Thursday, March 29, 2012

Paper Bag Dyeing

Today Diane Hansen and I are dyeing paper bags at Gypsy Studios. We are involved in a paper exchange in mid-April through our mixed media group and Diane has seen a chapter on paper bag dyeing by Jill Eudaly in the latest issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors (March/April 2012). The project requires brown paper bags to be cut into pieces and hand-dyed using Rit Powdered Dye.

The bags absorb the color and here in the Arizona sun they dry quickly into multi-colored pieces of wonder. Diane brought a package of 150 paper lunch sacks, and yes, we dyed them all in a variety of colors and sizes. Just for fun, we also dyed a yard of muslin fabric cut into quarters. We used the liquid form of the dye and no scientific method at all. Just poured boiling water from pots on the the stove into plastic bins outside to soak up the dye. (Nothing measured, nothing poured.) The magazine does give specific instructions if you need guidelines to follow, but I'm an experienced dyer of cloth and Diane was willing to go along for the ride.

We did think that we might have gotten better results if the paper bags had been heavier (like shopping bag quality). They might have held up better in the hot water bath. These bags came out "distressed", shall we say, but we wanted unique hand-made papers and we got them. They could have used a shorter bath time, but dried quickly laid out on a drop cloth in the sun. Heavier paper bags would have held up better or using water that was not yet truly boiling just really hot. I'd say it depends on what paper bags you start with.

It's really quite entertaining to be out in the bright sun making colorful papers. We have a total of ten gals in the exchange with 12 papers per bundle. Diane is well on her way to a successful paper exchange after today. We'll be sure to post details of the swap.

This photo includes the pieces of fabric as well. Can't be a quilter without fabric and Diane and I both have very strong backgrounds in quilting.

This is Diane. Doesn't she look thrilled with her results? She's busily calling a friend on her Iphone to share the results.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lime Art Glitter Doodle

Here is another Art Glitter piece. It is a doodle quilt that I enhanced. It began with a watercolor wash on muslin (Prang watercolors). Next, I freely doodled with Prismacolor Premiere pens in Apple Green and True Blue and PITT Artist Pen by Faber Castell in Light Green. Last, I embellished with South Seas, Orange Crush, Flax and Key Lime Ultrafine Transparents, and Kelly, South Seas and Royale Ultrafine Opagues. I used the Art Glitter Dries Clear Fabric Adhesive to adhere the Art Glitter to the doodles.

Don't you agree that this will make a lovely little piece for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Association, which to date has collected over $679,000 for Alzheimer's research. AAQI just awarded it's tenth grant, a $30,000 research grant, to the University of Michigan through these quit donations.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Art Institute Glitter

I visited the Art Institute Glitter, Inc in Cottonwood, AZ, a couple of weekends ago and to my amazement, I saw wonderfully embellished quilts featuring Art Glitter.

Who knew? This was my first experience with Art Glitter. It has been a well-kept (from me anyway) secret, buh AHA! I have discovered it. (Yes, that's my vehicle, strategically parked right in front of the building so you can't see it either.)

The creator of Art Glitter, Barbara Trombley herself was there, gave me a tour of her facility, and today I played. For more information on the Art Glitter institute, go to and check it out. I added Flax Transparent Ultrafine (flower petals), Kelly Ultrafine Opaque (green for leaves) and South Seas Ultrafine Opaque (the turquoise around the lower button and the stitching surrounding the upper button) to the sunshine mixed media piece I thought I had finished earlier. I put glitter over some of the black stitching (see in the earlier post the burlap and button near the top) to somewhat minimize it. It adds the element of color and integrates the stitching more fully.

And then I added Art Glitter to one of my small quilts for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (art quilt/Art Glitter, see the connection?) If you're a frequent reader of my blog, you will know I often audition new techniques, giving the resulting piece to AAQI in memory of my grandmother and father, both of whom suffered from Alzheimer's. For more information on the auction, go to This piece is 8" x 10", the small size is required by AAQI for auction pieces. It began with watercolor on muslin, then Pigma Micron pen in black and a Mitsubishi UM-153 white Gel pen added before the Purple Passion Ultrafine Opague Art Glitter embellishment. I'll probably go back in and add some "big stitch" (hand stitching) in white perle cotton for contrast before facing it and sending it off to the auction.

P.S. When hubby came in from work tonight, he said "Oh, honey, you're kind of sparkly tonight" (and I thought "It's about time after 35 years that he noticed my personality".) And then he went on to say, "I see you've been playing with your Art Glitter."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Play Day

My friend Lynnita Knoch rusting fabric at my patio studio.

