Dye Experiment #3

I was quite satisfied with my first two dyeing experiences. Quite simple really, but then they were just solid color baths. They didnt dye evenly but that didnt matter to me. They will be cut into strips and a little variation will only add to the rugs beauty in my opinion. The two shirts I dyed came out fine. The sweater did dye evenly and I was quite happy about that. The shirt...well who could tell with that pattern on it? This picture does not do the color justice. It looks faded and instead its a really nice soft blue. I probably would have liked them darker but the shade is quite fine.
So now that I feel comfortable with the simple procedures I decided to venture out into new territory. I chose someting called a crystal wash method from the Dharma Dye website http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/653691-AA.shtml
I have this wonderful old heavy sheet that D's mother gave me that had a few holes and stains on it. So I tore it into four pieces and started with one of those. First I soaked it in a soda ash solution, scrunched it and stuffed it into the bottom of this plastic lined bucket...

Then I took two small squirt bottles and placed a spoonful of sapphire dye in one and cotton candy dye in the other (making sure I wore a mask for this part!) Then I added warm water and shook the dyes well. After they were thoroughly mixed I just squirted away till the cloth was completely covered and the bottles were empty.

I squished the material around a little to push the dye deeper in areas then wrapped the plastic around the top tightly (to help keep the cloth moist) and I let this sit for 24 hours. This morning I rinsed it, threw it in the machine to wash and voila! my beautiful new material. This picture was taken with the cloth hanging in front of the window so its kinda hard to see the true colors but I will take another pic tomorrow when it is dry so you can see the piece better. Isn't it pretty though?

Deep Thoughts

I read other peoples blogs and I feel like I am such a child on this journey. My attempts to express myself seem so amateurish. I see no depth in my work. Only superficial markings. I have so much more to say than what is there in front of me. I have lost the art of expressing myself. I guess these are my baby steps. Shaky legs faltering forward. I will not be subdued. I will continue to press forward even though I am aware that I am only a wrinkle on this cloth. I have so little time. It runs through my fingers and there is no bringing it back. I want each day to stretch onward. More time! Time to stitch, to dye, to design...time to cook and clean and practice French and most of all time to cuddle with my honey and let him know how much I appreciate this opportunity to know myself again.


Yesterday shortly after I arrived home from school there was a buzz at the door. Guess what I finally got?

My new sewing machine! YAY! I'm so happy to finally have a machine again. No more sore fingers *hehe* WHen I woke up this morning I started in on this...

and by afternoon had this...

I am so happy to finally have a space set up to work in. I had to pull things out of every closet and storage chest in the house. Now they are all together in one place and I can see what I have to work with. D didn't even mind that I took over this whole corner and made off with the bookshelf *grin*
I had to try out my machine right off, so I sewed a few seams on my purse. I think toonight I wil cozy up on the couch and finish embroidering it. Maybe by this weekend I will have a finished product :)


On hold

I decided to put my wall hanging on hold for awhile. I wanted to explore another area. Since I have been creating again I have also been visiting many blogs out there of other artists which has fanned the creative spark.
One thing I noticed was that so many of these blogs had a link to their personal etsy shop. Now I had never explored etsy before. I had heard of it but never really looked into it. When I did finally go and start looking I was amazed! A place where people could actually sell their own handmade goods?!?! They dont charge you an arm and a leg to do it?!?! This was sounding very interesting.

As many of you already know, my husband is a student in his final year to get his masters degree. He works long and hard at Uni and doesnt work outside of this. We live on a very tight budget. I have been unwilling to look for work here as I do not speak French well enough to communicate. I have considered trying to find someone who sends out piecework but D seems to think that is not a common practice here in France. GIving that the items that people wish to have rewoven are usually quite expensive I can understand that.

I began to have ideas about selling some of my work on etsy BUT I didnt have a sewing machine and the few things I thought about making really required one. Then out of the blue last week we were told that D's grandfather had sold his car (he is unable to drive anymore) and he bought us both a gift, a larger monitor for D to code on (programming can be quite a pain on a small one) AND...AND...a sewing machine for me!!!!! He is just the sweetest man on earth. I really adore him and he is so generous to us. I made him promise me that he had to stick around here on earth until I can speak French fluently so we can have long conversations over a vert de Creme d'armagnac. ^_^
Anyway...I have started on my first item for Etsy and I think it will be quite cute. I am only doing the embroidery part now and still have quite a bit to do there..but my machine should be here by the end of the week! Then I will post some pics of the finished product.


