My Journey




April 22, 2019

Happy Earth Day! In honor of Mother Earth, I just finished up some earthy pieces for an upcoming show. They both use locally sourced materials and natural dyes:


April 15, 2019

So busy, getting the garden ready for my first crop of Indigo! Debbie Apple of Rivercottage farms showed me the deep blues she got from her fresh indigo vat and now I have a mission in life. I am going to grow Indigo and Woad in the same bed because they both contain the essential compound Indigotin that gives the world a beautiful blue!

Also making stuff like a crazy cat lady getting ready for May and June shows. Tennessee Craft and Francisco’s Farm in May; American Artisans in June. I am doing more shows than ever this year, specifically in Nashville, with the hope that exposure will help me move my wares into brick and mortar stores.

I had some time on my hands at a recent show and began to make some small weavings with the roving I have been using for my hats. I do like using the wool, especially the roving I have dyed with my plant dyes. It is a very sculptural medium, allowing form, line, texture, and color to ebb and flow through the warp and weft. Soon, small work transformed into larger work and voila! I am now a weaver! Here are some pics documenting my progress:

March 24, 2019


Gallery hops and pop ups have started! Sales of headbands have soared! Now everywhere I look someone is wearing a fabulous head wrap. I have found making these to be satisfying and creative. I can use up my precious scrap and make art to wear accessible to everyone! Here is a picture of my bountiful basket of headwear:

I shared a cubby at the A frame in Bowling Green with Debbie Apple of River Cottage Farms for the “Bartering with Babes” pop up event in honor of Women’s Day. I dye some of Debbie’s mohair in exchange for roving. The event was very popular despite the rain and my sales were good, especially the headbands. Here is a picture of us, and an article of the event published in the Talisman online magazine.

Event supports women creators

(From left to right) Cindy Houston of Natural Fibers + Dyes and Debbie Apple of River Cottage Farm have been working together since 2018. Apple produces yarn from her organically raised sheep farm and Houston naturally dyes fabrics and cotton along with dying upcycled thrifted items to create new, original pieces.

The next event is the Kentucky Guild spring show held here in Bowling Green the first weekend in April. Be the first one on the block to support an original Easter bonnet/Derby fascinator made of local wool, natural dyes and found objects. Believe me, I have tried to photograph these by taking selfies, but my tired face does not do these beauties any justice. However, here is an arty photo of me wearing one; my first time as an official bow head.


Enjoy the spring and stay tuned for updates on the forthcoming art show season!

February 12, 2019

Hats off! I really don’t like wool around my neck because it really makes me itch. But I do love working with the fiber so I have been experimenting with different accessories  I could create using the nuno felting method. First is was purses. OK, that works, especially when I can find vintage purse frames at the thrift store. Someone else must be foraging for this item because I have not seen any around lately. How about hats? I love hats! With the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, I can think of nothing but hats. I have done some experiments this week, My most successful so far is nuno felting a sinamay hat form. Sinamay is a fiber netting that is cut and formed using a wire frame, which provides the foundation for our favorite hats. I ordered a few and am on the road to creating several funky fascinators with the roving I have dyed. The form is nuno felted using a sander, then fulled like any other felted item. I can then reshape the hat and also use stiffener to reinforce the shape I desire. Here is a peek at my first attempts which have really pleased me!

February 7, 2019

This has truly been a year for new materials. It started with Merino roving and yarn, then progressed to basketweavers’ cane, and finally French Terry. I struggled to learn how the natural dyes respond to these different types of fibers. Wool is a protein fiber, cane is a grass and cellulose fiber, while French Terry is a cotton knit, with two different textures. So, I had to pause and think about what type of fiber I was working with and its requirements each time I started a dye vat. This is new for me, as I would rather run around with my head cut off, doing five things at once in the studio! So, for the record, here are some tips for working with these fibers:

Wool yarn: Always pre-mordant the skeins in alum overnight; then, while they are sill thoroughly wet, place them in the already prepared dye vat, which has been filtered to separate out the undiluted plant matter (you absolutely do not want to have to pick out pieces of plant from a skein of yarn!). Bring everything to a low simmer for about an hour, then cool overnight, rinse and hang to dry. When I dye skeins, I un-twist them, then tie them in four places with a thick piece of tee-shirt yarn that I can move around during the dye process. This helps the skeins dye evenly and prevent a tangled mess!

Wool roving: Pre-mordant the roving and prepare the dye bath as you would with skeins of yarn. Wrap the roving in some loose knit fabric such as cheese cloth before putting it in the dye bath. This keeps the roving from floating all over the vat. Continue with the directions for yarn. Remove the package of roving from the vat and rinse in the package. Drape over a drying rack. Here are skeins I dyed this year, from the varieties of color of Madder, Osage Orange, Indigo, and Avocado Pits dipped in Indigo:


Hamburg cane: There are two textures in Hamburg cane. One side is rough, where the cane has been split, while the other side is shiny and smooth, the outer surface of the cane. These different textures will take the dye differently so time and heat are your friends in this case. Soak the cane overnight before putting it in the vat. Heat the dye bath to almost boiling and let the dye diffuse throughout the vat. Put the cane in the vat and allow each piece to float freely. Let the cane sit in the bath for an hour or more, checking to see if they dye has penetrated the smooth/shiny surface. After sitting in the vat for an extended period of time, remove the cane and hang to dry. Here is a picture of Hamburg cane dyed with Indigo using: 1) warm/weak vat and 2) hot/strong vat. You can see how the strong/hot vat results in a more permanent and darker color.

French Terry: I splurged this year and ordered some organic French Terry from Organic Cottons Plus. I have always love how this fabric feels and drapes. It is both casual and luxurious and oozes self-care! I soaked the fabric in a combination of alum/soy milk overnight and then made a kimono jacket using my zero-waste pattern from Diane Erickson. I only had to serge the edges — no hemming required! My first dip was a fan-shaped Shibori pattern using a Madder/Osage Orange combination. The result was a stunning bright red orange! For a more artisanal effect I painted the jacket with Indigo, allowing the dye to drip along the folds. Here is a picture of the final result – so pleased!


So, at the end of all this newness, I have grown and learned so much about these different materials, mordants, and how they take natural dyes. Stay tuned for more bold and beautiful colors and designs with my new fiber friends!

January 30, 2019

New Year, New Work! I have spent the cold month of January learning to felt! I have had successes and failures. Welt felting is a challenge. My shoulders will not let me roll so I use both the dryer method and the power sander method to felt merino roving. I have had the best luck with nuno felting on cotton gauze and cheese cloth. Here are my first attempts at making purses dyed with madder.

December 31, 2018

Good wishes for the upcoming new year! This year surprised me with skeins of wool to experiment on. This is my most recent attempt at achieving the rainbow with three dyes (madder, weld, indigo) and iron and alum mordants. From left to right are: madder, weld/osage orange, weld/osage orange iron post mordant, indigo three dips, color way of weld/indigo, color way of madder, osage orange, indigo. Later on, I tried a 1 oz madder extract to get a deep red and it was oh so beautiful!


December 13, 2018

Here are my first attempts dyeing skeins for  I pre-mordanted the skeins in alum for an hour before the hour dye bath in avocado pit exhaust and madder exhaust. The colors are so delicate and subtle! I am delighted!

madder and avocado dyed wool

December 10, 2018

It was a busy weekend of art/craft shows, with the Gallery Hop on Friday and the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I did well with both events, mostly people buying scarves and wearables for themselves. Shanna and I had the opportunity to set up our new display and it worked great in our tiny 4×8 space. The display is three 3×5 panels with holes drilled that fit the dowels we use for pegs. The shelves display artwork and plants in hand thrown pots; wall hangings and wearables hang on the pegs.

