Screen Printed Shadow Fabric

Above is the fabric I posted about last time; this is how it now looks with a fourth layer of dye, which I sponged on yesterday afternoon. Now it has even more depth.

I screen printed some new fabric today. I made stencils of 2 shapes–a man and a girl, I did a test run a few months ago–and cut them out of solid white contact paper and stuck them to some white cotton sateen:

Here’s a general idea of the yardage. This is one of two bath-towel-lined boards with cotton sateen pinned to the top; the fabric wasn’t entirely flat and secure the whole time, which is technically sloppy but makes for some interesting shapes:

And here is what the first layer of screen-printed dye looked like:

I waited for the first layer to dry, then carefully unpeeled the stencils and reapplied them to the stiff (the dye mix has sodium alginate, a thickening agent, which dries stiff) fabric. They aren’t quite as sticky as they are the first time, but with care they can be used twice. Which is good, because cutting those shapes over and over again gets a bit tiring!

This is what the fabric looks like after a second application of dye:

This is the same fabric, after being washed:

The second bit of yardage started yellow, too; this one had turquoise as a second layer and this is how it looks now:

From the detail below, which is looking pretty good I think, you can see a few examples of less-than-technically-perfect screen-printing technique; there are some blotches and variations in color.

I will screen-print both of these again with 2 different colors. But not until later this week. So far I think it’s looking pretty good.

Flour Paste Resist and Canning Beets

I took a few days off from work and managed to get a few things done. Such as cook all those beets.

I decided to make pickled beets. My secret weapon was to be horseradish root (see above) but the recipe I used called for so much apple cider vinegar, there really is not much else to taste.

Good thing I have another 10# of beets to pickle. I can make a sweet-and-sour pickle next time. And yes, all the jars below went into a hot water bath and all sealed very nicely. That’s 2 1/2 gallons of beets!

I also managed to get some fabric dyed for my January 8th Shooting quilt.  I want to have a big piece of sunny-sky fabric; because, although the topic is not an upbeat one, the weather was really beautiful that day.

So here I have some cotton sateen clipped to a padded piece of big plywood. I’ve brushed flour paste in the shape of clouds on to the fabric; it dries yellow. I think I like flour paste resist so much because of my affinity for baking and cooking. I mean, how convenient, right?

After I sponged on the dye, and after the flour paste complete dried, this is what my dyed and puckered fabric looked like.

The first dye application is light; you can hardly see anything in the fabric below, but this is how it looked after the first application of dye, and with the cloud-shapes once again painted with flour resist.

This is how the fabric looks after 2 applications of dye. It’s getting better….

Once again, I dried the fabric, clipped it to the plywood and brushed on the flour resist. I put some soda ash water in a sprayer bottle and misted the fabric as I sponged on the dye; this seemed to fix the dye better than soaking the fabric in soda ash water and then letting it dry. That’s what I did the first time, which is why I think the initial dye application was so faint.

Here is the fabric, mostly dry (any gray is from dampness, not dye!); it’s almost done. I think it needs one more bit of dye and I need to tone down the yellow a bit.

Beet Procrastination

If I’d properyly thinned my beet patch, things wouldn’t have gotten out of control.  I knew I was in trouble when they started going to seed; I deadheaded the tops, to avoid (I hoped) too woody and tough a beet root. I somehow just could not get around to dealing with all the beets. So my mom came up to Tucson to help me today.

Here she is, about to dig in; her enthusiasm is almost alarming to me, given how I’ve put this job off forever and ever:

My mom insisted on a photo of my giant beets. I didn’t think big beets were anything to be proud of, they indicate procrastination to me; but of course I took the photo, given all the help I was getting!

Not only did my mom pick the beets (and carrots and parnips still left in the ground) she cleaned them and trimmed them!

I gave her the parsnips and carrots, and in return I now have a big bowl of sliced raw beets in my kitchen. Tomorrow I’m making pickled beets!

Honey Bee Fabric

One of the women in my quilt group works with honeybees in a government lab; she likes bugs. When there’s a birthday in our group, that person gets a piece of fabric (generally a fat quarter) in their favorite color or style. Diana requests fabric with bugs. I totally spaced out her birthday last year, so I thought I would try making her something this year for this week’s meeting.

First I drew a bee with pencil, so I could make a thermofax screen:

Here you can see a piece of my hand-dyed pink fabric pinned down to some foam core out on my patio; I’ve just screen printed the honeybee shape on the fabric, and you can see the small and rather sloppy screen–with a “frame” made of duct tape– off to the right. I’d say the bees are about 3″x5″.

