Autumn Outing-A Day to Dye For!

P1020434 (Medium)September 27, 2013  Friday morning dawned bright and crisp, with a promise of warmth as the day progressed.  We traveled to Marlene’s farm just across the Gallia-Lawrence County line to pay around with colors.

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Breezy day call for rocks!

P1020424 (Medium)Marlene provided dyes, we provided our own wool yarn or (in my case) cotton fabric and we spread out on tables to experiment with anything that struck our fancy.  We had to weigh our fabric down with rocks because a breeze sprang up. Dogs (3) (Medium)Midway through the day, we stopped for a potluck lunch, with hopeful pups hanging around, of course, and finished up everything by late afternoon.

Steaming yarn in crockpot

Steaming yarn in crockpot

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Susan’s tri-color yarn

Personal discovery: instead of putting skeins of yarn into a simmering pot of dye, we squirted dye on the yarn, put it P1020440 (Medium)into a baggie, squeezed out the air and put it into a crock pot with some water in the bottom. As long as the plastic didn’t touch the side of the pot, it didn’t melt.

Cathy-Completed Black Values (4)(Medium)

Light – Dark Gray Value Range

P1020444 (Medium)Most of us selected sparkling colors that created a veritable rainbow of hues.  However, I was working out an exercise from an on-line dyeing class that called for creating a range of values from near white to dark gray.

P1020433 (Medium)As the day drew to a close, we took some time to sit on Marlene’s porch before packing our treasures and heading for home. We needed to rest up for the next day, Farm City Day at OO McIntire City Park!

Enjoy the photos taken as we experimented with dye!

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May Projects from Wool, Mud and Paper!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????May 27, 2013  Although we had a small turnout for the meeting, we had interesting things to share.  Suzan brought beautiful sweaters and shawls and Bev worked on knitting socks. Cathy brought her completed mud cloth placemats and sewing kit and a newly printed book written by her husband, Chuck.

???????????????????????????????“Meet Mr Harry: An American in Guatemala” is a children’s book about how Chuck’s friend, a retired school teacher from cold, blustery New York chose sunny Central America as his retirement home. He makes many friends, including 3 neighbor children and begins a new life.

Proceeds from the book go toward supporting English language classes for girls, especially. When they are older, they will be able to get better paying jobs to support their families. Unfortunately, many men abandon their families, leaving the women to support their children alone.

Support that helps the girls to become better educated encourages them to put off having families until they are better able to find well-paying jobs. Find out more by going to Mr Harry Foundation.

We enjoyed looking through several books, including one on Mud Cloth.

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Playing in the Mud–Dyeing Workshop at Marlene’s

MudPiePigSuzy and Elane-Mud Cloth Sunflowers (3) (Medium)April 27, 2013 Who doesn’t remember making mud pies as a child? I have fond memories of watching in wonder as ordinary mud piled into a pie pan would liquefy and flatten out into a near perfect imitation of a pumpkin pie when I patted its surface. I’m sure your mom wasn’t happy, may have reminded you that you were not a pig and then grumbled about trying to get the stains out of your clothes.

Gallia Soil Rt 160 and 5th Av (2) (Medium)

Gallia roadcut

???????????????????????????????In January, we resolved to plan some messy fun once the weather got warm. After looking forward to the outdoor workshop for months, the fiber guild participants arrived at Marlene’s Lawrence County Ohio farm to learn from fiber artist and mud cloth expert Judy Dominec from the Cincinnati area. At her suggestion, we brought along some of our own dirt, collected in Gallia County and several southern states.

Mali MapJudy talked about the origin of the mud dyeing process and of her trip to Mali to learn the craft from traditional craftsmen from the African nation of Mali. She also brought samples of Mali articles and her own mud cloth items. Mud dyeing, or bogolanfini has been produced for hundreds of years, and traditionally has been the cooperative work of men and women. The completed mud cloth is sewn into loose shirts, robes and caftans.

Non traditional designs and colors

Non traditional designs and colors

Woven cotton cloth in narrow widths is produced by the men of the tribe. Women outline and then paint in mud that stains the cloth. Either the craftsperson or the person who will wear the garment chooses the desired patterns that represent features of their landscape, everyday life, and folk heroes. Different designs are traditional for men, women, children, marriages, and other events.

In Mali, the finished cloth takes months of aging to get a depth of color and sharpness of design unequaled elsewhere. Check out this Smithsonian site to learn more about the people and the process of making bogolanfini, and use the interactive site to choose  patterns and apply them (electronically) to produce your own mud cloth garment in minutes.