Homegrown Mercantile Booth Display
Homegrown Mercantile Booth Display of wearables, wall hangings, and framed art

December 3, 2018

I designed a shabby chic tunic from some eco-print cotton gauze today. After finishing the piece I dropped it in a weak madder bath for about an hour, then soaked it overnight in an avocado pit bath. The next day, I dipped the bottom half in an iron-water mordant for about an hour. I love how the avocado pink turns to light lavender from the iron dip. Next step is an Indigo ombre dip, to be determined.

November 25, 2018

It was a great weekend here in Bowling Green. Small Business Saturday brought out a lot of great people to the A-Frame, our local event center and watering hole. Here are some pics of our new venture Homegrown Mercantile display of cool stuff!

November 4, 2018

This weekend was the World’s Greatest Studio Tour in Bowling Green. We had a good turn out and I sold several of my art-to-wear. Here is a sample of my recent work: an eco print poncho overdyed with indigo and two hand made button embellishment.

Cotton jersey Eco print poncho overdyed with indigo and hand made button embellishment
Cotton jersey Eco print poncho overdyed with indigo and hand made button embellishment

October 30, 2018

The leaves are falling and ready for the vat. I have used so many flowers and leaves from the garden–smokebush, walnut, peony, roses, marigold, maple, and more! The kimono jackets show off the leaf and rust prints beautifully. Here are my newest creations in cotton gauze. The jacket on the right has a quick indigo dip to add a little color.

Eco print and rust kimono jackets from cotton gauze
Eco print and rust kimono jackets from cotton gauze

October 15, 2018

The Tennessee Craft show in Nashville was a good one for me. I sold a lot of work plus got great feedback on my garment design and construction. My booth neighbors were very friendly and helpful. Good friends and good trades! My takeaways from this show were: shorter lengths for petites (there were a lot); more jackets and vests because people do not want to take off clothes; gauze jackets were the best sellers and cotton tunics were the worst. Also, never describe your experience to show organizers about anything related to the show because they really don’t want to hear it.

October 8, 2018

Goldenrod is peaking so I am throwing as much as I can into the vat. The dye yields a luscious golden yellow and I have been using it with all kinds of gauzy cotton creations in my attempt to have some great things at the Tennessee Craft Fall Show this week, Oct. 12, 13, 14. Adding the shawl collars really make these easy to wear, easy to wash items unique.

October 1, 2018

Lagenlook eco print jacket in light weight cotton gauze. Indigo Shibori shawl collar

Welcome Fall!

I will be at Tennessee Craft, in Centennial Park, Nashville on October 12, 13, 14.

I have been busy in the wet studio experimenting with a light weight cotton gauze. I am finding the material easy to cut, sew, dye, and dry. It holds the dye very well and is a pleasure to wear!

My first piece is a lagenlook jacket with a shawl collar. The jacket is a zero waste pattern and also includes pockets. The shawl collar was a shibori scarf idea I was playing with a the time.

Both the jacket and pattern were first dipped in an iron bath, then layered with steel wool (a shot of vinegar) walnut and smoke bush leaves. I bundled and steamed it for four hours in a goldenrod dye bath. At first I thought the jacket would dye a luscious green, but over time it turned an calm grey. The leaves printed black because of the rich iron that seeped into the bath from the steel wool. Here is a glimpse of my first work in gauze. More to come!

August 27, 2018

Great new book out by Louise Upshall on the botanical alchemy involved in eco-printing!

The Leaf Guide

It lists tips for eco-printing, specifically the species rich in tannins that yield the best prints, plus reminders to mordant with iron and to soak the leaves for several weeks in water.

I discovered species in my own back yard such as the tulip tree, red bud, juniper, and crepe myrtle, and so many varieties of maple that will all print well if I follow Louise’s suggestions. After trying her suggestions I do have some comments. See below:

Her method:

  • iron mordant on cotton jersey
    • so if you mordant the whole piece be ready for  “sadder” colors overall. I don’t always do this and often soak the leaves in iron for 30 minutes instead.
  • collect fresh autumn leaves and soak for 2-3 days
    • the author suggests soaking plants for 4 weeks but all I got was mush. Instead, I suggest soaking for just a few days.
  • Soak leaves in iron 30 minutes
    • this is good advice.
  • Iron blanket, optional tannin or steel wool
    • an iron blanket will enhance the print but may sadden surrounding areas. The tannin when it interacts with iron makes a black stain. This is great for getting outlines from leaves but also will stain other areas black. Steel wool when sprayed with vinegar will leave rust stains on the fabric, add iron to the bath, and enhance the plant print. If you don’t want iron on your entire fabric, I suggest steaming instead of boiling the bundle.
  • bundle and boil for 4 hours, leave overnight
    • for cotton, leaving the bundle for a long time is a good idea; I try to leave bundles for at least four days
  • Steam 4 hours, leave overnight
    • a double steaming helps to break down the plant fibers and transfer the tannins to fabric.

Here is a list of Tannin rich leaves to collect:

  • walnut
  • oak
  • maple
  • crepe myrtle
  • geranium
  • red bud
  • berries
  • smoke bush
  • ginko
  • juniper
  • gum tree
  • rose
  • tulip tree
  • hawthorne
  • sycamore

August 21, 2018

It’s Button Week! In recognition I am posting a pic of my recent creations! Because I am a no-waste sewist, every scrap has a purpose. These buttons are made with bits and pieces of naturally dyed cotton jersey and also selections from my stash. It’s fun to find small compositions for these itty bitties. Enjoy!


August 10, 2018

I am putting the finishing touches on my Kentucky Crafted application. Versailles fiber artist Mary Nehring, a veteran Kentucky Crafted artisan, was kind enough to help me with my photos and selecting items representing my body of work. Here is our work product from a recent photo shoot. I am pleased with the use of real models, but now I agree with Mary that they make the items come alive! Good news this week is my acceptance into the Tennessee Craft fall show in Centennial Park. Hope to see you there!

July 1, 2018

Happy summer everyone! As it heats up artists are cooling it off inside working on pieces for the fall craft season. I think I have made a breakthrough in my sewing at long last. Here is my process for sewing tunics with Jersey Cotton:

  1. zero waste pattern folding and cutting
  2. refold fabric for cutting neckline
  3. cut three strips of one inch binding
  4. sew pockets
  5. sew shoulders if required with serger
  6. sew side seams with serger
  7. sew neck and arm holes with serger, knife blade disengaged
  8. sew bottom hem with serger, knife blade engaged
  9. sew binding using straight stitch to reverse side of neck and arm holes
  10. sew binding using straight stitch to right side of next and arm holes using wave pattern, three times around
  11. fold hem and straight stitch using wave pattern

I have finished pieces for the TACA submission which do not use this new method but they look pretty good!

June 8, 2018

This week I am at Arrowmont in a Katazome, natural dye workshop. I have struggled to keep my natural dyes permanent when I paint with them so I wanted to take a class specific in this technique. Our teacher, Akemi Cohn showed us how to extract dyes: Cutch, Lac, Madder and Weld and make a chemical indigo vat. Also she taught us how to make rice paste resist, which consists of sweet rice flour (mochiko) and rice bran flour (komenuko).

Using these new techniques I will be able to create another layer of surface design using paste resist and natural dye paint. However, in experimentation, I found it difficult for the paste resist to penetrate the heavy cotton jersey I am using for making clothing, but Akemi said it will work if I experiment and find the right technique.

