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What do you think dyers can do better? Part 2

On April first I posted the following question on the QuiltArt List: What can dyers do better? Specifically, what can I do, or do better for you? It was not intended as an April Fool’s post, nor did anyone take it as such. Here’s the second answer I received:

I don’t do dyeing so I’m thinking [about] what would make me buy someone else’s dyed fabrics. I don’t see the point in buying fabric that’s dyed an all-over color because solids are commercially available fairly easily , unless I’m wanting a particular tone of color that they just don’t make (grayed down yellow, or some such). I think those who do dye solid colors are more interested in controlling more about their work, including the perfect color mixes.
I like fabrics that look like batiks, kind of nebulous color tones but I want them to be in neighboring colors, not opposites, because I’m wanting to use them to represent something else (water, sky, etc) not be their own thing. Many people do make abstract quilts and might like that, however.
When I look at Kay’s ice dyeing pieces ( I am in awe, but they tend to be their own thing, like using a designer print and probably can’t be used to represent something else.
If the design is really stark (blue and keeping white) it feels too strong for me, or if there are too many colors it all feels too psychedelic to me. Darker blue and lighter blue, or green blue where it’s more moody feels better to me.
There are quite a few representational quilts out there, so think how you can get those different tones for skin, or hair or dog’s hair, or grass or trees. But I don’t think that’s the direction modern quilters are taking at all. They tend to want the focus pieces. So, look at who your market is or do both directions.
Barb P

Another interesting, and interested answer, and very different from the first response I got. Of course, I like to say ‘there’s no wrong answer to this question’ – about a lot of things. I’m glad Barb wrote, because some days I get stuck staring at a white piece of fabric thinking ‘what do I do?’
OK, off to work on my newsletter now. Thanks for looking, and please join my newsletter list or make a comment about this post below.

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What do you think dyers can do better? Part 1

A week ago I posted the following question on the QuiltArt List: What can dyers do better? Specifically, what can I do, or do better for you? Here’s the first answer I received:

   I did a lot of dyeing earlier in my quilting life, and then I decided that buying interesting pieces from other dyers was a much better decision for me. The dyeing process was hard on my body, time-consuming, and I didn’t enjoy the process. So, I moved to dyeing fabrics with my credit card.
   After about a decade of doing that, I became more and more dissatisfied with the dyed fabrics I bought. Why? Because they were almost never rinsed and set adequately, forcing me to do all those end steps to make them washable. . . . I even commented on this trend of dyers not rinsing and setting the colors adequately on this very list. What I got back in responses was an ***outpouring*** from dyers who complained that they didn’t have the time to do that or they didn’t have the water resources to do that or they’d have to charge more money if they did that or __________ (fill in the blank with whatever reason that exonerated them from doing the final steps).
   It was at that point that I gave up and have refused to buy hand-dyed fabrics from anyone. What have I done, instead? I joined the Modern Quilt Movement and now have a collection of commercially dyed cottons that I use in abundance to go with commercial prints. 
– Delores, still unhappy about all of this, but at least I’ve found a way to continue to enjoy quilting.

My standard answer to the ‘will it bleed’ question is that no, it shouldn’t. That said, I’m not perfect, so it’s possible I’ll miss something. And my fabrics take a beating travelling to shows, so I encourage washing them. (I always think they smell different when I get home, probably because I use hand sanitizer in the booth. I need an unscented, fabric-friendly version.)
So, what do  you think? And look for more replies here in the coming days.
Thanks for looking, and thanks to Delores for her answer – Lisa

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True Confessions

Yesterday I woke up with an insight. Now, this might not be a big deal for you, but I don’t DO insight. 🙂 So here goes:
My livelihood depends upon friends giving me money. They’re not giving it up for nothing, but it feels that way!
Talk about undervaluing what you do! It’s probably some degree of guilt – as in “Not only do I get to do what I really, truly love, which is dyeing anything that can’t crawl away, but people want to pay me for it?” And  it’s really not an original thought, because I hear my business coach’s voice in the back of my head asking ‘isn’t your time worth more than that?’ But it finally got processed and came back out in my own words.*
Now on another note, here’s a picture of Karen Eckmeier of The Quilted Lizard Fiber Art Studio and me. She and I met over the weekend at the Creative Arts Business Summit. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, it turns out we spent all four years at the same small college together, including art classes. (What – you don’t get Hues and News? Don’t miss out – click on the link at the above right, or here.) Still haven’t found the yearbook, but when I do, there will be embarrassing (for me at least) pictures to post.

*And in case you’re worried, valuing what I do doesn’t mean my prices are going up!
Thanks for reading! – Lisa

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In 2011 I had access to a photographing microscope, so of course I had to take pictures of fabric. The first is cotton sateen, and I think it’s very interesting. The rest are cool, too. My descriptions are not at all technical, and might be wrong. It’s just what I’ve picked up over time. I dye, I don’t weave.

SateenFront2Sateen front – selvedge is on the right. A sateen weave is ‘over several, under one, (or fewer than it went over.)’


