project continued: cotton dhoti

a dhoti is four yards of cloth used to make a pants wrap, in this case, cotton muslin.  after making a sari, which is 6 yards of cloth, i am making a smaller version, using different methods that maybe reflect what i’m learning about this process.  after that, i will make a 2-yard veshti, or sarong, or kanga, hopefully reflecting something approaching a journeyman’s understanding of what i’m doing.

but like jim observed this morning when we saw the results of the dhoti – my work is almost crude, vigorous and monumental and with frayed edges and rubbed out marks and mistakes.  but that’s better than slick.  so at times tho my work is painfully individualistic, and would never sell in the shops, i’ll still wear it around, and my sister will still let me give it to her.

i’m going to be using a different technique this time.  last time, i painted each stretched section, then got it good and wet, and rolled it up in plastic overnight to batch, then let it dry, stretched the next section, and repeated the process.  this time i’m not going to roll it up in plastic and drench it until the end, but i am still going to do each section individually, and i am going to wet sections and let them bleed.  i’m just not going to spritz anything, i’m going to do it with a brush, and be very selective about what i wet and what i keep dry (she says.  but just wait).

what you see below is the left side of the cloth being stretched, and up on four bricks.  the middle part is laying on the table, and the right hand side is folded over a chair with a length looping down.  i’ve traced the pattern from laying the bare 4 yard cloth on top of the 6 yard cloth and adjusting the length and figures.  i’ve only drawn resist over the stretched part, and now i’m waiting to ink it in with dyes.  the rest of the length is just charcoal lines.

below, i’ve gone around the stretched border and painted in dark purple on the outside, which you can’t even see, then blue, and then my mixed golden brown.  i’m deliberately watering down the dyes this time as i mix them up.  this time i’m putting as much water as dyestock, because i judged that too much excess dye washed out of the sari from last time, so i’m using less dye this time.  it seems to go on just as heavily, so we’ll see.  one thing about the mixed brown color.  it seems to be thicker than when i used it on the first piece.  thicker and grainier.  i know i’m not pasting up the dye as carefully as you’re supposed to, but it seems like the grains of dye just swelled individually during the week they’ve been sitting there.

now, this is simply dye powder and urea water.  no salt, no alcohol, no soda ash.  if it were paint i’d say i should have mulled it, really ground the particles into the smallest pieces i could.  but as it was dye, i simply shook it to mix it back in, measured it out, and diluted it.

it seems to have changed color slightly as well.  but that could just be because it’s more dilute.  i would expect a color change when diluted, that’s how you get tints of a color.  obviously i’m working with too many changing variables to be sure what problems i’m encountering.  but that’s always the way with me.  muddy the waters right away, and then thrash in the shallows.

this is after i put on the border dyes (now you can see the purple), and before i brushed clear water on the fabric and over the resist lines so it can bleed.  you can see were i mainly overshot the red/brown line with the blue on the bottom edge to the right, and you can see where my resist lines weren’t joined between the purple and the blue on the bottom right corner.  in projects where i don’t need bleedthru, i would have checked and double checked my resist lines to make sure there were no breaks.  but i put this stuff on fast and let it jump when it hit a fabric wrinkle just so i’d have plenty of broken resist lines.  because i love the mess it makes.

here’s after i brushed the same area with clear water.  you can see how far out i put the water by the slightly darker white, because the water darkens the edges, and then the dye bleeds into where it’s wet, slowly, and according to how each pigment/color reacts to water.  reds don’t seem to move very much.  blues seem to move a great deal, and to wash out, also.  and yellows can be completely not there in the final product.  and you can’t tell beforehand.  at least, i can’t tell.

here’s another example.  this one’s still wet, you can see the shiny soppy place.  the purple has started to creep over the resist on the border, which resist i believe is sugar syrup, while the resist on the fingers is sodium alginate.  you can see that the sugar syrup is thicker (because the applicator bottle has a larger hole).  the blue has started seeping over the resist into the red, much faster and more completely than the purple into the blue.  the brown/red is hardly moving at all.  on the other hand, the red is the last thing i got wet, and then i grabbed the camera.