Rusty Ole Ingrid Vient working on rusting a gauzy fabric.

My collaborative friend and partner in all things rust, Sherry Drzal, inspecting our previous efforts as they sun dry.

Today was a fun play day as we rusted, felted, doodled, zentangled, created silk paper, and basically shared our mutual interests in anything artsy. Sherry showed us her rusted papers and laces, Lynnita had fabulous Zentangles and brought her mother as a guest, Diane brought a supply of Zentangle books to share, I shared silk paper, felting supplies, decorated papers and bagels, and Ingrid brought her journaling pages for everyone to see.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Flower Power Mixed Media

I belong to a mixed media group that meets once a month in downtown Mesa at the Sundust Gallery. Ron, the proprietor, exhibits and sells works from Arizona artists and we have recently moved to this new location. It offers an eclectic selection of artwork, art classes and shows. We love our inspiring new digs. If you are in the east valley of Phoenix and are looking for just such a group, email me and I'll hook you up.

This photo is of this month's project, mixed media exploration which features a sewn-on botanical print. I've added beads, burlap, buttons, dyed cheesecloth, ribbons, sequins, and more. I love embellishing small pieces.

While working on our project, we were introduced to a new (for some of us) tool, the crocodile, which punches holes through fabrics. We used it to make the holes for the ribbon hanger. Here is a photo of the cropodile, available at your local craft shop for about $30. It made the holes in the canvas from which the handle is created. Easy Squeazy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

More Rusting

This was a very successful project so we have scheduled another day for rusting fabrics. Today we added laces and vintage hankies to the mix. This is how the morning began.

This shows the vintage hankie from how we began to after I washed it the next day. I loved the results. From there we worked with more vintage pieces, watching as the rust created patterns of its own. This is a truly amazing process. While I focused on vintage fabrics, my partner in play, Sherry, rusted a variety of papers for her work. Here are a few examples of the results.

Hankie with lace trim.

This vintage hankie had a botanical print stamped on it before we began the rusting process.

Here is a piece of  lacework.

Quilters cotton rusted.

Quilters cotton rusted using a copper wire wrap technique. Love the lines!

Again more lines from wrapping copper wire. Can't wait to see this made into an art piece.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Doodle Quilts and Zentangles

Today we are in Queen Creek working on Doodles and Zentangles for quilts. Enjoy these photos of quilters in progress, LaVon is doodling and Marty is working on Zentangles.

In addition, here is Marty's Symphony Quilt from last week. Marty is originally from Wheaton, IL and is in a quilt guild there. She's enjoying the season with us. Her piece features embellishments and machine embroidery.

Alicia's quilt (ready to be quilted) and Jane's piece (quitting in progress) features a border which gives it a different look.

Friday, March 9, 2012


This is my newest small quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative Auction to raise monies for Alzheimer's awareness. I recently taught this class in Queen Creek, Arizona. It is from Gloria Loughman's book, Quilted Symphony, one of my favorite books to teach from currently. This piece measures 8" x 10" and is faced rather than bound.

If you look back to my December 18th post, you will see that these fabrics were purchased at the quilt shop in Sedona,AZ. It is a shop that carries a bountiful selection of beautiful batiks. If you are ever lucky enough to visit the area, you should definitely check the shop out. USA Weekend ranked Sedona as the #1 Most Beautiful Place in the country, so it is definitely worth the visit.

More Fabric Rusting Photos

More rusting photos. This is a finished piece of rusted fabric, ready to be worked into an art quilt. Where can your creativity take you with a piece like this? Do you think Shiva sticks, flecks of mica, art glitter?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Feel Rusty

These photos show our fabric rusting process. Living in Arizona, we are blessed with sunshine almost every single day and early March days is no exception. Today, we are going to rust fabric and paper by soaking them in homemade (should I say handmade?) rusty water and old tools and materials. We started by soaking white PFD (prepared for dyeing) muslin from our local craft store in a water/vinegar solution. We used whatever vinegar we had, both white and cider, though we have read that white is preferred. Then we wrapped the fabric in old rusty tools, nails/bolts/screws, wind chimes, whatever we could find and left the objects out in the sun to dry. We observed color changes within 3 hours, but left the fabrics out to dry for a total of six days and nights. The pieces were sprayed every few hours with the vinegar/water solution so that they were kept moist. They were loosely covered in plastic sheeting but allowed to breathe the fresh outside air.