Sateen back – selvedge on the left.


Broadcloth – the basic over 1 – under 1 plain weave we learned making potholders.NuSuedeBack

NuSuede polyester microfiber – the smooth back.NuSuedeFrint

NuSuede frontRadianceBack

Radiance cotton-silk sateen. This is the back cotton side.


Radiance – the front / silk / warp side.

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Pleased with myself

OK, Mom & Dad always said “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.” But my deadlines for the week are over and I’ve made some good progress. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Here’s a quick shot of the 25 or so fabrics I dyed for Kate. I hope she likes them.As always, I’ve learned a bit from doing them; some things I still can’t explain. I made good notes for next time.

My other deadline was for jurying into ArtsyShark. They base their decision on products that are posted on-line – both on the website and on Etsy. In the course of doing that I had the web guru update the look of my site, and then I added or updated 32 fabrics. None are solids like the ones I do for Kate. And then I learned how to add ‘Share’ buttons to product pages. The selection process has begun – they expect to notify us next week. And today the featured artist is Wen Redmond!

Got to talk/email/text with my sister a few times this week. She is in week 1 of retirement, and busy cleaning out the attic. Way to go!

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Gender and ignorance (and humor)

Just found this draft – it was going to be a reply to a post on QuiltArt in January 2011, but my mind started wandering down so many avenues I didn’t know where to start. I (and my husband) have often been entertained by different incidents relating to being the ‘wrong’ milieu. It helps to know that I am tall – close to 6 feet, and live in jeans and other unisex clothes. (Is that word still used?) More than once I have been called ‘sir’ by someone who didn’t look closely, or high enough, when I was at a typically male environment. Then there are the times that women gasp when they see me in the ladies room – it embarrasses them, and I figure I can laugh at them freely.

One big part of life for me and hubby has been Bahr’s Mill, a 19th century woodworking historic site. It’s an amazing place – the sort that looks like the operators closed the door 75 years ago and left it untouched. We have worked there and given tours to thousands of people. Lots of times someone will ask hubby a question that he has to refer to me, which confuses the visitors to no end.

Now he has moved into the quilt show world with me, and he alwaysP6260035 gets to chuckle when he demonstrates something to the largely female crowd. It’s less funny when they don’t buy from him. He finds it interesting that the high end products – long arm quilting machines in particular – are sold ‘by men in suits.’ But he’s not yet ready to put on a suit for the shows. I wonder if it would make a difference; I do plan to upscale my wardrobe a bit this year.

When men come into my booth I try to treat them like other customers, but I find that it can be tough. That’s my fault, and I certainly don’t want to insult anybody.

Fast forward to 2013 – I just got home from the Creative Arts Business Summit, and we had a speaker discuss how we present ourselves. She suggested fitted tops that are flow-y, not fitted, and that I can wear comfortably over my jeans. And to wear my scarves – around the neck or the waist. So I’ll give it a try! Keep an eye here to watch the other results of the summit!

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9/5 Have spent the holiday weekend getting ready for the show at Oaks. In addition to doing some vat dyeing, I made a list of all the different products I dye and the techniques I use; it turned out to be a lot! The products include cottons, of course: broadcloth, canvas, muslin, sateen, velveteen and others; blends like cotton-linen, cotton-bamboo and cotton-silk; some pure silk, though not a lot; P9290125wool, bamboo and polyester roving for felting, and polyester yardage and pieces, including NuSuede, felt from Kunin and Lutradur in various weights.

Unusual Sights

9/29 – 30 Saw a very unusual moth caterpillar, bigger than my little finger. Did not photograph it, though I should have. It seems most likely that it was for a sphinx moth. They’re the large moths that can be mistaken for hummingbirds. I’ve seen one in the garden once. The caterpillar is a hornworm type, but the horn at the back end looked like a painted eye.P9300134
Also saw a rainbow, which we did photograph. And then I dropped my reverse stitcher, and it  landed perfectly in a crack in the floor! Silly, but memorable. One of those ‘couldn’t do that again if I tried’ moments.

Acid dyes on Radiance

PA0601359/30 or so – Have been working more with Radiance, and decided to try dyeing in in acid dyes, which don’t work on the cotton portion. Here’s a picture of both sides of samples that I dyed for discharge sampling. They are face down, with the lower left corner folded up to show the silk side. I had a DOS brain cramp and did not dye the yellows as dark as I wanted. Nothing like a visual example of sliding your decimal. The upper left piece is navy – gotta dye more of that!
*Omnibus adj (1842) 1: of, relating to, or providing for many things at once 2: containing or including many items.

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Tempus Fugit, I think

Good thing I can look it up in the dictionary. Anyhow, time does fly.

Well, before I start kvetching about having too much to do, I should say that the reason I was inspired to post again was that I now, suddenly, have over 30 followers! Thank you all so much! I’m sorry I don’t have any more eye candy to post; don’t remember the last time I took time for photographs. Found one – it’s at the bottom.

