Recently I went on an artist’s retreat to the Ozark mountains in northwest Arkansas. It was a great time with other artists all doing our art side by side. At this retreat, there was a printmaker, a metal jewelry designer, a fiber artist, a painter, and a draftsman. I learned many things, just working alongside these other artists, and being part of this community.
The fiber artist, Caroline Day, was doing some ice dyeing, and I had the opportunity to watch and learn. I had purchased some raw cotton material to dye in this new method, and I ended up making the fabric into eight napkins for my table.
The method of ice dying was easy and fun, and I can’t wait to show my students in the fall. I love the look, it turned out vibrant and beautiful and like a watercolor painting, completely different from my experience tie-dyeing.
Here I am with some amazing artists on a mountain in Arkansas!
I am not an expert on ice dying, but I loved the process and will be doing this method again.
Mix soda ash, 2 cups per gallon of hot water, and let the pre-washed fabric soak for 10 to 15 minutes. After that time, pull out the fabric and squeeze out the excess water. You may want to wear rubber gloves for that step.
Set up the dying center. Caroline had trays to catch the dripping and a grate to hold the fabric up while it was dying. You can see that set up in this photo.
Scrunch the fabric to lay it on the grate and begin piling it with ice. Caroline told me it was best when the ice is a little melty, so it sticks to the fabric. After the ice is covering all of the fabric, you sprinkle up to two tablespoons of dry powdered dyes. As the ice melts, it slowly transfers to the fabric.
I love this method because you cannot control the dye. You never know what you are going to get.
We let the ice melt and the fabric sit overnight and then hung it up on a makeshift clothesline to see the vibrant colors.
The last step is to rinse your fabric. You should rinse your fabric in cold water until it runs clean, then warm water until the water runs clean, and finally hot water until the water runs clean. After that rinsing process, I put my pieces in the washing machine by themselves before cutting them up to make napkins.
Here are my finished napkins ready for my next dinner party!
Oh….. relaxing summer! I know people joke about teachers having their summers “off” but when you look at all the doctor’s appointments I have failed to schedule during the year, the workshops, conferences, continuing education classes to take to remain certified, summer school to teach for that little bit of extra money, and vacation bible school to help with at church teachers, teachers rarely have the summer off. This summer is my first one in I don’t know how long (five years?) that I don’t have a long list of things to do.
I’m in recovery!
Since finishing my doctorate in April, I have heard many people ask what I intend to do this summer, trying to help fill my time with activities. It has been hard to have firm boundaries and to pick and choose their seemingly good-intentioned advances. I had to say no to so many things while I was in grad school and especially last year as I worked on my dissertation, that I want to be normal again and go and do everything. I called last year the season of sacrifice, so if that is true, this season of fun activities will be the season of plenty.
Plenty of rest, plenty of food, plenty of sun, and plenty of books. I still love books, (I thought grad school would have killed that love of reading with all those journal articles) and now I get to read for pleasure. I have unlocked the joys of storytelling in fictional books.
With all that said, here are a couple of books I recommend…
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
The Chaperone is a story of a woman who accompanies a young dancer to New York from their hometown of Wichita, KS. The girl’s journey is fantastic, but the story is really about what happens to the Chaperone while in New York and how that changes her life.
When I was looking for an image of this book cover, I discovered that PBS Studios made it into a movie that came out March of 2019. The movie stars Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) and Haley Lu Richardson.
Here is the trailer for the movie:
The next book is the very popular:
Educated, a Memoir by Tara Westover
Educated seems to be on everyone’s list for a summer read, so it was hard to get my hands on. I was waiting for the audiobook from my local library for over a month when my friend sent the actual book as a graduation present. I went back and forth, listening to the book in my car and reading the book on my nightstand. The story is a memoir, so it follows the remembrances of the author, Tara in her life journey of not going to school being raised by their survivalist Mormon parents in Idaho to going to BYU and eventually getting her Ph.D. from Trinity College at Cambridge. According to her website, she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University in 2010.
Here is Tara Westover on Ellen talking about her memoir.
Enjoy your summer reading!
I teach Art Education at Pittsburg State University. Here is what is going on in my classes.