When I discovered  that Floridian Kathy Hays, an expert  in all things related to contact (or eco) printing,  was going to be in my NC area, I jumped on the chance to have a one-on-one workshop with her. I could not make her 3 day workshop in Florida so she put together a jam packed session!  We started early at my studio stirring the vat like a witches brew!

The day was perfect for working outdoors! I had previously washed all the silk to be used as that was my main focus. But indigo works beautifully on all fabrics.     The photos below will take you through the basics of our process 🙂

Kathy Hays stirring the Indigo vat
Kathy Hays stirring the Indigo vat
Testing the color of the indigo vat
Testing the color of the indigo vat

Perhaps the most amazing thing to observe is the Green of the initial Indigo turn to blue as it is exposed to the air-oxygen. I think that if we find it magical today, think how the ancients must have felt watching it turn from green to blue in front of their eyes!

Indigo exposed to Oxygen
Indigo exposed to Oxygen

There is no doubt we were having fun!

Checking the results
Checking the results

During and after the workshop I continued to work with my silk, enjoying that feel of working outdoors, creating something beautiful and improving my skills in yet another area of my new favorite medium! Seems my printmaking skills from college have come in handy after all!

Enjoy the collage of a few of the results!   Up close and personal:  see my site!

Four silk scarves, eco printed and indigo dyed.
Four silk scarves, eco printed and indigo dyed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Shows and the ART Studio

The months of April and May have been been “art show” months with several shows each month …..a great way to showcase my work in person! I was hardly able to unload the vehicle  in between shows 🙂  But any way you look at it, if you go to shows you need a place to unload and a place to work! Check out the Silk Art Studio images below 🙂

An outdoor art show
Theresa at Artsplosure in Raleigh NC

 

So what does the studio look in May? Notice the awesome clothesline?

View of studio from afar
View of studio from afar
Inside workspace
Inside the Studio
View of silkstudio
The outdoor work area

Next blog will be all about my Indigo adventure 🙂

 

 

Eco printing on silk and paper

I love this time of year. The trees and pastures are coming alive again as the nights have warmed. And with that new growth come the many shades of green seen only for a short period before settling into their summer look. They were preceded by that southern staple, the dogwood tree, which grows wild, looking like popcorn in the foliage free woods. Red buds, weigelia, confederate jasmine ….all follow, coloring the landscape and promising an end to winter!

The dogwood near the studio
The wild dogwood near the studio

Our mini farm is home to an assortment of roses. Not the landscape teas of the cultivated garden, but the hardy farmhouse roses, the heirlooms, that we have rescued from abandoned homesteads in our region. Soon, usually around Mother’s Day, they will virtually all erupt into one spectacular, aromatic display before their blooms fade by the end of May. Until then, they are supplying me with an abundance of rose leaves in every size and shape!

A few unexpected freezes had us out in frigid weather collecting the tiny oaks leaves and catkins blown down by a freak storm (Nature is known for surprises) My artist hubby, Stephen Filarsky has gotten into the whole “eco-thing” as he calls it. We have always hiked and traveled the back roads with cameras and sketchbooks. We know every abandoned house within 100 miles of here. So it is meaningful to return and collect leaves from long forgotten flowers and shrubs and bring them back to life in a new and beautiful way!

Searching for catkins
Searching for catkins

 

Crab apple tree at the studio

My studio deck  overlooks my small pasture and for another week or so, it is awash with yellow wildflowers.  The deck is where I do most of my laying out of the plants, bundling, and where my steam pot sits. I only move inside when it is too cold or too windy (a real challenge!) to work outside. I also use my bargain picnic table if I need even more room!

Working on the picnic table
Working on the picnic table

The last few times I have spent in ecodyeing, I have also pulled out some watercolor paper-we have SO much paper in our other art studio-and added a bundle to the dye pot.

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing elaborate but oh my, what amazing, and different  results!  So before I head outside to feed animals and then to the studio to photograph yesterday’s results, I’ll share one result of using the same japanese maple leaves on both silk and watercolor paper, and another of just the watercolor paper. The surprises are what makes this an invigorating art form!

watercolor paper vs silk!
watercolor paper vs silk!

 

11x14 watercolor ecoprint
11×14 watercolor ecoprint

 

News from our Working Artists studios!

Early Spring (March), 2016

March and there is SO much going on. Many art shows and horse shows coming up this spring. We  love to show and tell so scattered throughout this newsletter are some of the many art pieces we created for our collectors.
Also meet our newest family member, Bella, our baby alpaca. Theresa is already deciding what to do with all of her fleece when she is sheared the end of March.