Scarves and belts

Scarves and belts

B Mali Mud Cloth Designs -Modern  (1) (Medium)The traditional fabric shows sharp white on black geometric patterns, while more modern works include browns, golds, greens and reds, with the white background often predominating. Men are now involved in  dyeing the fabric, and they may make stylized figures in addition to the traditional geometric patterns. Patterns and colors often are chosen to please tourists who will not pay the price for the more complex and costly fabric in the traditional designs. Contemporary bogalanfini brings much needed income to families in this west African nation.Mali Home FashionsMali Mudcloth Fashions

Check out this link to Dupsies as an example of African garments and fabric available online.   Other sites offer garments and styles that might be seen on high fashion runways. Mud cloth makes a dramatic ethnic impact in home fashions-cushions, upholstery, wall hangings, placemats, etc.

B Mali Mud Cloth-Judy's Samples (2) (Medium)B Mali Mud Cloth Designs -Modern  (4) (Medium)Judy showed some of her own mud cloth articles, produced using her adapted process.  The color she finds most difficult to produce is a deep black. In Mali, mud from the swampy inlets of the Niger River produces an intense black when it is used with traditional solutions in a multi-step process.

 The science of mud cloth

The science of mud cloth

Nancy's Tunic (2) (Medium)After Judy’s introductory remarks, we got started with a variety of muds which we painted onto cotton or silk fabric. Mud actually stains the surface of the fibers, rather than truly penetrating the fibers as is the case with dyeing.  It is important to have dirt ground fine and mixed with just enough water to make the mud about the consistency of buttermilk. Too dry and the mud sits on top of the cloth and is wasted. Too thin and the colored water bleeds into unwanted areas. Some of us used just paint brushes, while others used stencils to get more control over our designing process.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Once the colored solution goes through the fabric, a chemical solution (forget the name) is painted on the back. The pigment in the mud is attracted to the chemical solution and bonds instantly to the outside of the cotton or silk fibers. An alternate method, painting soy milk onto the mud designs, requires weeks of curing but greater color intensity. We went for instant gratification.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Our members had a wide variety of mud cloth projects: scarves, wall hangings, pillow covers, cloth for a tunic, and placemats. As always, Marlene’s dogs kept us company. By the end of the day we were tired but happy with what we had accomplished!

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April Fiber Guild-Spring Has Arrived!

April 2013 Mtg (1) (Medium)April 2013 Mtg (19) (Medium)It has been ages since I updated the blog–Mea Culpa!  Since I don’t remember much of what we talked about, I’ll just say we enjoyed catching up with what we had been doing, and we talked about the upcoming Mud Dye workshop, to be held at Marlene’s farm in May. Of course, we had great things to share in the way of completed or on-going projects.

Gallia County Soil Samples, Good For Mud Dyeing?

Gallia County Soil Samples, Good For Mud Dyeing?

After the meeting, I went to the Soil and Water Office to find out about what soils might be available locally with the right mineral content to make good dyes.  Iron can make red to yellow colored soils which will color cotton material. Organic content may make a soil dark with lots of humus–great for gardens, but doesn’t make a good dye.

NApril 2013 Mtg (34) (Medium)ew members brought samples of what they had done–art weaving, in particular, broadens the collective skills of our guild. Our current active members include those who felt, spin, crochet, tat, knit, weave and quilt.  We are actively looking for new members, and could use some basket makers to round out our fiber craft repertoire!

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Fit to Be Tyed? Silk Tie Scrap Dye Workshop

1 Cutting Ties (1) (Medium)Mar 10, 2013  The Fiber Guild met at Mary Payne’s home to create silk scarves, dyed with random shaped scraps of silk ties. We brought ties scrounged from our husband’s closet and second-hand clothing stores.

Mary went over the process to transfer dye from ties to scarf and cautioned us that only SILK ties would release their dye. Briefly,

  • 2 Arranging Pieces on Scarf (3) (Medium)Cut the ties into pieces
  • Lay them out to completely cover half the scarf
  • Fold the scarf over the silk pieces
  • Roll it up tightly and secure with rubber bands
  • Simmer the bundle in hot water (vinegar added)
  • 3 Rolling, Binding Scarf (1) (Medium)Remove the bundle from hot water and  shake out the scraps
  • Rinse scarf in cold water
  • Blot dry and iron the now-dyed scarf

1 Cutting Ties (2) (Medium)When silk ties cost upward of $30 new, it took some steeling of nerves to make that first whack with a pair of scissors! However, Mary says the scraps can be used several times before the dye exhausts.

