More Rice Resist Dyeing

I have talked about my experiments with rice resist dyeing before. I am working on some projects for a local art show where all participants will work in a 6 inch by 6 inch format.  I have had a lot of ideas for this, jotting down lots of notes and trying out different ideas.  On a whim, I decided to try some rice resist dyeing again and found it hard to stop, creating a lot of pieces to choose from.  I proceeded pretty much like before, although this time I soaked all of my base fabrics in a soda ash solution and hung them up to dry before applying my rice resist.  Some of them were dyed a couple of times before reaching this point.

Out of laziness, I decided to try an even simpler resist process.  I happened to have some brown rice flour for cooking, so decided to see how that would work.  I added 1/4 cup to 2 cups of water.  I brought it to a boil and then turned it down to a simmer, stirring the whole time for just 3-5 minutes.  I used this (and I’m sure lots of similar products would work equally well):

I like  using the rice paste hot, so when I put it into a squeeze bottle (a funnel helps with this), I had to hold it with a hot pad to apply it my fabric:

It is amazing what a zen-like state can come from applying the rice resist to fabric and just seeing where the design wants to go.  Here is one example:

I let the fabric dry in a sunny window- usually overnight was long enough.  I then mixed up some dye concentrates and mixed them with alginate thickener I had mixed up.  With each piece, I chose different colors, sometimes more, sometimes less, building them up over the fabric.  Here is a progression of colors added to one piece:

A lot of times at the end, it all looked sort of muddy like this:

At this point, I covered the piece in plastic and let it sit overnight.  My house is pretty warm right now, so I didn’t need to add any heat while the fabric batched.  I got into a routine each day of alternating steps between new pieces.  My favorite part of each day was first thing in the morning.  After doing the urgent morning chores (like taking the dog out and letting the chickens out), I would run my batching fabric under a quick rinse, squeeze it out and then scrape away the rice resist (I have been using a plastic store club card) to see the first peek at what the patterning will be like on each individual piece.  It’s never the same, and almost always surprising.  Here is a first peek at one:

After this, I give the fabrics a rinse, soaking them for awhile in cool water, and then finally washing them in hot water with textile detergent to get out any excess dye.  Now, I get to decide which sections of my pieces will be used for the show- I have one more week to get everything mounted and ready, so I made myself a deadline of today for being finished with all of my dye work.  I made a viewer I will be using to choose my 6 inch sections- it’s really high tech : )

Here are a few of my finished pieces from the past couple of weeks, waiting for me to choose my favorite sections to show:


Snow Dyeing- In Memory of My Sister

Yesterday, I woke up to a world that looked like this:

This was significant to me for a few reasons.  It was late March, and we’ve had a very mild winter.  The only other frozen precipitation we have had this winter was some freezing fog and one wet snow followed very quickly the next morning by several inches of freezing rain, creating sheets of ice.

I have seen blog posts about snow dyeing for the past few years and have wanted very much to try it.  Last winter, our only snow came around Thanksgiving, when I was busy with family plans and the holiday.  I assumed there would be more snow later for snow dyeing if we were already getting it so early, so I didn’t take the time then to try it.  We had no more snow last winter.  We’ve had no more this winter, either- sheets of ice just wouldn’t work.  I had decided that it probably wasn’t going to happen this year, and I could just push it once again to the back of mind and hope for snow next year.

Also, another part of this story is that my youngest sister, just 37 years old, passed away very unexpectedly this past Saturday.  Karissa adored snow and was as excited as a young child whenever there was any.

When I saw the snow this morning, it felt like it was connected to Karissa somehow- a gift from her.  I realized immediately that it looked like snow that would work well for snow dyeing, although I also knew that it was going to be warming up quickly, so I would need to get started right away.  It seemed like a lesson about that, too:  don’t put off anything meaningful that you can do today.  I have some regrets about things I’d put off with Karissa.  She had asked me to knit her a pink hat and we’d chosen a pattern and yarn and I hadn’t gotten to it yet.  I thought there would be more time, but there wasn’t.  I felt like the unexpected snow this morning was her saying that it was okay, that she understood, and she was giving me a gift of something she loved that she also knew somehow I had been wanting.  She gave me a beautiful scene to wake up to and  an opportunity, but I had to take it right now, so a reminder to try to do that, too.