here it is once it had dried.  you can see how the blue just tore thru the brown/red, and invaded the fingers.  the brown/red did something different, because it is made of a lot of yellow, some red, and just a pinch of blue.  nonetheless, when wet, it separated into its constituent colors, and they each moved into the wet area at a different rate.  the blue and yellow combined and ranged far beyond the red.  the last piece i did had a big yellow reaching stain at the end of the previous night’s work, the yellow finally outstripping the blue.

it’s all happy accidents when i do art.  that’s why i’m allergic to slick.  magic and slick don’t work unless you’re faking it.  real magicians sweat.

and here’s another example, from farther down the beast.  see the lovely spreading blue on the border.  cuts right thru the brown/red, turns it completely neutral.

what i’m wondering is about the chemical action of soda ash and procion dyes.  supposedly the ash reacts with the first dye it comes across, and when it’s had enough reacting, then the rest of the dye just washes off.  which we saw with the first piece.  it looked horribly muddy right thru the whole process, before it was washed out.  and then it was crystal clear.  so i’m wondering how this is going to turn out, which so much bleed at the border.  what’s the background color going to do if the bled part has already reacted?

now to the scales.  i’m using my own personal shorthand with the scales, both in drawing them as little round things, and in coloring them with stripes of red, yellow, and a dot of blue.  it looks kind of funky when it’s just being done.  the colors just sit there where i put them, the red doesn’t move much, the yellow looks awkward, the blue is isolated.

but the moment you put water on it, the whole thing starts running.  first into itself, blending the red, yellow, and blue, and then over the sugar syrup resist, letting the colors mix and flow however far the water will take them.

i’ve just finished brushing the surface of the scales with clear water.  i have tried to stay inside the outer lines, but that’s not always perfect, and as well, the water will flow right thru it if there’s enough.  the cotton is still shiny, tho you can see several scales that look drier, darker.  there’s one in the top middle of the picture.  i’m dumping varying amounts of water with each brush load as i go over the scales.  there are such a lot of them, and i feel that i have to rush to get them all coated at once so they can bleed until they dry.  so how far they run and muddy is pretty changeable.  but again, i wouldn’t want it to be uniform.

here’s the whole length of scales finished and brushed with clear water.  the borders are complete all around, and now i’ve gone up and down the length, stretching each part to paint in the scales.  now i’m going to work my way back up to the head doing the hands and the crest, and then i’ll do the background.  how much more wetting and bleeding i’m going to do, i’ll see when i get there.

taking a break.  i use my hands for everything, including these relatively nontoxic dyes.  but i still have to snack, so here i am using my undyed little finger to grab a chip and scoop salsa onto it.  the only real danger is if i dip my brush into the salsa, thinking it’s brown/red dye.  but i’m careful.

don’t drink the dye, fine.

back to work.  i just love the look of sugar syrup resist in the morning.  this is what the piece looked like when i had worked my way up and was ready to start work on the first section again.  the blue has bled right thru the red/brown and marched on into the background.  it looks really cool and i should leave it like that.  oh well.  i’ve had this mixed green sitting and waiting since i first pasted it up, and that’s going on the background of this piece.

see, in trying to mix up that red/brown, the one i used on the background of the sari piece, i used an old mixing chart that went with a different brand of dye for use on silk rather than cotton.  that’s three kinds of wrong.  so of course it didn’t work.  i was trying for a rich tobacco brown.  i used a jacquard’s silk dye mixing chart for ‘caramel’, which was five parts yellow, one part red, two parts blue.  this formula used a yellow they don’t even make any more, which is way stronger than what they switched to, which is why i stopped using their dyes seven or eight years ago at this point.  and the dyes i’m using now i’m mixing up from powders according to whim, basically.  so why would i bother using a formula?  or mixing up a 1/8 cup scoop full of each color?  such a fool.  so i wound up with enough paste for a gallon of dye, sitting in a jar for two weeks.

on my hands as i mixed it up with increasing frustrations, it was a nice dark, rich green.  so i put it aside and told myself i would use it on the background of the second piece.  so i’m coloring in everything for that green.  and thinking that the red/brown border which is now completely neutralized by the blue bleeding over it will look better for being next to a nice rich green.

