Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tutorial: Painting with Dyes - Greens!

Painting with Dyes: All About Green

This quilt block I painted with dyes is inspired by the Japanese Garden in our Millennium Park in Creston, BC. The garden was designed by Gary Smith. Note the lantern in the foreground. 
 Painting with dyes is not like painting in watercolours nor oils or acrylics. Unless you are painting with the dyes very wet, it is difficult to blend two colours together so how do you have different shades of green within one painting? Painting with a light, medium and dark green is what works best for me when I am trying to depict form in shapes, such as a tree, when painting on textile. The following is my own typical method.
Here you can see I have drawn out 9 pictures that will be eventually cut up into 8" for quilters to purchase. It is easier to work with them in a larger piece than precutting them. I sketch the images using a thickened black dye in a bottle with a nib. I leave this fabric to cure overnight in plastic. The little bit of green showing has been added the second day.
Painting the Greens:
Step one: Mix a dark green using thickened dyes. I like to use lemon yellow, turquoise blue and lots of black to mix the darkest green. Then I proceed to paint all the dark green areas. I imagine a light source and paint the shadows on the opposite sides of the shapes as you can note in the tree below.

Here most of the dark greens have been added. I use a sponge to add the darks in the grassy areas.
 The medium green is mixed with a lot of yellow and a bit of blue.

The green that is a medium value (darkness), has been painted all over the nine blocks next to the darkest of the greens. Be sure to leave areas for the highlights.

 For the lightest shade of green, I add the clear sodium alginate that is used for thickening the dyes to the yellow with a small amount of blue.

Here is the mix. A bit of urea water was added to thin the light green for painting and sponging.

 The completed 9 squares with the lightest green
 A close up of the three shades of green painted on the evergreen tree and the three shades sponged on the birch tree.
When I paint a lot of one colour, I often add just a little of it's complement to 'ease the eye' thus you can see a little red sponged in with the green.  I find it more comfortable to look at. Do you?

 The completed piece ready for putting in plastic to batch/cure overnight before rinsing.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Intuitive Hand Stitching on Hand Painted Fabric

Free Form Hand Stitching

Have you hand embroidered in the past? This past week I have had to slow down and spend time just sitting so I tried adding some free form hand stitching to my dye painted textile cards. On Pinterest, I have been noticing a looser style of stitchery which is often added to vintage fabrics. Here are my first attempts at this more intuitive style of hand stitching. If you are going to try it, I should warn you it's quite addicting!
The looseness of this sponge painted flower seems to disguise my stitches on the flower itself. Do you like the two coloured border? 
A pillow slip I stitched, likely in the '80s, with cross stitch embroidery using a stamped pattern.

Free form cross stitch in the border. Yes I know all the Xs aren't even, like in the above sample, but somehow I like the look.

I cut up a larger panel to that didn't have a strong enough image to be sellable into 3 textile card sizes. Can you see this is a hanging basket in front of a window? I only ask as my husband didn't really care for this one.
Creating distance in scenery.
My Textile Cards are now available in a new location at the Faeries Landing on the east side of Kootenay Lake, BC. This is Cherie, the owner who has wonderfully put this Art Market and Bistro together. Stop in to see the  Faeries Landing Art Market and Bistro as you cross the lake from Kootenay Bay.

Driving through Creston, BC? Be sure to stop at Creston Card and Stationery where you will find lots of art supplies, local artist's cards including my own, and now fabric too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Does Ironing Set the Dyes?

Hand (dye) painted fabric with thread sketched details
After hearing from a fellow quilter last week about the way she sets her dyes, I decided to do some experimenting. To set the Procion fibre reactive dyes that I use, I have always 'batched' the (soda soaked) fabric I paint on, between sheets of plastic for at least overnight at 70 degrees or more. Another dyer told me that before learning about batching, she would air dry her fabrics and then iron them. So... I am since I am always looking for the best way to keep the colours strong on my dye painted fabrics, I tested the method.
As you can see below, I painted 6 rectangles. They just happened to be on pink cloth but that has no significance to the experiment. After batching all of them overnight between plastic, I took two and rinsed them in cold water and then washed them in Dharma Tradings, Professional Textile Detergent. They were then rinsed twice in cold water.  The other 4 were air dried, and then ironed with a hot iron. They were then were washed as before. The colour results were all the same.
I tried the drying and ironing technique on other pieces too and results were the same as with just the batching. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that batching alone with a temperature of 70 degrees or more has the best results for setting the dyes. Click here for information from Dharma Trading on the subject.
Do you have another way for setting the fibre reactive dyes?

Six hand painted textile pieces ready for 'batching', placing between plastic sheeting for overnight at 70 degrees.

Not much dye rinsing out of the fabric after batching.

Washing the dyed fabric. The fabric was then rinsed twice in cold water, dried and pressed.

The experiment. Drying the dyed fabric in the sun. I ironed the left side of all the panels before rinsing. The colour was the same in those that were ironed and those that were not.

The results of 4 days of painting.

My Personal Favorite.
 I think that is because it was so unexpected that it turned out. I was near the end of my day when I painted it with dyes that were left over from the day.
I am planning to organize a tutorial page so readers can easily access information on painting with dyes. More to follow. I love to hear from you in the comments or by email

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lilacs in Textile

'Lilacs in Textile'
One of my textile cards available at the Fernie Art Station, in Fernie, BC. Myself and two other artists are just back from our Art Show opening. It was a lovely time in Fernie.
We have just finished hanging this wall. Lots of work selecting just the right painting for each space.

