Dyeing is a Slow Process

“Morning has spoken…”

It’s 6:00am, and the birds outside are singing in a new day. Clouds from the drizzly day of yesterday are clearing, allowing slivers of the sun to peek through. Although Aussie seasons are mild here on the east coast, it’s still cool in the morning The chilly winds, they never stop me from dreaming of ice – lots of it – not snow, as it doesn’t snow this close to the coastline, but ICE! Big chunks like you’d float in a glass in the heat of summer.

Most of my life I have dabbled in art, having received my very first set of oil paints from my grandparents as a very young girl. I love nature, and in another life, am a fully qualified florist. I have a natural ability to ‘wing it’ and come out with great ideas and compositions. So when I look at nature, I see that there are no two colours the same. Mother Nature, with all her fury, also gently surprises us at every turn with colour combinations fit to burst the soul with delight and the heart with joy! With gay abandon she paints the air, the sea, and the lands with all the spectrum of light refracted and then blows us away with hues, tints, tones, shapes and textures. From a subtle leaf blowing in the breeze, jittering at the end of a knobby branch, to the delicate capillaries within the petals of your favourite flowers. Nature really is a miraculous source of inspiration.

Disclosure, I am relatively new to the quilting world, but my Mother and my dear friend Julie introduced me to this craft, and have encouraged me to expand my creativity and get on board. Knowing the amount of fabric I have collected over the years, I seem to have accepted the challenge of ‘Those with the most fabrics upon death, wins!’ I’m trying.. really I am! But I’ve always been horrified at the idea of cutting into beautiful fabric for making quilts, and yet, never had the same aversion when I made clothes from equally lovely fabric for my children and myself, and now, my granddaughter.

So, as I stumbled through the idea of paying large sums for a small piece of fabric, I have discovered that ice and dyes are another art form that allows me to create. It keeps my artistic side happy, and allows fellow quilters access to unique, one of a kind pieces that they can cut up… and I won’t have to apply scissors to beauty (*editor: yes she will, I’m going to challenge her with a purchased panel and her one-of-a-kind fabrics)!

Ice atop a piece of damp fabric, and delicately sprinkled with dyes, makes for a wonderfully serendipitous outcome but it can also go horribly wrong when colours you hope will look sensational together, in fact, split into their base compositions, mingle together and look downright awful. But, these fabrics also have a place, and nothing really is bin-worthy. It just requires a fresh set of eyes and an art quilt instead!

Ice, Ice Baby!

Some of the fabric pieces I have created have been just for fun and experimentation, and others have been a deliberate manipulation of colours, blending and fracturing the pigments using the ice dye method. I have seen first hand that dyeing with snow and larger chunks of ice, makes no real noticeable difference in the end product. What Variations occur, comes down to type of fabrics, and the actual dyes themselves. But either way, I’m in love with the journey my Mum and beloved friend Julie, have led me down. I like this garden path, and I think I would like to stay here on it, treading softly over the cracks of chartreuse weeds poking up in between, and the edges of sweet peas, daffodils, and bluebells.. and of sweet William of my grandmothers day. Dyeing of fabrics lends to wonderful shapes, textures, and hues, tints and tones! All the things Mother Nature is showing us, every day. And if the result isn’t what I like.. I can over dye, or paint, or apply textures, or cut it into shapes for a part of an art quilt. So.. dyeing is not final.. it’s just the very beginning!
~ Rails

* (editor of this piece is Julie)

2020: Off The Rails!

Case in point. a few days ago I had written a wonderful blog post. I’m not familiar with the blogger yet, and went to find a method of changing text colors. Tried to go back to post and it had disappeared. The days have been very angsty since then. My inner child reappearing, and pitching a fit.

I’ve always thought myself a phlegmatic, relatively peaceable, calm-in-a-crisis person. 2020 had made me face the fact that I’ve been fooling myself for a number of years.

However, every hour, every day, every month, every year we can have a do-over. I’m not sure anyone wants a 2020 do-over though. Just that it would be over and done with so we can start again next year.

Let me introduce myself and my co-conspirator in this venture. Rails has been my dearest friend for a LONG time. I’m afraid to calculate how long. Her son was in nappies and bottle when I first met her. He’s now taller than both of us, has a deep voice and facial hair. Our daughters were friends in school, they’re now married and we both have grandchildren.

I’m older than her, but she’s often wiser than me. I’ve traveled significantly more than she has, but we both have wide world-views. She doesn’t get podcasts, I adore them and my favourite way of sewing is with a podcast in the background. When I figure out how, I will be listing links to those I like best.

Rails is far more creative than I am in real life, but I’ve got a very vivid imagination and amazing google-fu (though I use DuckDuckGo, never Google!) which is a good substitute for hands on creativity. Links to her exquisite hand-dyed fabrics will soon be provided, and will probably feature in their own post!

We both love bright colors, though oddly enough I often find myself dressed in dark and plain block colours. Rails likes orange, I’ve long since forgiven her for that flaw.

We both love our children, and wildly adore our grandchildren (all girls).

We both love quilting, colour, patterns, egging each other on in evolving ideas. We will eventually post some of those ideas in the form of quilt patterns. Rails is enthusiastically dyeing fabric not only for these patterns but because it brings her enormous joy to see what happens when she mixes this with that, ties this way and twists that way and finally hangs it out and we both cheer at the beauty that she produces.

Though we are currently separated by a bazillion miles, give or take a few hundred thousand, Rails and I support each other through thick and thin. We dream of someday retiring to Tasmania with a little quilting/tea shop business. Wisteria , quail and timtams are part of my plan, Rails will have to pipe up with her own.

Plans for the future? Rails is going to be putting her fabrics up for sale soon. She’s been experimenting and taking notes. Fat quarters, fat quarter bundles, mandala panels, and Shibori panels are on the current short list. We’re still working on quilt patterns. Some of those will feature the panels and hand dye’s as examples of how her lovely fabric can be utilised. And FUN, after this year, we girls, JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN!

Signing off,


postscript: I am bilingual with Australian and American slang. If you are not and are confused with the occasional comment, noun or spelling, feel free to ask! My mother often says she feels she has to come behind me with a translation dictionary, when I visit her and talk to her friends.