Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Practice Random Acts of Drawing

What a saga this weekend was in the studio!  Who said that evolution was a slow process....I zipped from creation to ultimate destruction in almost no time at all!  Whatever I told you on Friday I was all excited about...well I have nothing to show for it, except a big hole in a piece of paper where I cut out the main element....my last attempt to salvage a lost experiment, which turned out to be its ultimate death. Although I can't be sure, because for the life of me, I can't even find that part I cut out, which is why all I can show you as proof of this whole endeavor is this:

At the point where I cut this out, I had already begun the destruction of the piece, because I'd determined the scale was all wrong, so I trimmed it at the top and bottom.  Even though I already knew it to be true that I'd trimmed it too close to the bottom of the "mysterious object", I showed it to John, whose first and only comment was, "it's trimmed too close to the bottom"....I knew that, but I was hoping it wasn't THAT obvious.  So then I thought, aha, rather than attaching some fancy fringe to the bottom (just joking!), I'll just cut this strange form that most closely resembles a chrysalis, and release it from this page altogether, which isn't working in the least and I'll give it a new life some other way. I did that and I swear that thing must have hatched and flown away, because I can't find it anywhere! Who knows and who cares where it is now...I've glad to be done with the thing. However, I must tell you that I'd spent a lot of time, sewing a gazillion soft lavender beads on that little form, along with the countless stitches and the pattern of punched holes.  Enough said....about that anyway.  Easy come, easy go, as they say.

So, the thing that I was most enamored with in that disappeared form is that it started out just as a plain sheet of Japanese paper dipped in beeswax. I had another nice little square of that in front of me on the desk....what would happen if I just crinkled that up, which I did immediately and to my delight found myself confronted with the most beautiful marks and I saw them right away as random acts of drawing.  I felt at home....I was back inside myself, speaking my own language....and I saw that with my failed experiment, I'd been trying make something sleek and elegant, but it never had that quality....but here right in front of me, were elegant marks made just by crumpling a piece of beeswaxed paper....so random, so beautiful....here's most of that sheet still intact below.  I envisioned using bits of the page here and there for collage and once again, my hands were quicker than my head...I began tearing it apart.

In the end, I went back to making the work I'd been making...a few Spring Meditation drawings and another Botanical (or is it some animal form?) Specimen.  Don't we always just come full circle!

Spring Meditation no.5

Spring Meditation no.6

Spring Meditation no.7

Botanical Specimen no.4
text reads: this or that or the other thing

I was inspired by the notion of practicing random acts of drawing to make a treasury with that in mind.
Here's a link to the treasury that is full of inspiring works...at least to me!!!

See you tomorrow...I encourage you to practice some random acts of drawing...or look for them...they are everywhere around you!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Evolving In Fits And Starts

Things in the studio are evolving...in fits and starts, to be sure.  After the little pseudo botanical specimens I showed you on Monday, I dreamed about them in the night and saw where they needed to go, which was very exciting.  But, the catch with that was that I began thinking about them and envisioning and secretly planning just how they might unfold....which for me ALWAYS backfires.  I thought I was keeping it all under wraps, but the muses....or whoever in the world is in charge of the action in the studio, knew I had a direction in mind and made sure it just didn't work.  That is, until I let go and saw where they were supposed to be going, but that only happened after I spent quite a bit of time bumbling around and making a mess of things.  What artist could ever get a big head...we are humbled and brought to our knees...daily.

Well, I took a photo of the newest work in progress, but somehow the camera malfunctioned (I know, I know, that sounds like a nice excuse!) and the photo didn't take, so you will just have to wait until Monday when the new piece (or pieces) should be finished anyway.  In the meantime, here's a real photo of the third piece from the group I started at the beginning of the week.  You'll see on Monday where this is leading....promise!

found text reads:
many jars
strange things

Do have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you on Monday!  Cheers!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Made By Hand: Velma Bolyard

pulling a sheet of paper

shifu and vellum artists' book

 "the mind that is not baffled is not employed. the impeded stream is the one that sings."   wendell berry

Some favorite links to share, as well as suggestions of other places to visit:

ian stevens (son) http://www.severaltincans.net 

There are many, many websites that are not blogs or are very personal and sporadic or are unrelated to fiber that i also look at, sandy webster, novie trump, melissa j craig, emily martin, nigel peake...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Words: A Found Found Poem

I don't know what it is, but all these bits and pieces of things I've made in years past keep jumping out at me. I found this little group of what were going to be book pages...little found text poems made many moons ago.  I have about six of these little pages and now I can't tell, nor can I remember, if they were meant to be read together as one long piece or individually.  So, let's try this one on for size....here's one out the group.