here’s jim’s great drawing before i make the mess i usually make of it.

this is the neck before i hit it with water.  it looks pretty silly.

and looks a lot stronger once it runs.  i really like what it does when i make it run.  i like it so much that i never mind precision and clean lines and repeatable patterns.  screw that, i want to see what it does by itself, and will move a lot of things out of the way in order to see it.

i sort of skipped photographing the coloring in of the head, and the red on the crest and the yellow on the belly, and the red on the feet that was supposed to be orange.  it’s a very rudimentary laying in of color.  usually i do shading and sculpting with color, but i’m kind of overwhelmed here.  getting a panel painted in takes all day, three or four hours of standing there with a brush in my hand, walking back and forth from the palette to the work, bending over, feeling my feet swell and my varicose vein itch.

so i tend to rush things a bit maybe.  it’s a balance.  hasty rushing, or cooperating with the happy accident of running dye.

here is a place where i paused in my mad rush toward finishing in order to take a picture.  i end up spending hours at a time on something like a background.  it’s very important not to let your edges dry right in the middle of the background space, because it’ll show up as a hard line later.  so you have to keep going until you’ve filled in all the background.  this is why you design your space so that it’s broken up and you have small areas to fill instead of an endless expanse of background.

the way cotton takes dye, i went over it lightly with a full brush, quickly so the dye didn’t have time to flood out into a small area.  moving the brush quickly means that the fill is spotty, streaky.  and i had to go over it several times with a dry brush in order to get the color to fill in solidly.

if the brush comes to a good point, then i can go close to the resist line and fill in in nice and solid.  if it doesn’t, which this one doesn’t very well, then i have to go in far away from the edge and then come back in physically holding the brush in a point, and get the fine edges.

i’m using the biggest silk painting brush i have.  when it splits into individual clumps of hairs, as it does almost immediately, then each individual clump holds a great deal of dye.  and if it even so much as sweeps over a section, it will leave a nice, spreading trail of dye.  which means if i’m not careful, i violate my resist lines and end up putting background dye on my objects.  which i don’t want, as it’s a horrible black color.

what happened to that nice rich green?  wtf?  did it turn colors sitting on the shelf mixed with urea water?  dye can do that?  did i read something about the way colors continue to change with age?

did i use black in the mix?  did the blue get way strong, and the red, and do they only look like black?  wtf, i repeat.  wthf.

this is not what i planned.  sure does pop the dragon colors, tho, doesn’t it?  and once i started painting in the background, i couldn’t just stop and reconsider.

didn’t make a test mark anywhere, did i?  no, of course not.  again, i blame the overwhelming area i had to cover and my fatigue after a week and several days working with familiar techniques on an unfamiliar substrate.  but hey, you use what you’ve got, right?

in the end, i took it off the stretcher and filled in all the black background right there on the table.  i wasn’t putting it on very heavily; it wasn’t soaking all the way thru the back, which was actually a kind of black green so i wasn’t all that far off (did i really use black in the mixture?  i could have sworn not…).  the background is isolated enough that i didn’t worry about letting the wet fabric touch another part of the design.  and it’s stiff from the resist and sugar syrup, which spreads all thru the fabric once i get it wet to spread the dye.

at this point i’m getting ready to batch, or cure, the dye, so i’m putting a plastic tarp underneath it.  i’m not sure if the tarp is long enough, so i’m getting ready to double up with my torn garbage bags if i have to.

i even signed it.  that’s just alginate resist, with the black coming right up to it.  you can see into the black a little, especially at the top right.  it’s still wet, actually.  a little.  anyway, there’s a really dark green going on in there.  when i remade this color and used it on the background of the first piece, i used five, no, six yellows to one red, or maybe two, and a teaspoon of blue (only a pinch) in the mix.

here’s a detail, showing all the bleeding border dye covered up.  you can’t see it thru the black background, but you can see it thru the red (shouldabeen orange) hands and the green of the wrist.