Today is our final day of class. I am choosing to learn to use Sumi e and India Ink to create shading and other designs on the fabric. This will be a way to bring out the stencil shapes using shades and lines.

Here we are with our finished work!

May 21, 2018

Francisco's Farm Art Fair
My booth at FFAF

It was a good show for me. I received great feedback on my work and learned a lot about this crazy art show business. I feel confident that my cotton artwear will sell and now my intention is to work on consistent lines and sizing. The best part of the show was meeting some amazing fiber artists including Susan Marling from Georgia and Mary Nehring from Versailles. I am really looking forward to staying in touch with them. Many people who came into the booth were fiber artists and it was great to talk to them about my processes.

April 9, 2018

Screenshot 2018-04-10 at 11.21.56 AM

New spring bundle process:

  • Silk tunic in alum mordant.
  • Crumple dye in madder exhaust, then light indigo dip;
  • bundle dye using alternating brushes of hickory tannin and iron;
  • place woad leaves in curvilinear design, with strawberry, false indigo, grape hyacinth leaves randomly placed..
  • put plastic in areas where I don’t want overlap.
  • Bundle everything, tie, then wrap in plastic and
  • boil 2 hours, left overnight.
  • Pound before unbundling.

March 25, 2018

I have been working primarily with cotton and madder dyes. I used early spring leaves like strawberry and rose petals on pre soy mordanted cotton jersey. I did a madder dye for initial surface color, then I placed leaves on the fabric as well as brushing them with iron. Then in some areas I laid a tannin mordanted madder dyed silk scarf. Items were bundle dyed for several hours and left to sit overnight.

February 24, 2018

Big news! I am featured in our local magazine as part of a feature on a local gallery!

It’s a good piece and represents my work well. Hopefully it will generate some interest and sales! Here I am without my glasses because they turn into sunglasses in the lights. The photographer told me about a funky way to hold my head to eliminate rooster neck, thus the snarky smile.

Also, here are some notes to self:

  • I ordered some lighter cotton from Dharma for making lighter summer ponchos and tunics
  • I think shirred scarves are a good idea for the future
  • I registered for a basketmaking workshop in April by Kentucky basketmaker, Jennifer Zurik. Her baskets use wonderful willow bark and have an organic style that I am really drawn to.
  • Check out Arts Company for submitting artwork

February 5, 2018

It looks like I am doing monthly posts! Because the semester has started I have slowed down in the fiber art area, trying to focus on finishing up projects and getting ready for upcoming shows. I got some product shots ready for the May TACA show that I hope pass muster. Pics are below:

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I am also dying some larger silk pieces to wrap on gallery canvas for wall art. My process is to use an accordion fold technique and sprinkle dye powder in gradiant colors– red, yellow, orange, gray– to give the piece color and depth. I added euc. from the craft store, some iron dipped gingko leaves, and vinegar soaked steel wool to add interesting surface design. When I bundled the fabric I made sure it was off center to give the piece some asymmetry. Then I cooked it for three hours in a weld, osage orange, marigold bath and then left it to soak overnight. Here is a bad Instagram photo of two 3×4 pieces:

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January 5, 2017

Boy have I been busy in the dye room. I am working on a method for dyeing the dresses and tunics I am sewing from cotton jersey. I wanted a look that was a little more sophisticated than boho chic so I wanted to combine color and bold graphics. I am happy with a purple I developed from madder/indigo dips. I tried different kinds of resists, including school glue and canning jar lids but was not happy with the effects. I also tried painting with natural dyes but have been having trouble with color fastness. I then tried black soft fabric inks and finally, I think I have the effect I have been looking for. I can use this medium for block printing, stenciling and painting so it’s pretty versatile. I am going to stick with black for bold graphics. Right now my prototype is drying so tomorrow after I iron it, we shall see how color fast it is. If this method works I can create a variety of pieces with my color combinations and stencils.

December 24, 2017

Here is my latest lantern dress. I ordered more 9.5 oz cotton jersey (USA)  and will cut out more of this pattern, sew them, then dye them. I am able with some folding to cut one piece to save on time and sewing. Also the front and back will be the same pattern, so finishing the neck will be easier.

lantern dress

December 13, 2017

Finals are over, presents are mailed, decorations are up. The last studio sale is finished and now there is time for some serious studio work. My sewing corner in the Pushin building is set up with a Juki serger and a heavy duty straight stitch machine. I have several yards of eco-printed jersey ready to be transformed. To that end I have created several “samples” of potential items I might want to sell in galleries and shows.

My first attempt is a kimono jacket made by folding a 55 x 55 in piece of eco printed and Indigo dyed fabric, which is then folded in half for cutting the neck (3 in total 6 i n). I then cut it up the middle, narrowed the sides so the fabric was less bulky and added a shawl collar.


My next trial was a dress using a lagen look pattern. I realized that no one would really try on a dress at a craft show so I turned it into a log vest with a shawl collar. I think later I will hem the sleeves. Here it is photographed with an eco print sweater. I am not sure I like the drape, maybe too Robin Hood. I finished the sleeves and will secure the pleats or change the line of the bottom.


My latest work my very well be my favorite. This time I cut a tapering shoulder, wide neck and dolman sleeves into a very slouchy poncho. I added a turtleneck collar and thinks it works nicely. Next time I make this I will do a french seam and reinforce the sleeves because it is going to be the IT wearable for chilly mornings.

Sunday morning

November 8, 2017

Joanie modeling an upcycled sweater in Bardstown.
SOLD! at the World’s Greatest Studio Tour

It has been a very busy month in art land! The October Bardstown Art and Antique Fair was super crowded. My boothmates sold a lot of work. I did pretty well and covered my expenses plus had a great time with good friends. If I do this show again, I will focus on 10.00 tees, with fewer scarves in a more limited color range, no 2D, and a wider variety of wearables.

The World’s Greatest Studio Tour was a success for me. I sold most of my wearables, a lot of cards and scarves, plus donated many unwanted items to some great budding artists and art teachers. The best part of the tour was making new friends and showing off the dye room.

The biggest news is that I moved into the Pushin Building Artist Studio so that I can have a clean, well-lighted place for sewing, plus be a regular on the Gallery Hop. It’s a nice feeling to be back with some great people and be right next to my favorite fiber artist, Laura McGee. Also, I have work in the Love Art and Antique Gallery on Fountain Square. It’s so nice to be downtown again!

Right now, I am cutting dress patterns for some “lagenlook” clothing–a sort of one size fits all style good for showing off surface designs. OK, yes the clothes hide a lot of matronly flaws, but you feel like a walking work of art! I came to this look because many women liked the wearables I had for sale, but could not fit into them. These styles will be made from my eco-printed jersey fabric in mostly large sizes that can be auditioned without having to go into a dressing room. I have some experiments waiting to be sewn on my dummy right now so stay tuned! Finally, I am making some great looking purses using vintage style purse frames. It’s a great way to use up the endless amount of scraps I have acquired.

Sept 25

Booth display TACA Show, Nashville on Saturday before everything SOLD OUT!

It has been a busy month with school starting and getting ready for the TACA show. It was a hot weekend full of sports fans (Alabama vs. Vanderbilt), art lovers, dog lovers, one cat lover, and a sprinkling of Nashville fashionistas. Fortunately, there were enough art lovers and fashionistas for me to have a good first show. I covered my costs–including a new tent, displays, and marketing materials–learned a lot about peoples likes, dislikes, and SIZES, and got some really good feedback on my booth display, as well as my new work with wearables, dye pastes, and stencils. The funny thing about TACA is that my buyers went for the $30 and above items, not the $10 and below items. Go figure. Also, they didn’t have a clue about the IT colors for fall. I had a conversation with only ONE person about that. Others just had a fondness for color palettes that worked for them.

