the pomegranate story


Amidst stitching up sachets, pressing towels, and filling orders, I had time for a little dye experiment this past week. Pomegranates left over from our thanksgiving festivities were chopped up, and put to simmer for a few hours. The concoction turned into an interesting shade of grayish, pink-purple, but the cloth placed within came out a beautiful golden greenish tan, pending on the type of fabric.


I love to try new things so before submerging some of the fabric I covered them with leaf prints, using whipped up egg as my "ink" and a leatherleaf viburnum leaf as my printing plate. Once placed in the dye bath the parts printed with the egg mixture reacted stronger to the dye in those places. Quite beautiful and amazing to me...

white silk leaf printed with egg mixture before pomegranate dye

 egg mordant prints on linen after pomegranate dye

egg mordant prints on silk after pomegranate dye

I may not be able to post again before Christmas, so I'll leave you with my warmest wishes for a light filled, peaceful, and joyous holiday season!

queen anne's lace



The fields and road sides around town are dotted with this delightful weed, also called wild carrot. The sturdy stalks are proudly reaching for the sky and the delicate white flowers sway in the wind.


Queen Anne's lace is an excellent printing plant, occasionally a bit unpredictable, but most of the time its intricate impressions are amazingly clear and precise. The flowers and the seed heads need to be pressed for  about 24 hours before being used. Once two-dimensional it is easy to coat one side with paint and press onto fabric.


I love to include Queen Anne's lace in my work. The samples above are pieces in progress, but there are a couple of wall hangings available in the shop. Spotted, is a framed and glassed textile collage, and weedy delight is a small art quilt, both are putting this lacy plant center stage.

experimentation x 2

Two amazing women and their books have brought me on a joyful creative journey lately. I already gushed over India Flint, and her inspiring book Eco Colour, but have now followed lightly in her footsteps by experimenting with dyeing my linen fabrics using nothing but plants and natural materials. So far I am thrilled, mainly because many of the hues I have achieved are ones that I have unsuccessfully tried to produce for a long time using synthetic dyes. It is very hard to get pale shades of color from procion mx dyes. The soft greens here, created from boiling carrot tops in an iron pot are just perfect.

So is the grayish lavender color from the black bean water left over from our latest chili batch, and the rusty warm tones achieved from seeped onion skins, and the pale acid yellow made from chamomile tea bags...

I even tried India's famous eco printing technique, where you bundle your plants in tight fabric layers and put them in a steam bath to coax out the colors. I used geranium leaves, and although the result is nowhere near perfect, the impressions and imprints are intriguing.

I also recently purchased Natalie Chanin's book Alabama Studio Style. Her beautiful designs, technical skills, and innovative business methods, have inspired me for years. I love the new soft stencils she use, and decided to try the diluted ink spray bottle method included in her book. Well the result was quite disastrous – the ink bled everywhere, soaking through the felt stencil, making big blobs and splattering the fabric beyond the stencil. But once dried, I realized there was something appealing about this distressed mess. I added flower clusters, printed using rhododendron leaves, that echoes the blotches, but prettier. For some reason I just love the result. Next I will layer it, and add stitching, still using the same shapes.

The most wonderful side effect of these experiments, is that they taught me to cherish imperfection. I am by nature a perfectionist, wanting everything to be uniform, smooth, unblemished, aligned, and beautiful. These natural dyes come out mottled, uneven, and the stenciling is obviously quite ugly on its own. But somehow I have come to terms with how it all happens. The beauty is in the process, not necessarily in the end result.

I will take some time off for travels this week, but will return soon, with new reports, impressions, and imagery.

I just have to make an addendum to this post. Yesterday afternoon I found out from dear Claire at Shakerag, that I got a spot in India Flint's class this summer, after months on the waiting list. And guess who is the guest lecturer the week I am there – Ms. Natalie Chanin. I am so lucky!

remnants

remnant |ˈremnənt|
noun
a small remaining quantity of something.
• a piece of cloth or carpeting left when the greater part has been used or sold.
• a surviving trace : a remnant of the past.

When I cleaned out the studio recently I was amazed to discover how much wonderful stuff I had stowed away. Ever since I launched inleaf, some six or seven years ago, I have accumulated an array of fabrics, notions, and threads. Much of it still waiting for a purpose and a plan. I have saved the tiniest scraps and the ugliest dye samplers, always thinking it may be of use some day. I have boxes of rejected leaf prints. Things that did not work for its intended purpose, for one reason or another. Most of them are lovely and deserves a better destiny. Some will be incorporated into art quilts or fiber collages. Some are becoming beautiful objects in their own right. I have enjoyed the process of planning the perfect use for a particular print, and spending time and effort into making it special. Here are a few pieces that will be listed on the website and in the etsy shop this week. More will come, salvaging discarded beauties is a new mission.

winter green

I just finished piecing this together this morning. The freshness of these leaf prints echoes the steady snowfall (yet again) outside. The leaves are printed on vintage linen, crisp yet smooth to the touch. I imagine layering it with soft flannel, and backing with dyed cotton. The piece will be hand quilted in white on the white cloth. There will be some kind of edging too, maybe in the palest, faintest shade of green, with more stitching in the same hue... Thinking, planning, and scheming is fun. The final work hardly ever turns out the way first envisioned. But that is fine too...

Our severe winter weather made me think of my wonderful illustrator and artist friend Charlotta from Sydney, Australia, where they right now are in the midst of summer. She recently honored me with the honest scrap award, in which you are supposed to reveal ten things about yourself. Since I received the same award in September (thank you Molly) I will refer back to that post if you want to learn about my secrets. Please visit Charlotta's beutiful blog to find out about hers.