Things we learned:

  • We loved the process and eagerly awaited the results from the very beginning. Exciting!!
  • Having plastic grocery bags and paper towels on hand is very beneficial. 
  • Being outside within steps of a water source is quite helpful. We used a garden hose.
  • Presoaking the fabric in a vinegar/water solution speeds up the process.  
  • Definitely wear old clothes, gloves and an apron. 
  • Kosher salt has larger granules than table salt and it can be recycled (brushed off into a plastic container and used over again the next time you rust). 
  • Don't be shy about the amount of salt used, (shake or clump--don't sprinkle). 
  • It helps to keep the fabric moistened and to let it breathe rather having the fabrics tightly covered and kept from the air. Fresh air is good. Oxygen is necessary for the process.
  • Good ventilation is important because we could taste the rust--remember we were outside, thankfully. We highly recommend rusting on a calm, not breezy day. And wear gloves, my manicurist will not  be happy with me.
  • Strain your left over rust/water solution through coffee filters when you are finished to capture the residual rust dust (powder) for your next rust experience. Believe me, you'll have another. Like potato chips.
  • Be prepared--this process is very addictive, you're going to want to do it again...and also your friends are going to want to do it with you when they see your spectacular results! Have your calendar ready. And tell them that bringing "rusty stuff" is mandatory.

Here we begin our rusting process by wrapping old tools around pfd muslin that had been soaked in a vinegar and water solution.  

In this photo, you can see fabric-wrapped tools, clamps, and an assortment of bolts and small hardware that has been rusted. Regular table salt can be used, but kosher salt has larger granules and was easier to work with. Can you see the horseshoe image in the upper left ? You'll see it again later. Remember it. Beautiful sunny warm weather isn't required, but it does speed the process and here in Arizona, we've come to expect it. As you can see, we just spread large trash bags out over our yard and left our treasures out in the sun to process.

See how scientific we are? All it takes is rusty water in an old bucket or pan set out in the sun, some old tools and bolts and things like that, and voile! See the rusted lace? Very quick and easy. You can see the kosher salt that I spoke of earlier in this photograph. I found it at my local Target store in the spice section but it can be found at grocery stores near the canning supplies. (Left center)

My collaborator in this project, Sherry Drzal also of Phoenix, is shown here wrapping old chains, pipes and other tools around the presoaked fabrics. Sherryy is the "other half" of the "we" that I keep referring to. We left the larger pieces out in the sun for six days to process, keeping them moist while sunning, but we could see result much sooner. 

This is what our copper wire-wrapped muslin looked like at the end of the six days. This method  was developed by Lois Jarvis of Wisconsin. You can learn all about Lois' techniques and purchase her fabric rusting supplies, including kits and instructional dvd's, at I highly recommend her techniques and products, especially if you want to jump start the process. I first learned of Lois when I saw her spectacular and very unique Ground Zero Quilt, her 9-11 Memorial Quilt when it was exhibited in Prescott, AZ.  See the quilt at I had the opportunity to meet Lois and see her rusted fabrics at the Midwest Folk & Fiber Show in Crystal Lake, IL, where I was a vendor of felting supplies. 

I literally hosed this fabric down with the garden hose on the ground before soaking it in a bucket of water and Synthrapol, which I always use in my dyeing work. Then I washed the fabric in my home machine twice with double rinses each time, before ironing the fabric.

Back to the horseshoe that I told you would reappear. It is an authentic horseshoe, worn by "Major", Dad's quarter horse at his farm in Illinois. I found it wrapped over the fence of his corral. I soaked the fabric, wrapped it around the horseshoe and got a slightly striped effect in my fabric.

Here are some of my results...drumroll please...

This is the rusted horseshoe wrap. Can you see the vertical lines that were created?

This is the horseshoe we saw earlier when it waylaying on the plastic trash bag on the ground. The horseshoe was laying on the ground with the fabric on top of it (shown on left), the somewhat lighter image on the right happened as a result of fabric laying over the shoe. Very, very cool.

This star is available from Lois Jarvis at

Making Leaves

Here is my friend, Jane, working on her leaf quilt. It's a work in progress. Tomorrow, I'mm going to the state guild's show as Jane's guest. She's a ribbon winner, you go, girl!

Monday, March 5, 2012

LaVon's Symphony Quilt

...and they told me she was a beginner. Hah!  See what this girl can do. Look at her color sense. She did a fabulous job on this Symphony quilt. Her use of embellishments was the best part of this whole piece. I can't wait to see it when it is finished and the yellow flower pins are gone. It's going to be spectacular.  

Alicia's Leaf Quilt

Here is a photo of one of my students' quilts from the class in Queen Creek. It's not quilted yet and you can still the see the pins, but isn't it great?