Would you like some coffee with your milk?

This morning I woke up, went into the kitchen, turned on the coffee maker, put in a dose of coffee, got the milk out of the refrigerator and promptly poured some into the coffee canister....I'm still shaking my head at myself :p

TO Dye for...

I did my first dye bath. I bought some jersey sheets to cut up for my livingroom rug...cause there is NO WAY I can collect around 60 old tshirts to do that big of a rug. At least not in a short time. They were really cheap on ebay anyway so I couldnt resist. When they got here they werent quite the colors I wanted them but that was ok, what a perfect excuse to try out my dying! So I had a medium blue sheet that wasnt a bad color but I relly wanted it a little darker so I dyed it with my cotton candy dye (candy pink) I put plenty of dye in the bath to make it a nice color and lots of salt and the results were this beautiful shade of purple. I'm in love! So much so that I rushed home today ad made another dye bath, this one in navy...and I threw in a few old tops that I havent been wearing because of thier color.

They are soaking away right now and I just cant wait to see how they turn out. I'm hooked. I found this dye to be incredibly easy to work with and the vividness of the color is more than I expected. I cant wait to try something a little more interesting than solid color. I'm sure that It will be even more fun.

Warm and wooley

I dug out my stash of wool bits and pieces today. When I came here from Seattle one of the things I couldn't leave behind was all the bits and pieces of wool I had collected. I had a reweaving shop there for years and spent many a long day with piles of cashmere sweaters on my lap, patiently reknitting the holes to make them disappear. Often when I had to shorten a sweater I would have huge pieces of fabric left over. I would always give my customer the extra pieces but before I did I would wind a little onto a card and put it in my box. THis helped me much when someone brought in a sweater that had no place where I could find extra yarn...and often would help the original owner when they brought their sweater back but had managed to lose the spare piece I had returned to them. I looked at this pile of wool today and realized just how many sweaters I must have worked on if this represented only a tiny percent of the sweaters I did ( most times I did not harvest any yarn from a sweater, only when I shortened them)

I was quite sad to see that somehow I missed at least one box of my wool. Where are the reds? The pinks and oranges? All the wonderful sunny yellows and golds? Sad that they were left behind. I had pulled out these wools as I had a new idea for a square. I decided to do a sunrise on this wonderful piece of shimmer taffeta in the center of this photo. I was going to take pieces of wool and build up a misty cloudy effect. A sunrise on a cloudy morning. I am still going to try to accomplish something along this idea. I am doing two dye baths this week, one of them in pink, maybe I will add a few pieces of wool and see what I get. Since dyeing is an all new thing for me I am wandering into unexplored territory.

Last but not least...more strips! I sat and cut these the last two evenings. I am making a rug for my MIL like the one I did for my bathroom. She fell in love with mine when she came to visit and she does have need for a nice bathroom mat. I hope I get this done by christmas. I have 1500 strips cut for her rug. It should take about 5000 so almost a third of the way done. WIsh me luck *grin*

...and another step

So I finally finished the fourth square. I love crazy quilts and I've done a lot of different things like this. I really like how this one turned out, it is different from the previous crazy quilt squares I've done. One thing D and I talked about this afternoon though was the concern that this wall hanging will be too BUSY. I have always had the tendency to be overly ornate, IN art class my teacher was constantly telling me to put my work across the room and look at it. To step back and quit getting so lost in the image. I remember how I would get lost in a piece drawing a million little bricks in a wall or every single strand of hair. So I have to be careful. I am determined though to continue making what I LIKE, not try to conform what it is 'supposed' to be. I guess as long as the ideas keep coming, I will continue to put them to cloth. How it all goes together is a future problem and I will tackle it when I come to it!