and here it is after batching out in the yard during the last part of the day, when the temperature was a lovely 90 in the waning sun.  before covering it, i spritzed it all over, just to get it a little wet, and not to make it run at all.  i wanted it wet enough to bleed, but not to run.  and then i rolled it up in the plastic.  you can see the roll on the floor.

i unrolled it and laid it out on the table to dry, just because i wanted to look at it before washing it out.

it looks pretty impressive before washing out.  things didn’t run too much, and the green bleeding away from the black looks pretty interesting.  i can also just barely see the bleeding of the border thru the background.

but you can’t tell anything until it’s washed out.  and what i can tell is that it looks faded.  so diluting the colors maybe wasn’t such a good idea.  unless the colors only last so long once they’re mixed with urea water.  i know they only last so long if you mix soda ash into the paint, but i didn’t do that, i put the soda ash into the fabric.  the paint should last forever (?) if it’s only got urea water in it?????

but i don’t know that.  i’m going to have to do research, go haunt paula burch’s site for awhile and see if i can find something.

it’s interesting to see that some of the yellow washed out.  the fins on her cheeks were a lot more orange than that.  and it’s interesting to see that the scales are a lot less rich than they were when i got them wet.  so some of the richness was only excess dye, and washed right out.  and look where the bleeding from the border into the background meant that there wasn’t enough room on the fabric for the black to take, so the black background washed out, leaving the bleed from the border.

all in all not a bad job, but it looks raw and unfinished, or like something happened and half the color washed out.

i got really scared and dumped all my colors after this dragon.  i don’t like what happened to the colors, so i’m going to make up new colors for my final piece.  that’ll mean using a pinch here and there, rather than a 1/8 cup measure, but i can live with that.  but i don’t know what’s going wrong, so i’m not taking chances.

actually, after reading up on it, i’m getting convinced that i’ve held these mixed-up dyes at a very high room temperature (80s) for the two or three weeks they’ve been made up.  and even the dye powder itself will expire if let get too hot or damp.  and god knows i’m not very careful with things like that.  so it’s probably temperature that’s been killing the power of my dyes.  that, and diluting it too much.  i’m so silly.

the next piece i’m going to do is two yards.  it’ll fit on the table entirely (except the borders still hang over), and it’ll only take several sessions, rather than days and days.  i’m going to leave the background white and concentrate on bleeding the border and the dragon into the background.  and i’m going to pay more attention to coloring and texturing on the head and crest and belly.  i’ve already started it upstairs, and will begin laying in colors in the morning.  but since i wasn’t sleeping, i came down to get this post out of the way.

xmas and other presents

i’ve put work on the dolphins aside for a few last minute presents i need to get finished.  i hate spending money on presents, even tho i did this year.  but there are still loads of things you want to give people that you can’t find anywhere.  and i’m fortunate enough to live in the southern equivalent of santa’s workshop.  what you’re not seeing here is the cork board and the basket that i’ll be doing, maybe i’ll take photos.

you may have seen the first three pictures before.  or not.  i disremember if i posted them.  they’re the pastel drawing, above, with reference photos, the first wax applied with a palette knife, before burning in, below,

and how it looks after melting, or burning in, below.

and today, just now, in fact, i put on more white in the sky, more pale green on the background trees, more greeny green on the trees and in the field, more yellow in the field, and a bunch of orange and blue in the foreground.

what’s left for this is some burnt sienna circles that will read well as sunflower heads.  i was surprised at how atmospheric it became with the second coat of wax.  you can tell it’s a hot day in summer in the southern appalachians.

next it’s scarves.  because i have four very special people to say thanks to, a little further out, which is the turtle scarves you’ll see later, but also a few very special people to make xmas presents for, and a sample dragon to show jim’s dealer in case they want to do something in silk for the upcoming dragon con thingie.

what you’re seeing here is a bunch of water based gutta on its last legs (see the belly, spine crest and feet in dark?  that’s dried water-based gutta.  the scales inside the dragon that are variously yellow, red, and lue, they’re outlined in sugar syrup, karo, and when they dry they make a partial resist which will melt right away with water, and make all sorts of crazy blends.  i’m in the middle of putting the colors all into place, and the water  part comes later.

