ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

See You in Nova Scotia

I have been looking forward to my upcoming teaching trip to Nova Scotia for some time, knowing that weather there is often incredibly beautiful in the month of September. The Mayflower Quilter's Retreat is a provincial retreat in Pictou, Nova Scotia. The dates this year are September 21-25. What could be better than a trip to Nova Scotia? Well two trips of course!! Last week I learned that I am on the faculty list for Quilt Canada 2012 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 29 - June 2, 2012. I look forward to meeting Nova Scotia quilters, seeing the ocean again, and eating lots of seafood. I will also be teaching at this year's Quilts Ontario/Quilt Canada conference in London, Ontario, May 24-28.

Monday, January 24, 2011

This is a Quilt

Here you can see my submission to "This is a Quilt", the 2011-2012 SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) travelling trunk show. SAQA members were invited to submit a small quilt, that will be matted to 8", and the group of quilts will travel to educate the public about the art quilt in all its variations. This gave me a chance to experiment on a small scale with all those dying hosta fabrics I had posted photos of a few weeks ago. I was reminded again how much I really prefer to work larger, but it was a good experiment and had me moving into creating hosta foliage in fall colours because that is where I am hoping to go next with a larger piece.

On the subject of "Snow Dyeing" (my last post), if you are interested in a class on snow dyeing, my friend Pat Hardie
is teaching classes this winter out of her studio in Merrickville, Ontario.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Comparison of Low Water Immersion and Snow Dyeing

Low water immersion on left, snow dye on right.
With all the talk of snow dyeing I've been hearing lately, I decided it was finally time for me to run a little experiment to see the difference between snow dyeing and low-water immersion dyeing. So, I mixed up 6 cups of dye solution in 6 colours (terracotta, butterscotch, golden yellow, hot pink, chino brown, and a mix of half olive green and half dark green) to dye 6 meters of fabric. I used a full concentration of 1 Tb of dye powder per cup of water per meter of fabric. Yes I use urea. In all of the photos above, the fabric on the left was dyed using my usual low water immersion method while the fabric on the right was dyed using the snow dye method. For the snow dyes, I soaked dry fabric in soda ash solution for 10 minutes, wrung it out and scrunched a meter of fabric into the bottom of each container, then piled about 4 inches of snow on top. Several colours of dye (totalling about one cup of dye solution for each meter) were then poured across the snow. For the low water immersion fabrics, I started with wet fabric, poured the dyes over, and then poured a cup of soda ash solution over each. Here they are batching in my dungeon, er I mean basement.
My conclusion? I was surprised to find that the intensity of colour on the snow dyes was pretty much close to that of the low water immersion dyed fabric. Why am I surprised? Because all the experts will say that warmth is required for good colour, that batching should take place in a room that is at least 68 degrees in temperature. Well, my basement was 64 degrees that day, and even with the cold snow on top, the colour is still good. On the negative side, snow dyeing is more work. I have to fill a pail of snow and haul it down to my basement. The other down side (to me, and this will depend on your taste), is that there is less control over the finished product, such that more white spots result. At least with low water immersion, I can manipulate the fabric a bit to ensure all areas have dye on them, whereas with snow dyeing there is much more left to chance. The dye is poured across the snow, with little control in where it ends up. And I thought low water immersion was serendipitous! I think the white wouldn't bother me so much if the colour was softer, but it really stands out in pieces with very intense colour.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blog Name Contest Closes

Back in November when I started blogging, I announced a contest to come up with a catchy name for my blog. I received many clever suggestions, and you might have wondered what was taking so long for me to make a decision. Fairly early on I had an email from artist Fulvia Luciano, recommending that I use my own name rather than a catchy name. I spent some time consulting with other bloggers and artists, and for now have concluded to not go with a catchy blog name. Why? Way back in 2002/2003 when I started my hand-dyed fabric business I started using the name "EQuarelle's Palette". It was quite difficult for folks to remember, always required me to spell and explain, and was just plain cumbersome. However, I still went ahead and bought the domain "equarelle" for my website. Today, eight years later, it is my teaching that is at the forefront of my business, and it is my name that is most important to find and remember. I don't want to make that mistake again, and I felt that having yet another "catchy" name besides "EQuarelle" is going to cause confusion. Incidentally, I have purchased the domain "Elaine Quehl", and you can now get to my website by either www.equarelle.ca or www.elainequehl.com. Eventually my website will be moved to elainequehl.com.

