Friday, October 25, 2013

Look for Problems?!

I'd rather play in the leaves!

Until a little earlier this evening, I was part of a free online class that I thought would deepen my knowledge of the design process.  Alas, it was not to be.  The focus of this particular course was on creating designs of "artifacts", which were defined as items (material or conceptual or behavioural) made in order to "fill gaps" -- i.e. to solve "problems".

I knew I was in trouble when one of the assignments for Week #1 was to identify ten (count 'em!) "gaps" in my life -- gaps between what I wanted/needed and what I had.  Well.  I could only come up with three, and of those three, two of them would be easily solved if I just got off my duff and got my act together.  The third one would involve my buying a new coffee maker.  Not going to happen.

I decided that the course, while well-intended and no doubt of value to others, wasn't for me.  I decided instead to turn off, tune out and drop in to my studio.

This involved scratching a late-in-the-season itch to use some of the leaves from my ornamental crab apple trees to do some dyeing.

NOTE: this is my first attempt at natural dyeing and I'm rather lazy/casual when it comes to the dye process -- any dye process!

I began by soaking the leaves for 48 hours in some cool water.  Then I turned on the heat and simmered 'em for a couple of hours.

Leaves soaking in water - old aluminum pot

I strained the leaves off, and returned the 'elixir' to the pot.  Meanwhile, I prepped some fabric (cotton, cotton velvet, muslin) and some wool batting in warm water and vinegar, simmering it for an hour or so.  I then transferred it to the dye bath, added some salt for good measure, and let that whole thing simmer some more.

Muslin on top of wool batting just put into dye bath

Wool batting and muslin floating in dye bath

Once I got a colour I thought I'd like, I took the materials out of the dye bath, rinsed them gently in cool water, and put 'em out in the sun to dry (sorry; no photos at the moment).

I washed out the pots, and put some crab-apple bark in cool water to soak.  The experiments continue...

In betwixt and between, I kept working on The Door Quilt, the foundation of which is now finished, and measures up at 39" W x 74" long.

Door Quilt background laid out on cutting table

What remains?  The creation of the top motif -- quilted separately and appliqued onto the quilted background -- and the binding, label and sleeve.  This afternoon I began the former, using recycled clear laminate plastic to draw the design.  Tomorrow I'll transfer it to fabric, and work on the next step of quilting -- just fabric and batting -- before applying it to the quilted background.

Finishing is so close I can taste it!

Linking up to Nina Marie's Off-the-Wall Friday, in which she discusses 'Bucket Lists', after a fashion.  I won't admit to having such a list in any formal sense, either, but God willing, in the next few years -- before I turn 70 -- I'll visit Scotland again, and make it back "home" for the 40th anniversary of my graduation from McGill.  I'd also like to get to the LaConner Quilt Festival, to take a course at Asilomar and/or Alegre, and maybe brave the crowds at the IQF in Houston and one of the major fibre festivals (like Rhinebeck or the KR knitting retreat)...

One day at a time..."For I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep..." (Robert Frost).


Cathy Tomm said...

Good to hear you were not able to list to many gaps in your life. Ha free is free. Love the DOOR quilt. I love to play with dying. hope it works, would love to see what you come up with.

Judy Warner said...

Can't wait to see how the fabric turns out. Sounds like you made a good choice with your time. Congrats!

elle said...

I'm not a precise dyer either. I'm kinda slap dash about a lot of messy stuff. This looks great and the results will be inspiring. :In whatsoever state..." I'm happy and like you if things happen, fine. If not; well, we'll mess about in our studios! ;)

arlee said...

good on ya for starting the dye :) I inadvertently got ONE piece of coral coloured silk with crabapple twig tipsby forgetting the whole thing for a week or two (in Padded Cell)--and as for "gaps", huh? i'd rather be making art than whinging, "cause i've done enough whinging for a couple of years worth :)

LA Paylor said...

Okay, Margaret, I can't wait to see what colors come from the leaves. Let us know in pics.
I used to live in Edmonton, there was a man I thought I had to have! Didn't work out, and now I'm in Maryland but loved living in Canada.
Love the feeling of your blog.
LeeAnna Paylor

Marilyn Wall said...

Margaret congratulations for making the SAQA post today. Beautiful

Linda A. Miller said...

I like the dyeing you are doing... will inspire me to use some of my garden cuttings which have been waiting for my attention...

Linda A. Miller said...

Forgot to also mention... good for you in deciding what was the best use of your time!