My next show is Bardstown, KY in three weeks. This will be a different show because I am sharing a booth with some awesome stained glass artists and I will be selling a LOT of my $10 and below items for sure! However, since I sold out all my wearables I am going to have to get my indigo vat going again to make some more.

Aug 30

My how time flies! Summer was fleeting and now it’s fall. I completed many fiber activities over the months, including a Joomchi workshop in Paducah with master artist Jiyoung Chung (  I kicked my photo skills up a notch with lighting and background removing software and (hooray) was successfully juried into the Tennessee Art and Craft Association Fall Fair ( I am busy now getting ready for that and working on pieces to be submitted for the Kentucky Crafted Program ( My overall goal is to get juried into higher quality shows and only do a few a year, hopefully making some money in the process.

I have been pleased with my dyeing activities of late, especially with Madder and Osage Orange. I have been able to yield some beautiful, deep reds from Madder and 1 Tums, blush pinks from the Madder exhaust, burnt yellow from Osage Orange, and deep blues with Indigo. Plums and greens should come from overdying Madder, Osage Orange, and Weld with Indigo. All of these fit nicely with the fall 2017 Pantone colors.

My dye garden was less successful. I was not pleased Coreopsis tinctoria or the Marguerite. They grew, went to seed, and dried up, poof. I did love dyeing with marigold and weld, sprinkling the fiber with marigold blossoms and setting them in a vat of weld. I guess I didn’t realize how tedious the Woad extraction process was going to be so even though I have a lot, I am not sure I will be using it, because my Robertson County Indigo extract from Stony Creek Colors is soooo wonderful. It is going to be a busy couple of weeks. I am hopeful for great results.

May 28

I finally received the Indigo paste from Stony Creek Colors in Gallatin, TN. I works a bit differently than Indigo powder, I used Henna and lime to make a vat, then guess what? It didn’t! Then I added some Thiox and guess what? It did! and has been doing so for about a week. I have been dipping all kinds of things from last year to darken them and also putting some finishing touches on pieces I have been working on that represent a small-footprint approach to making wearables. So here is my first item: walnut leaves botanical prints, iron dip, Indigo.


May 20, 2017

It has been a busy few weeks with classes ending and the garden in full swing. I have been working in the studio now that there is some foliage to be printed. I used walnut, false indigo, and Japanese maple in some cotton pieces. I painted the plants with iron water and also used an iron blanket. The indigo and walnut printed very well. The Japanese maple was only a resist print. This picture does not show the leaf prints well, only how the weld/osage orange dye worked with the iron water.

walnut, false indigo print dyed in osage orange/weld bath

I was very pleased with how the marigold flowers and rose petals printed on this silk. It was also in a weld bath.

Marigold flowers and rose petal print in weld bath

Finally, I did a little experiment with rusting some canning jars on silk which was then put in a madder bath. The vinegar/iron from the canning jars turn the madder some nice colors. I also painted madder/lac dye on the lids before I clamped them, which made a nice contrasting print inside the circle.

Canning lid rust, inside painted with madder/lac, in madder bath

May 3, 2017

I have been busy in the garden and the studio, foraging, printing, sewing, cleaning, organizing, you name it! I am almost finished with classes and looking forward to some time off. Currently, I am studying how to get better color and eco print results from my cotton jersey materials. So here is the process I will use:

  • scour with washing soda
  • mordant with soy milk (store bought) over night and dry
  • mordant with alum/soda ash
  • wring and throw in dye vat or eco print
  • for eco printing, soak plants in vinegar/iron water and steam for hours, then leave for a week

I have been getting great results from eco printing marigold and rose petals on silk! So good that I have put them in the mail before I can even take a picture!

My walnut dye painted scarves using wall stencils from Michael’s have turned out very nice, but the ink does fade after washing; I am working on that issue with the mordants and also will try other dyes such as indigo, osage orange and madder.

Also, I am making scarf slides using some Japanese fabrics I collected when visiting my daughter and son-in-law, button cover blanks, and elastic fabric. I hope that the slides will add some zing to my cotton pieces, scarf necklaces, and square bandanas.

Currently, I’m working towards building an inventory to take to the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea and the Kentucky Guild shop. That will keep me busy for awhile and hopefully I can recoup the cost of materials for the year. Here is what I plan to make and take:

  • 50 stencil cards: Kentucky, Dragonfly, Christmas Tree, Window Pane, Simple mat, birthday cake, Kentucky dogwood, heart – 12 x 12 paper is 4 8×6 cards; these cards are designed to be displayed in an 8 x 10 mat.
  • 50 8 x 10 matted art: Laundry Lint, Silk, and paper scraps
  • 25 12 x 60″ cotton scarves: natural dye, eco print, stencil
  • 25 8 x 54″ silk scarves: natural dye, eco prints

I am going to do a better job of displaying and tagging prices for the pieces so that it is easier for the buyers to choose items. Then, I will put some items on consignment at the Guild shop.

After that I am going to select the “five things” for getting juried into the Kentucky Crated program. That will give me some credibility for having items in museum stores and craft galleries. The buzz is that that wholesale side of the Kentucky Crafted Market is on the wane so I am not sure at this point about doing that show. Here are the current “five things”

  • organic cotton eco print and stencil cross back jersey apron
  • 22″ wide marigold and rose petal eco print silk scarf
  • 12″ wide eco print and stencil scarf
  • 8 x 10″ framed shibori textile art in cotton
  • 8 x 10″ framed textile landscapes in silk

I have decided to do the Bardstown show again this year because there is a large crowd and the booth fee is reasonable. I think I have more saleable items and the show is going to be juried, keeping out the knick-nacks, etc. After, that I will do the studio tour, then be done for the year. I think I made a good decision about not signing up for the TACA show this May. They invited me off the wait list about three weeks before the show. Rain and chilly weather is predicted for all three days.

Today’s Silk Works

I foraged walnut leaves, yarrow, marigold, baptisia, and rose petals for my silk scarves. I used marigold and rose petals on two 22 inch scarves and they are beautiful. I am going to put them in a weld vat to enhance the yellow (I am currently growing weld in my dye garden so it’s kosher). These might be some flowy type silk vests for summer. We will see.

I used walnut and yarrow leaves on the next batch. I did an iron paint for the walnut and soaked the yarrow in iron water. The yarrow just didn’t print. It must be the flower that gives off the dye (duh). The walnut leaves printed very strong, either transferring the green of the leaves or the black of the tannin/iron combo. The closer the leaf was to the plastic pipe I used as a roller, the better the print. Also, the silk on the end of the roll printed black with the resist of the rubber band ties I used for wrapping, with a nice effect.

My last bundle was false indigo and walnut. I used the same process as the yarrow/walnut scarves but also topped the bundle with a burlap table runner to keep the printing from transferring over and over again. The results were a bit mixed. The false indigo closest to the pipe printed very well, while the prints at the end of the roll were lighter. Any areas of silk exposed in the vat turned black because of the iron in the water.

I can do a lot with these scarves with over dyes so I will let my imagination roam. These scarves will go to the Kentucky Artisans Center at Berea, along with the button slides I am working on. They really add pizzazz to the pieces, so I am encouraged!

