dyed mandala has cured for 24 hours, rinse it out. I use a special textile detergent, but a mild detergent such as Dawn dish soap will do. Fill up a dish tub with fairly hot water and detergent. While still bound, place your dyed mandala in the tub. Swish it around to encourage excess dye out of the fabric. Dump the water and add some more. Add more detergent, too, if you feel it necessary. Swish it a bit more, and then cut the ties binding the folds. Place your mandala back in the tub and swish some more. Dump the water again, and then add more water. On this step I usually let the fabric sit in there for a little while to encourage excess dye to be released. After this, you can pull the fabric out of the tub and do a final rinse under the faucet.
Result of color combo used for this tutorial
Hang to dry or toss it into the dryer.
Voila! You have your mandala!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Star Mandala Tutorial Part 1- Folding

Though the results can look amazing, this fold is relatively simple. You will need your fabric, I'm using a square of silk, a washable marker, a ruler or straight edge, and string to bind your fabric. Oh, almost forgot, you'll need a squirt bottle set to a mist spray.

The first step is to fold your fabric into quarters. Give it a spritz of water so that it is slightly damp and the layers stick together. I also take the opportunity to smooth out wrinkles.Place your finger at the center corner of your quartered piece of fabric. Keeping your finger on this corner, fold your fabric again to create a pie wedge. Your fabric is now folded in 8ths. Fold once more to create a narrower piece of pie. Your fabric is now folded in 16ths.

16ths pie-wedge and marking fold lines
Using a ruler or a straight edge, draw a diagonal line from one edge of the pie wedge to the other. Draw a few more lines along the length of your folded fabric. These will give you a guide as to where to fold and tie. They also will help delineate your bands of color when you dye your star.
Accordion fold along the lines that you have drawn. I prefer to bind each line/fold separately. Again, these will act as a guide as to where to apply dye.

Binding the folds

An accordion fold is the basic pleating of the fabric. This is done by carefully gathering the fabric by means of gently pushing and pulling the folds together. For thinner and smaller fabrics like the silk used in this tutorial, the height of the folds should not be more than a 1/2 inch high. Thicker fabrics can require taller folds. Otherwise it can become unwieldy to work with.

Accordion fold

Folded and bound mandala star

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pay Attention!

O.K. that is mostly as a reminder to myself to not ignore this blog. However, it is notice to all who may stumble upon my colorful world here. Pay attention, there's good stuff comin'!

So, what does this 'good stuff' entail? You most likely won't see descriptions of last nights dinner, well, unless it was totally awesome. What you will see is a window into the world of fiber arts and incredible creativity. I will be sharing my exploits in introducing fabric to color, as well as how to do some of this stuff yourself.

Of course, I am not the end all and be all of fiber arts so I must search out all those other wonderful fiber artists out there. I can't wait to share as many of them as I can with you.

So...stay tuned and PAY ATTENTION!