Summer Dye Work

A few samples of recent work:

This is step one and two of creating this piece.  I soaked a piece of cotton in soda ash, line dried and then painted it with a few random colors of dye.  I then drew on stitching lines with washable markers and stitched it up.  This shows the dyed fabric with the stitching before I pulled it tight:

In this picture, I’ve pulled all of the stitching up tight. For some reason,  I really liked how it looked at this point, all textured and colorful:

The final result, after over-dyeing the whole thing with black dye.  It’s a bit more vibrant than this photo shows and the sections that appear white are actually more blue:

I really like the way this turned out and was discussing it with my probably-majoring-in-art college  student son.  I told him I liked it, but I didn’t know what it meant.  He thought for a minute and then told me it was obviously about the battle for water rights of native peoples around the world. The souls of those people are the colorful parts shining through juxtaposed against the dark background of the struggle.  This is, of course, not at all true  (although I do have concerns about water rights battles).  He’s just been immersed at his college in art in which the artist statement seems to be required to “understand” the work.  My son, my husband and I all tend toward the “let the art speak for itself” school.  My son encountered a lot of art last year that wasn’t in this tradition, where the statement seemed more important than the art, so it’s something we joke around about.  He did think that the water rights approach might be the way to go to get a grant to continue my work, though.  Um, yeah ;).

Here’s another related piece.  In this one, I stitched circles on white fabric, pulled the stitching up tight, and then dyed it in a weak solution of black.  After removing the stitching, I soaked it in soda ash, line-dried and then painted on a few colors of dye.  It’s also a little more vibrant than this photo shows:

This is an experiment with a result I love.  I dyed the base fabric orange.  I then used my sewing machine to baste irregular pleats into the fabric.  I pressed this flat, soaked in soda ash and then line dried it.  I then painted on sky blue dye thickened with alginate so it wouldn’t spread too much to create the brown striped areas, using my color wheel skills (I sort of thought everyone knew about the color wheel, but my kids and I have discovered this summer that it isn’t the universal sort of knowledge we assumed.  It’s way more important than times tables!  ;) )  Anyway, here it is:

On this second, similar piece, I took it one step further.  I placed an old lace curtain on top and sprayed on blue dye through that.  The sprayer developed a leak, so the bottom got saturated in a way I wasn’t planning (not that I usually have much of a plan…).  It’s interesting, anyway.  My son says it’s steam punk and he’d hang it in his dorm room, so it was successful on some level.  The photo is sort of blurry.

And this is a small round tablecloth that I got at a garage sale on which I poured random bits of leftover dye.  It will soon be happily on a table in my living room:

Lots of these will eventually be cut up, perhaps have printing added and who knows what else.  I tend to take advantage of warm summer temperatures for dye work and then play further with paints, scissors, etc., in the winter.



  1. Sarah said,

    August 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Oh my goodness! I love it all!

  2. jacidawn said,

    September 1, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Those are so cool – and i love the water rights analogy. I’m sure Noah has it right. ;)

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