Color or colour, fabric stashes and book club!

Oh no, I’ve joined a book club to read and learn hands-on about colour! Normally something that would not cause a negative reaction. But, the first thing we are told to do is cut the 150 color card swatches included with the book: The Quilter’s Field Guide to Color : A Hands-On Workbook for Mastering Fabric Selection

Rache Hauser cover
The Quilter’s Field Guide to Color : A Hands-On Workbook for Mastering Fabric Selection by Rachel Hauser.

Why do we need to cut up a perfectly new book? It goes against everything I believe! I work in a library, I’m a library technician! I can’t possibly cut up pages!

Rachel Hauser Table of Contents

Cutting up a perfectly fine book (I know I must!) notwithstanding, I am excited to be participating with a small and enthusiastic group of quilters on this project. We are a mixed bunch – some have been quilting for many years and others fairly recently. Some have an art background and many others don’t. I know we will all learn a lot from each other and this experience whether we do or don’t have an art background.

Rachel Hauser. About

I have a good size collection of fabrics in my stash. Will it suffice for this project without purchasing? I hope so, as I do want to use the colours I have collected without adding any more. My aim is a deficit, not surplus.

Fabric Stash in closet of doris lovadina-lee canadian textile artist

The first cut is always the most difficult!

When is black – blue, red, green and yellow?

The most recent batch of cotton scarves were snow dyed using a fibre reactive dye in black. I was persuaded by my mother to create some black and grey scarves because “they go with everything”. Itajime shibori scarf snow dyed doris lee

I decided that I would use up some of the last bit of snow from the ice storm and see what would result from using only one dye colour.nui shibori cotton/rayon scarf snow dyed with black dye by doris lovadina-leeRaven Black, Better Black, New Black, Hot Black and Jet Black are the names of a few of the black dyes available. Some are better for hot water dyeing and others are best for low immersion dyeing. But, none of these are single hue dyes, rather they are made up of a mixture of two or more dyes.
snow dyed shibori scarf using black dye by artisan doris lovadina-lee

So I wasn’t surprised that the black scarves were not black at all! After I washed and dried the scarves and could see the variation in the colours, I decided to try an experiment. I took the black dye powder and dissolved it in water and sprinkled it on snow to see what colours would appear.

tsp with black fabric dye dissolved in water

Red, blue, purple are all visible in the teaspoon and table. In this photo, a pinch of dye was sprinkled with water and instantly, you could see the variation in the  colours.

snow with melting black dye showing mulitcoloured pigments

I also sprinkled a small amount of dye powder on the snow and bright spots of vibrant purples, greens, yellows and blues appeared.

shibori black dyed cotton scarf snow dyed by toronto artist doris lovadina-lee


The itajime shibori scarf above is predominantly green on one end changing to soft purple and grey on the other end.nui snow dyed cotton/rayon scarf detail by doris lovadina-lee toronto

The nui shibori scarf above has strong stripe effect that is green, while the scarf below is more blue and purple overall with a touch of green as an accent.

nui shibori scarf hand dyed toronto artisan doris lovadina-lee

While the colours showing in the snow and teaspoon included yellow and red, none of these appear on the scarves. It seems that these dyes were not present in sufficient amounts to stand on their own, rather they combined to create the purples and greens that did appear. Even though the scarves are not black and grey, the variations in colour and pattern are very pretty. In order to achieve the colours my mother suggested, I will have to try again using the more traditional low immersion dyeing. 

What has your experience been when dyeing? 

Look up – Ceilings as Inspiration

We don’t often walk around looking up to see what is above our heads. If we looked up more often we would see some beautiful and inspirational ceilings.

Ceilings as inspiration for:

  • applique
  • shapes
  • blocks
  • block settings
  • quilting designs
  • colour palettes
  • textures
  • layouts

Casa Loma, Toronto, Ontario, cupola made with stained glass
Stained glass cupola in Casa Loma

Cupola design of Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Montréal
Cupola in Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Montréal

painted medallion in Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Montréal
Medallion in Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Montréal

ceiling squares in the Cathedral: Mary, Queen of the World, Montréal
Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Montréal

detail of wood ceiling in Notre-Dame de Montréal
Wooden ceiling in Notre-Dame de Montréal

stencilled and painted wood detail from Notre-Dame de Montréal church ceiling
Wooden ceiling detail in Notre-Dame de Montréal

Stenciled ceiling designs in Notre-Dame de Montréal church
Wooden ceiling in Notre-Dame de Montréal

Wood ceiling panels hand painted in Notre-Dame de Montréal
Painted wooden ceiling in Notre-Dame de Montréal

Notre-Dame de Montréal painted square wood panels
Painted wooden ceiling in Notre-Dame de Montréal

Notre-Dame cathedral in Montréal's diamond shaped woo ceiling
Wooden ceiling in Notre-Dame de Montréal

underneath walkway with metal supports and planks
Wood ceiling

I love the colour and texture of this ceiling. It is the underside of an outdoor warehouse structure in the Port of Old Montreal.

Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain domed ceiling in hallway
Ceiling of Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain

So, look up! You never know when something will spark an idea for your next project.


Vacation inspirations

Many of us have hundreds of photographs taken during our vacations. Digital cameras have made it easy to take and store images. How often do you go back and look at them?

cement tiles in turquoise, brown and white on floor in Mexico
Mayan Riviera tile

Looking through holiday pictures can stimulate creativity. Look closely and see what design ideas are hiding in plain sight.

ceiling trusses of the palapa in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico

Patterns on tiles, floors and ceilings can inspire quilt blocks or quilting designs.

turquoise glaze on a ceramic jar in lobby of hotel in the Mayan Riviera
Mayan Riviera jar

The patina and colours found in pottery and nature can inspire unique colour palettes and applique shapes.

veins of a leaf of a tropical plant in mexico
Mayan Riviera leaf

The texture of bark  can inspire a machine or hand quilting pattern.

bark of a tree trunk in Mexico
Mayan Riviera tree trunk

fossils embedded in walls of hotel in the Mayan Riviera
Mayan Riviera fossils

Look back at your vacation photographs, enjoy reminiscing and then take a closer look at all the designs that inspire your creativity!


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