Tag Archives: eco-dyeing silk

Magical world of Faeries on ecoprint

Who is not entranced by the mystical world of faeries? Whether your first introduction was Tinkerbell or you’re  intrigued with the myriad of myths, legends and sightings of such fleeting “little people”, it is a fun world to enter!

Faeries ( or Fairies)were a favorite theme of my twin sister.  As children, we imagined them in the ancient maples that populated our farm in upstate New York. We would take what figurines we had and play among the stone walls and foundations of the huge barns. We invented names, places, personalities, and made “faerie houses” from all manner of rocks and twigs.

 

Detail of a woodland faerie

So I have enjoyed re-inventing our world of not just faeries but the birds that also populated our country playground. Chickadees, sparrows, finches and tiny house wrens all flocked to our suet feeders in the winter when the snows made life challenging for all!

bird on rose branch

My eco printed silk seemed to call to me to peek closer into the world of nature. As a painter, it was just an additional step to begin creating my hand painted designs among the imprinted silk. The challenge was to keep a soft hand to the silk and yet have control over the silk dyes-not always an easy thing to do! So laying out my plant matter to create designs with open spaces for my birds and faeries, I began to paint. And I am still creating versions of them both.  The possibilities are endless. Yes I could simply paint an entire Faerie world on a single canvas, populated with tiny birds, magical creatures and such. But the challenges of working with silk intrigued me. My hand painted figures dance with the movement of the silk-something that cannot be achieved on canvas.

Four Faeries in the roses

The birds continue to flock to my feeders even in the more temperate climate of North Carolina. And while I paint and design, I see tiny faeries everywhere-dancing on the dust motes, peeking out from behind the roses leaves and perhaps playing tricks on the free range chickens. Join me in this magical world of no worries, playful fun and enjoy the art!

 

Faeries and their little bird friend on Cotton dipped in indigo!

 

Beautiful Art from Rescued Roses

Seven SIsters old roses
Seven Sisters old roses

Beautiful Art from rescued Roses

Roses in history, in quotes, in art and poetry. Perhaps no other flower has been written, photographed, cultured and painted in all of history.

“What a lovely thing a rose is!” -Arthur Conan Doyle (The Naval Treaty)

“I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday sweet and fragrant, between its leaves.” -L.M. Montgomery (Anne of the Island)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare

 As artists, my husband and I regroup by exploring back roads, both paved and unpaved. In our many travels we began to bring not just camera and sketchpads, but shovels, buckets, water and pruning shears. And we began rescuing flowers and taking cuttings from abandoned homesteads.

This was once someone's home
This was once someone’s home
A road less traveled
A road less traveled

Sometimes we only discovered totally overgrown homes hidden off dirt roads by noticing a burst of pink, red or white flowers through the growth. On closer inspection we would discover huge rose bushes, or old varieties of Sweet William or daffodils, continuing to grow and bloom with happy abandon, unaware that no one was on the crumbling front porches enjoying their beauty and fragrance any longer.  So we began to take cuttings, dig a few bulbs or flowers in hopes of transplanting them to our mini-farm for them to be seen and enjoyed.

Before long we had our own bushes of Seven Sisters, Old Dawn (climbing) Red Blaze, wild white roses, Lady Banks, Old Glory, tiny leaved Scottish Roses…..and some nameless ones.  My heirloom rose garden includes a red variety of Seven Sisters that my mother collected from her old family homestead (long abandoned) in Mississippi while researching her roots.

 

Seven SIsters old roses
Seven Sisters old roses-pink
Another view of Seven Sisters roses on garden fence
Another view of Seven Sisters roses on garden fence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collected from our own family homestead in Mississippi
Climbing Old Dawn
Climbing Old Dawn

As a painting artist, I have painted and photographed my share of beautiful roses over the years. But no art form has excited my creativity as much as collecting and imprinting designs and colors from those roses I have rescued!

In the world of Eco or Botanical printing on fiber, more often than not it is the leaves that leave the best impression, not the actual rose. And it seems fitting as no one immortalizes the rose leaf in poetry and quotes. Even the thorn has numerous symbolic mentions…but the leaves?  Yet without the leaves there would be no rose! I don’t think botanists will ever cultivate a bronze, green  or copper colored rose. But in my work with the rose leaves on Silk, I regularly re-create these colors!

So much, I have learned, depends on what  day, what month and what rose leaves I use…from the tiniest to the largest.  The colors vary, the shapes vary…but the sentiment stays the same for the leaves as it does the beautiful petals. A wondrous surprise every time I work with my rose leaves and silk.

I like to think that the women or men who once planted and loved these roses, would be pleased to see their simple pleasures re-created as beautiful imprints on silk. And that someone cared enough to stop by their once active homes, lost to time and encroaching developments and rescued their roses and flowers to treasure as much as they once did.

Rose leaves on silk
Rose leaves on silk
The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk
The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk
The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk
The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk
Natural leaf colors of roses enhanced by indigo
Natural leaf colors of roses enhanced by indigo

Summer Storms and inspiration silk

When I am looking for inspiration, my artist hubby Stephen Filarsky and I travel north from our place to the John Kerr Lake dam.  No matter the weather or time, it is a place to renew my creative energies. It’s easy to feel as though you are absorbing that tranquility!

View of the lake from the causeway
View of the lake from the causeway

And along with that easy feeling that comes with a lazy summer day, comes the realization that summer brings summer rains and occasionally a storm.

Nothing is quite as exhilarating as a powerful summer storm when viewed from a safe place :-).

storm
Storm coming across the lake

Often I collect tree leaves from these drives and flatten them in a sketch pad. These areas produce sumac, red bud and a variety of abundant good printing leaves that I take back to the studio and save.

Black eye Susan plants are everywhere and a childhood favorite of mine.

Field near wildlife refuge
Field near wildlife refuge
black/brown eyed susans
Wildflowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what do I do with this all this natural inspiration and plant material? Two of my many recent inspirations: Silk wraps, ecoprinted with one dipped in an indigo vat. Both 36″ x 84″.

The blue one has sold but to see more of what a summer drive in the country inspires, be sure and visit my Amazon shop!

Big beautiful indigo and eco-printed silk wrap. 36″ x 84″

 

ecoprinted silk wrap 36 x 84

 

 

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 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!