Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dye Retreat

I spent the first week in June at the East Texas home of my friends, Ken and Kathi, dying lots of fabric and garments. For many years Ken has allowed Kathi, Linda, Jill and I to transform his wonderful, cavernous wood shop into a dye studio.


Ken helped us rig this great two-sink rinsing station to a picnic table. We purchased an old-fashioned towel wringer from a car wash supply house that is screwed to a board between the sinks. Hanging basket garden hooks hold the hoses in place. Anti-fatigue mats from my husband's dental lab give us a comfy and dry place to stand.



The History:
This dye retreat began in 1973 when Linda and Deanna took their kids to the beach at Freeport, Texas to make sand candles and tie-dye t-shirts with Rit dye. The Rit faded so the next year they invested in fiber-reactive dyes. In the following years they left the kids at home and added batik and vat dying to their annual beach vacation. I think they were sewing too.


I met Deanna at a pottery class in the mid 80's and she asked me to join her on the dye retreat in 1986 at a friend's cabin in Taos, NM. Linda was living in New Hampshire and flew in to join us. The next few years, Deanna, Linda, and I, and an occasional guest, returned to the beach house each year.

In 1991, Kathi taught Deanna and I her dye-painting technique. Deanna died right before our trip that summer. In 1992, Kathi invited Linda and I to come to her home in Southlake, TX. We still did some batik and vat dying but added the dye-painting and low-water dying. The following year I went to New Hampshire where Jill joined Linda and I.

In 1994, Jill and I joined Linda at her hunting camp in Sunset, Texas. This was Jill's first trip to Texas and during that week we were awakened by a big snake in the mini-blinds over my bed; there was also a hail storm and several days of tornado warnings. Welcome to Texas!


Linda and I spent a week at Jill's house on the Charlestown river in New Hampshire in 1995. When Kathi moved to East Texas in 1996, we invaded Ken's wood shop and have been there just about every year except 2006 and 2007 when we went to Linda's parents' ranch near Forestburg. We have guests join us occasionally, but the core group has remained the same since 1996. We don't do much sewing, vat dying or batiking any more.

The projects of 2009:
I tried Robbie Joy Eklow's method of pouring dye on
hanging fabric several years ago and really like the sunset effects I get.


Linda and Jill did some folding and clamping of fabric.



Linda wrapped fabric around a pole to get a striped effect.


Jill is painting thickened dye over freezer paper leaves.
I'm dripping dye onto pleated fabric.



Here is one of Jill's finished leaf pieces.


Linda painted these flowers with thickened dye to make a skirt border.



Here's Kathi at the rinsing station.
She dyed lots of teal and brick fabric this year to make a bed quilt.

When Ken's sons were younger, he would take them on a vacation while we invaded his house. His sons are grown so he stayed in town this year to make jewelry in his studio in town. Ken joined us for dinners most nights. We each take turns cooking the evening meals. Whoever cooks, doesn't have to do the dishes!

Linda's friend, Scott came to see what we were doing and we put him to work.


Grace came one day and dyed lots of socks.

Vicki was with us the same day and dyed sheets for her boys,
and matching t-shirts for everyone in her family.



Kathi's three cats were the supervisor's for the week.
Here's Smokey and Chuey. (I didn't get a photo of Flopsy.)


It's our tradition to have Kathi's cappuccino mousse and exchange gifts on the last night. There was no one to take our picture so I set the camera on a chair and used the timer.

Jill, Tonya, Kathi and Linda
I really enjoy my time with these wonderful ladies.
It's inspiring and relaxing to have a week to concentrate on creating.
I already have lists and ideas for next year!

1 comment:

Connie said...

Looks like fun and creative - that and good friends makes a great session. I kept intending to dye in June but now it's too hot - 104 in Austin today.