Fabric as Inspiration

Fabric artists and quilters often point to a fabric in a piece, naming it as the inspiration, the starting point. My work usually begins in a conversation with a client or in an a dialogue that has a bit of friction to it. I have struggled with getting started on works I want to make for the past three months. I eliminated words and am using fabric as a starting point.

Tools for ice dyeing: N95 mask, rubber gloves, and thrifted teaspoons.

I am not shopping; I am printing and dyeing. I cut 40 pieces of print quality cotton roughly 18 by 22” (which is known as a fat quarter in the world of quilting.). I added a safety pin to a corner of each piece because I want to identify the 40 panels as they are created then used in art pieces. Last week, during an unseasonably warm day, I hauled out equipment for ice dyeing.

Studio cloth which I have dyed or painted myself contributes to the exploration of randomness juxtaposed with pattern that is so abundant in my work. Ice dyeing is a way to create contrast in shape, visual texture, and light and dark value with very little control of the outcome. I added pattern to the process of dyeing a dozen fat quarters by using 4 colors on each of three sets of cloth, considering the color wheel in the selection of dye, and using fabric that was the same size and fiber content.

Watching ice melt!

I chose dye in three color ways: primarily blue, shades of green, and golden neutrals. The dyes were procion type from Dharma Trading company. At the end of the day, I had empty trays, rinsed fabric ready for a final wash, and a sense of accomplishment. Today I pressed and photographed the results. I have a starting point!

Newly dyed fabric for the studio.

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