Sunday, February 9, 2020

Dye Painting on Fabric: Local Scenes for Cards

Painting with dyes onto cloth has so many variables. Below you will see two ways of painting. One where the image is very specifically painted onto cloth, cured, rinsed, ironed onto interfacing and then free-motion stitched. Note the next three photos for this technique. 

The last two photos depict somewhat randomly laying down of colour. Then after the curing, rinsing and ironing the fabric onto interfacing, an image is sketched in thread. 

Grain Elevators in Creston, BC. 5 X7" Textile Card top.
The grain elevators, foreground roadway and the midground fields were painted with dye thickened with a seaweed base that makes for easier control of the dyes. Oh, the seaweed thickener gets rinsed out after curing the cloth. The mountains and sky were painted with Procion fibre reactive dyes that were painted in their thinned state which works well for a dry brush technique and the flowing nature of clouds.

5 X 7" images are painted for making textile cards. After curing overnight the backgrounds and foregrounds were added.

The 100% cotton fabric has been cured and rinsed. I love the ironing part when I can really examine how well the dyes adhered to the cloth. It is always a guessing game as you must paint brighter and darker than you want the final image to be.

A 22 X 25" painted piece of fabric. I often do this at the end of the painting session to use up the dyes that have come out of the fridge to be worked with that day. In this particular piece the dyes were NOT thickened but rather thinned with urea water for lighter tints and darkened with black for darker shades. 

This 5 X 7" piece was cut from the above piece of fabric. Can you see where? Look to the lower left of the previous photo. It is so much fun to look at a piece of randomly painted fabric and imagine what it might become. Often our Creston valley is bathed in a colourful sunset which I've depicted in this scene of our grain elevators with the fields and distance Selkirk Mountains behind.

My textile cards can be found locally in Creston, BC. If you want something specifically painted for you onto cloth, let me know as I do commissioned work. email me at

Saturday, January 25, 2020

January's a Great Month for the Studio

Dandelions and Clover can be pretty, right? Here is what I've been doing this January - painting with dyes. This Kootenay Wildflower series is new for me this year.

January is quiet and a perfect time for experimenting. This landscape was one I had done quite sometime ago. I decided to try dye painting on top with darker colours.  As I often make Textile Cards I divided it up into 6 sections across and 2 high.

Here is what it looks like after painting but before curing and rinsing. This piece will be cut up for Textile Cards. I like to embellish each one with a bit of free motion black thread stitching.

Here is a close up of 3 of the painted 5 X 7" areas. The plastic is on top so the moisture is retained as it cures.

This is a piece of cotton lawn fabric and I dye painted it with dye concentrates that weren't thickened. There are 4 layers of skies with a bit of foreground. Working with the dyes this way reminds me of working with watercolour paints.

After curing overnight I painted images on top. 

The fabrics are getting rinsed. I painted these chickadees after returning from a walk where the birds were flitting around on the snow laden branches. The whole scene was GORGEOUS.

Each type of fabric needs to be treated a little differently I find. If you are painting on rayon, one better be sure to give some extra long soaking and rinsing or the red dye will continue to bleed into the adjoining area. Sometimes though, that gives a very lovely watercolour look. That is just what happened to the red Columbine in the first photo after it was rinsed. With all this new fabric it is time to get the sewing machine out. 

Have you been enjoying January as much as I have?