Back to time flying – there are just 7 weeks to go before the first show of the fall, so I have to crank up the production numbers. I did get a lot of snow dyeing done last weekend – still washing it out. Family visit this weekend, and a trip to the Hershey show (as a visitor), then another week to snow-dye or work on poly. (More on that below.) Then I’m teaching a day class on discharge the weekend of the 13th, one-on-one, so I’m starting to dye and fold fabric for that. Then I need to prep for a demo at Oaks on Kanzashi, and a speaking engagement in October, the day before the Quakertown Show. There’s also the annual Chautauqua Show in the end of October, too! And some exciting news – I’m going to teach a 3-hour class at the Somerset show in March – Quilt Fest of NJ.

I read a great article in Quilting Arts today by Marie-Therese Wisniowski on her ‘Multisperse Dye Sublimation’ technique for polyester. I can start painting papers with dye right away, and pull out the heat press once the 90-100 degree F temperatures are over with. And I want to do more sun printing on poly, too, and try some mandalas. Plus I found a source for the sheer iridescent polyester, like I got at Jo-Ann. That’s been popular, so I must order a roll, plus more muslin, maybe. . . . So I’m keeping busy. Thanks again to my followers; if I had a tail it would be wagging!

SchmutzLidPS – here’s a picture I have been playing with – it’s the leftovers on the lid of a bucket of spackle. I’ve learned a good bit about using Photoshop Elements in working with this one image. Maybe I should get a Thermofax screen made of it. Forgot it was there!

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Reviews and Previews

Hard to believe 6 weeks have passed since I last posted. If troubles come in threes, we’ve had it for a while. After the bad brake incident in September, we came home to a hole in the roof, with water running down from the third floor to the entrance hall.  Yuck. Got it fixed (there went any profits,) and a couple weeks later the heater started making loud noises and shooting flames. Boiler and water tankWell, it was about 55 years old, like us, and that’s a pretty long time for a boiler. In the picture at right, the covers were removed for the funeral. It didn’t run like that all the time. Anyway, it got kicked to the curb and a new Energy Star gas unit has been installed. What a difference – and the basement smells much better! Plus, I will have more and hotter water for washing out MX dyes.

We did a total of six shows this fall; still haven’t crunched all the numbers, but it’s time for some other source of income. My current plan is to do the spring shows in Hampton, VA, Somerset, NJ and Lancaster, PA, and then probably no shows except Oaks, since it’s 20 miles away, until (drumroll) Houston, next fall. I spent almost as Chantilly boothmuch to do the show in Chantilly, VA this fall, with the poorest results of any show. It was a good opportunity to have a different set-up (see picture.) The ladies from Quilters Remedy and I had our booths side-by-side, and we each had a cross-aisle next to us, so we both had corner booths.

Thanksgiving is a week away and as always there’s a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for all the opportunities that have come my way this year, and all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I’m thankful for the optimism necessary to keep trying for Lisa got paid for an article!a while longer, and for the common sense needed to realize that some sort of ‘Day Job’ is necessary too. I’m very thankful that I won a ribbon at the Oaks show, and have the snow-dyeing article coming out next month in American Quilter! (Both of those actually came with a check!) Now I have to get more work done, including posting lots more fabrics on the website, and upgrading my inventory without spending a lot more money!

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A blast from the past

Digging through some junk boxes the other day, I came across a love letter from my Mom to my Dad. It was dated December 1 through 4, 1944, when he was in the Army, and two years before they were married. She would have been 27, he, 31. The following segment caught my eye:

Saturday finished, almost completely, my Christmas shopping & then met Mother. She and Dad are giving Fred[erika – Mom’s twin sister] & Tom bedside tables for Christmas & they wanted to give me an equivalent present, so I was to buy “a couple of tables’ worth of dress – “ or in other words, a very “yummy one.” We had no luck at our usual pet place & then went to another we like, a little place, & they had several pretty ones. I brought 2 home to “model’” for Dad – I am to have one & I think they may be giving Fred the other, of black wool jersey. The one I’m to get is so pretty – I just want to go & feel it from time to time & can hardly bear not bubbling about it to Fred. It’s a two-piece dress – really an unlined-jacket suit – of soft, light black wool, with a one-button-at-the-waist closing. Then into the front is stitched a very pretty crepe vest of pink, trimmed with black sequins (paillettes) & beads, & tied at the neck. It is lovely – will be nice for holiday festivities & theater later, & still later, with a frilly blouse will be perfect for spring. I “love it good,” as Mary Lib would say – now if I could just ‘doll up” in it & meet you at the airport like one Christmas evening — — !

This ended up being two full pages out of the 17 she wrote! It made me smile for several reasons: while he may have enjoyed a slice of home life, I doubt he cared that much about a dress. But mainly I smiled because she sounds like every textile person I know . . . ‘I just want to go & feel it from time to time’ are words I’ve heard more than once at a quilt show! Hope you enjoyed it too!