Thursday, January 28, 2010

A FINE DAY TO DYE (Tutorials Included)...

"Of course there are many ways we can reuse something. We can dye it. We can cut it. We can change the buttons. Those are other ways to make it alive. But this is a new step to use anything - hats, socks, shirts. It's the first step in the process."

-Issey Miyake-
I woke up this morning and decided it was a fine day to dye. Being cloudy and cold here, I thought it would be a good day to spend at home getting some background fabrics, papers, and tags prepared to have on hand for some project ideas. I spent a delightful morning mixing, dipping, and dripping!I wanted to shabby up some silk roses that I plucked from a vine purchased at a flea market for a $1.00. I don't know about you but I rarely ever happen upon perfectly aged millinery flowers. When I do they are very pricey and I just can't bring myself to pluck them from vintage hats, so, a second best option is to shabby up new or gently used ones.

SHABBY ROSES are as easy to make as 1, 2, 3...
For this project you will need:

*Silk Roses, plucked from the stem
*Silk Rose Leaves, plucked from the stem (optional)
*Old Pillow Case
*Washing Machine and detergent
*Instant Coffee
*Deep Bowl and spoon
*Boiling water
*Disposable Rubber Gloves

*Place plucked roses in an old pillow case. Tie open end of pillow case in a knot.

*Toss pillow case full of roses into washing machine, add a small amount of detergent and wash on a regular cycle. DO NOT ADD FABRIC SOFTENER. The washing process will remove the sizing from the flowers and fray the edges of the petals.*After washing, toss pillow case of freshly washed flowers in the dryer on low heat for few minutes to get out the excess water.

*Remove from dryer and pillow case, flowers will still be damp, lay out on an old towel, shaping slightly and allow to finish air drying.*If using rose leaves, repeat the process as described above. DO NOT WASH THE LEAVES AND THE FLOWERS TOGETHER. The dye in the leaves is quite strong and if you wash your flowers with the leaves they will have a sickly green tint to them.

You can use your shabby rose as is or go one step further:

*Mix two heaping tablespoons of coffee with 1 cup of boiling water in a deep bowl and stir until coffee is dissolved.
* Float your rose in the mixture upside down for about 5 minutes. Turn rose over for another 5 minutes. You can leave it in the dye bath longer if you want a darker flower.*Wearing disposable glove, shake out excess coffee dye and lay on protected surface to drain and allow to dry for a while. After it has had time to drain a dry a bit, turn the rose face down to continue drying process, the coffee will pool at the petal tips giving them a richer antique look.
TIP: I lay down a sheet of wax paper, placing an old book page on top of the wax paper, then I lay out the roses to dry on top of the book pages. Once dry and removed not only do I have a shabby roses but beautifully aged background pages for other pieces of art! You can substitute a cotton fabric like muslin or canvas for the paper and get a neat stained fabric as well.

While my roses were soaking I moved on to a fabric dying technique using acrylic paints and hot water. Cotton fabrics work best with this technique, muslin and drop cloth canvas are my favorites to use.


For this project you will need:

*Acrylic Paints of your color choice. Metallic paints also work with this technique.( I used Folk Art brand in Country Twill, Jamaican Sea, and Hauser Green Light )
* Warm Water
*Deep Bowls
*Cotton Fabric of your choice
( My fabric was muslin ripped down into 10 in. x 5 in. pieces )
*Disposable Gloves*Wax Paper


*In a deep bowl mix 3 teaspoons of acrylic paint and 1 cup of warm water, stirring until paint is mixed and diluted well. NOTE: You can increase dye bath to accommodate larger pieces of fabric. My Country Twill dye is not shown below but it was mixed the same as the recipe above.
I mixed my green directly into my blue when I was finished with it to get the hue I wanted.*Spread out a sheet of waxed paper large enough to dry fabric on.

