Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tortured Napkins

If there was an Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Vintage Napkins, I would be in big trouble, even though it all turned our OK in the end.

Here's my story and I'm sticking to it:

You may remember that I did some snow dyeing before I went to Florida and I was thrilled with the results. I dyed a dozen cotton damask napkins to go with a certain table cloth.

This purchased linen-like tablecloth is actually a large patchwork. The center, which covers most of the table top has this blue background. The other patches which are at the corners and edges are a soft pink and beige background. The napkins picked up all the colors. However I decided that I would like some luncheon size in the same colors.

I had been given some beautiful linen luncheon sized napkins and was looking forward to dyeing them when I got home from La La Land. I had saved the names of the colors and used the same dyes for this set of twelve. When I did the cotton damask ones I was quite distressed when I took them out of the dye. They were a very dark red. But it all washed out and I got the luscious pastels you see above. You can see more of them here.

So when I took the linen napkins out of the dye and they were a dark red, I didn't worry. I figured it would wash out like the first batch. Wrong! Apparently linen grabs the dye better than cotton.

Here are the two napkins side by side.

I took them to my FiberWorks meeting and they all liked them and said I  should keep them and perhaps use them in an art piece. But I wanted pastel napkins and here is where the "torture" begins.

I bought two packages of Rit color remover, all done in the washing machine on hot water with a 30 minute setting. I did this twice and go the results below.

Not too bad, but  a little too beige. I over dyed them with Rit dye, Petal Pink. I could have sworn that I took a picture of the results, but they are nowhere to be found. Trust me, they were the most bilious shade of pink. So back to the grocery store to get more boxes of color remover, two more times through the wash and I was back to where they were before the pink dyeing. Not too bad, but I wanted them lighter.

Soooooo, I put them in with a bunch of cleaning rags left by the cleaning girls and added a cup of bleach. Voila! Success!  They were a much better color.

I used them for a FiberWorks meeting at my house with aforementioned table cloth and I thought they looked terrific. Should have taken a picture, but didn't. This whole ordeal is a testament to how very sturdy these napkins are. They are certainly none the worse for the wear.

Lesson learned: Linen and cotton take dye differently. I do have some more linen napkins, but I plan to dye them shibori style with dark blue dye. 

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Sun

I finished my Sunday Morning Sun using natural dyed fabrics for the External Forces project that my FiberWorks group is doing. You can read more about the project here. Although I had many disappointments in my dyeing experiments, I was pleased with my little sun. I used fabric dyed with turmeric for the face and fabric dyed with carrots, beets and blackberries for the rays. I enhanced the rays with indelible markers because the color was so pale. Everything was fused, no sewing involved. The background is my hand dyed fabric.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter at Lauren's

I know that some of you look forward to seeing what my niece has done this year. She has moved again to a much smaller house, but she managed to make it just a festive and delicious as aways.

Her table was so pretty, altho I missed the fabulous big white china bunnies she had used last year. Since she doesn't like to do the same thing two years in a row, I'll have to wait until next year to see them again. The flowers, of course, are all fresh.

I was happy to see the white china geese that I had given her on top of her corner cabinet. They had been in my former home for years, but I had no place to display them in my current home. 

The "flowers" on top on the tarte are actually rolled strips of veggies, mostly rainbow carrots, which come in many colors. It was very tasty. It was hard to photograph, the "flowers" were not this dark in person.

She always makes the best deviled eggs. These used cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Yummy!

She has a nice big backyard, perfect for the Easter egg hunt. We had five children participating, very organized this year with each child having their own color of for Millie, blue for Charlie, and so on.  Weather-wise it couldn't have been a better the low 80's with a nice breeze and no humidity.

I hope you all had a lovely Easter. I sure did!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dyeing Disappointments

One of the cards that I drew for the External Forces was Natural Dyeing. I looked forward to doing some experimenting, since I really like to dye. I went online and did a lot of research and most of what I read said that you should chop your produce, cover it with water and simmer for an hour. I had a choice of using vinegar or alum as a mordant and I tried both. Each mordant was mixed with water and then the fabric was added and simmered for an hour. With the alum I left it in the water overnight. then I added the mordant treated white fabric to the strained juice and simmered for another hour.

I will never do this again. I felt so guilty wasting all that produce, especially since most of them gave me very pale results. The only ones that were worthwhile were turmeric (the first two) and blackberry (the last).

If you look carefully at the bottom right of each fabric, you can see what I used and what mordant. Or click to see a bigger picture.

I was very pleased with this vibrant color. I had enough left in the pot to add a little extra water and do a second one shown below. It is slightly lighter, but still pretty.

Considering how beets will stain my cutting board and hands, this pale color was a disappointment.  The one done with alum (see below) was only slightly darker. They are both paler and less pink in person. I think I would have been happy if they really were this color.

I could have achieved this with any old tea.

Really!? I used a pound of grated carrots for this. Some bunny somewhere must be quite perturbed.

Again, I used a big box of spinach for a barely noticeable color. Popeye is crying. Fortunately I put some aside to sauté for dinner

I used a box of blackberries for this (sob), but bought an extra to eat. They are delicious and I was pleased with this color.

All of my future dyeing will be done with fiber reactive dyes. Correction, I am still going to try avocados skins and peels since my fiber group is saving them for me this week. I have some mordant treated fabric left.

I'm linking up with Off The Wall Friday this week. Go see what some talented artists are up to.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Back Home

You may have surmised that I haven't been home and you would be right. I spent the month of March in Naples, FL where we had perfect weather every day. It only rained once and that was at night when we were sleeping. They really need rain down there but it was fabulous for us. We also missed a horrible March here in CT. Lots of snow and frigid weather, the worst of the winter.

We did way too much shopping, eating, wine drinking and ice cream eating, but it was worth the three pound weight gain, which I am in the process of loosing. I was in a rented house with my sister and two other friends, my usual travel companions. We had a wonderful time, but now I am trying to get back in the groove.

Before we left I picked two cards for my Sunday Morning Son project. One card said "thread art" and I debated doing it by machine or by hand. I decided to do some hand embroidery and here is just the very beginning. I had missed having hand work to do when I finished my denim jacket, so this should keep me busy for quite awhile.

I may do a machine one, too, because I love to machine stitch.

The other card I drew was "natural dyeing" and I have been having fun doing some research and I plan on starting that today. I will post some pictures when I have something to show.

I'm also going to some ice dyeing on some vintage linen napkins given to me by a friend. I'll show you those, too, some please come back.