As for those new pieces I showed you on Monday....oh boy....I'm onto something...can't wait to tell you about it Friday and hopefully have something more to show!  Have a great evening...or day...depending on where you are and what time it is!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Walk Through The Universe: Red, week 4

I'm very excited...I have a treat in store for you with the last post on red!  I've had this artist in mind all month, as who could discuss the color red for four weeks without featuring the one and only Carolyn Saxby of Love Stitching Red!  Many of you may already know of Carolyn and her work, but if not, you're in for a treat....and if you haven't fallen in love with all things red by now....here's your chance!

I asked Carolyn a few questions that I thought might give us an insight into her life and love of making things by hand...with red!

How did you come to be such an aficionado, appreciator and interpreter of such beautiful reds?

My love of red began and developed more than 25 years ago when I came to decorate my home.  When first setting up home I didn’t have a lot to spend on decorations so I thought carefully about theme and colour.  I have always loved primitive homespun things and have always decorated my homes in a contemporary country style with a neutral backdrop of cream and white and I found myself drawn to red as an accent colour.  I now live in a whitewashed cottage that is 200 years old and my theme fits very well with the Cornish granite fireplace and tiled floors.  The white walls and cream furniture make the best of the light and space available and the touches of red are warm and cosy and homey.   I carefully stick to my theme so that my home doesn’t look cluttered so I always seek out objects that are cream, white and red.  I also love silver and tones of grey (pebble colours)

I chose red because, for me, red epitomises my favourite seasons of autumn and winter.  I love the warm russets and red browns of autumn leaves, berries, hips and haws, the festive reds of Christmas, winter berries, cranberries and holly and valentine’s day … red hearts … well red hearts all year round

Reds please me so much.  They make me feel happy.

I tend to go for “berry” tones of red rather than a primary red.  I favour raspberry red, cranberry, burgundy, claret through to dark blackberry and elderberry, as well as autumn reds … the colours of rosehips, haws and winter berries.  Red hearts and berry garlands are a recurring theme throughout my cottage.

As a textile artist, nothing pleases me more than to stitch with red threads on white cotton, linen or silk and make homespun things for my home.  I love red work (red stitching on white) and also white work (white on white).  I also love to indulge my passion for pebbles so I stitch a lot of greys and grey blues with silver and white.

Recently my work for the Brooklyn Sketchbook Project was all RED:

And the pieces in my erosion bundle are cream and red because at the end of the day I wanted eroded pieces that would fit my theme:  http://love-stitching-red.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-year-new-bundle.html

However, as you will see from my blogs and flickr, I do work with all colours because I make things for other people to enjoy … so I also stitch a lot with seaside colours of blues, greens and yellows.

Where do you find your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration always comes from nature.  I enjoy country walks and take myself off for a nature walk with my camera most days.  I seek pinky red leaves and buds and berries and try to photograph with a neutral background of a plain sky or twiggy branches.  My least favourite colour is green so I try to crop as much green as I can.  I favour winter skies and trees with bare branches and autumn leaves rather than spring or summer greens

After a while I notice red in everything … red seaweed, shells with touches of pink, red fishing boats in St. Ives harbour, red peeling paintwork and rust

You could say I am a little passionate about red!

Do you do any hand dyeing and if so how does that work itself into the pieces you make?

Yes, I have been experimenting with natural plant dyes for the last few years especially with unmordanted fabrics firstly to see what natural colours can be fetched from plants that are local to me and more recently honing my own dyeing recipes for strength and variation of colour.  Most recent experiments have been with plant dyes and rust tie dyed.  I discovered the rust sometimes acts as an accelerant and I’ve had some interesting results.  I also enjoy dyeing synthetic materials, fabrics buttons and threads with procion dyes.

I use my hand dyed fabrics, buttons and threads in my work and from 1st April 2011 I will be offering some of my hand dyed pieces for sale in textile packs together with some of my heated, melted and bonded fabrics and some of my finished artwork.  I shall be opening an online shop (details to be announced nearer the time).

Any words of wisdom to share?

To have fun!

Just to be as playful as you can with your artwork.  To have fun and never be afraid to try something new.  Always carry a camera or a sketchbook with you to capture things that catch your eye and try to take a few minutes longer looking a little more closely at things.  Also, you don’t necessarily need a fancy camera but taking time to practice a little with the features/settings that your camera has will be time well spent for achieving different looks and taking photos a little closer (macro).  I also carry a plastic bag and a book everywhere I go.  The book is for pressing interesting leaves or flower faces and the bag for gathering …  acorns, berries, shells, pebbles, seaweed etc. which I use in my work or stick in my little art journals.


I was going to select a few more photos from Carolyn's flickr site, but I couldn't even begin to choose...so many wonderful possibilities.  I encourage you to follow up on the links to her many blogs and flickr photos.  The last one is full of images of pieces in beautiful soft pinky reds!  You all are going to be busy looking at all the beautiful work Carolyn has to share...I'm heading over to flickr now!  


