Sunday, October 21, 2012

New accessories go to a new store

Having gotten tired of deciding whether to keep tryout samples and where to put them, I've been using scarves and pillows as ways to try out new dyes and new screens.   When I heard the question "Where are you selling these?" from a friend for the third time, I realized they were right.  So, this last week, I dropped off several different silk scarves in coral, teal and a lovely silvery gray at The Gallery at Town Center in Lake Forest Park, a part of north Seattle.

Here's the coral scarf, screened with a design of cascading laceleaf maple leaves.  I *adore* this leaf for some reason and it's a very popular landscaping tree here in the Seattle area so I've been thinking of using it in my art for years.  I'm really glad to finally have done something with it.  I started out trying to work it into an artquilt but never quite got that going.  Now, of course, having put it on some samples and played with it, the art ideas are flourishing.  This only confirms that doing these accessories is a really productive way to try out some of my design ideas.

The art ideas will probably use this color combination below, the silvery gray with burgundy leaves.  To me, that's classic Seattle fall colors.  All the Japanese maples that turn that lovely color just stand out as the cloud cover comes in and starts us toward our winter grayness.  This particular scarf will probably not be repeated as the dots were an accident.  I was screening too fast on the leaves and the thickened dye mix splattered onto the scarf.  Oops.  Okay, we're going with dots!  So, I added more.  Of course, two people have said they love it so I may be speaking too soon to say I won't do it again.  There was a certain wonderful playfulness in making all the dots since I did it very quickly and without analyzing where they should go.  Just started dabbing away and I like the result even if it's nowhere near the subtle dramatic effect I was going for.

The teal scarf below was done using a discharge agent rather than a thickened dye.  It went almost completely white which is somewhat starker than I was wanting but really creates a dramatic contrast with the lovely teal.  I will be using this teal again, and I'll be experimenting with different methods of creating the leaves.

I'll also be putting future scarves, and the accent pillows I'll be doing later this month, on my newly reopened etsy store,  I wasn't expecting the store manager to take all of the scarves I'd done so far but apparently silk scarves, especially in the $45-65 price range, sell quickly and she was very glad to have them.  I'm glad I've found a way to try out new dyes and screens without drowning my studio in samples!  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dye experiment - shades of gray

This month, my experiments in the studio are focused on shades of gray.  I'm doing some dyeing of new colors to use in some new collage pieces, and as scarves and pillows to sell in my etsy store, so there's been some trials.  One of my problems is that I like to work with silk and I'm using the Procion dyes that are formulated for cotton.  Why is this a problem?  Well, the dyes attach at different speeds with the different fabrics so what goes on as a fairly smooth gray on cotton, separates into the component colors on silk.  I usually like this effect but for my scarves/pillows, not so much.   I'm still working out the kinks, but thought I'd share my progress so far.

Here's a photo of the 6 levels of intensity which is my usual first experiment to decide how much dye to use for a particular size of fabric.  I did six levels,  essentially doubling the amount of dye per cup of water at each level so the leftmost fabric is very pale at 1/2 tsp of dye solution, and the rightmost is 8 Tb.   The purplish colors really shows the level of separation that occurs with this gray which is a blend of green & purple.

And here's my experiment with various ways of putting the fabric into the dye.  Scrunching gives more mottling (the leftmost one), folding gives a definite pattern and the rightmost one has the fewest folds and got patted flat and tilted so the dye moved around more often.  My photography wall is gray felt so this isn't the best way to show these samples, but I think it's good at showing the surface texture produced by the different ways of putting the fabric into the container.   The rightmost is the one I'll be trying to perfect as it's a lovely silvery gray with slight subtle mottling.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bike infrastructure boosts local economy

Today's email brought this article about the economic impact of funding bike infrastructure.  Turns out that supporting bicyclists by providing bike lanes and racks increases local traffic to businesses.  I suppose if you're not spending $8,000 a year on a second car, you're buying more stuff from the business you can get to by your bike.  I was surprised to see how much money bike tourism brings to Iowa, however.   And yes, that $8000 a year for a car is the AAA number for the average cost per car in America including gas, depreciation, repairs, insurance and accessories.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cutest tiny car on its way!

Smart cars are so tiny, they hit the cute button.  And they're about to get cuter, as they go electric.  This news was in today's email.   Small, affordable, and recharging quickly.  All things that I want in an electric car so I'd count this as excellent news!