*Wearing disposable gloves, dip fabric into acrylic dye bath, using a spoon to fully submerge fabric, and soak until desired hue is obtained.*Lift out the fabric, pulling it gently through one hand to wring out excess dye.
*Spread wet fabric on waxed paper and allow to dry.

*Once fabric is completely dry, using a dry iron on a cotton setting, iron fabric to further set dye.

TIP: Lay book pages on top of waxed paper, layer on wet dyed fabric, Place another piece of paper, I used ledger paper, on top of wet fabric,And run a brayer over the layers. Remove top sheet, set aside to dry.Remove fabric to another piece of waxed paper to dry. Allow under layer paper to dry.This will give you some mottled painted background pages to further embellish or use in your artwork!

I used the excess coffee and acrylic dye baths to dye up some batches of shipping tags too!
For some of the tags, I sandwiched the wet tags between a folded book page, Brayed over it, Unfolding the page, removing the tag, Setting both aside to dry on waxed paper.

I went back to the coffee dye bath and dyed a 10 in. x 10 in. square of muslin and cotton quilt batting, laying them out on wax paper to dry with a little gap between them. I lay dry shipping tags in the gap slightly over lapping the edges of the fabric. The dry tag will wick up the coffee from the wet fabric edges and stain the tag. I removed the tags before the stains melded into one another and replaced them with more dry tags. After I was finished with the these tags, I took my dry background sheets and lay them face down on the cotton batting, lightly pressing and blotting with my hands, this over stained the color from the acrylic dye giving it an antique feel.I set those aside to dry and moved on to my last dye job, gauze.
With the remaining coffee dye bath I unrolled a roll of gauze and plunged the whole thing into the coffee, soaking all of it up, squeezing it out, and soaking it back up. I left the gauze very saturated and spread it out on wax paper to dry. Since it is synthetic it does not dye well, so, it needs to sit quite a while before the final squeeze to get rid of the excess liquid. I'll go back later this evening to wring out the excess and spread it out to dry.

Lastly, I wanted to further stain my damp tags so I took one of the drying roses and lightly shook some of the excess liquid from it onto my tags and one half of my fabrics. Since the tags were still damp it made a nice faded stain into the background. Once the papers, tags, and fabrics are completely dry I will go back in and layer in more texture and depth by spattering and sponging.

And since all this was not enough to keep me busy between loads of laundry, cleaning, cooking, taking photos for this post as I went along, not to mention writing this post, I tired a printing technique with wrapping tissue paper! Oh, and did I forget to mention that I actually did sit down and watch a movie in between? I couldn't help myself, The Shop Around The Corner was on the classic movie channel. I love that movie!

So, if you could have a stay home and play day like I did today, what would you do?

Miss Sandy

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The wind is due to "a gentle spring zephyr" rather than a particular holiday.

~Owl, Winnie The Pooh and the Blustery Day~

Yesterday was a very Poohish kind of day indeed. I observed the waving trees from my window but thought not much of it. A westerly wind was tickling their trunks as they shook in laughter. I noticed the gusts gathering thrust as it played its version of the big bad wolf against the side of our humble abode, huffing and puffing and trying to blow the house down.

Handy Hubby flew in the door with the hem of his jacket flapping out behind him like a kite tail in the wind. His cheeks were as pink as little Piglet declaring it to be "a ferocious kind of wind." He admonished me to be careful of the gusts and the occasional flying debris as I drove into town on some errands. I thought to myself, its just wind, no big deal.

I don't know why I bothered to fix my hair for as soon as I stepped out of the door it began to whip around on my head as the wind ran its fingers through it ruffling it up and out and until I had a do that resembled a porcupine. Not exactly the look I was going for.

Driving into town I was admiring the handy work of the wind. It tickled my fancy to see Sweet Gum balls scuttle across the ground in little clusters bouncing along like tiny tumble weeds. Layer upon layer of cream puff clouds were stacked upon a china blue plate sky. The leftover leaves of autumn gathered themselves up swirling in circles playing ring around the rosie. The bamboo grove swirled and swayed like a bunch of hippie chicks flipping their green tinted hair and upraised arms this way and that to the wild beat of the wind. And I wondered if Owl was right, could this be just "a gentle spring zephyr" or was it a particular holiday being celebrated?