I'd like to credit a few of the creative individuals who came up with some of my favorite suggestions: "Acting Up" (Frances O'Neill), Natur-El (Albertina Pianarosa), "Nature Calling" (Ann Morrell), "Artist by Nature" (Sherry Boram), and Quehlude and Lady GoDYEva (my husband). Thank you so much for helping out, but at this time the meter of fabric goes to Fulvia Luciano, for it was her email that started me thinking about the whole matter of a catchy name. Oh, the other thing that I find frustrating sometimes is when I go to someone's blog and it has a catchy name but I can't figure out who the blog belongs to.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

More Dye Happy 4, Flour Paste Resist

Sylvia Young just sent photos of her fabric that resulted after removing the flour paste resist. This one is my favorite. She says she used an "ugly" piece of fabric, and did her crackle pattern with an eggplant coloured dye.

What is a flour paste resist? Basically you mix up a paste of flour and water, and paint it on a piece of fabric that has been soaked in soda ash solution and hung to dry before the paste is added. The flour paste dries in about 24 hours to look like this:

Once the flour paste is dry, you take the fabric and scrunch it so it cracks, just as I am doing in this photo. I especially like this photo because it makes me look thinner than I actually am ... LOL :-))

After that you paint thickened dyes on top. The dye penetrates the cracks, so that when you wash the flour paste off you end up with a wonderful crackled pattern.
Sylvia's soy wax batik turned out great too:

as did her stitched Karamatsu shibori:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dye Happy 4

Today was Session 4 of my Dye Happy class, and the topic was Flour Paste Resist. I can't wait to see everyone's final results next class after they have had a chance to wash them. We had a great show and tell where students brought work they created in the last class, and other dyeing projects they had undertaken since the last class. A few photos are below. There were many more that I wish I could include:
Debra Sine's gorgeous blue, grey and chino shibori scarf:

Helen Gordon's shibori scarf, using a variety of red dyes:

Some of Helen's Soy Wax Batik:

as well as Helen's folded and clamped shibori

and a piece created by binding black-eyed beans in the fabric with elastic bands.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cut It Up!

On December 22 I posted a photo of the crotons I had just painted with thickened dyes. Even though I wasn't totally thrilled with the piece, I proceeded to free-motion quilt it (must have been avoiding doing something else), and while doing so I noticed little separate compositions in the upper portion that I liked on their own. I thought I might cut it up and make several pieces from it. Last night I started playing with a photo on-line and realized that if I cut the piece in half across the middle, and then cut the upper portion into two, I would have a nice triptych. So this is what I did, and here are the results. Now I have to deal with the issue of how to joint or mount them. That will come. In the mean time, I think I will use this piece as more than a teaching sample now. I think I'll probably hang it in my show with Cathy in September.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More Surface Design

Just put the binding on the last of the two Shiva Paintstik samples. I like to make my own freezer paper stencils to use with the paintstiks. This time it finally occurred to me that I could make hosta leaf stencils!!! And given that I love the series of fabrics I dyed for future work on a dying hosta piece, I decided to use some of these fabrics here. Yummy, I love the colours. The iridescent golds, copper and green paintstiks gave me the look I was after, and I tried combining copper and gold foil on the same leaf. I also tried adding some green foil, but that was way too overpowering and didn't work at all. Samples finished, blog post finished, and now I'm back to quilting my dye-painted crotons for Saturday's Dye Happy class.

Surface Design

Happy New Year all!! Over the holidays I worked on samples for my Surface Design class. Suddenly this class is in great demand. I'll be teaching it in Toronto at the York Heritage Guild and in St. Catherines at the Niagara Heritage Guild in February and at the Country Quilter in Richmond on March 25. All my samples are in Toronto with the York Heritage Guild so I had to scramble to come up with additional samples for the other venues.
First let me start with the samples made using Prismacolour Artist pencils. These anemone flowers started with one single piece of fabric. I drew the outline of the flower on paper, traced it to Steam a Seam Lite, fused the shape to a background fabric and used the artist pencils to create the flower. The rest is done with stitching. Normally when I use artist pencil on fabric I just fix it with a hot dry iron, but a bit does rub off during the quilting process. I experimented with textile medium and polymer medium on these and indeed it does ensure nothing rubs off. However, it does add a little bit of a haze over the piece.

Here are the samples using Caran D'Ache Neocolor 2 Water Soluble Wax Pastels (my that is a mouthful!). Better write it down if you plan to get some ... available at art supply stores. What I love love love about these pastels is that after I create my piece, I take a brush and water and all the colour blends and runs. Makes things looser and more painterly. Once it dries you can go back and add crisp lines if you want to.

Shiva Paintstik and Foil samples to come shortly.