Posts Tagged ‘Hand dyed


Another 1!

A certain baby boy turned 1 this past Christmas around here. We celebrated his big day a couple of weeks later with a small party of family, and we gave him some fun handmade gifts he’s really enjoyed. He also got his birthday crown and birthday shirt, but his mama didn’t get a decent picture of him in his shirt.

On Christmas afternoon we gave him some tree blocks we’d made for him. His older brothers both helped me sand these, and they have become a popular item for building around here.

Decorations for his shin dig were simple; I made him a name bunting to later hang in his room that we hung for his party.

We also spread the table with a simple piece of fabric, some leaf fleece place mats that doubled as our party favor, and a lion cake that he loved destroying the top of.

At his party he received a quilt I made for him. I started on this when I was just a few weeks pregnant with him, and I am thrilled with how it turned out. It is made entirely from hand dyed fabrics from my stash.

At one, this little determined guy of ours was walking and using about 10 words. He is a happy, content, persistent little boy who continues to surprise us with how quickly he is doing things. He looks up to his big brothers and wants so badly to be a part of everything going on around here. We are blessed to have him, and have all eaten up every day of his first year (and nearly 2 more months…).


Ready to bundle

We are esssentially ready and waiting over here when it comes to the new arrival. The birthing supplies are all in order in our room, the boys are excited, the belly is huge, the newborn hat has been knit, and some naturally hand dyed blankets have been sewn to swaddle the little one. These are marigold dyed silk and tea dyed flannel, and, yes, those are stars tea dyed onto flannel. I made a discovery a while back, and I finally figured out how to replicate it! We are hoping to have a few more days, but whenever this little one decides to arrive is just fine with all of us!


Dyeing, Naturally

I took both the boys and three pairs of scissors out into the garden to cut marigold heads a few days ago. They had a blast trimming the flowers for me! Then I boiled the flowers down and added mordanted (with alum and cream of tartar) silk. I am THRILLED with the results:

I followed the directions in A Dyers Garden. I am loving working with flowers to dye things, and I can’t wait to try this process with cotton. Of course, the cellulose fiber will take the dye differently, and if things don’t work out favorably, I’m considering adding raw silk to the fabrics I use in my artworks and quilts. On the same afternoon that I dyed this silk, I also started another round of tea dyeing experiments. As always, I’ll keep you posted.


Feeling Blue

About a month ago I spent a weekend dyeing all the blue fabric I’d need for the pieces in my last show and then some. I decided to give indigo a try, and I LOVED it. I went with the pre-reduced indigo crystals from Dharma Trading Company to limit my own chemical exposure; they were super easy to use. An added bonus was the chemistry lesson the preschooler got while he helped (mostly watched). Active indigo dye is only blue where it meets the air, and dyed fabric comes out yellow, turning blue only after the dye reacts to the oxygen in the air. We were able to watch it go quickly from yellow, to green, to blue as it hung on the line. Fun stuff it was, I tell you.

We still have our vat of dye, but without tending it seems to be exhausting itself beyond repair. I’m hoping to bring it back to life for one more session soon. First, though, I need to try my hand at using the marigolds growing around the garden. I love the fact that dyeing naturally means that even the border I planted to prevent the rabbits from stealing too much from us is not going to be “wasted”; we are using it for color!


Tranquility: The Show

Some of you have asked to see photos of the works in my recent show; here’s a photo I snapped of each quickly amidst the crowd on Friday night:

I don’t have exact dimensions on each piece, but I can tell you that they are all around 40 inches wide.

I think the most efficient way to tell you guys about the work is to share the artist’s statement I posted at the show:
Textile works by Jennifer Schmitz

The journey toward tranquility, for me, began a while back. The work in this series was born out of the need for a new way to work and a new focus on rest and gratitude.

Nearly five years ago, I decided to stop working with chemical dyes. At the time, it was a temporary decision based on the fact that I was pregnant. I had a large stash of hand-dyed fabric from which to work, and figured that I would dye again soon enough. At some point I determined, in the interest of my health, the safety of my family, and the preservation of our planet, to move on from chemicals completely, and opted instead to explore more natural ways of getting color and pattern on fabric. I have experimented with tea, coffee, molds, and now indigo to achieve results on cotton fabric. The fabrics in this series were all dyed or stained using one of these methods.

Tranquility is not about having things just right but about learning to be content with what you have. In the busyness of our lives, I think we lose sight of the grace we have, the beauty around us, and all that God has given us. Take just a few minutes to slow down and think of someplace that is tranquil for you tonight, and remember to be thankful for all the gifts you have been given.