Wednesday, 14 March 2007

a different slant on wholecloth

I've had something of a fallow period recently so decided to sort out some stuff. For several years I kind of went AWOL from the quilting/dyeing world following my husband's death and my own treatment for cancer - until last year when I began again: at first mainly traditional stuff (a series of cat quilts for Project Linus) then more of the stuff I really want to make.

Coming across things I'd made earlier has been a great encouragement to keep going creating my own art quilts. Here are two wholecloth quilts made with hand-dyed fabrics.

The centre panel of this one (called Autumn Dusk - not very original but it seemed to fit) was dyed in a "stack", a low-water method adapted from Ann Johnston's book Colour by Accident; it's a cotton poplin I discovered that takes dye wonderfully (Cotton poplin Delphina from Whaleys for those of you in the UK). The method I used is as follows.

* Cut a number of pieces of fabric. Provided it has been prewashed or is PFD use it dry;

* into a small container (I used a small plastic tub of the kind used for selling sweets in) pour some dye that has been dissolved in chemical water and two which an equivalent solution of soda ash has been added;

* add some fabric (amount is up to you but I use one metre or half metre pieces and vary the amount of dye accordingly), scrunched up, and push into the dye slightly. Allow a few minutes (till you see the dye beginning to wick into the fabric;

* repeat the last step until you have used all your fabric, using different dye-colours/mixes each time: TIP - don't use too great a variation of colour or you will get a lot of brown: I get the best results mainly adding colours from one or two colour groups with one contrast somewhere in the middle - e.g. blues/greens with a touch of purple;

* add a further layer of dye + chemical water + soda on top of the last fabric. Leave for a few minutes then press the whole stack down (this avoids getting white bits where the dye hasn't got to);

* leave for as long as you can bear to without rinsing (minimum two hours, longer if you've used turquoise).

The border is hand-dyed cotton wadding - Warm and Natural - dyed in a tray using a variety of dyes plus chemical water mixes, fabric wetted out first, dye poured on one colour at a time to cover the fabric then pressed down so the dye penetrated the fabric fully.

The whole thing's quilted with variegated rayon thread (machine) and big-stitch stippling with three strands of hand-dyed stranded embroidery cotton. I love the way the stitching sculpts the dyed wadding, though the wadding did have a tendency to pill with too much handling.

The second wholecloth piece is called Through the Hedge. The title came after the fabric itself which reminded me of a summer hedge with light shining through and lots of insects buzzing in it.

The fabric came from a highly-charged impulsive dyeing session. I'd spray-dyed some fabric in a tray from different angles and had a piece of fabric left over which I used to mop up the tray (again, this fabric is the cotton poplin I mentioned earlier) I put this fabric into the tray and sprayed it from different angles with various dyes dissolved in chemical water - a marigold yellow and a deep olive are the two I remember. Deciding it was time for a bit of an experiment I brushed dry purple dye into the folds allowing some of it to dissolve in the spare liquid.

The result was a piece of fabric I knew I'd never be able to bear to cut into. Or sell, for that matter (though several people pleaded - yes I know you're told that in business you should sell what you'd like to keep but there are times you just can't bring yourself to). Eventually I hit on the idea of quilting it so it could hang on a wall. Mainly machine quilting, denser in the "thorny" bits with some big-stitch hand-quilting in the yellow areas.

Note: the pictures should enlarge if you click on them.


Ursula from Germany said...

Hi Sandra,

hand-dying is not my thing, but let me tell you, your "autumn dusk" is a wonderful piece. I like the soft colors and the way they flow on the piece. By the way, I like all your pieces ... it was a nice journey through your blog and it will not be the last visit here.

Greetings from Germany,

...and greetings "from cat to cat" - I have four cats here in and around the house, they like quilts very much!

Sean said...

Hi Sandra!

I was tootling around on blogspot and found your blog. I just had to tell you how beautiful Jammin' was. I have only make one quilt and it was for my mom. I love your style.

All the best,

Vivian said...

Beautiful hand dyes. I'm presuming you are using procion dyes. What is the 'chemical water'? I worked with procion dyes years ago for tie dye and batik. I think come summer I'm going to revisit them. I've been working with Jaquard paints and permanent inks.