Folk Fibers Blog / american heritage

  • The Back Story on Quilts

    Sometimes the backsides of quilts are just as beautiful, if not even more desirable than the tops. When I make the backs for my quilts I construct a free-form design by sewing together large pieces of fabric, usually remnants leftover from making the quilt top. This process is improvisational and creates a moderate design compared to the front of the quilt. The large blocky designs on the backsides are a nice breather after the intensity of piecing together the formal and forward design that is intended to dedicate the quilt. It's always a delight to see the hand stitches come to life...

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  • Station to Station

    It's crazy to think making quilts would be my ticket to a train tour. Back in September I was invited to travel with the Makers yurt, a Levi's artistic contribution to Station to Station, Doug Aitken's latest art project. The Levi's Makers was curated by Jay Carroll and became a collective of artisan's from across the country who sell their handmade goods at speciality Levi's stores. We were on-the-road for a month, the train started in New York with stops in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas City, Santa Fe, Winslow, Barstow, and Los Angeles, and came to a stop in Oakland on September...

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  • Growing a Business

    I've been working through business exercises and in the midst of my 5 year plan I felt inspired to compile a list of example businesses that I relate to and feel inspired by. Thought this maybe helpful to share with you.    Alabama Chainin: Natalie Chainin has created a signature style using a reverse applique technique and everything is made by hand in the USA. From embroidery to seam, the garments are completely hand-sewn by artisans working in their own homes and business using a modern cottage industry method of manufacturing. A company and community.   Swans Island Blankets: Weaving and natural dyeing is a labor...

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  • Quilts In Women's Lives

      Quilts in Women's Lives is a film by Pat Ferrero released in 1981. Used by folklorists, anthropologists and historians of art and women's history, the film shares the lives of ordinary women in the days when few documentaries came from women filmmakers. The full length film is a series of first person portraits of quilt makers. I was moved by the women's stories. They seem to speak straight from the heart. There is a delightful 15 minute preview of the film at folkstreams.net  my new favorite website.  Folkstreams seriously rules. It's a national preserve of documentary films about American folk or roots cultures. The films were produced by independent filmmakers in a golden...

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  • Open House: 17th St ATX

    (psst.. I'm hosting another Open House BBQ on May 19th. I'd love to have you over.) My bedroom suddenly turned into a dream after installing shaker pegs, draping a quilt or two, and hanging a fresh garland of bay laurel over the bed.  I had fun displaying my work around the house and sharing an intimate evening in the company of bright spirits who came to support Folk Fibers. It was a great experience display the quilts and pillows, allowing people the chance to have a hands-on experience. I made new friends, some living here in Austin, some all-the-way from Oxford, Mississippi here for QuiltCon....

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  • Natural Dyes - Pomegranates

    Natural fibers dyed with pomegranates harvested in Austin, Texas above: no mordant--pure and earthy  below: alum pre-mordant brightens colors creating yellow tones Steeped in history and romance pomegranates have long been cultivated, they're even biblical. I find myself lucky to be living in a place they grow prolifically, they're packed with usefulness and in my case a botanical dye. Overall the pomegranate is an attractive shrub or small tree and is more or less spiny, and extremely long-lived. The fruit is widely praised for the juice, but I'm after the brilliant dye properties great for coloring textiles. The dye properties are found in both the rind...

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  • Natural Dyes - Osage Orange

    Osage Orange is one of my favorite dye sources for creating a range of golden yellows, metallic and russet golds, as well as soft mossy greens. I usually steer clear of using mordants in my dye process with the exception of yellows. Above all I prefer the soft earthy color results of mordant-free dye baths. In this post I demonstrate how using mordants can be used as a color changer, brighting or darkening protein or cellulose fibers, creating beautiful shifts in color. I find this exciting when working with natural dyes to create my patchwork quilts!  Natural fibers dyed with Osage Orange heartwood  no mordant--pure and earthy Natural fibers dyed...

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  • Natural Dyes - Harvesting Osage Orange

    Ah at last, my eyes gaze at the source, as my fingers wipe away the fresh yellow-orange sawdust I feel connected, truly connected to the source of the golden color hidden in the heartwood of the Osage Orange tree. The bois d'arc tree, commonly called Osage Orange is a small deciduous tree. Even though it's name implies, It is not related to the Orange tree, it's an American relative to the Mulberry Tree. Osage Orange occurred historically in the Red River drainage of Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas and in the Blackland Prairies, Post Oak Savannas, and Chisos Mountains of Texas. It has been widely naturalized in the United States and Ontario.  Historically the wood was being used for war clubs and bow-making by Native Americans.  It's popular because...

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  • Quilts for Terrain

    Maura with Quilts, photo by Wynn Myers A batch of 5 quilts created exclusively for Terrain.  I drew inspiration from colors found in the natural world, made only with insects, minerals, and plants. The naturally dyed fabrics were patch worked with vintage scraps and unbleached cotton. The results of these efforts are heirloom-quality pieces, each one unique, timeless, and beautiful. All of the textile colors are found in nature and work beautifully together.  Inspired by traditional pioneer quilt blocks that evolved durring the mid-1800's when pioneers began migrating to the west coast. The pioneers endured hardships of hostile terrain. Women provided the strength and reason to endure. Their determination to meet...

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  • Natural Dyes - Wild Mushrooms

    This was my first experience obtaining color from mushrooms. I have a growing interest in mushroom hunting, so it was only a matter of time the lore of natural color would guide me to collecting them for dyes. This past August I stumbled upon a perfect wet wooded breeding ground for a variety of wild mushrooms. I used rubber gloves to carefully harvest all the mushrooms found on the waterfront of my parents lake house near the Virginia/North Carolina border. Warning, some mushrooms are extremely poisonous, and even after dye and washing, the fabric can still hold dangerous properties that could irritate skin. Stay safe...

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