April 25, 2017

Ah, another day, another show! I drove to Paducah to see my work in the Fantastic Fibers show, a small but notable annual show that is part of the American Quilters Society Quilt Week extravaganza. I loved seeing my work displayed artfully alongside some many other very creative pieces. Very encouraging. Oh yes, I also bought and entry level serger, a Brother, so my pieces will have a more finished appearance. I understand there is a learning curve, so maybe I will wait a bit to take it out of the box. Here are some pics from the show….also I get a catalog at the end of the show, whoopee!

April 23, 2017

This weekend we visited Lexington and stopped in at the Kentucky Crafted Market, where my piece “Yellowbanks Diptych” is on exhibit as part of the Illustrated Word show. I also wanted to see the work of the other fiber artists at the craft show. There is very nice work in silk and handwovens. One artist was upcycling and using botanical print. I didn’t see work similar to the work I am currently doing in cotton so I am encouraged. I am not sure if I should get a serger or not for finishing the edges of my pieces. They really don’t need it, but the judges might expect it……hm……Here is a pic of my just finished “poncho” dyed with indigo and stenciled using walnut ink. I wore it so the show and got some compliments. Look how well I blend with my art!


April 14, 2017

This week, is a review of my first attempts at a controlled palette. I used Osage orange on a cotton scarf, which also had botanical printing and school glue resist. This scarf was dipped in indigo as a final layer resulting in a deep green. I liked the result. Next time I will use a thicker resist and a more definite pattern.

green scarf

On this piece I made botanical prints of eucalyptus which I then finished in the indigo dip. It was dipped in the exhaust bath which yielded a much lighter blue which I like. I dipped each leaf in iron to ensure a better contact print. I think I used a glue resist on this item also so that the print pattern would show through.

blue indigo scarf

I made a botanical print on this scarf with marigold flowers. As with the eucalyptus prints, I dipped each flower in iron water and bundled it in burlap to ensure a good contact print. Finally, I dropped the scarf in the indigo exhaust bath for a light blue/gray color. I like it!

grey indigo silk scarf

My current experiments are with walnut, iron water, black/lac, and henna to obtain a strong black on cotton. This has eluded me to this point but nevertheless I will persist because I would like a bold pattern on my pieces that is not indigo blue or madder red. My most current thoughts are to do a final indigo dip on items initially dyed with walnut and henna. I will use the Garcia 1-2-3 organic vat calling for (1)indigo, (2)lime, and (3)henna respectively. If I can get to the Indian grocery store on Saturday to get some henna I think I have just enough of the other items to give this a try.

April 2, 2017

This week I started and exhausted an Indigo vat, using the kit from Jaquard. I was very pleased with the beautiful blue colors from the vat. The overdye of osage orange yielded a beautiful green. The glue resist held up moderately well, I should wait for the vat to cool a bit in the future. A great surprise was the beautiful teal that resulted from dipping some walnut dyed silk into the exhaust bath. Very nice results.


March 26, 2017

I am going to need to find a young model for these new pieces…..

March 23, 2017

I am waiting patiently for spring and warm weather, but the weather is unpredictable. I am waiting to understand my artistic vision but that, like spring, is slow in arriving. I understand that my items regardless of medium must have a consistent “voice.” One way to maintain a consistency is with a common color palette, so I am resolved to work with my locally sourced colors: walnut, osage orange, indigo, and plant materials from the garden. From this palette I will have light brown, grey, yellow, blue and green. The use of iron solution as a post-mordent will give me darker colors, greens, and teals. Red and purple will be missing; and this will be hard to give up. My idea is to create a surface design of colors and patterns using plant materials and dyes in powder form, using the bundle dye method. I am not going to use any Shibori techniques because that gives the items too much of a “boho” aesthetic. After laying down the initial surface design, I then overdye  the piece with a contrasting color. The surface design will peek through when I use a glue resist as part of the overdye process. The resist design will add graphic elements like circles and curves. I will use USA organically grown cotton as my primary fabric media, making my vision exclusively home grown. My grand experiment with creating my unique vision will begin this week with an indigo dipathon!

March 4, 2017

This week was a bit up and down. I was wait-listed for the TACA spring show, so no May craft show for me. However, I did consign all my silk scarves with the Craft(s) gallery in Louisville where I have been selling steadily. The owner likes my work and has encouraged me to bring more in. Also, no awards for me from the U.S. Bank Show but I am considering entering new work into the Women in the Arts show that might win a prize depending on the judges. So, up and down, is a bit of a reality check. I guess I am coming down off the high of being accepted into Fantastic Fibers. I did decide I could embellish my wearables with some felted collars and applique. That would add texture to the garment. I am going to start on this project straight away!

Feb 27, 2017

I can’t believe it, but my piece “Matronwear: Tea Party” was accepted for the Fantastic Fibers 2017 show in Paducah! This is an international fibers show–very competitive–that features the best in fibers in all formats. This is a personal best and I am very proud and excited to have reached this point in my work. I am going to celebrate by cleaning my studio today because last week a snake popped his head into my dye area just to smell the air. I think it’s time to dehumidify and make my studio a less snake friendly environ. What do you think? Here is a pic of “Matronwear” for your enjoyment!

Matronwear: Tea Party

Feb 20, 2017

I have been working with the 11 oz jersey cotton, experimenting with eco printing and dyeing with myrolaban and subsequent over dyes. I used logwood, with the intent of getting a gray, but instead, I have purple. The use of Lac for black had better results. Here are some examples along with some scarves I made from earlier experiments with Indigo, Osage Orange, and Madder

Feb 13, 2017

I am now a member of the willow cult. I have been thinking about taking my work into the third dimension for awhile. Some artist friends of mine invited me to a willow basket making session so I could explore that media. The just knew willow was the material I sought and they were so right! It twists, bends, is strong, yet delicate. I am in love! Here are some shots of my latest explorations in willow. More to come Friday when I go to a willow workshop sponsored by  G&H productions in Glasgow.

Feb 5, 2017

I can’t get away from Bowling Green to see my work at the Giles Gallery on the EKU campus, but I was able to get a glimpse via a Facebook photo. My work, “Meander” is on the far right of the picture. Based on the pictures, I am not sure I like the gallery, the gallery lighting, and how the pieces were hung.


Feb. 4, 2017

Today I am shooting new and old work because there are many deadlines for shows in February. Below is a silk kimono sleeve shirt I made from my eco printed fabric. Also, I have finished pieces of my art quilts for a Kentucky show:


Art quilts from naturally dyed  laundry lint textile:

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Jan. 30, 2017

Today I worked in the studio for 3 hours. I did some rearranging, some prototyping, and photography. I realized from the TACA workshop that I needed to kick the pics up a notch if I wanted to be juried into quality shows. Here is a pic of a poncho idea I have been playing with. It is made from organic cotton, indigo dyed with school glue resist.


Also, here is a new and improved pic of my organic cotton scarf, Shibori dyed with Madder an Indigo:


Jan. 29, 2017

It has been a crazy month! I delivered two pieces to two different shows listed in the previous post and have been busy readying pieces to submit to “Fantastic Fibers” (fingers crossed).

This weekend I attended a professional development workshop on marketing artwork which gave me a lot of things “to do.” First off, I am changing my brand name from media3693studios to Cindy Houston: Natural Fibers and Dyes. Beautiful. Natural. Wearables & Wall Art for Home and Heart. My WordPress blog has a domain name: I am also changing my logo to my artist signature:


I am going to track my expenditures on materials, travel, fees, etc. so that I can cost my items in a real way.

My big goal is to apply to the spring TACA show which will be an expense, but may let me know if I have a wide audience for my work.

