Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fiber and Soaps. . .

I am on to something that combines both my avocations.  I am thinking more and more about what I want to have for the booth I'm part of at the Utah County Quilt Festival in July.  I showed the soaps I have so far to some others that are part of the group, and they asked to buy some of my inventory!  They also thought my soaps would sell well, so I am really encouraged.

I had one batch of soap that I wasn't happy with- I cut some up into small bars, the rest I rebatched.  Then I remembered that I had some wool roving I got in Moab a year or two ago, planning to do fiber bowls.  Never happened!  So I got out the roving, watched a YouTube video on felting soap, and then went at it.

This shows the soaps I covered, some of my first attempts, and some of the roving I was using.

Three hours later, I had about twenty of these small felted soaps.  I got quite the upper body workout, but loved the results.  I have five larger bars from this same batch that I will cover, then I decided to cover another less than successful soap, with some purple and pink roving.  I think the soap is fine, but I just am not happy with how it looks.  I'll post those when I get them done.

And, I had to make more soap.  The Peppermint Honey Oatmeal has been a favorite with almost everyone I've given it to, so I did another batch- but this time, I reworked the recipe to make it palm free.  I used cocoa butter in the place of palm oil, and I am not sure I like the results.  The color is different, and even allowing it to sit twenty four hours after unmolding, it felt sticky.  But, it is sliced and on my drying rack.

Hopefully after four to six weeks curing, it will be fine. However, I am going to re-think how I changed the recipe, and will play with that again.

I also made another soap recipe I've done before, with an added twist.  I put silk fibers in the lye solution, and let them dissolve.  Silk is supposed to add a nice 'slip' to soap, so I am eager to see how this feels.  I also used an ultramarine colorant, and hopfully got some nice swirls in the soap.  Here it is, unmolded along with the oatmeal soap before I cut it.

I think I will be happy with this one!

I signed up for a Craftsy class I've been eyeing, waiting for it to go on sale.  It's on product photography, and I am hoping to improve the looks of my photos on the blog, among other things.  These are my first attempts to 'stage' a photo shoot with my products- we'll see what the teacher says! I am enjoying the class, and know I'll refer back to it.

We have finally gotten some good weather, and I suspect that has helped my mood and motivation immensely.  Next weekend we will be in Moab for the art festival- another Moab event I thoroughly enjoy.  And, there is something brewing with the Tangled Textiles group- I got a package in the mail, with instructions to leave it unopened until the 21st.  I can't wait to see what Lisa is up to!

Monday, May 12, 2014

More Dyeing

We had a lousy weekend weather-wise, so I spent more time in the studio.  I've decided I need to add to my stash- mostly value gradations.  I've had an idea for a quilt bouncing around in my head for awhile, related to the colors in the desert and mesas around Moab.  So I'm dyeing very toned, desert-y colors.  Yesterday I did a muted purple and what I hoped would be a sage green.  This is what I got--

It's hard to see in the photo, but these have texture- I did them low water immersion, with what I thought was plenty of scrunching and squeezing.  I was hoping for some, but not a lot of texture.  I think next time I will use more water- almost as much as with regular immersion.  I have no desire to sit and stir eight buckets of fabric, but all that water should help minimize the texture.

The two on the right are fabrics I dyed last year, and didn't like- so I folded them, clamped them, and threw them in bleach.  I am much happier with them now.  I did another one that I really disliked-

It was drip dyed with navy blue, fuschia, and probably some yellows.  I folded it into a square, clamped pieces of plexiglass, and bleached it.  You can see the original fabric in some of the dark marks. I like it much better, haven't decided if I'll do anything else to it or not.

And, I overdyed the ugly fabric I showed last week.  

Not sure about this one, I may overdye it with a bit of blue.  I was hoping for more of a burgundy color, not the almost but not quite orange that I got.  I'll look at it for a week and decide then.

And, as a Mother's Day present to me- I signed up for a Craftsy class, Shoot It! A Primer on Product Photography.  It looks like it will have lots of good information on shooting fabric and soaps to make them visually appealing.  I'll let you know how that goes!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Ugly Fabric Challenge

A couple of months ago, I decided to participate in another ugly fabric challenge.  The moderator of a group I belong to sends all the participants a piece of fabric she has dyed and considers 'ugly.'  Our job is to try to create a swan out of an ugly duckling!

I got this half yard piece of fabric.  

I quite like the bits of golden brown on the one side.  I wondered about the blue- since this is so dark, I knew I had to discharge first.  With blues, that generally means you are limited to bleach.

So, I folded it into a square, and clamped a piece of plexiglass on both sides.

With all those clamps, I didn't have a bucket big enough- so I had to remove some, which means the plexiglass didn't resist as well as I'd have liked.  Here it is soaking in Bleach Stop,

and this is what it looked like after being washed.

I tried to fold it so the lightest areas were inside the package, but it's pretty light on the two sides.  I'm happy that I lost most of the blue, and that I have the very dark rectangles left.  Now I will look at it for a few days, trying to decide what the next step is.  I'm thinking an overdye in a warm red.

As for soaping, I now have over a hundred bars curing in the closet.  I decided I had to slow down making them, I need to see how they sell!  So far, those who have been gifted with soap have liked it, and I am enjoying using it too.  One of these days I'm going to have to do a blog post on the similarities between soapers and quilters!

I can feel the muse slowly making her way back into my psyche after what feels like a long absence. With Lance's wedding done, Shannon moved to Colorado and starting nursing school, and Sean graduated and pursuing his plans, I'm hoping for a little more emotional energy and space to devote to both my artistic outlets.  And if the soap doesn't sell, I guess we'll just have a very clean family and circle of friends!