I was surprised by its unexpected rudeness as it literally shoved me along the parking lot giving one final heave as I entered the store almost making me stumble. As the doors swallowed me up I heard a great roar behind me as the blast tried to gain entrance too. How rude!

Upon exiting the store my scarf necked sweater fluttered out behind me in cape style fashion making me feel like a superhero flying into the wind. I saw two little girls no older than three running and leaping into the wind with arms spread wide as if embracing the invisible. Their giggles were carried away on the current, hair streaming out in golden stands, and I wanted to run and leap and giggle with them.

Pulling my attention back to the task at hand I opened my car trunk to deposit my packages just as the sky darkened. Buggies being pushed by invisible patrons began to roll across the parking lot and a certain menace filled the air. I should have heeded Handy Hubby's earlier warning about being careful but I was still daydreaming of flying on the wind with two little golden haired girls in matching striped shirts when it happened.

A sudden whisk of perfectly timed wind slammed into my open car trunk just as I was leaning in to deposit a package. The lid shot down and crashed into my head. Lets just say I was suddenly seeing stars and it was still day time. I was too stunned to move for fear of passing out in the parking lot so I stood stock still and thought how the wind was no longer my friend!

Did you know that in Greek Mythology that Zephyr or Zephyrus, Greek for "the west wind", is known as the gentlest wind and the messenger of spring? Well, he did not have to hit me over the head with the message! After all, I did see his calling card right in my own front yard as tiny sprigs of Iris and Daffodils are poking their sleepy heads from their warm winter beds as they untuck themselves from their blankets of soil where they have been resting all winter. A tad too early in my opinion.

I crawled into my car after chucking the rest of bags into the boot for fear of being stuck again and called Handy Hubby. He asked if I though I needed to see a doctor in case of a concussion but I said I thought I was OK and that my goose egg and I were going home. I was somewhat reluctant to unload the car when I arrived but the thought of soured milk stinking up my car spurred me into action. It would have been funny to watch me dare to reach towards the trunk extending my hand and yanking it back several times before grabbing a bag.

I made it safely into the welcoming arms of Quill Cottage to sit on the sofa with a bag of frozen peas on my birds nest of a hairdo complete with goose egg as the westerly wind laughingly lapped at my windows. I once again admired its handy work as invisible wind babies were being pushed on the swings of the swing set by attentive breezes. I liked seeing the shifting shadow puppet shapes cast on the earth through the sun dappled trees. And, I like that a whiff of spring was in the air.

I forgave the wind for its uproarious behavior knowing that it was with anticipation that a particular holiday worth a riotous celebration was on the horizon ~ Spring!

Miss Sandy

Friday, January 22, 2010


Farmhouse is a general term for the main house of a farm. It is a type of building or house which serves a residential purpose in a rural or agricultural setting. Most often, the surrounding environment will be a farm.

Expressive Style:
a way of expressing something (in language or art or music or decor etc.) that is characteristic of a particular person or group of people or period.
(Country Living)

I have been back from the farm for a few days but have had much to catch up on here at home. I spent a great deal of time last week trying to make decisions on color pallets, style choices, and trying to find the direction I wanted to take to freshen and lighten up the oh so 70's style that currently resides there. I knew it needed to be something clean lined yet charming, uncluttered looking, and easy to care for without being sterile or cold.
(Country Living)

Since every room in the house, save the utility/mud room, is covered in paneling I decided rather than go to the expense and time consuming efforts of removing it and hanging new sheet rock, that I would just paint it. Not the ideal solution but there is a certain charm to country decor with a grooved painted wall.