Mar 10 2013 Hanging Out (2) (Medium)???????????????????????????????While we waited for the scarf bundles to simmer, we shared our recent projects and ate a few snacks.  Mary’s two shepherds were available for floor retrieval duties.

Marlene showed us the galley proofs of her first book!Mar 10 2013 Marlenes Book (1) (Medium)

Enjoy the pictures!

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Wall Hanging Donated to FAC Silent Auction

KioskFACFiber Guild members again participated in the French Art Colony’s Mardi Gras Celebration and Silent Auction by donating another group project showcasing 12 blocks representing the various skills of our members.

2012 Wall-Hanging "The Gathering"

2012 Wall-Hanging “The Gathering”

We donate the wall hangings because we want to thank the FAC for allowing us to meet without charge, but also because we want to let people know that we welcome new members who enjoy a wide range of fiber-related activities. Last year was our first venture into a group fiber art project and we learned a lot about working together, what would and would not work in melding various fiber media from a dozen contributors!

First Construction Meeting-Pattern Design

First Construction Meeting-Pattern Design

Second Construction Meeting-Sewing on the Blocks

Second Construction Meeting-Sewing on the Blocks

This year’s construction committee included Cathy Clark, Marlene Gruetter and Mary Payne.  It only took two group meetings–the first to decide on the overall layout and cut patterns, and the second to sew the 12 blocks onto the locations that complemented the overall look of the project. In between these meetings, Mary sewed the three banners, Marlene looked for additional embellishments, and Cathy went to Arizona!

???????????????????????????????Once the blocks were situated, Cathy used her midarm quilting machine to stabilize the three banners that made up the triptych. The central banner of dark gray felt has simple curving lines of quilting, but the two side banners of shimmering gray satin have more than 12 patterns of closely quilted background stitching. ???????????????????????????????The effect of the quilting on satin produces a shimmering texture that must be seen in person–photos cannot capture it.

Figuring 10 cents per square inch (a common standard for setting prices for art quilts) this year’s 3-paneled wall hanging was valued at over $1100.

Bev Walker, FAC volunteer and chair of the Silent Auction, and Joseph Wright, Director of the French Art Colony, were forwarned that our group fiber project was large–5 feet wide and 6 feet long, so they planned ahead for a way to exhibit the piece to its best advantage.

Our wall hanging on display at Silent Auction

Our wall hanging on display at Silent Auction

In fact, it was the most dramatic of any of the items in the Silent Auction, straight ahead of people entering the splendidly decorated hall of the Moose Lodge.

Mardis Gras Decor

Mardis Gras Decor

The Auction was not as heavily attended as last year’s, but there were many generous donations and buyers.  My husband, Chuck and I, wandered around to see vacations, meals, jewelry, tools, decorative items and services.  And of course, we sampled the New Orleans-inspired finger foods and listened to a live band!

During the evening hours, attendees wandered past the auction tables, adding bids to items that struck their fancy.  At 9:30, bids were closed and the last and highest bidders made their checks out to the French Art Colony and took their purchases home. It was a fun evening, and I was glad to see the generosity of so many Gallia residents.

Happy Purchaser!

Happy Purchaser!

Completed Wall Hanging "The Gathering II"

Completed Wall Hanging “The Gathering II”

This year’s wall hanging provided support for future French Art Colony’s community activities, a total of $300. And the delighted purchaser is ……. our own Carol Bowers!  The best thing is, we will have “visitation privileges” once she has it hung in her home!

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February Meeting at Willow Wood Antique Mall

Willow Wood Antique Mall

Willow Wood Antique Mall

Due to scheduling conflicts at the French Art Colony in Gallipolis, the February 24, 2013 meeting of the Fiber Guild met in Rio Grande, OH at the newly opened Willow Wood Antique Mall.  This location is more convenient for Sherry and Suzy coming from the Columbus area, as well as Bev, who lives within sight of the mall.

Willow Wood Antique Mall (1) (Medium)

Owen, Sonny and Marlene

This location provided a wide open meeting area, lots of light, interesting booths to visit before the meeting, and a warm welcome by owners Sonny and Owen Garnes. Owen kindly brought us coffee as we started our meeting, and Sonny offered the facility for evening workshops, which we may consider for future events. They also own French City Antique and Craft Mall, located nearby. Contact them at 740 245-0008 or

Wall-hanging "Two beautiful ladies on the arm of a man in pinstripe"

Wall-hanging “Two beautiful ladies on the arm of a man in a pinstripe suit!”