So- I worked quickly.  I took the dog out and then started soaking some fabric in soda ash solution while I grabbed a quick bite to eat.  I then mixed up some dye, using Fuchsia, Golden Yellow, and Strong Navy (all from  Dharma Trading).

I didn’t bother with folding any patterns, but just sort of scrunched the fabric up on screens suspended over basins to catch the drips.  Everything was starting to drip outside, so I knew I didn’t have much time and just kept everything simple:

I then filled up a bowl with snow and piled it on top of the fabric:

When there seemed to be enough, I poured on the dye colors randomly.  It sort of looked like a giant snow cone pile to me:

I let it sit outside for a couple of hours, and as the temperature rose, the snow started to melt and drip through.  I brought it inside to let it finish melting.  When the snow had all melted, I wrapped it in plastic and let it batch on top of my warm clothes dryer.  I don’t know if I needed to do that, since I have seen instructions where there doesn’t seem to be a warm batching time, but I decided to do it anyway since I knew it couldn’t hurt anything.  I then left it overnight. This morning, I rinsed it and ran it through the wash with synthropol as I usually do.  This is my final result, which I love:

Here are some closeups of a few of the sections which show a little more of the detail:

I loved getting to try this and I will always think that this opportunity was a gift from sister.

Experimenting with Rice Resist Dyeing

I have experimented with different dye resists in the past, but it’s been awhile.  Last week, I read an article that mentioned in passing using rice baby cereal as a dye resist.  Although it didn’t include instructions, it made me want to experiment and see how it would work.

The first thing I needed was rice baby cereal.  I didn’t have any and could have gone to the store to get some, but I like to use what I have on hand.  I googled “how to make rice baby cereal,” and came up with a pretty simple process.  Basically, just buzz some rice in your blender to turn it into a powder and then add water and cook it.  I only had brown rice since that’s mostly what we eat.  I didn’t know if it would work as well for this, but I decided to try it.

My powdered rice in the blender:

I then had to decide how much water to add.  I started with 1/4 cup of rice powder and 1 cup of water.  I brought it to a boil and then reduced to a simmer, stirring it with a whisk.  I ended up adding more water until I’d used 2 cups and it looked about right to me. I cooked it for probably ten minutes, total. This is, of course, completely subjective:

I then put it into a squeeze bottle and applied it to my fabric, which is just plain white cotton.  A few pictures:

The next part was actually the hardest.  It took only a few minutes to squeeze on the rice paste, but it took two days for it to dry completely.  I’m sure this would be faster if it was not cold, foggy winter in a house where we don’t turn the heat up  very high.

When the rice was finally dry, I mixed up some dye (procion mx that I get from Dharma Trading, along with most of my basic dye supplies).  I thickened it with alginate and also added some soda ash solution, since I didn’t use fabric that I had pre-treated with soda ash.  I mixed up just enough to use in a short time, since with the soda ash added, there is a pretty short working time.  I usually try to use it all within an hour, if not less when I work this way.  A picture:


I used a sponge brush to paint this on to the fabric.  Since this was very experimental, I used just two colors, fuchsia and sky blue, and sort of just mixed them as I went:

Next, I had to batch them somewhere warm.  I often use a heating pad to batch in the winter, because for sure my house is not going to ever be above 75 degrees in February, and dye needs at least that temperature.  I realized that it was pretty warm on top of the dryer in my laundry room, so I decided to try batching them there, making sure to keep laundry going to keep the dryer running, which was also good for my laundry :).  I covered everything in plastic and left it alone overnight:

The next day, I rinsed everything out quickly in warm water.  I wasn’t sure if the rice resist would all just wash out, or what- as I said, I had no instructions for this :).  It seemed to peel off pretty easily, and I found that it could be removed very easily by running the edge of a spatula over it, so I did that:

I then did my usual cold rinse and then a hot wash in the washing machine.  My final results:

I am happy to say that my experiment worked and was fun.  I know I will be doing more in the future.  It actually took only a very short amount of time, although that time was spread out over several days, so it isn’t an instant gratification sort of project.  I have some new ideas to try with this soon.