What’s Happening:  Shows where you can find us, as vendors or on the grounds with our easels   (Remember to check back with us on our calendar as sometimes this changes)

March 12 Triangle Farms C horse show, Hunt Horse Complex, Raleigh, NC ! Look for us on just Saturday, March 12 at the show! At the Hunt Horse Complex. We’ll be there with portraits and silkwork (oh the horses!)  http://www.trianglefarms.com/

March 17-20  Triangle Farms A horse show, Raleigh NC    Steve will be at this show part of the time with his paintings. Check with us for the dates!  http://www.trianglefarms.com/

March 18-20  Spring Carousel Gift Market  Raleigh, NC, At NC fairgrounds, Jim Graham Building  Theresa will be there with her all of her silk art. https://www.facebook.com/springcarousel

March 23-26  You will find us at the Spring Premier Horse Show at the Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh, NC.  Portraits, paintings and silk art in our indoor booth!
http://www.raleighspringpremier.com/

April 23 Bynum Bridgefest!  A one day art and craft event (on the Bynum Bridge) between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, NC that meshes with Earth Day.  Come see Theresa with her fiber and silk art!   http://www.bephilarthropy.com/

April 30:Cary Spring Daze!  Long URL to a long established one day art and craft show held in a beautiful park in Cary, NC!  http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Parks__Recreation___Cultural_Resources/events/festivals/springdaze.htm

May 6-7: The Handmade Market    We’re still waiting to hear back on this art and craft event but if it’s a go, Theresa will be there with her silk and fiber art! http://www.thehandmademarket.com/site/

May 21 & 22 Keswick Horse Show: Like last year, Steve will make his annual jaunt to the Keswick Hunt Club (in Virginia) and can be found around the grounds with his easel painting the scenes at the show!

May 20-22  Artsplosure  A very busy, super fun art and craft show in downtown Raleigh, NC. Theresa will be there with all of her fiber and silk art! http://artsplosure.org/

Well that’s probably enough to keep all of us busy! There will be our long time horse shows in June, July and August including the 2 weeks at Blowing Rock, NC and possibly  some Virginia shows. YOU can easily keep track of where we will be through our Facebook pages!

ART classes and workshops (March-August)
These are classes held at our studio location and others. If you would like us to set up a workshop with your art group, just drop us a note. Sign up for our separate art student academy newsletters that are just for our painting students!
Theresa is teaching some new classes with the Vance Granville Community College (http://www.vgcc.edu/coned/personal-interest) in the Personal Enrichment program, including some Heritage Programs coming up. Make sure you are signed up for our Art Student Academy newsletters to stay on top of all art classes!   http://artstudentacademy.com/

SHOP with US!
A great landing page to branch into the areas we have that interest you is http://www.OnRoadArtists.com  From there you can read our blogs, see what we are painting and so much more! But additional locations are below:
Theresa’s  portraits are online, is: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mtheresabrown
Theresa’s abstracts and silk art: http://www.DreamHorseArt.com….go to the shop section to see what is available!
Visit Steve’s store with his paintings is:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/sfilarsky

To reach us, all you have to do is go to ONE page:
http://www.OnRoadArtists.com
There you will find links to our blogs, Facebook pages, various websites, phone numbers and emails!

New work images posted regularly on our Facebook pages! Watch for our updates!
Until next time!
Theresa and Steve

Eco-printing, driftwood and working in the Silk Studio

Late winter and I’m ready for spring. Leaves on the trees, flowers…that kind of spring!  Some of my silk art I can create inside, in the warmth of my small studio (my cabin) But others I have to create outside. 30 degrees is cold when your hands are submerged in water and winter gloves are not an option.

Silk Studio in late winter
Silk Studio in late winter

 

 

 

 

But March art shows are coming and today I’m moving my work space out to the tables on the deck as the temperatures should finally be kind :-). I alternate between my hand painted silk and my eco-printed silk.  A recent trip to gather freshwater driftwood from a lake shore inspired me to create a few wall hangings.

Driftwood hanging1
Driftwood hanging1

20160225_113541_resizedAnd you have to love the random patterns of eco-prints from Mother Nature.  Raw silk, gathered leaves and gathered driftwood-all re-purposed into new, beautiful artwork.

These two images are shown hanging on my tobacco stick fence in front of my large art studio. This studio is kept separate from the silk as it is where my artist hubby, Stephen Filarsky and I paint in oils, pastels and acrylics.

Paint and silk do not work well within the same space 🙂

My driftwood is also being re-purposed for additional use in my silk work. Images coming soon.