Crystal in a shop window in Bordeaux

....and 19, 612 to go! Thats how many more fabric strips I have to cut to finish my next rug, the big one for the living room. I hadn't planned on starting on this rug yet but then circumstances came about in such a way as that is where I ended up this week....cutting tshirts into strips.
Monday I had a headache all day that I just couldn't shake. I don't normally suffer from too many headaches. I didn't feel creative at all and even D noticed that I was out of sorts. Well Tuesday rolled around and in the middle of my French class I realized that I had just about the worst headache I've ever had. I came straight home from class, took an eferalgen (sp?) went to bed and SLEPT 5 HOURS. I have been out of sorts ever since, and being bent in the wrong direction has robbed me of any desire to create. The fact that my head just wouldn't stop pounding didn't help much either.
Stitching held no appeal to me whatsoever. I was completely stuck on this last square and felt no creative spark when I looked at it. So instead I sat on the couch watching old tv shows and cutting strips. The good news? Last night as I was falling asleep I thought up an idea for my square. I think I am on my way back up *wink*
Todays pic has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I love the colors though and waned to share them with you.

New territory

So...this is what I've been wanting to jump into lately. I have slowly been gathering all the supplies. Unfortunately I have been unable to find urea in this area. I also want to purchase a tjanting as I really want to do some batik work. The thing is...I've never really dyed much before. I did one session with my sister a long time ago and only half finished the top I was working on. I remember the silver buttons from that top sitting in the tray of my sewing basket forever. I somehow lost it in all my moves.
I'm always a little nervous when I try something new. It usually helps to do it with someone else. Then you can kinda help each other bumble along. *hehe* I dont really have any friends here yet. Seeing as I can't really speak the language much, it's not surprising. Even in my French class there are no english speakers except my teacher. So I guess this is one adventure I'm going to go alone. Once I figure out where to start
I thought maybe I could just do a little tyedye on an old sheet I have, and if it comes out good I could use some of it in my wallhanging. Any suggestions?

Experiments with iridescent paint

We have a lamp that I have always found rather boring. I can see how it would fit in nicely in someones office but I like a little more color in my life! It was also a blank canvas staring me in the face and just begging me to try out my iridescent paints on it. They come in 6 colors and they are in very small pots, so not something to do a big project with. I had already used up two of the pots on a window at my old house so I was limited even more.

This is the lamp after the coating of purple inside
and with the one section painted orange. it was
almost a frosted glass look before with the colors
VERY light.

I decided on a simple geometric pattern and painted a nice double coat over the whole lamp.I found the effect quite pretty but also very light. I was afraid when the lamp was turned on it would completely wash it out. My fears were confirmed. I then turned the shade inside out and painted a nice coat of purple over the entire inside to darken the tone a little, but found that this still didnt have the desired effect.

Here I started painting each square different colors.

I think I will use it in a future project though. I then tried a coat of orange over one section and this definitely helped. When turning the lamp on it almost gives it a mica effect. SO...I did the entire inside of the shade in different darker shades and this is how it turned out. What do you think?


Can we eat it?

Yesterday was a beautiful day and D asked me if I would like to go wander about in town. We took the tram up to La Place De La Victoire as this is where La Rue Ste Catherine begins. This street is purported as being the longest pedestrian street in Europe. It is a nice walk down to the center of the city, with many interesting little shops all along the way. Many of the merchants take advantage of the nice weather and pull their merchandise out onto the streets for the walkers to peruse as they go by. The cafes have their tables set out along their store fronts and people sit back in the sun sipping a beer or enjoying a sunny lunch. It was a perfect day. We stopped at a kabob seller and had huge sandwiches made with a pita type bread stuffed with thin slices of lamb and topped off with fries....yes, they put the fries IN the sandwich, and I have decided I'm OK with that *hehe*. We wandered into several little stores, mainly ethnic shops as I love clothes from India nd other exotic locals. I coveted a scarf at one shop much, and D said I could have it if I wanted it, but I already have two scarfs so I let it pass.

As we passed by the Place Gambetta we came upon this lovely little soap shop "Las Delices du Bain" and neither of us could resist the heavenly smells coming from their door. We spent a good 15 minutes smelling all the soaps and deciding which were our favorites. They all smelled good enough to eat. "Fruit Salad, Coconut, Vanilla...all of the smells were heavenly! They had a big display in the center of the shop with lots of little bars of soap, buy 5 and get the 6th one free! Well thats all I needed to see. I made my way home with 6 little jewels nestled in my purse....... and the wonderful smells wafting up to greet my nose!

This is my third square completed. I love the rustic homespun feel of this one. It is very warming to the soul *grin* I am well into my fourth square and will try to finish it this weekend.