To make up for missing last year’s birhtday, I also screen printed a similar-sized piece of orange fabric using fuschia dye this time:

I kind of sponged around the areas where I glopped on some dye paste during the printing process. Sloppy! I figure this fabric could come in handy for some picky-piecing, if one wanted to highlight bees for some reason in one’s quilts.

End of a the Whirlwind Visit

This is the yummy lasagna I made with Sebastian last week. He told me not to post any of the photos I took of him as we put this together. The kale and carrots are from my garden.

Luckily, there were no similar restrictions for our trip the following day to Sonoita, where we spent Easter weekend with my parents. I was going to post all of this earlier but I had a 2 day migraine that set me behind. Plus, I felt sad that my visitors had to leave to go home!

Anyway, as for the last few days of my visit with Kasia and the kids….there were battles with carrots…

…and sticks. I still have sore knuckles!

This is a nice photo of me, my mom and Kasia:

My dad read a fairy tale–The Tinderbox–aloud after dinner; I saw Sebastian’s eyeballs roll once, briefly, but he really got into it. That’s a good story.

Damian read aloud himself, when his mother told him he had to read a book before bedtime he took it upon himself to share. For a kid nearly 7 he reads well above his grade level. Sebastian, in the back, is always reading:

The next day we went to St. David, on Easter, to have lunch with my mom’s 2 brothers. This is a greenhouse where my Uncle Christopher grows vegetables; he also has a swimming pool and here you can see what a good sport I am, to hop in the pool with the boys and get clobbered.

Here they are in front of the chapel which my grandfather built at the Holy Trinity Monastery:

Here’s all of us, except Kasia, who took the photo:

And, finally, isn’t this the cutest photo?

Grand Canyon Whirlwind Trip

With my nephews and ex-sister-in-law along for the ride, I recently completed a 38 hour trip from Tucson to the Grand Canyon!

We started at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday and stayed on the interstates to make good time, but took scenic 89A through Sedona to Slide Rock State Park for a more leisurely pace and a lunch stop:

The state park is famous for it’s super popular swimming hole. We had a lunch of fresh fruit, bread, cold cuts, potato salad on a picnic table under an apple tree about to bloom;  the park  is located on an old homestead with an apple orchard. One of the trees is a century old, which is quite remarkable in this state:

Unfortunately, it looks like bark beetles have gotten to it:

Highway 89A climbs out of Oak Creek Canyon (what you see in the distance, below) …..

…and ends in Flagstaff. We spent the night in Williams, Arizona, just west of Flagstaff; and the next morning we took the tourist train–the Grand Canyon Railway–for a day trip to the Grand Canyon. The train has goofy tourist stuff like folks in cowboy costume playing bad music for tips; they walk up and down the carriage cars. It’s perfect for those who have a) little time and b) small children and c) a budget.

Obviously, the Grand Canyon is an archetypal image of not just the American West, but of what we think constitutes an awe-inspiring natural landscape. So, in short, there are plenty of photos out there of the Grand Canyon and most folks can readily call an image (albeit a likely weak and inadequate one) to mind.

This can help jog your memory, or improve your mental stock photos:

I was impressed that on a very busy day–we were there during peak Spring Break traffic, which several park service employees told me rivaled peak summer traffic–we could walk a few miles  along the 14 mile Rim Trail and easily find many spots where we easily could  sit down, undisturbed, and quietly watch the enormous panorama before us:

This a great shot of my nephew Sebastian, not just because it’s the Grand Canyon, but because he’s a teenager….and he’s smiling!

This morning we were all in a just a minor state of recovery from getting home late. My mom and my brother Eric came by today for lunch; here we all are, it’s so much fun to eat and talk together!

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before and am already looking forward to my next trip. What a blast!

My Life as a Temporary Tourist

My newphews Damien (7) and Sebastian (13) are visiting from Madison, WI with their mother; they’ll be here a week, and today we went to the world-famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I am generally not keen on zoos and seeing wild creatures locked up, especially when the humans watching them aren’t really doing much to preserve wildlife habitat.

But, when guests come to town you do what you have to do.

Here is Damien by the Bighorn sheep enclosure, just before he put his hand out to cover my camera lens in protest; I should mention that he doesn’t like baseball and doesn’t know anything about the cap he’s wearing:

Here’s Damien and Sebastian taking turns being a tortoise:

One popular event at the Desert Museum is their daily Raptor Free Flight demos, where raptors are allowed out with their trainers to demonstrate their flight and behaviors in their native habitat. It’s very cool, and in the afternoon the Harris hawk family comes out to wow the hundreds of people who gather to watch; here’s one of the hawks as it perched directly over my head, they come quite close to the crowd and are very beautiful:

Tomorrow we’re off to a train trip to the Grand Canyon; you’ll see those photos real soon!