here i’ve put all the colors into place inside the dragon.  look how clumsy it all looks, especially the black outlines.  you’ll see little dots of black inside the scales.  i tried to put them directly on top of the dried syrup instead of on the cloth.  i didn’t want them to bleed until hit with water.

the background, which was a completely accidental tobacco gold (lots of yellow, a touch of red, a drop of blue, oops too much blue more red red red and loads more yellow straight out of the bottle and then watered down as much as i dared.  while it was still wet i sprinkled kosher rock salt on it to draw the dye

and here’s after being brushed with clear water.  first i did the scales, keeping inside the lines with the clear water, using brush after brush of clear water, enough to leave that black splotch of still-wet, pooled drip on the right hand side.

you can see the effect the salt had on the background, you can see the effect the water had on the blue crest.  the syrup breaks apart, the dye flows right out of the holes, and the most amazing things happen.

this is the next scarf, ready for dashing with water.  the blue has a touch of black in it, because you can’t make darks without black, unlike most any other type of color work, like oil and watercolor painting.  that’s because everything’s transparent, and instead of getting darker, the colors just get richer.

this is the scarf hit with water and after it dried.  it’ll look different again after it’s set and washed out.

this is the beginning of the third dragon.  this is all water-based gutta for the outlines, and sugar syrup for the scales, belly, and crest.

and this is what it looks like very close up.  you’re seeing a lens-artifact moire pattern on the scarf, that’s not what it looks like to my eye.  the sugar syrup turns the scarf clear, as does getting it wet.  if you dip the whole scarf into sugar syrup (diluted), for some interesting work, the whole thing dries like cellophane, and crackles and crinkles when you move it.  i love working with sugar syrup.

this is the first application of dye, first yellow, then magenta, then cyan, because silk dyes use the printer’s ink system of three colors plus black.  and with these you mix all colors.

i consider this third dragon scarf ruined before i get it off the board.  see, i left it on the glass pattern-guard until it dried, and then sone.  and when i took it off, i had to rip it up because it was glued down to the glass with sugar syrup as well as water-based gutta (some sort of algae), and didn’t come up without jerking it.

which, as you can see from this closeup, ripped the hell out of the fabric.  what you can’t see because of the moire effect is that each place where it ripped (see those dark spots in the bottom line of gutta, separating the white from the gold?) left not only the dark spots (holes), but ran perpendicular to the hole, as it would if you used any old sewing machine needle to stitch this silk.  runs.  so i can’t use it as a scarf, because it’ll continue to fall apart.

but i can use it in a quilted scarf, with, say a nice cotton on the back, and something warm in the middle, and quilted the hell all over the holes.

and who shall i give this present to, eh?  too bad my intended recipient doesn’t read my blog, because she would know she’s getting something special, all because of a mistake.

and this is what the ruined scarf, soon to be scarf, looks like after being drenched.  not bad.  the crest still needs water, tho, and i’m afraid i don’t have a picture.  but maybe you’ll get a look in the end, a few days from now when they’ve all been steamed.

and this is the first of the turtle scarves.  the turtles and shells are in water-based gutta, and the tracks and waves are in sugar syrup, and it’s all delicate browns and pinks and greens, and deep blues and greens and purples.  a lovely scarf, if somewhat awkward in its color shift.

so, more tomorrow.  i thought i’d update it.  jim’s been in bed and i need to go read our chapter.

my 1st encaustic 2


i kept adding blue. i mixed up some cobalt to go over all the ultramarine i’d already used. i was trying to build it up so i could make it drip later. or something. until after this point i hadn’t used any heat on my painting. it’s all been with paste wax so far.  the extra thick blue was the last thing i did before bed. i was kind of liking the scumbling effect.


next morning, i decided i needed more color on the face. so i put raw umber, and some of the caput mortum i had on the palette. but being morning and me being fresh and having thought about my work all night, i grabbed a hair dryer next thing, and hit those blue tendrils.