Block #2

My second block completed! THis is my rotund friend, the jolly old sun peeking out to greet me. His face was quite the trick to accomplish but I ended up quite happy with him. I couldn't decide what to do with his rays but he seemed so happy and fun that I decided to throw a little confetti his way in the form of rainbow beads.
Now on to the next ^__^

Climbing mountains

I have set myself up for another long journey. This one not being of land and distances but an ever onward plunge into self discovery and the search for more. Adventure is what I love, and this is one has no end in sight. Each day seems to hold new windows and doors. I am ever wandering.
I have started a new project. This one may take as long as my journey of self discovery. Actually I think it goes hand in hand with it as I am constantly stretching my mind to learn MORE. I have decided to make myself a wall hanging. I started out with the idea to make something similar to the india patchwork wall hangings that I have coveted for so long but could never bring myself to buy. As I sorted my materials and planned this project I kept wondering what I would do with each square. The ones in the patchworks I like are fairly simple and as I sat down to start the first square my mind was a blank. Then I realized I didnt have to conform to some set in stone idea of what an india patchwork wall hanging required. I could do anything! Why not make what I love the most? Use my favorite colors? In fact....who cares if it even resembles an india patchwork when I finish?
I have set my needle to the fabric and let it paint. This is the results of my first square and I love it. 1 down and many many more to go....


I have this clear plastic carton. I found it on the landing several months ago. My neighbor is a college girl who has a few peculiar habits, one of them being that she occasionally sets things out on the landing that she considers 'trash'. One day it was this huge empty box of ferraro rochets, believe me when I say...I was green with envy. *grins*
Anyway...I went out one day to get the mail and here sits this clear plastic carton. I immediately coveted it. Then I swooped it up and took it inside. After all...it was heading for certain death. I have had this silly carton sitting around for months and done nothing with it. At first I thought "candle holder" and then mulled the ideas around in my head of what I would put on said candle holder. Nothing came to me. Then one day out of the clear blue sky zapped this great idea. I would make a light shade out of it. I have this awful bare bulb hanging down in my living room. I had bought some material to make a fabric shade for it similar to the one in the bedroom but something had held me back. It just wasnt what I wanted for that room. So instead I am making this....


I have been going through lots of changes this last year. I got married. Moved to a new country. Closed my business of ten years. Am without my children. It has been quite an experience and at times I feel very lonely for it all. I am happy though and still trying to find myself.
My artistic self is waking up again. She has been asleep for so long. Before I was so busy all the time. OR sick. I think back to all those years in my shop surrounded by everything I needed to create. I had shelves to the ceiling with tins filled with buttons, lace, beads, findings and anything else you could imagine. Piles of fabric of every sort shape and size. Boxes of scraps of silks and satins, taffetas and velvets and all those in between. Brushes, paints, pencils, canvases, easels, pastels, etc etc etc. Did I create? very little. There was always someone who needed me. There was so much to do. It carried with it a special feeling, it felt good to be so needed and satisfying to help so many people but in doing and being that person I lost a part of myself. In fact I lost a big part of myself. I have never really been happy unless I was creating.
Now I am here. IN France. I have much time on my hands and a very loving caring husband. I have found myself waking up. I am creating again. The more I create the more alivve I feel and the more ideas run into my head. I cant keep up with their demands. My biggest problem these days, which I find so ironic, is my severe lack of supplies. I have no tins of buttons and lace, no stacks of fabrics, no paints or brushes, AND since I married a hard working student, no stack of money to buy them with. I cant tell you how many times I have thought of something that was sitting on one of those shelves and wish I had it with me right now. I did two smart things when I came here though. I packed all of my gallery glass paints and my complete collection of DMC threads and kreiniks including the mill hill seed beads and findings. I was so thankful in the early months that I had SOMETHING to create with. Since then I have slowly bought a few other things. Some trims and material and finally a pack of paint brushes.
YOu know what though? I think that the lack of all of it in some way is sparking my drive even more. Maybe so much stuff was suffocating me? Maybe I thrive on the difficult. As in "What can I do with what I have here?" I dont know for sure what the answer is but I do know one thing...whatever it is, I dont want it to stop!
This is a window I recently painted. It completes my three part series. I hate it but my husband loves it, so I will keep it there bringing color into our little living room. After all we learn from it all correct?