Here is an easy formula for pricing, estimating inventory for a show, and forcasting earnings:

Wholesale Costing item: (materials + Labor (20/hr) + cost of business) x 2

  • scarf example: 4.00 + 4.00 + 7.00 = 15.00 wholesale, $30.00 retail

Craft show sales forecast: Booth fee x 5 x days

  • Craft show example: 400.00 x 5 x 2 = $4000.00

Item inventory for shows: Craft show sales forecast x 3 / average cost per item

  • Craft show example $4,000.000 x 3 = $12,000.00 / 30 = 400 items

Jan. 2, 2017

Works Accepted into shows!

  • Chautauqua National, January 23 to February 22, 2017, Giles Gallery, Eastern Kentucky University – – “Meander”
  • The Illustrated Word – Connecting Visual Art with Literature – Kentucky Arts Council sponsored touring exhibit February 2016 – December 2018.

Shows Applied

  • Kentucky Regional Showcase: – Not Invited 😦
  • 225 Artists Celebrate Kentucky HIstory – Applied
  • Fantastic Fibers 2017 – Accepted

Craft Shows Applied

  • TACA 2017 Spring Show

Dec. 28, 2016

New Years Resolution

  1. Make Tee Shirts that fit and are well-made
  2. Create five items showing my best work for the Kentucky Crafted program
  3. Attend Art Marketing Workshops (Done)
  4. Art Camp – Smithville, TN
  5. TACA Spring 2017 show


  • 12×30 capelet $20
  • 12×60 scarf $25
  • 24×60 shawl $30
  • 60×60 poncho $40
  • 48×60 poncho $35
  • 8×10 framed art $50
  • 11×24 framed art $100

Dec. 23, 2016

Indigo vat decision

I am going for the Ferrous Sulfate vat in order to keep an indigo vat going all the time without having to keep it heated. In this way I can have two dye vats going at the same time. This  indigo vat uses lime and ferrous sulfate as described in the Maiwa guide. I ordered walnut powder and osage orange sawdust so I can begin my USA line, using only indigo, osage orange, walnut (Stony Creek Colors, Botanical Colors) and Jersey cotton (Eagle Fabrics).

123 Iron Vat recipe and instructions

OK. I threw out this vat because I just didn’t maintain it and I couldn’t get it started again.

Dec. 22, 2016

New Works

New Works – Osage Orange, Cutch, Madder, Lac, on 9.5 oz organic Jersey cotton, some with eucalyptus eco-prints and Lac stencils.

Pancho Pattern

Dec. 22, 2016

Wearables Lines

Silk  Line- 12 x 54 in. silk habotai scarves – natural dyes and eco prints

GOTS Line -Organic Cotton Jersey  (GOTS)– 12 x 60 scarves, 24 x 60 shawls, shrugs, one size fits all, reversable – natural dyes and eco prints with eucalyptus & Organic Cotton Double Gauze (GOTS) – 12 x 60 scarves

HomeMade Line – USA made Cotton Jersey – 12 x 60 scarves, 24 x 60 shawls, shrugs, on size fits all, reversable – locally sourced dyes and eco print plants (walnut, indigo, osage orange, and plants from garden such as coreopsis, false indigo, walnut, maple, oak, roses, marigold, etc.)

Dec 21, 2016

New Process

Here is my new process:

Warm Colors

  1. Using 100 percent organic cotton Jersey 9.5-11 oz, cut into 12 inch and 24 in lengths, soak in Alum mordant
  2. Use a light color, weld bath, exhaust the bath
  3. Add 1 oz liquid osage orange, 1 TBS myrobalan, additional water – exhaust the bath, post-mordant in iron for color shift to green
  4. Add 2-4 TBS cutch – exhaust the bath – I really don’t like this color
  5. Add 2 -4 TBS madder, optional vinegar and Tums, and additional water – exhaust the bath
  6. Add 2 – 4 TBS Black Lac – exhaust the bath

optional Indigo dip

Cool Colors

  1. Using 100 percent organic cotton Jersey 9.5-11 oz, cut into 12 inch and 24 in lengths, soak in Alum mordant
  2. Use a light color, weld bath, exhaust the bath
  3. Add 1 oz liquid osage orange, 1 TBS myrobalan, additional water – exhaust the bath, post-mordant in iron for color shift to green
  4. Create a separate Indigo Bath – exhaust the bath
  5. Add 2 -4 TBS madder, optional vinegar and Tums, and additional water – exhaust the bath
  6. Add 2 – 4 TBS Black Lac – exhaust the bath

Optional Indigo dip


  • light color or natural under dye, and/or eco print, and/or
  • option 1: use school glue resist, then overdye with contrasting color
  • option 2: contrasting color dye for ecoprint, bundling fabric by rolling both ends into the middle and tying. This way the center of the fabric has the contrasting dye with string marks, final dye of ends using contrasting color dye for the ends – roll ends one layer thick and tie with strings

Dec 16, 2016

Osage Orange

I used the 1 oz sample of Osage Orange extract Stoney Creek Colors provided me along with the myrobalan 1 Tbs mordant she provided me. I used an alum mordant and plopped the 100 percent cotton jersey fabric and a stray piece of gauze right into the heated dyebath. I allowed 2 hours for the bath to heat, then turned it off for an overnight soak. The results are below. I am very excited about the color and color fastness of this plant. The deepness of the yellow is really not rendered well in this photo. I am now going to exhaust the bath and weigh the total product so I know how much 1 oz will produce. Then I will order more! Thanks Sarah for leading me in this direction.

I am planning to stencil on these jersey items and and researching how to do that. Table Rock Llamas has a great description of how to prepare a paint using gum tragacanth and any natural dye.

Osage Orange on Jersey with Alum mordant

Dec. 13, 2016

Cutch and Lac Results on Jersey

I was not overly pleased with the results of my work with Cutch and Lac on cotton Jersey knit scarves. They look a bit like baby poop to me. I was so displeased I did a little emergency Shibori overdye with walnut to add some drama. They do have a more muted look that Mellenials and Xers might like but I will do more work and see how concentrated the dye must be for heavyweight cotton.

Dec. 13, 2016

Slow Fibers

It has been a very busy few weeks. We wrapped up our shows at the Griffin Gallery in Bowling Green and await the coming of the Ice King later this week in the form of sleet and possible snow.

I was able to visit the Stoney Creek Colors Dyeworks in Goodlettsville, TN. CEO Sarah Bellos showed me their work in developing consistent Indigo and Osage Orange dyes for large scale vat dyeing.  She gave me good advice on dyeing with indigo including, starting an iron based vat which needs only room temperature, straining exhausted vats through microfiber to harvest the indigo, and her natural dye bible: “The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use” by J. Liles. I shared with her my goals to create a locally sourced wearables line and my hopes to be accepted into the Kentucky Crafted program. Indigo will be harvested in May/June so I will have to wait for that. She did give me Osage Orange which I will work with until I know how much I need.

On the fibers end, I am working with Eagle Fabrics and Organic Cotton Plus to source some 9.5 oz cotton jersey for my new line of wearables. I cannot talk about my new shift in fiber art without crediting Alabama Chanin slow fiber studio in Florence, Alabama. From her work, I am inspired to create some jersey knit, naturally dyed, stenciled wearables and hope to distinguish myself from other fiber artists in the Kentucky Crafted program as the creator of a sustainable, unique, beautiful and quintessentially local line of art to wear.