well that was cool. the blue, being fresh, meaning having a lot of turpentine in it, melted at a very low temperature and ran like crazy. gravity controlled the flow. there were funny air currents from the hair dryer, such that a backflow occurred that crept against the flow of wind.

i begin to see why people like encaustic. yesterday, when it was just wax paste and pigment on a brush or at best a palette knife, it felt more like working with crayons than serious art.

but with a hair dryer, or later rigged, a heat lamp, wax does what it’s supposed to do, and bubbles up and runs.

it also changes color. the white becomes translucent, and the yellow turns brown. i’m not even using a heat gun. but the damned heat lamp is very hot, and melts things almost instantly.

i don’t know how much to melt things. i don’t know when to melt or even if i should melt. it matters how long you let it sit before hitting it with heat, it matters if the turpentine has all evaporated. as with everything, the importnat variations are endless.

now that i’m heating it,tho, i’m a good deal happier with what i’m doing. it’s in the ugly stages, tho, and hard to live with. but i’ve painted enough to know that the ugly stage is fleeting if you keep working at it.


isn’t this cool? melted crayons are an entirely different animal than just crayons.


i added more yellow to the hands and scales and face and eyes. i added more red to the mane and neck. then i melted it, below.


then i put a coat of clear wax paste over the green and put it aside to see what happens when a thick coat of wax paste sets up.

i’ve found out that the longer you let the paste dry, the longer and hotter it takes the hair dryer in order for it to melt and move.

there are varying stages of move, as well, from rounding the lumps and streaks of wax from the brush, to making the lump bloom and sweel, to making it collapse into liquid and go streaming away from the site. after that it sizzles, and sometimes it gets dark.

i’m a lot happier with my progress once heat got into the picture.

i decided that i need to be working on several paintings at once so that i don’t hurry thru the drying and then frying stage with the heat lamp. so i dug thru my pictures and came up with a koi photograph that i painted when i first started painting in oils, back in 1999.

i’ll post that tomorrow.

my first encaustic painting

oopsie, i forgot to take this out of draft and publish it. it’s the first part of the first encaustic i’ve done. i started with a drawing of a dragon jim idid for another project, and traced it onto about 8×10 canvas glued onto a masonite board. very heavy.

first and a half stage

i’m using wax paste and pigment, put on with a brush. the dragon’s head is napthol red and indian red, the claws and scales are raw sienna and a little white. i’ve started turning the tendrils blue. the background is green oxide in the diluted wax paste.

second stage and three quarters

i’ve started putting white in. i repainted the background using green oxide and hansa yellow. at this point i’m beginning to feel the old frustration. i hate white. white makes everything look pasty.

i used a pallette knife to put white on the teeth, and to adjust where the teeth went. i was still accidently putting my wrist into the teeth several hours was still wet.

i’m wondering what kind of painting i’m doing. it doesn’t look real, even tho it looks dimensional already. maybe when i’m doing self portraits or still lives it’ll start looking real. i don’t do well with fantasy when i’m just learning a new medium. i do better being faithful to what it looks like.

i’m painting with wax right now. evidently you’re supposed to use heat when you do encaustic, but jim remembers being taught how to do encaustic cold, with solvents, and knows artists who went their entire careers doing encaustic paintings with cold wax.

so he mixed me up a jar of beeswax shavings and turpentine, and now i have a heavy gel that i’ve been mixing with my pigments and painting on with a brush.

something else that’s never done, not only am i not working with gloves and a respirator (they recommend fume hoods and glove boxes), but i’m working with little piles of pigment sitting out there on the pallette waiting to be mixed into the wax paste. i’m doing all the health standard no-nos, everything except smoking, eating, and drinking in the studio. and actually i’m doing one or more of those as well. but i haven’t dipped my paintbrush into my coffee yet. so there.

third and a half stage

i’ve started getting bold. i decided that just having a head hanging there in space wasn’t good enough when i could clearly see the ghostof a neck curving out into the picture, so i gathered up some of the ochre and umber, and some of the hansa yellow, and some of the naphtol red, and started putting it down thickly with the wax paste. this stuff really gets impasto.