These wall hangings and my newest painted silk creations can be seen in two shows this month:

The Spring Carousel Gift Market in Raleigh, NC  March 18-20. The following weekend is the Spring Premier Gaited  horse show in the same general location-the Hunt Horse Complex March 23-26. Good place for my horse scarves 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Nature’s Colors in eco-printing on silk

My last “batch” before leaving for a trip to Oregon earlier this month.  Grinding, then boiling cochineal bugs and laying out plants on silk….all part of the long process!

Laying out the plants
Laying out the plants

 

Cochineal extract
Cochineal extract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the results? Oh my, what fun! 🙂

Collage of Mother Nature's colors
Collage of Mother Nature’s colors
Detail of an eco-scarf.
Detail of an eco-scarf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up of vegetable plants on silk
Close up of vegetable plants on silk
Bella watching the silk dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost 3 weeks in the Pacific northwest and I could not leave without expanding my collection of leaf matter.  Check out the monster Big Leaf maple.  The weather promises to break, the snow is melting and the sun will make it possible for me to create more of Mother Nature’s Art 🙂

Big leaf maple
Big Leaf maple
Pacific northwest oak leaves
Pacific northwest oak leaves

Alpacas, peg looms and weaving sticks!

Way back in college, I took a weaving class and managed to squeak by with a “D”. No joke. I loved the weaving part, but the big old floor looms required threading heddles and to a poor college student who had no transportation,  the eventual yarn I purchased for the warp was too stretchy. And although I made a beautiful (to me) wall hanging for my final project, it was not of the technical skill my instructor was looking for 🙂

Enter the peg loom and weaving sticks!

Working with my peg loom!
Working with my peg loom!

So I am all about simple, easy and yet with great results! After more than 25 years as a self employed portrait artist I am way past that “suffer for my art” nonsense 🙂 So you can imagine my delight when, with no instructor looming over me (haha, a pun) I managed to make my first peg loom weaving. I am hooked. I used yarn of course but looking forward to using my silk and silk sari ribbons for something unusual!

But then, what else did I try? Weaving sticks! SO simple, so much fun and I could play “old lady” in front of the fire with my sticks in my hand, balls of yarn in the basket and Louie (my dad’s old cockapoo we inherited) on the arm of the easy chair and just eave away! I can just about finish a scarf during one Columbo rerun. Definitely through a Miss Marple 🙂

My basket of yarn with my weaving sticks
My basket of yarn with my weaving sticks

Never one for halfway measures, I added Bella to my menagerie of 2 ponies, 18 chickens and 5 dogs. Shearing will be in April when a nearby alpaca farm brings in the shearers…I better learn how to use that drop spindle if I want her fiber lol!

Bella, the baby alpaca
Bella, the baby alpaca

 

 

Nature’s colors-Amazing results from eco-printing on silk!

OK, I admit it, I’m hooked! Nature’s colors rock! After 11 days of constant painting on silk at the Village of Yesteryear at the NC State Fair (Another blog!) , I experimented with yet another technique for eco dyeing/printing and the results were gorgeous! (I admit it, I brag!)

I collected yet more leaves from maple trees  and along the roadside as well as on my own mini-farm….adding to my collection so I would have leaves when the winter came. It wasn’t hard to enlist the help of my artist husband, Stephen Filarsky! I had hoped that some of the colors of these stunning fall maple trees would dye but the colors did not migrate to the silk….yet. I’ll keep trying 🙂

Fall maple trees
Fall maple trees

Working with iron, onion skins and pecans as a mordant in different batches, well, you’ll have to see the results!

The following scarves consist of silk eco-printed with an assortment and variation (in each) of maples, peonies, mimosa, oak, roses, pear, sumac and pecan to name a few natural ingredients.

onion skin mordant
onion skin mordant

Oak, maple and sumac were within a few of these silk scarves.

Peonies, ferns, maple and roses
Peonies, ferns, maple and roses

A beautiful combination of colors-a surprise actually 🙂

maple leaves on silk
maple leaves on silk

So real, it seems as though you could pluck them off the silk!

rose leaves from various old roses
rose leaves from various old roses

Interesting how different roses printed differently.

Eco-printing on indigo dyed raw silk
Eco-printing on indigo dyed raw silk

The raw silk really takes the dye process. I had previously dyed this piece with indigo and was not happy with it-I am now 🙂

All of my silk work is being done in the small studio. At the moment I am heading off to a show and looking forward to free time after the weekend to experiment a bit more. Big show coming up towards the end of the month!

So what did I do with those leaves and berries for my silk?