Shibori Stitched-Resist Hearts

A couple of weeks ago, there was a prediction that we would have some significant snow within the following week.  I was looking forward to that because I wanted to try snow dyeing.  We had a decent amount of snow in November, but at that time I was too busy with holidays and activities to pull out all of my dye supplies.  As the approaching storm got closer, the predicted temperatures got warmer and warmer and in the end all we had was rain.  Still, I felt like playing with dye, so I turned to my old favorite, stitched-resist shibori.  I decided to make hearts, which I plan to use in some future projects.  They are really quick and simple to stitch up.

To start, I cut a heart shape out of an old bill to use as my pattern.  It’s close to  3 inches x 3 inches in size:

Next, I folded my fabric in half and traced around the heart.  I like to use Crayola’s washable markers- I’ve never had a problem with them washing out of my cotton fabrics.  I then drew two more hearts freehand.

I then threaded my needle with a double strand of Dual Duty Button and Carpet thread.  It’s a little heavier and sturdier than many other threads and is also easy to find in chain fabric stores.  I stitched a simple running stitch over each of the lines I’d drawn.  I knotted the beginning of the stitching of each row, leaving the other ends loose for now.  Here’s the side with the lines:

Here’s the other side, which shows the stitching a little better.  I don’t particularly try to be even with the stitches:

Next, I pulled all the stitches tight and knotted the doubled ends together that had been left loose:

I then dyed the fabrics.  After dyeing, I usually give them a cold rinse and soak and then carefully clip and remove the threads before giving them a final washout of the excess dye- and yes, my fingers are still faintly purple from this today.

I used three different fabrics for this batch of hearts. Some was dyed golden yellow (and over-dyed fuchsia red), some was left white (dyed with blue-violet), and some was multi-colored (over-dyed with strong navy).  All of the dyes I use are fiber reactive procion dyes from Dharma Trading.

Original fabrics:

Finished hearts, ready to use for appliques, to be further embellished and/or pieced into other projects:


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.

Sewing for Summer

Summers are usually pretty warm where I live, and the last few years, I’ve come to prefer wearing skirts and sundresses during hot weather.  This spring, I realized that my summer skirt collection had gotten pretty worn out and that I needed to make myself a few more things.  In between doing some theatre sewing and tie-dye, I’ve managed to sew up the following (some of which could have used some ironing before photographing, but, oh, well :) ) :

This dress is a linen-cotton blend.  The fabric was tangerine when I bought it.  I did a little shibori stitching on it and then over-dyed it with bright pink dye to get this sort of rose color.  The pattern is an old one that I think is out of print now.

Here is a little more of the skirt detail:

Here’s my first skirt, made from some green patterned cotton that was supposed to be part of a quilt many years ago that never actually happened.  It had “aged” enough in my sewing closet that I decided it could have a new use.  It’s made from Favorite Things “Cute Skirts” pattern, one I’ve used a few times before.

This skirt is also from a pattern by Favorite Things, this time the Belle Skirt pattern.  The fabric is some I bought last August at the beginning of the semester at a local college.  During that time, there is always a vendor that sells posters and also various fabric pieces that students use as bedspreads, wall hangings, or whatever.  I have some I use as tablecloths.  I bought this particular one with the idea of sewing it into some sort of clothing, but had trouble finding a pattern that would work with and show off the different areas of pattern.    I really love how this one turned out.

This last skirt is one of my very favorites.  It’s made from an old tired-and-true pattern from Kwik Sew (#3336), which I’ve previously made in numerous ways.  I made the shorter version and did make one change, dividing the top section from two pieces into 4 to accomodate the unique fabric.  The fabric is actually two long-sleeved tie-dyed t-shirts that I’ve had for a couple of years.  I’d loved the way the patterning came out on the shirts, but they were sort of boxy and I never, ever wore them.   They are getting much more wear now as a skirt.

And in case anyone is wondering, the backdrop is my kitchen pantry :).