I am standing in front of two of my hand dye painted paintings and my textile cards.
Laura Leeder and Win Dinn the other two artists in the show posing in front of the Fernie Art Station
Food all ready for the opening
More yummy food.
A couple of hours of delightful looking and interacting at the 'On the Wall-Off the Wall' art show opening.
 Of course we visited other artist's galleries while in Fernie. Louise Hilliard was manning the shop at 'Everything Angela'  Louise is a seamstress who sews fabric with Angela Morgan's images on it into incising items. Lots goes into the work of an artisan and it was fun discussing the design of a new hand bag with Louise. Click  here to find more information about this talented seamstress.

We also went to visit the Eye of the Needle and Fernie Forge Studio and Gallery.

Flo Barrett, award winning costume designer and seamstress here at the Eye of the Needle Studio and Store is holding up a twig fronted corset that will be part of a series for a photo shoot.

We had a lot of fun visiting this studio and enjoyed looking at the work of many talented artisans.  I can highly recommend a visit to Fernie, BC. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fernie, BC Art Show

On the Wall - Off the Wall
The last days are always chaotic getting ready for a show. This week I've been thread sketching 30 textile cards to take to the show 'On the Wall-Off the Wall'. You may not know it but that is a lot. In Yoga last night I noticed my knee was sore probably from running the foot petal through those miles of thread! Who knew this could even happen?  
Here are my favorites. Do you have a favorite?

If you are near Fernie, BC, please come and check out the new show coming to Arts Station Gallery.

On the Wall - Off the Wall

works in Mixed Media, Textiles & Water Colours
by Win Dinn, Eileen Gidman & Laura Leeder

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 28 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Exhibit Continues Until: Tuesday, June 23

Win Dinn constantly experiment with techniques, following the 'What if's'. Her paintings are
colourful, rich with texture and layers, and range from the whimsical to the deep. She believes
that in mixed media, as in life, there are no mistakes; there are only opportunities to move in a
new direction. Find out more at

As a watercolour and textile artist who likes to paint from life, Eileen Gidman enjoys creating
vignettes that tell a story. She feels at peace in the natural environment and her art subjects
are often of that world, whether landscapes, botanicals or birds.
Her work is available on or follow her

Laura Leeder's paintings have become a way to celebrate the beauty of the Creston
Valley. By combining the local produce with vintage teacups, porcelain,
lace and local pottery she creates paintings that are both timeless and serene.
Her most recognizable paintings are of the teacup series. She painted many
of the pieces in this series for the Creston Museum annual fundraiser tea.
Find her work at:
As I am sure most of you won't be able to attend so I will try to remember my camera and I will try to remember to take some photos to post later. When I am in the spirit of a show opening, I find it hard to remember to do these things but I will try.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Textile Necklace using Hand Dyes

Hand Dyed Textile Necklace

Oh my gosh this textile necklace was fun to make and it feels light to wear.  I was inspired on a recent vacation by another traveler's hand created bead necklaces which were gorgeously unique. And since I 've been wanting to use some of my extra hand dyed fabrics, I put the two ideas together and decided to try making my own necklace today. What else to do with a Sunday afternoon when I should could be weeding the garden!

Completed Textile Necklace
Looking through my stash of hand-dyed light fabric, I found this piece of low immersion dyed 'lawn' fabric. It was 56" long.
I pressed it and ironed over 1 3/4". The seam allowance was a 1/4" leaving 1 1/2" X 2 for a 3" casing which became the necklace. Notice I didn't cut it off the large piece of material before I sewed it in order to avoid distortion of the material as it is a loose weave and stretches easily.
Note: When I make another necklace, I will shorten my stitch length and match my thread so as to not show any stitching when a large bead is inserted into the casing.
 The seam allowance was trimmed to a little over 1/8"
 I turned the piece with a large safety pin.
 I did not press it after turning.
Placing a bead in the end. It needed to be loose enough to move the bead down to the middle. The largest beads which I used in the middle three was a little over 1/2" in diameter.
 Then I tied an overhand knot.
 I added more beads and knots, alternating from side to side. These are the beads I recycled from an old necklace.
 I think it looked quite pretty just tied with a bow and then of course you could adjust the length to what you were wearing it with but I decided for a more sophisticated look and added a clasp.

It was a little tricky to get the tube of fabric through the small metal circle on the clasp but it went. The fabric was pulled through to what length I decided was appropriate for me (about 20"). I double knotted the end and clipped off the excess fabric. You could add a few stitches to ensure it doesn't unknot.

For the toggle end of the clasp, I tied one knot then moved down an inch and tied two knots together. The reason for this was that two knots up by the toggle made it difficult to slip the toggle through the ring of the other part of the clasp.
As you can see I had about 7" to spare so I guess for this length of necklace about a 50" piece would do. I used 19 beads and they got a little smaller in size as they went away from the center. 

The variation in colour of hand dyed fabrics creates an interesting gradation as you go along the necklace. I can't wait to dye up some specific fabric strips with some chosen colour schemes. What about red for the center with orange to gold leading out from each side. So much for just using up some of my current fabric scraps. Have any of you ever included textiles in your jewelry?