Monday, February 21, 2011

The Path From Elegance

Had one of those days in the studio when things just aren't in sync.  I think I'm still "trying" to figure out the little square pieces...still trying to look through the mist to what they look like, but can't make them out. I think they are objects...perhaps little books, but I'm not sure.  I've also been working on a scroll and have added more and more layers of drawing on the teabag covered Japanese paper and I fear it just keeps getting worse instead of better.  I think I've veered quite far from my goal of elegance and wandered over to the land of clumsy...in fact, I have a feeling I'm wading knee deep in "clumsy".... so late this afternoon I started two new sheets of paper and began to play in a different way....trying to pull myself back toward the spare and elegant.  Again the photographs are quite appalling, because it's dark and I have only the fluorescent lights...of course, if I knew more about how to use my camera, I'd have something better to show you...but here's a couple of shots of these strange pieces.  I'm not sure quite what to make of them.
text reads: Sometimes I will pretend

text reads: Is there more of this same

Still trying to decode these things...makes me think of herbariums (is that what you call them?), seeds, found text and I don't know what else.  These drawing bits float in the middle of the page on paper dipped in beeswax that is about 8 x 10"....I'll be interested to see how these appear to me tomorrow! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring Arrives in the Studio

Spring has definitely arrived in my studio, even if it's a month away on the calendar!  I know because the spring meditation drawings have begun....and I know they belong to the spring because there is color!
I made a new friend this week, in the form of a new art material that is brand new to me...what can I say, except, "water soluble crayons, where have you been all my life?!"  They've been tucked away in the drawers in Johntimothy's studio and I've always been free to use them, as he often does, but I was just never moved to do so.  I'm not sure what spurred me into action to go in there and dig them out, but I think I must have seen some lovely little drawing in my etsy searches that was made with water soluble crayons.  We're great pals now...those crayons and me! Pardon the bad photography of these spring meditations....

But, here's a much better shot of Spring Meditation no.1, which you can find here in my shop...

I actually started playing with the water soluble crayons on the little square pieces and that's where I first fell in love with them....

I can't tell you how much fun I'm having playing with these little pieces...maybe you can tell, though.  I'm still not quite sure where they are going....I'll know it when I see it....I have inklings, like when you're lost in a dream and you can't quite see something, but only make out a vague impression.  I think they are little book covers of some sort....I won't say more, because I just don't know.  I'm just given enough to keep moving forward, so that's what I'll do.  I'm ready for a bit of a break and will look forward to a little outing to see an exhibtion tomorrow!  Have a fine weekend and we'll see you Monday! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Made By Hand: Robyn Gordon

"My relationship between art and life is very intense. It is the process of living and creating that moves me. I approach my sculptures and paintings with the intent of having fun, splashing, scraping, pushing, pulling, dripping, wiping and carving my way into a state of animation. Intuition and my visual sensibilities click in; then the dialogue begins".  -  Antonius Roberts

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Words: Proust and Yoga

It does seem an odd combination...Proust paired with yoga....but there are times when I'm reading Proust that it feels like the practice of breathing during yoga....long, even breath in, long even breath out...lungs filling, oxygen and fresh air pouring into being.  Engaging with those long meandering sentences, with their lovely cadence, is like stretching into a pose, relaxing into it and holding until the end finally comes and astonishment washes over...the connection with being one with everything.  I'm very much a yoga novice, and a Proust novice for that matter, but for me these parallels are quite real.  This language is like a nourishing breath to me.

Here is a famous Proustian moment...he talks about how it is the taste of the madeleine brings a flood of childhood memories washing over him...

"The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the interval, without tasting them, on the trays of pastry-cooks' windows, that their images had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the forms of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness. But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection."

"The vast structure of recollection"....such a wonderful journey to arrive there....at the end of that very sentence.  Such language requires slowness, breathing and savoring the endless moment.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Walk Through The Universe: Red, week 3

Another week of to think about something else that's red....Malus domestica of the family Rosaceae...the apple!!  I've just found out that there are 7,500 cultivars of the apple, that it originated in western Asia and the Alma, its wild ancestor, still thrives there today.  A quick place to start for information of all kinds on the apple, including it's place in cultural history, can be found here.  I was curious about how many types of apples there are and was astonished to learn it ran way into the thousands and at the site All About Apples you can find an exhaustive list of all the varieties of edible apples and crabapples that are available currently in the United States...it doesn't run to 7,500, but it must number in the hundreds.  I was going to count, but the prospect just seemed too daunting....you're welcome to do and let me know what you find out!