Shibori Stitched-Resist T-shirt

On Sunday, our family was invited to a birthday party for a young friend.  On Saturday, I decided that I would try to make a stitched-resist t-shirt as a gift. There’s nothing quite like the last minute for inspiring me to make something :).  

I took pictures along the way this time.  I started by drawing a simple flower design on a children’s size small t-shirt.  I used Crayola washable markers, which seem to wash out well:


Then I grabbed some thread and began stitching.  I’ve tried a couple of different threads, but keep coming back to this kind, Dual Duty Plus button and carpet thread:


I use this thread doubled and tie a double knot on the end.  Also, before tying the knot I use my fingers to smooth the thread from the eye of the needle down to the end of the thread.  I do this a few times and it seems to help keep the thread from twisting and knotting as I stitch.  

Here are some pictures of my first few stitches:

I use a separate thread for each section of the image.  I often switch around colors of thread which allows me to see better which threads I’m gathering up when I’m finished stitching the design.  As I finish each section, I trim the threads, leaving a tail of a few inches.  

Here’s a picture of the flower with all of the stitching completed:


Next, I began pulling the threads tight, one section at a time.  Because I used a doubled thread, I tie the two loose ends to each other in a few knots when the section is pulled tight.  I’m not sure if this is the “right” way to do this, since I’ve pretty much been figuring it out on my own.  However, it works for me and I don’t particularly believe in right or wrong ways of anything involving creative pursuits anyway :).  

Here’s a picture of the first section pulled up tight:

And here is the entire image pulled up tight:


At this point, I dyed the t-shirt using blue-violet dye from Dharma Trading Co.  After rinsing and washing out the dye, I carefully clipped the knots and removed all of the stitching.  I gave the shirt one more rinse to close up any visible holes left from the stitching.  

Here is the finished shirt:

A Little Dye Printing

I’m mostly posting these pictures  so I’ll remember that I DID actually accomplish a bit of artwork this past week.  I’m trying really hard to do a bit of work every day, even if it’s only a teeny, tiny bit.

The following pictures are the result of my first experiment with deconstructed screen printing, as described in Rayna Gillman’s excellent book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth: Stamp, Screen and Stencil with Everyday Objects. Basically, various resists are placed under a screen and thickened dye paste is pulled across.  The screen is then left to dry and then plain print paste is screened across to transfer the design to fabric.  It’s not very complicated, but it takes some time for the screen to dry, for the printed fabric to cure, then to be washed out.  I did this over 4 days this last week.  I really think I’m going to need to make or buy some more screens, because just having one is limiting- I would have liked to play for quite a bit longer with the screening process and with just one screen, that’s not possible. All of these were screened on to fabric that had been previously dyed with a combination of pink and gold dyes.  I used a blue violet dye for the screen.

And here are a couple of small shibori stitching experiments  from this week.  This one is the same pink/gold fabric from above, stitched and over-dyed with black:

This one is a piece of bargain tangerine linen-rayon blend fabric that I bought, hoping it would be good for over-dyeing.  This was my sample piece, which I dyed with bright pink dye.  It’s a little brighter than this photo shows.  I loved how it turned out, so I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon sewing a summer dress out of the tangerine fabric.  This week (or maybe for longer!), I’ll be working on doing the stitched resist work so that I’ll hopefully end up with a very fun and funky one-of-a-kind summer dress.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to post next week- maybe sooner, depending on how much work and everyday life gets in the way of making art :).

A Little More Shibori Stitching

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve stitched up a few more mini-shibori experiments to use as studies for something larger that I have in mind.  I finally had a chance to dye them yesterday and am sharing the results here- perhaps mostly just to remind myself that I did them.  Once again, I didn’t take any pictures of these “in process.”  I still mean to do that, perhaps with the bigger piece that I have in mind for my next project.  I did find a nice little stitched shibori tutorial online that shows some of the possibilities here:

This one was stitched using  the stitch pattern from “step 1” of  the tutorial above:

The rest of these were stitched using the stitch from  “step 4” of the same tutorial:




“Peace” on a scrap of an old t-shirt