i’m loving this. it’s like using crayons really heavily. i’m not seeing any translucency yet, but the colors blend well, and they get nice and deep.

i’m hoping to be able to make the tendrils a real deep blue that shines out, and have a lot of work to do getting the neck looking right.

fourth stage

tomorrow i need to dampen down the background some, need to reshape the claws, need to shape the mane of tendrils and the body behind it. the jaw needs resculpturing and the lip line needs to be brought down a bit on top.

the more i paint on here, the thicker it gets. the thicker the strokes i put on compared to how i started. like i get more sure and bold, or too enthusiastic and ruin things, depending on your viewpoint.

or is it a function of the paint layers and my impatience? when i worked at cafe tu-tu tango and had 4 hours to finish a 14×20 oil painting, i would have real trouble near the end getting the paint to show up against all the layers underneath. it got really goopy and the paint went on reluctantly unless it was way thicker than what i was putting it down into. it got kind of like that tonight, except that the layers, most of them, were dry to the touch when i went back into it.

being mixed with turpentine, which evaporates in a hurry, the wax can be brushed on in many different thicknesses, which will harden up as the turpentine evaporates out of it. so by tomorrow i expect even the thick stuff to feel like wax insted of mayonnaise.

jim is fixing to order some microcrystalline wax, because he thinks he’ll like the qualities it gives to beeswax. we’re going for a pound, and looking for the best price on 10 lbs of beeswax. we’re both getting into encaustic in a big way.

some of my silk scarves this year

every year i make a batch or two of scarves, with dyes on silk. they’re habotai scarves, 11×60, and i sell them around atlanta, and give them away as xmas presents.

i’ve been painting on silk since 2003, and my designs have gotten progressively more colorful. they’ve never been precise, i’m more interested in the happy accident and the leakage of color than i am with straight lines and other boundaries.

this year, to an unprecedented extent, my husband jim is designing most of my fall line (i almost need to put quotes around that). he started out several years ago designing a dragon scarf, and then a snake one, and then i had him do me a dragon for a kimono, and a stream and crane for another kimono, and now i’ve got him drawing fairies and toadstools, and fish and seaweed, and sea turtles in the ocean. and he’s just asked me to cut 4 more templates so he can do designs he hasn’t even thought up yet. (paisley)

i’m making the scarves in batches of four each design. i’m saving the templates. each set is more wonderful than the last. he’s drawn me some real works of art, and these will be my top of the line scarves.

he’ll help me with the wall hangings when i get around to making them.

so here are some of my new fall collection. i’m still in production; i bring the week’s output into my class on thursdays, and i’d like to enthuse about how i got some effect but they’re still grasping the basics so i’ll try to tone it down.

but how can you not be enthusiastic about designs like these?

these are this year’s dragon design. i use karo syrup resist for the scales and spines, and salt in the background.

this is fish floating around among seaweed fronds.

these are portraits of a pair of russian blues that i originally did as a present for my friend gretchen, their mom.

detail. they adopted a stuffed floppy dog to sleep on, showing the natural domination of species.

but wait. there’s more. i haven’t taken pictures yet but each one is more beautiful than the last.

Pair of matching silk wedding kimono


jim. makes anything look good.

work area

part of my vast sewing empire.

three silk kimono

3 kimono finally finished. it always takes twice as long.

dragon kimono

if it fits me, it will fit her.

dragon and water scarves

jim’s designs are so nice i started making scarves with them.

sudie, cavalier king charles spaniel

sudie is my little king charles spaniel.

tumbles, maltese

tumbles is my kid allison’s maltese.

smudge and schuyler, cats

smudge and schuyler don’t think i make a mess.

3 kimono

a good cast is best repeated.


by the way, i took some handmade paper and made wrapping paper she can iron out if she wants, and get framed.

pastel scarf and kimono dragons

the dragon in silk kimono, silk scarf, and pastel on paper.

scarf kimono

ensemble suggestion: use scarf as obi.

pastel scarf and kimono water

the stream and crane in pastel on paper, silk scarf, and silk kimono.

pastel water

crane and stream, pastel on paper.