November 22, 2013

Christmas and Dyeing

A had a few days off doing nothing after the exhibition opening. I went to the gym to rejuvenate my energy. No time to ponder too long because there are still two more weaving workshops to complete by the end of December, and Christmas is only around the corner! Woo, where did 2013 go? I'm looking forward to having Christmas at my house this year. Every other year my daughter-in-law goes to her family, and this is our year to have them with us. 

I'm trying to get the spirit of Christmas by making these mini Christmas stars that Temecula kindly offered as a countdown to a Christmas project. I was so encouraged that I got all geared up and pulled out the red and light print fabric ready to go.

I am making 2 sets of 24 stars. One set is for a Christmas quilt that Temecula is giving out by installment, and the second set is for gift tags. I will piece the alternating blocks to go with the stars soon. 

I hand quilted with red thread around the stars and white thread around the outside edges. They are really small just 2" x  2". They will be cute for Christmas gift tags. 

Dyeing is going on full time here. When Ziguzagu had a sale earlier this month I stocked up on a lot of vintage silk for dyeing. These were such a good deal that I thought I might as well get them while they were on sale. I'm a sucker for bargains! On my daily walk around the campus where I work I came across something that looked like cochineal insects. In my childhood I remembered them clinging on to our local trees so I'm familiar with them. Never pass on something potentially for dyeing. I took some bits home to try.   

This big metal bolt in the picture above was found by DGD up the hill from where she lives. It was such a treasure to have for dyeing! I bundled up a large piece of silk and a mixture of leaves including the branches with cochineal insects.  

I stewed and left the bundle for over a week before I opened it. I can never leave the bundles more than a week if I'm home! It was promising when I opened it. The smell is divine as well, but not for everyone!  

The first sight you see when you open the bundle is this salad spread snuggled between the two layers of silk. It depends how well you roll the bundle. All the texture and colour of the leaves should transfer onto the silk. 

This is what the cochineal insects did on the cloth. I only sprinkled a few of them in the bundle not knowing what will happen. For me the fun part of dyeing is to experiment and experiment! 

I bought some cochineal insects from the guild I belong to and I used them a couple of times in eco-prints. I sprinkled a few inside the bundle on the left. I can see the colour seeping out after steaming. 

This is the result from the bundle on the right. The purple patches are made by prunnus leaves and the darker patches were from hydrangea green leaves. 

When I opened the bundle with the bought cochineal insects I was surprised  at how strong the colour was that the insect had produced. I will have to try drying solid colour with them sometimes!

The exhibition Connecting with Nature is on until 29 Nov. I received lovely feedback from friends and colleagues who visited. I'm still in two minds if I should book the exhibition space for next year. I'm still tired from this one and not ready to commit to another exhibition. The thing is that I have to make a booking about a year ahead to secure the spot. 

Is everyone ready for Christmas? The Christmas goodies have been out for a while now, but luckily I don't need anything new. What I need is to make some Christmas presents! 

Until next time


Tracy said...

LOVELY Christmas stars! I lik ethe colors--the soft red and the porridge/oatmeal-shade i n the top bunch of stars. The red stitching is a very pretty touch. Beautiful new dyes too! I love all the purples!! This weekend I'm getting in gifts for our nieces & nephews. I don't make as many handmade gifts anymore for the holiday, as not many appreciate them. :o( So I do have to go to the shopping mall... gak! I make a fEw gifts for stitchy-friends I exChange with--so that is fun. Happy Days, Nat ((HUGS))

Betty W said...

It still amazes me the beautiful patterns you get when you dye the material. The stars blocks are so pretty.

Nedra said...

Insects, as in REAL insects? Never heard of using them in dying :) But the effect is beautiful.
And what lovely gift tags! You've given me an idea. How wonderful that you will be with so many of your family for Christmas.

Needled Mom said...

The cochineal does make a beautiful impression. I have a friend that has a cactus covered with them and I have been trying to convince them to "like" my cactus. Your pieces are so pretty.

Your stars are beautiful. I love the hand stitching you are doing on them. They will make such nice Christmas stars.

Can you do the exhibition every other year? That would give you more time to recover and produce new items. Our guilds have their shows every other year here.

Kim said...

Those little stars are adorable...
did you leave them raw edged?
I'm enjoying making all the pieces for this quilt too. Another cute FREE design from Temecula quilting :0).
Lovely dyeing going on at your creative space,,,,just amazing.

Happy Sewing

deanna7trees said...

just love your eye catching. and, as usual, just gorgeous dye results. love the colored edge in that 5th image.

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Cute tags Nat and lovely dyeing...yes an exhibition would wear you out! Imlke the idea too of every second year. I too wonder how the year got away so fast!

Marie said...

Love your stars. I'm working on a batch of 24 using Temecula's tutorial from a while back (4" squares) and just posted about them yesterday: . Love, love, love stars.

Els said...

I love your stars Nat !!!

Ohhhh ..... how I would lóve to be there, when you're unrolling those magical mystery bundles !!!!!

Ha ! they kind of look like caterpillar cocoons ..... and they really end up like a gorgeous butterfly !
(makes me think of Eric Carle's hungry caterpillar too, all of a sudden ;-))
Have a good week Nat !

Peggy said...

Oh, this was a fun post, Nat! Your dyeing is always a feast for the eyes -- and so interesting about the cochineal, I'd heard that it was a source for the color red, but haven't seen anyone actually use it! The little patchwork stars are
Happy sewing! xo

Anonymous said...

This is such an intersting idea to try with cochineal!

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