(Country Living)

Decorating in a Farmhouse Style is stepping out of the box for me. I am a tried and true Country Cottage Style kind of gal, however, I find this style very appealing with its mix of modern and rustic elements. Peppered throughout this post are a few ideas that I found at Country Living. I love this crisp white shelf and trim around the window featured below, filled with pottery and the modern slip covered chair with the country table setting.
(Country Living)

There is a double window in the kitchen over the table that looks out on the old barn that this idea would fit perfectly. In lieu of pottery, I'd like to use some of my grandmothers dishes.

The colors in this bedroom appeal to me but what drew me in is the buttery soft plaster wall. (Country Living)

I was thinking that I could try Karla's technique if I decided to tackle the idea. I also love the simplicity of the artwork hung above the bed. I was thinking how I could press and dry some of the flowers from my grandmother's garden to create something similar.

For the second bedroom I love the idea of this hefty wooden bed frame. (Country Living)

I am not sure of the condition of the wood but I would love to salvage enough from The Old House to construct the frame leaving it in its silver gray weathered condition. I like the slightly masculine feel to this room. The second bedroom belonged to my uncle and I'd like to use some of his things in there. I think I would soften the look with a lighter color pallet, white sheers at the windows, and softer neutral bedding and pillows still keeping the feel only more light and airy.

I adore the idea of a painted floor as seen in this photo. (Country Living)

Handy Hubby and I have not reached an agreement on flooring. Right now the whole house is covered in vinyl which is very easy to care for but not so pretty to look at. I once did a hand painted floor in what is now my writing cottage and I loved it. I sealed it with an oil based polyurethane and it yellowed a bit and looked like aged vintage patterned linoleum. I painted it right on the sub~flooring and it wore like a dream with easy clean up.

I could so see this wall grouping in either my home here or at the farm. (Country Living)

Love it! There are some old prints in my grandmothers home that would be perfect as well as a few plates plucked from the cabinet. I have a couple of old etched mirrors one round and one square that I could use.

Most of the cleaning and sorting is finished with just one the small hall closet and kitchen pantry left to sift through. We began the painting process, starting with the utility/mud room just off of the kitchen and hall. Handy Hubby repaired a bad spot in the ceiling... You will notice that there is no clothes dryer. Granny would not use one, she hung her clothes dry. The bulky hot water heater is being replaced by a tankless hot water heater system, making room for a dryer to be installed. I plan to put some shelving up above in this alcove area.

Hmmm, I am thinking new flooring... In a gray and white checked pattern. I want to use industrial tiles in the kitchen and utility/mud room. I am still searching for the right color and style of tiles.

For this wall between the washer and the door leading into the hall I am looking for the prefect rustic piece of furniture to house a few needful appliances. The kitchen has zero counter space and since it is only a few steps away I want to relocate the small counter top appliances to this area. Beside the desired piece next to the hall door I want to install an upper and lower set of coat hooks of some sort. I am scoping out the junk pile where all old farm things go to die for something neat for this project.

Vertical cabinetry is being installed on either side of the door leading into the kitchen to house cleaning supplies, household tools, and little extras. I purchased a hanging system for the broom, mop, iron, ironing board, etc. I wish there where a broom closet but no such luck. It will kind of be hidden beside the cabinets by the back door.(My first accessory purchase for the farm house!)

In a perfect pairing of colors this is the pallet I chose for this room...
Creamy ceilings, crisp white trim, a soft bluish green for the walls, and a gull gray for the door. Here is a sneak peek at the work in progress... The lighting when I took this photo does not give the true color justice here. We are looking for two more matching cabinets to take these all the way up to the ceiling if possible, if not maybe some open shelving or just some decorating space. I found a couple of gems in the shed that will make wonderful accessories for this space.
(Country Living)

Finding my Farmhouse style and putting into play has been labor intensive so I am taking the weekend off to just enjoy being at home. I plan to play in the studio all day tomorrow!

What is your favorite decorating style?

Miss Sandy
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