colorsamples-2012What a hot, busy summer it has been already, and its only halfway through July! We’ve set records here in Colorado for the heat, my computer stopped working and had to be completely rebuilt and we’ve been back and forth across the country several times for family and business. Lots of movement, lots of work, lots of change…including changes to websites! I’ve moved my website hosting and am totally rebuilding this Creative Connections site and my Polyclay Gallery Site. There are lots of updates, re-arrangements, and new pics to show and tell about.

Seems like a LOOOOONG time since the Annual Dyeing Days at the start of the summer fun back at the end of May, but it wasn’t really that long ago.  Traditionally the start of a season of color and creativity, our chromatic marathon this year was 14 days of exciting and exhausting work/play that resulted in beautiful clothing, yards of fabrics, lace, ribbons, and more. Read all about it at the Annual Dyeing Days link, and view the Tie Dye Gallery with pics from past years.  

The fabric swatches shown at left are of Kona cotton, and making a sample swatch of each color used is a great idea–if only I had actually done each one (there’s at least a dozen I didn’t get, and that includes most of the orange/red/pink swatches; how did that happen?) and I also forgot to label the 45+ plastic sandwich bags of swatches, doll bodies, lace and ribbons as I was adding some of the liquid dye, so I have to guess which color is which now! That’s because I do the little bags at the end of the session, after all the yardage and clothing, to use up the ends of the dyes., and by day 12 or so I’m usually very spattered and tired.  Oh well, next time…there’s always something to learn for next time!

Duh, Dorothy!

Since it is Spring, I’m not only finishing up my final projects for school, I’m doing a little spring cleaning both at home and on the business side of things. I’ve used my own name “Sarajane’s” for a long time because I do a lot  of different things that don’t fit neatly under one title. I make costumes and dolls, stories and graphics and books, websites, dolls, ceramics, textiles, polymer clay…my interests wander around a lot, but they come back together on many points. But I never really liked how it looked on the display cards, and I’ve tried LOTS of variations. “What to do,” I wondered to myself yet again, trying on some new looks for business cards much like a new hair style or bathing suit for the Upcoming Season. What would cover the digital, polymer, textile, ceramic aspects of where my creative stuff connects? It didn’t really hit me (sometimes these things take a while) until I was looking for an image to use as a favicon.ico file for my websites, and I looked at the one I use for the header of the Creative Connections blog. Polymer clay, textiles, digital manipulation..duh, Dorothy, there is no place like home. So today I played around a bit and designed a new business card and hang tags for the items I’ll be selling. It’s fun to try on new looks!

I have been studying programs  like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and DreamWeaver at Front Range Community College. Plus I’ve taken courses in ceramics, digital photography and creative writing! It’s great to use my hands and my brain both, and to learn new ways of doing art.  Four semesters of soaking it up and learning as much as I can possibly hold, and now its time for a couple of months  putting all that I  have learned in my classes  to good use. I’ve got a big schedule for my “summer vacation” that includes finishing the photography and editing of my upcoming book  “A Collection Of Polymer Clay Masks”. It’s under way and going to be in print by October of this year. I have booked the majority of the summer just for this.

I’m also going to be be an instructor at Tougaloo College’s Summer Art Colony for a week in July.  The annual Dyeing Days are coming right up the first week of June when we’ll be getting Very Colorful, and I’ll be making lots of beautiful new things and packaging them up for sale. That’s my backwards count-down of what I will be doing for the next few months, along with liberal applications of gardening and the occasional hike into the mountains. It’s important to get outside and remember what a beautiful place the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is, particularly in Spring.

Another Day, Another Dye

ribbons and bamboo beads dyed with ProcionWe made it through the Big Dyeing Event and it all worked out very well. My hands and back are really tired, but the backyard has certainly been well watered with all the rinsing.

The ribbons, lace, scarves, cording, fabric, hats, bamboo beads, wooden pieces and tshirts have all been dyed, rinsed, and washed, and now I’m rolling and tagging and getting things ready for sales.

icon doll kitNext up on the “to do” list is making more polymer clay faces to go with all the great new colors, and putting them together into Spirit Doll kits–I’m going to the Houston International Quilt Show again this year in the Fall, and so this Summer is going to involve a Big Production Push.  Lots of things to get done….Musician Bill Nelson says in song “People who do things, are people who get things done”.

I’ve been busy writing  articles for Belle Armoire and other magazines, and working on books to the point that I’ve been spending less time than I need to on the actual polymer clay work, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to that!

cotton dyed hatsThough I’ll be photographing as I go, because the dyeing process is part of one book, and the polymer clay masks are part of the next one up–“The Art Of Polymer Clay Masks”.

I have to work pretty steadily on that for the next two months in order to make it happen this year. It will be self-published through as is “Adapting Quilt Patterns To polymer Clay” with Judith Skinner.