We were so busy getting ready for the annual Village of yesteryear at the North Carolina State Fair that I only had one shot at a batch of eco-dyed scarves! Looking over instructions from a brief workshop, I gathered my supplies and set to work!

Home grown red clay
Home grown red clay

The dried red clay I dug out  of a nearby bank had been stored in a pickle jar.  The leaves and berries were in a plastic tub, ready for use.  Following instructions, I washed a batch of silk scarves in an alum solution for a long while. When done, I began what became an all afternoon process of laying out the scarves, applying the leaves, bundling them and boiling the bundles then leaving to “process” for several days.

My outdoor picnic table worked just fine. I had the sense to photograph each laid out scarf so I would know what worked and what did not.  It is very much a trial and error process but that is what makes it so fun!

 

 

Eventually after several days, I opened the bundles and it is very much like opening a gift-no idea what to expect! I was pleasantly surprised at my efforts. The scarves were soft, subtle and beautifully patterned. Some were not as gorgeous as others (I discovered that was indeed however in the eye of the beholder!) and some took the various natural products well!

Stirring the Soup
Stirring the Soup

 

Rolling the leaves between plastic wrap on silk.
Rolling the leaves between plastic wrap on silk.

 

 

 

 

Wrapped bundles of silk processing.
Wrapped bundles of silk processing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drying on the clothes rack
Drying on the clothes rack
Leaf imprint
Leaf imprint
IMprinted ferns
Imprinted fern leaves from my property

So the results were a it at my recent 11 day show and I cannot wait to use the leaves I am gathering now, before the winter takes them away! Right now there are some gorgeous fall colors and I am curious to see how they will dye. In the meantime, simply gathering them on a stunning fall day -my first “free” day in awhile, is what makes this process so enjoyable!

So back to snipping and storing for the winter!

Colors from Nature: Eco-dyeing from the NC backroads.

A gorgeous day, car windows down and a back road in North Carolina. It really doesn’t get much better than that!   With my artist hubby Steve in the passenger seat, we explored yet another favorite back road. This time, we were searching for particular leaves, flowers and berries to collect for my eco-dyeing with silk scarves. Just as the roadsides are awash in June with wild Queen Anne’s lace and orange Tiger lilies, in September and October they are replaced with wild Helianthus or vivid yellow sunflowers and a multitude of plants as yet untouched by the color change .  Our mini farm has most of them  but we love the fun of looking!  The same roads change by the season and this month we were in search of Nature’s early fall bounty.

 

One of our favorite back roads

Pure Spring water
Pure Spring water

Our Quest took us into Virginia where we stopped to collect the pure spring waters of the once famous Buffalo Springs Resort. Known to the Indians, then gathering fame with the Colonialists, it reached its peak of fame in the late 1800’s as a curative water for whatever ails you! Now owned by the US Park Service, it’s vast array of buildings are gone, leaving nothing but a gazebo, the always available “Lithia” water and its ghosts of the past. A fascinating history of this place can be read here: http://sovahomefront.org/_site_buffalosprings.php

 

Collecting water from Buffalo Springs
Collecting water from Buffalo Springs

We searched and collected just what we needed and were going to experiment with such as grasses, tobacco leaves and flowers, assorted leaves from oaks, maples and poplars as well as wild sumac. The leaves have not yet turned to their brilliant fall colors-that’s for another trip!

Collecting wildflowers
Collecting wildflowers
Hubby helping to gather a few flowers for dyeing
Hubby helping to gather a few flowers for dyeing

I’m getting ready for the 11 day North Carolina State Fair where I will be the silk artist in the Village of Yesteryear-a community of craftsmen and women.

 

Read more here: http://villageofyesteryear.com/
Eco-dyeing is a is time consuming labor of love! This year’s public at the NCSF will see my first series of eco-dyed scarves along with my hand painted and dyed silk designs. I love the subtle patterns left by nature. With the exception of the beautiful reds of the cochineal bug that has been cultivated in South America for centuries (and can be found here in NC), most of the natural colors are softer and less vivid. Eco-dyeing is best done when the artist can enjoy the process from its very beginning of gathering fallen leaves and berries to it’s very end with the slow unwrapping of the silks and the delight of surprise results of colors and patterns!

And finally, after I shared this post, we went to an estate sale of the contents of an old Victorian house and found not one, but two, intact gallons of Buffalo Springs water in the basement (with the 1902 work desk from the old dentist who occupied the home in the 1920’s) What a find for us! Enlarged so you can read the writing!

A turn of the century gallon of water from Buffalo Springs
A turn of the century gallon of water from Buffalo Springs