Folk Fibers Blog / tips & techniques

  • 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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  • 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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  • Natural Dyes - Yellow Onion Skins

    Yellow onion skins create a golden range of earthy colors. With a concentrated dye bath and enough time for the fibers to soak, the colors achieved are a combination of red and yellow, usually resting in the middle as an orange. The results radiate warmth and happiness, combining the physical energy and stimulation of red with the cheerfulness of yellow. Protein fibers such as wool and silk, dye deep to medium shades of ochre, creating pigments in the cadmium-orange families. Referencing sienna, burnt orange, pumpkins, terra cotta, and rust. Cellulose fibers such as cotton, hemp, and bamboo dye a range of dark orange to a lighter orange peel, having deep notes of golden-yellow or...

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  • Natural Dyes - Red Onion Skins

    Red onion skins create a earthy range of colors. Protein fibers such as wool and silk, dye a pale to medium nutmeg brown, with a mix of rosewood, russet and rosy browns. Cellulose fibers such as cotton, hemp, and bamboo dye a range of seashell pinks, with a mix of champagne, pale, and silver pink. Natural dye colors are living colors, they are alive with the life that made them.  The dry outer skins of onions can be used for coloring natural textile materials and easter eggs. Red onion skins create a different range of colors than yellow onions skins, so it's important to keep...

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  • signature quilts

    Today I am hand embroidering a quilt to commemorate a special someones wedding day! I pulled out these embroidered vintage quilt blocks for inspiration. I love the subtle imperfections and the speckled stains acquired from age. I also love the individual differences in script and stitches, and the old fashion names. I found these blocks in an antique store many years back. A quilt that has names embroidered on it usually is called a "signature quilt". This style quilt was common around the late 19th century.  This type of quilt was a way in which people and organizations raised money for a cause.  People paid for the privilege...

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  • Nui Shibori: Stitch Resist

      I made this stitched resist rabbit many years ago, but I still love it so. Nui shibori includes stitched shibori. A simple running stitch is used on the cloth then pulled tight to gather the cloth before submerging in a dye pot. Stitching affords flexibility and control to create designs of great variety, delicate or bold, simple or complex, pictorial or abstract. This technique allows for greater control of the pattern and greater variety of pattern, but it is much more time consuming.  mokume shibori also known as woodgrain

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  • SHIBORI

    I was introduced to shibori dye methods in college while taking the history of fabric class in the fibers dept at scad. Recently I have been revisiting the techniques. keeping an active indigo dye pot (along a slew of others) at my fingertips promotes the constant activity of testing and experimenting with cloth and color.  I love resist dying and when I started studying shibori I found it was just the right sort of sophistication and historical context I was looking for in what I knew before as tie-dye. I don't see the resist dye techniques entering into the crafting of my quilts, for now...

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  • Tools For Hand Quilting

      Pictured above are the tools that I use for hand quilting: japanese sashiko thread, sashiko needles, water soluble graphite pencil, a "nimble" leather thimble (with a reinforced metal tip), glass head long pins. I talk more about my love for sashiko thread in an earlier blog post, you can link to it here. Speaking about my tools, I was recently featured on Design Spong in the "what's in your tool box" column! I feel very honored to be mentioned on such a big blog. I went to college with Ginny Branch Stelling, the lady who manages the column (and wonderful stylist), so...

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  • A Review On My Quilting Frame

    I recently received an email from a woman named Claire asking my opinion on quilting frames.        It was such a great question I thought to share it with you!    I have owned a Grace EZ3 quilting frame for 5 years now, and through out the years I realized it is not the quilting frame for me. On the marks of functionality, I do not like to separate my 3 quilt layers, so I do not use the 3 leader cloth bars. The 3 rail system is intended to be a time saver but not for me. If I do not baste...

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  • My Indigo Journey Begins

    "Don't rush,­ life is long and there's no race to be the first to do anything with indigo,­ it's all been done for thousands of years. The big question is how do you make it your own, and that takes years and years." -Rowland Ricketts This year I have immersed myself in learning first-hand the age-old-traditions of growing, dying, and processing Indigo. Due to my years of experience in working on organic vegetable farms, I was able to start confident and strong with growing and harvesting Indigo; but then came the question of how to process indigo, meaning getting color from the plant onto fabric?...

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