At the meeting, we covered several items before moving on to Show n Tell. Cathy brought the nearly finished wall-hanging that will be donated to the French Art Colony in thanks for providing our meeting space throughout the year. A construction committee composed of Cathy, Mary and Marlene decided on a triptych (3-panel) design with waving borders on either side of the central panel.   The central piece is grey flannel with parallel curving lines quilted down the length of the panel. The two side pieces have a background of lighter grey satin with dense free motion background quilting.  (At the time of the meeting, only one panel had been quilted, and the hanging tabs were not yet attached.)  I love the comment made by one of our members!

The wall-hanging will be our second sold at the FAC Silent Auctions, with this year’s auction scheduled for March 2 at the Elks’ Lodge in Gallipolis.

Upcoming March 17 Meeting

The members were polled to see who was planning to participate in the March silk tie dyeing workshop and meeting at Mary’s house on March 10.  Members are reminded to bring only silk ties, as polyester and wool tie dye does not transfer.  Marlene will have lengths of silk to serve as a base for the tie-dyed scarves.  Since ties can be used several times before the available dye is exhausted, we can trade around ties to make the most of our materials.

Spring Mud Dyeing Workshop

Quilt Made of Various Mud Dyed Fabric

Quilt Made of Various Mud Dyed Fabric

Also upcoming is a special workshop featuring fiber artist Judy Dominic. She will be leading participants in a Mud Cloth workshop on Saturday, April 27th at 9:00 am at Marlene’s farm. The cost of the workshop runs about $60, based on the number of people planning to attend. Bringing a friend could reduce the cost somewhat, but be sure to call Marlene ahead of time so there are enough materials. Marlene requests that you send her a check ahead of time to hold your place.

Range of Colors of Mud-Dyed Fabric
Range of Colors of Mud-Dyed Fabric

Marlene will have silk available for purchase, but participants can also bring pfd cotton fabric (prepared for dye).   Also, keep your eye and trowel alert to take advantage of local earth/clay outcrops with interesting colors. Judy will bring some she has used as well, but “local dirt” is always more meaningful.  I mean this in the geological sense, not interpersonal, of course!

Judy Dominic retrospectiveJudy comes from the Cincinnati area.  Her website shows that her artistic interests include mud dyeing, knitting, sculpture and other arts. Some of her basketry installations feature huge woven structures, while small baskets may incorporate unusual materials with a unique transparent  appearance.

Show n Tell

Cheri's Wine Glass Slippers
Cheri’s Wine Glass Slippers

Show N Tell brought fewer than average items, as some of our usual members were absent, but those that came were delighted to see weaving, dyeing, and knitting skills shared for mutual enjoyment. We even had wine glass slippers! Sonny loaned us a wine glass to model a slipper. We speculated what kind of secret message we could put on the bottom of the slipper, seen only when the glass is lifted to sip bubbly!

Suzy and Sherry's Play Day--Dyeing with Koolaid!

Suzy and Sherry’s Play Day–Dyeing with Koolaid!

Some of the most unusual items were the result of a “play day” for Sherry and Suzy–wool yarn and roving dyed with unsweetened Koolaid! In general, they used Pyrex pie plates for hanks of yarn and a mason jar for roving. If you want to try it, here are the instructions!

Adell's Reversable Woven Scarf, Natural Color Yarns

Adell’s Reversable Woven Scarf, Natural Color Yarns

Socks-Note the Yarn Caddy

Socks-Note the Yarn Caddy

Adell brought a scarf made from squares woven on a small square loom–reminded me of pot holder looms when I was a kid, but much nicer! Bev is working on a new pair of multi-colored socks.  She starts knitting each sock at the same color location on two balls of varigated yarn, and keeps each ball of yarn in a separate gallon jar. She knits the two socks alternately, making sure the colors change at the same point in the process of knitting cuff, ankle turn and toe.

Marlene's Vest-Shambolic Felting

Marlene’s Vest-Shambolic Felting

Marlene brought in another example of Shambolic felting, this time an open vest with long sleeves.  she used a reclaimed silk dress (vest bodice) and skirt (sleeves). With the eccentric shrinkage characteristic of the felting process, we marveled at her ability to get her pieces into a size that fits!

Carol's New Shawl
Carol’s New Shawl

Our resident model-cum-knitter, Carol, showed off a new shawl in a color cheerful enough to add at least 15 degrees to its warming capacity!

Natural material dyeing in Guatemala

Natural material dyeing in Guatemala

Unfortunately, Cathy’s tour to Guatemala has been post poned to a later date!

Watch for future posts on the wall hanging and on the mud dyeing workshop!

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