When I talk about my line of scarves, kerchiefs, pocket handkerchiefs, and shawls I want people to know that I am not creating art that “wears you” rather, I am creating art that “you wear.” As an example, here is the style of fiber art found in craft galleries where the piece is obviously the style focal point:


My work would be more subtle.

So my goals are to use natural dyes sourced locally such as walnut, osage orange, and indigo, along with innovative stenciling and resist dyeing to create a unique line of slow wearables.

I am still going to do larger works in silk and possibly linen, which involve natural dyes, eco prints, and glue resists, wrapped on canvas, and mounted in float frames. Along with my earlier work with laundry lint, these works have bee well received.

Nov. 20, 2016

Shifting Focus

The leaves are almost gone, so no more eco-printing on the horizon (unless I use eucalyptus leaves from the hobby store). I am trying to use up all the dyes Jim bought me for Christmas last year thinking that they have a limited shelf life. Today’s bath is Cutch (4 Tbs) and Lac (4 Tbs), with a little Logwood for good luck. I am also out of silk and using cotton, some of which is USA born and bred. I always use an alum mordant. I will see how this technique fares with cotton. My dye books also suggest calcium carbonate so I threw in a Tums.

The first batch of Cutch, which I had on high heat for two hours, then let sit overnight, yielded a  nice soft reddish brown. I am happy with it. Now I am doing an over-dye using the Lac dyebath. Stay tuned for results!

Working hypothesis for dye baths using my roaster:

  • Use for: madder, cutch, weld, lac, walnut
  • 4 TBS powdered dye – make a paste in a canning jar with hot water
  • Pour into heated dye bath.
  • Throw in 1 Tums
  • Add cotton or silk fabric pre-mordanted with alum
  • Heat on high for two hours, then turn off a let sit overnight
  • optional post-mordant iron water dip for color fastness or color shift

To pass the time, I am also making necklaces out of silk ribbon and various and sundry items. Here is my first attempt. It is a memory necklace with my Mom’s skate key, baby spoon, and my Grandmother’s spoon collection. What do you think?


Nov. 6 2016

Local Slo-Fiber Stuff

I have been researching how to create art that is quintessential local. There are a lot of fiber artists here in the south who are joining the “slo-fiber” movement, which like the slo-food folks believe the best of the best comes from the closest source, partnered with a mindful, ethical, savoring approach to production….in other words, “making” as opposed to “manufacturing.” So here, so far, are my resources for creating local textile art:

Dyes – Stonycreek Colors is not but an hour south of my home in Bowling Green and will be my source for indigo blues, weld/marigold/osage orange yellows, and madder reds.

Dye Plants – If I can find a sunny spot, I can get plants next spring for eco-printing from Ohio-based Companion Plants:

Textiles – This is more difficult. Textiles are truly a global business. I am looking for completely USA grown, milled, manufactured textiles at a price that doesn’t break the bank. So far I have found these sources for cottons. Silk was not ever successful in the United States so I have to reconsider that source for my “new line” of textiles. This means of course that I have to sew all my hems, ick. I hope my back and shoulders are ready.

  1. Organic Cottons Plus sells different weaves of cotton all grown/milled/manufactured in the USA –
  2. Big Duck Canvas is a Georgia company that has a line of Made in USA cottons that look interesting  –
  3. Eagle Fabrics in Long Beach, CA is a wholesale textile company with a sustainability mission which may be a good source –
  4. Anne Georges Fine Natural Fabrics and Supplies –
  5. Barkha’s Custom Sourcing –
  6. Aurora Silk –

Nov. 3, 2016

Whole cloth adventures

This week I am being brave! I am taking the plunge and collecting the last of the garden’s false indigo leaves, coreopsis flowers, rose petals, cotinus leaves, poke berries, and walnut everything to make large pieces that will go on the big canvases that I have been hoarding. There are three, each successively bigger in size. I have started all of them in a weld bath to make any over dyed color really pop. In the first piece I threw in all of the garden just to see what a random pile would do. I was very pleased with the outcome so I mounted it on a 30 x 40 canvas using my beloved Nori paste. Without further adieu, here it is! I call it “Remains of the summer.”


Stay tuned for more whole cloth adventures!

Oct. 25, 2016

A Visit From the Muse-Diptychs

Last week the Muse visited for a very short intensive period. During that time I finished up several new pieces that had been lingering in the shadows. I took courage and ripped up a piece that just was not working and re-worked the scraps into two nice lint pieces. I named the pieces Detritus, because that is basically what they are.

detritus1  detritus2

Then I re-worked an old piece and reframed it as a diptych called Waterspout.


Finally, I found the nerve to finish up the natural dyed silk piece I had been fretting about for so long. It was just not working as a large piece, so again, I broke it into two different pieces. They are weld, eco-print, indigo dyed, wrapped onto canvas with nori paste, then framed. World, please meet “Blue Mountain” and “Stormy Seas.”



I am glad the Muse made a visit. I hope to have more visits like this soon.

Oct. 15, 2016

Fall Insanity

The hot weather has left us and now we are full swing into the glorious fall leaf jumping, pumpkin smashing madness! Christmas shows are looming. I am gearing up for the World’s Greatest Studio Tour, the December gallery hop, and maybe the Porter Flea in Nashville. Also, I am making sure my stores which include Crafts Gallery, Louisville, Kentucky Guild and Artisans Center in Berea, Gallery on the Square in Franklin, KY, and High Country Art & Antiques in Blue Ridge, GA. The Gallery Hop this Friday was a good one, with lots of friends and art aficionados. I sold both little and big pieces, so nice to have a big fat art purse!

Lat week I experimented with scaling up my production of scarf wearables with great success. I can drop multiple scarfs into a weld, madder, or cochineal dye bath, then work shibori magic on contrasting over dyes. I can also put at least four scarfs on an eco-print roll for a two hour steam. I am not using an iron blanket as I had before because of how the iron “saddens” the colors. Because I have changed this practice, I can layer my plant materials in between my scarf materials and possibly steam 10 scarves at a time. My bigger pieces are still troubling me. The muse has not visited so I have let the bigger items rest. Here are some pics of my latest work which include pocket squares dyed with weld and indigo, kerchiefs dyed with walnut, weld, and indigo, and scarves dyed with weld, madder, cochineal, and indigo.

2016-10-15-13-08-45 2016-10-15-13-07-42 2016-10-15-13-06-48 2016-10-15-13-06-10 2016-10-15-13-05-27 2016-10-15-12-54-15 2016-10-15-12-52-54 2016-10-15-12-52-09 2016-10-15-12-51-30 2016-10-15-12-50-53 2016-10-15-12-24-56 2016-10-15-12-24-09 2016-10-15-12-23-31 2016-10-15-12-19-54

Sept. 29, 2016

Cool Touch

It is a touch cool this morning. I feel fall in my  bones. I finished a small batch of over-dying yesterday to replenish my Griffin Gallery “store.” For the scarves I want to “pop” my first dye bath is weld, yielding a bright, bright yellow. For more muted tones, I do a eco-print with an iron blanket steamed for two hours. For contrast this time, I over-dyed a few in Rit Pearl gray, a personal favorite, and madder, a steady companion. In my usual fashion, I threw in an unknown — this time logwood — to darken the madder and used some indigo stained resist blocks to get some color and texture transfer.

The first two scarves are the weld/pearl gray pieces. The brighter piece is a weld/gray “random shibori” technique. The more muted piece is a more complicated design using eco-print iron bath/weld under dye/gray over dye with indigo soaked resist boards.

