A year ago I pulled out a bunch of old quilt-tops I had made long ago and decided to quilt and finish them. I had recently bought a walking foot for my sewing machine and chose a blue and white baby quilt-top to start. I had never done any machine quilting before so I did mostly stitch-in-the-ditch with a tiny wee bit of free-motion quilting. Since then I've looked at lots of quilts online, in books, in museums and at shows and have been totally amazed and inspired by what I've seen. The very first quilt that blew me away was Changing Planes by Miriam Nathan-Roberts,

and the next time I was in a fabric store I looked around for some fabrics to create a gradation of colours from black to white. Five stores (and a few weeks) later I finally had what I thought was a good range of greys but they were all different weights of cottons and I didn't like that. At the same time I started to tune into what some quilters were saying about fabric dyeing: about getting exactly the colours they wanted and creating unique, one-of-a-kind fabrics for their quilting. I didn't see myself dyeing my own fabric (strange to say that now) but I started to notice that the quilts I loved, the ones that seemed to radiate light, that played with depth, colour and movement where usually pieced from hand-dyed fabric, hmmm... So, I started to pick up some pieces of hand dyed fabrics here and there, and the next time I started to work on a quilt I chose those fabrics almost exclusively. At the moment, it's here on my design wall,

and it's a whole lot different to the blue and white baby quilt top that had been sitting in a box for the past twelve some odd years.
Not really the same kind of movement and depth in this one.

Anyway, as so often happens, things occur by chance, and at about the same time my first issue of Fiber Arts Magazine arrived in the mail. Inside this excellent and scrumptious magazine I noticed an advertisement for a
Textile Surface Design Certificate offered at Haliburton School of the Arts in Haliburton, Ontario. And another undiscoverd, right-in-my-own-backyard kind of gem, thus revealed itself. This past summer I enrolled in a weeklong course there called Shibori Techniques with Marsha Gettas (after which I became completely and irreversably hooked on fabric dyeing).

What I loved most about it was the spontaneity and the non-deterministic nature of the process as well as the beauty of the peices that were created. Here is a piece that I did with acid-dye on a 8 mm China silk fat-quarter.

The name of the colour is chestnut brown, and the pattern is created by clamping with vinyl coated spring clips that look like this. They produce a surprising and complex pattern that I love and I can imagine a beautiful silk shirt made with this fabric. After that I learned how to do low-water-immersion dyeing in a four-hour class taught by Elaine Quehl, and have done a bit of vat-dyeing and gradation dyeing on my own. What's very wonderfully apparent is that there is no limit to what you can do with a pail and a sink, some inexpensive PDF cotton or silk and a few grams of dye. My intention is for this blog to become my online dyeing journal. I'm new to dyeing and completely new to blogging. I hope you'll stop by and say hello.


Françoise said...

What a lovely piece of hand dyed fabric!
And I'm impatient to see your new quilt completed.

Rayna said...

ooooh - I want that fabric!!

SeamRippstress said...

Wow! Incredible piece. I want those clips!