I’m still working on migrating this site to the one that I maintain myself, but I havent figured out how to get tags to work there as they do here–in the meantime, I’ll make use of both lobes of my brain and both ftp sites and maintain both for a bit! Please do visit “the other side” to see the features available there that aren’t here.

Am I Blue?

Blue tie dye--still tiedTsk, another song title. And yet, it is appropriate at least a little bit. MY head is not blue, but the cloth on this wig head is several shades of sapphire, indigo, cerulean, peacock, sky and other blues.

Cotton stretch jersey was tied with rubber bands to produce a pattern of circles. A section of the finished cloth is shown below. Other folds are used to create stripes, diamonds, and swirls.

In just a few days, I’ll have blue and other colored splotches here and there in spite of nitrile gloves and the best intentions. Reduran, a hand cleaner specially made for dyers really does take a lot of it off, and a coating of clear nail polish helps protect fingers and toes a bit.

Blue tiedye untiedWe dye outside, and it gets messy, but cleans up pretty darn well, all things considered. The fixative, (soda ash) is only applied to the textiles and ribbons that are meant to be dyed, and with care, you can keep dye splashes and spills from being permanent where you DON’T want them. We do our fixative pre-soak with the water and soda ash in a plastic wading pool.  Another is used for rinsing, and there are lots of buckets involved, for dip dyeing and for carting rinsed loads to the washing machine.

dyed fabric swatchesFor a few days this week, my back yard will be an explosion of color!Here’s a list of the SPECIFIC colors, and you will note many blues! We print the list on labels using the computer, and then attach the labels to each bottle of dye as it is mixed up. Its very hard to tell the colors apart in liquid form otherwise. We also keep color swatches in labeled plastic bags for visual reference when dyeing. Its hard sometimes to recall WHICH blue is which! Labeling helps. Keeping track helps…and will also become part of blogs, articles, and a future book on dyeing. Books require many months and even years of preparation and gathering of information and images. This one probably wont see publication until 2009—but its on the list and the work rotation.

#03 Golden Yellow
#03A Clear Yellow
#05 Soft Orange
#06 Deep Orange
#09 Scarlet
#10A Chinese Red
#13 Fuchsia Red
#14A Hot Pink
#15 Amethyst
#17 Burgundy
#18A UltraViolet
#19 Plum
#19A Lilac
#20 DustyRose
#21 Teal Blue
#22 Cobalt Blue
#23 Cerulean Blue
#25 Turquoise
#26 Sky Blue
#28A AquaMarine
#30A NewEmeraldGreen
#34 Rust Brown
#37 Bronze
#44 BetterBlack
#45 Jungle Red
#47 Chartreuse
#50 JadeGreen
#60 Lavender
#62 PeacockBlue
#64 Orchid
#65 Raspberry
#70 SapphireBlue
#85 Seafoam
#96 Lapis
#97 Citrus Yellow
#105 Pewter
#108 CaymanIslandGreen
#111 Black Cherry
#112 Periwinkle
#113 GoldenBrown
#115 Eggplant
#117 Grape
#118 Yucca
#119 Red Violet
#312 Strongest Red
#510 Basic Brown

Whiter Shades Of Pale

To-Dye Pile 1No, I don’t mean the song, I’m referring to the piles and bags and boxes of things I’m assembling to dye this week. We’ve got plain old white, summer white, navajo white, eggshell, offwhite, ivory, cream, even a bit of ecru. There are turned pieces of wood, bamboo beads, silk and rayon and cotton ribbons, silk chiffon and duponi yardage, silk handkerchiefs, cotton battenburg lace pieces, and cotton lace. There are circles and squares of silk stretched over wire, and there are doll bodies and fibers for hair in rayon, cotton, and wool! There are even a few more T-shirts. And that’s just MY pile; there are others coming to the Annual Dyeing Days. I’ll be taking a few pictures as we go and I’ll be sure to post so you can see the transformations.

To-Dye lot2Much of the yardage, lace ribbons, and stretched pieces were purchased from Dharma Trading Co. and the doll bodies were found at Factory Direct Craft Supplies. I bought  several dozen of the three, five and 8 inch bodies. These color up beautifully with the Procion Fiber Reactive Dyes, and can then be painted, beaded, and otherwise hand embellished. I attach polymer clay faces to some, and some I use paints to create faces. 

Pre-made doll bodies are great as a starting point for those who get tired of sewing and stuffing.

Polymer clay facesOf course, I like to do both–use the pre-mades and also sew, starting with my own pattern and my own dyed cloth. I’m putting together kits with the pattern, fabric, polymer clay face and a starter packet of embellishing items; beads, sequins, etc….click here to see some samples of the icondoll kits and more information about them. My favorite so far is the one shown in the header for this blog; I think I’ll keep her!