The remaining scarves and neckerchiefs basically used a weld/madder technique with random shibori folds. Some color was added by using rubber bands that were soaked with indigo. The darker scarf is a more complicated piece using an eco-print-iron blanket/madder technique with indigo stained resist boards. It doesn’t appear that the logwood affected the color of the madder. However, the iron blanket from the eco-print appeared to have darkened the madder to a deep orange. Surprises, surprises.

Not bad for a days work!

Wow me with Weld
Wow me with Weld
Shibori Magic
Weld Shibori Magic
Subtle Madder
Subtle Madder
Madder resisit
Madder resist
Madder Neckerchief
Madder Neckerchief
Madder Neckerchief II
Madder Neckerchief II

Local Sourcing

Slight workage interruption….hoping to get back into the saddle in the next couple of weeks. My current interest is in creating some up-market locally sourced wearables and 2D wall art. I learned somethings in my virtual meanderings. There is a manufacturer of indigo, walnut, and weld liquid and powder dyes just down the road. I am going to call on them later this month. Also there is a small-scale textile mill creating very nice weaves right next door, so they are next on my list! Then, wondering if it was only me who had this interest, I discovered a Nashville company making wearables out of naturally dyed fabrics (I am not sure if they are locally sourced textiles). Anyway, here are the links:

Stony Creek Colors, Goodlettsville, TN

Tennessee Textile Mill, Goodlettsville, TN

Southern Hues, Whites Creek, TN

Nashville Fashion Alliance, Nashville

Sept. 13, 2016

Delayed Obsessions

I must practice patience today. I am obsessed with starting an indigo vat and dipping my nori resists and weld-yellow-pop scarves. Also, I am praying for rain so I can do some cochineal over-dyes, odor be damned! I need an uninterrupted day and don’t foresee one until a couple of weeks. Patience is a virtue, I understand. However, I have never considered myself as virtuous.

My next stretch goal is to be juried into the Kentucky Crafted group so I can market my work to a wider audience. It’s all in the image so I am working on how to hang and photograph my scarves so they they will look luscious and tantalizing. Here is a sample done on my iPad.


Sept. 10, 2016

Weld Woes

Today I put my silk in the weld vat, not thinking for an instant that the lac items I was overdying would bleed into the vat. So now I have some unintended consequences. No sunshine yellow today.

I am playing with Vida again, and “created” more scarves

I also “made” a wrap and tote bag using a painting by my friend, Shanna Paul

Sept. 8, 2016

Hanko Panko

Here is my new artist signature in the form of a Japanese Hanko:


It means “true, emerge, heart.” I like it.

No dye work today. I cleaned my studio yesterday while things were in the vat and I am going to finish tidying up today. I took my finished work down to the gallery (Griffin Gallery, Bowling Green, KY) and they look great on display! I was “invited” to use my images on Vida for clothing design. I love playing with the Vida editor and imaging my work on silk/cashmere scarves, sheer wraps, and men’s pocket squares. Here are pics of my current favorite imaginary products. Beautiful, aren’t they?

My work as a knit top!
My work as a cashmere scarf!

Sept 7, 2016

Good Intentions

Nori paste and weld on the way! Soon I will have a color fast yellow and reliable paste resist. In the meantime I am going to continue my wabi-sabi ways and experiment with madder and tumeric combinations as well as tumeric overdyes on my grapesickle scarves. Sorry, grapesickle, but I just don’t like your hue.

Results! I had some success predicting of the results for overdye using the madder/tumeric mix. However, there were, of course some surprises. The madder/tumeric overdye shifted colors from grapesicle and yellow to deep purple and green, which pleased me immensely. I did not get an “orange” from the madder/tumeric mix so I stuck one of my solid yellow scarves into a bag of madder and let it sit for a couple of hours. Oh madder you are such a loyal and noble color, you really did not disappoint me!

Eco print scarves, tumeric/madder shibori, lac shibori scarves overdyed with tumeric/madder
Good Intentions I – Eco print scarves, tumeric/madder shibori, lac shibori scarves overdyed with tumeric/madder
Good Intentions II-Lac/Madder dye “Grapesickle” with eco-print scarves overdyed with madder tumeric and resist dyed with indigo soaked wood (suprise!)

Sept. 6, 2016

It’s a Wabi Sabi Day

Today I am going to check on yesterday’s lac/madder dyed scarves and test their color-fastness. I don’t know what prompted me to add the lac (purple) to the madder (red) but the result was sort of like grape popsicle. I will do a heat set then wash in cold water to see what stays!

As much as I try to be a disciplined dyer, I just can’t….I guess. I just keep throwing things in the vat. Hopefully this blog will help me document the outcomes so I can develop an intuitive approach to natural dyes.

It’s all in the Wabi -sabi:

“Wabi and sabi refers to a mindful approach to everyday life. Over time their meanings overlapped and converged until they are unified into Wabi-sabi, the aesthetic defined as the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Things in bud, or things in decay, as it were, are more evocative of wabi-sabi than things in full bloom because they suggest the transience of things. As things come and go, they show signs of their coming or going and these signs are considered to be beautiful. In this, beauty is an altered state of consciousness and can be seen in the mundane and simple. The signatures of nature can be so subtle that it takes a quiet mind and a cultivated eye to discern them. In Zen philosophy there are seven aesthetic principles for achieving Wabi-Sabi.

Fukinsei: asymmetry, irregularity;

Kanso: simplicity;

Koko: basic, weathered;

Shizen: without pretense, natural;

Yugen: subtly profound grace, not obvious;

Datsuzoku: unbounded by convention, free;

Seijaku: tranquility.

Each of these things are found in nature but can suggest virtues of human character and appropriateness of behaviour. This, in turn suggests that virtue and civility can be instilled through an appreciation of, and practice in, the arts. Hence, aesthetic ideals have an ethical connotation and pervades much of the Japanese culture.” (Stolen from the Internet, 2016).

Results! A bit wabi-sabi I must say…..I was disappointed by the impermanence of my yellow safflower dye. I would say it almost washes out…completely fugitive after a couple of rinsings. So I am off to fill my online shopping cart with weld, which yields a beautiful and colorfast yellow. As to many of the shibori scarves, I believe they are still unfinished and possibly I will overdye them with black shibori pattern or a yellow weld to add brightness. My experiment with rice flour paste was more or less a complete failure, so I will be adding Nori paste to my shopping cart as well. However, the shibori “wad” method (one of my favorites) did  lead to a beautiful random pattern that I think makes my resist paste disaster an actual success! Oh the unpredictable nature of my artistic pursuits!

Sept. 1, 2016

I think I’m turning Japanese…

I just got back from a conference/jaunt in Japan….had a little time to explore the world of boro, shibori, noren, kimonos, screens…..yada yada and some zen gardens.

Zen garden - Tofukuji Temple
Zen garden – Tofukuji Temple

My main take away was that in the contemporary art museums I visited fiber art in the form of dyed or painted silk, painted screens, and kimonos are considered high art. Works on fiber are hung in galleries along with 2 D painting. Even writing in the form of calligraphy is an art form!

Why? Because in Japan, 2 D painting was an “import” from the West and so was not an art commodity until the 20th century. No second class citizenship for fiber artists at last!

So glad to have made the visit. Now I am at home sorting through my inspirations and have come across the work of the following artists who are my current inspirations. Stay tuned for new works!

SRI Threads, Folk Textiles from Japan:

SRI Threads Fiber-abulous Blog: SRI Threads Blog

One Small Stitch, Jane Betts’ Fiber Blog: One Small Stitch

Japanese Textile Workshop, Fujino Dyer and Fiber Artist Bryan Whitehead: Japanese Textile Workshops