I did happen to notice on that site a recipe for Bourbon Apple Pie, which I've bookmarked...I'm sure that will appeal to the other half of this dynamic duo!  Snooping around on the site, I found another fascinating section here under the Resources tab...the art created for advertising on apple crates.  Those beautiful labels were originally round and placed on barrels, but eventually the containters became the rectangular crates we recognize and so did the labels. I had no idea that these labels were ever done the "old fashioned" way...through stone lithography...a little section of the description:

"Originally, European immigrants combined their printing skills with local concepts to create art unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Bavarian limestones were imported to provide a surface upon which the original label art would be etched. Costly inks were used in a time consuming process done completely by hand. This "Stone Lithograph" process is seldom seen today in any art form. Over time more modern processes replaced this artistically demanding effort."

They're right about that one...stone lithography, very labor intensive, is a process seldom seen today...relegated to a few print programs in higher education, some fine art printmaking establishments and a limited number of individual artists.  My husband teaches lithography at USD, but programs that teach it at the university level are dwindling year by year, I believe. Hope you'll check out the gallery of apple crate labels on All About Apples...couldn't seem to get any images to share here. Meanwhile....the apple is featured in a number of intriguing art works below...links provided to the artist's shop on etsy.

See you fine folks tomorrow!  If you have a chance to eat a really good apple these days...enjoy it!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Abandon of Play

A Happy Valentine's Day to all of you gentle readers...warm wishes and hearty thanks for your love and support!  I'm here with another surprise from my past....and this one brought me to a standstill, so to speak.

"Look at that!" I said out loud to no one in particular in the midst of a most bittersweet moment alone in the studio. A friend from town had come over during the week to look at my work and we had moved all kinds of things around, picking work up, putting it down. She leafed through a little pile of handmade books I had on a shelf, some of which I'd made over the years, others by fellow artists. As I went to straighten things up the other day, I laid my hand on a crazy looking book, each page covered in beeswax...it was wild with abandon, drawing everywhere, patches of color laid down willy-nilly, and with each page translucent, including both folded covers, I could see through the layers to pages underneath.

I fell in love with that crazy little book I made years ago and it felt just like seeing myself in a home movie, playing and cavorting without a care in the world, the silence of the intervening years a witness to the inch by inch closing down of that person who really knew how to play in the studio. I didn't make that book as a child, but I probably made it at least 6 or 8 years ago, around the time of those last pieces I unearthed. What happened....what got lost?

Of course, I knew the answer and here's what's happened. For decades after I finished school, I worked in the library at the art school I had attended...not knowing at the beginning that I would be there for 25 years. I kept thinking it would be until I figured out what else I wanted to do, but I was able to support myself in a job that fed my artistic spirit, surrounded by a community of artists, as I cataloged art books day after day. It was a long time before I realized that the job was allowing me to do something very important with my own work in the studio...play. We go through art school thinking that what we must want to do is make art and have it in galleries where people will buy it...that this is somehow the ultimate goal, knowing that if you are very fortunate, you can make a living off your work. I realized at some point during my tenure at Ringling College of Art and Design, that making a living from your work meant that you were under a certain pressure from the marketplace. I was free from that and although I showed my work in countless juried exhibitions over the years, there was never any pressure to do anything that didn't come naturally to me. Even that, understanding what comes naturally to you, takes a very long time to develop.  

I don't work at that little dream job any longer...I left it when we moved to South Dakota.  I made some trade-offs.  I traded the security of a job that supported me financially and artistically, for all the time in the world to be in the studio....but I am subject now entirely to the marketplace in order to have any kind of income. For many years I said that I would keep making art, whether anyone ever saw it or not...that was kind of a test for me, whether you really had it in you....would you continue to make the work even if you didn't have the accolades, the encouragement and the pats on the back. I know that I will continue to make art, but it's different now...in some ways, my art making experience is much, much richer, because of the online relationships I've developed and that continue to grow.  On the other hand, the lesson I must continue to work on....is letting myself play...because that's the only way I can make the work that is unique to me.  And the next lesson is for me to trust the universe that the work will sell....I am very much involved in the marketplace and my life now is all about that balance.

I love random marks, surprise, layering, surface, chaos and a fair amount of disorder when making the  work...I love it when things are not what they seem, because that's the lesson of life....look closely, there is always more and it's not always what you think.  Cheers!!!  

This little book is called Transluscent Days (named this very day!) and will appear in my shop in the next day or two.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Meeting Up With The Maker That Is Me

It's rather late in the day to be posting, but this day somehow got away from me, and I realized I'd better get back on task!  I've been on task, but several different ones and I'm rather excited to be getting to this new work to see what will happen.  What in the world is she talking about, you ask?

I'm talking what might happen with each of these seventy little 3" x 3" pieces of painted paper.  They had started out as thirty-five 3" x 6" pieces of paper that were going to be used for the collaboration with Johntimothy back in the late summer.  I'm quite sure they weren't meant for that life, because I think they were meant for this...not that I'm sure what "this" is quite yet, but it's in the beginning stages.  I've been mulling over these pieces for some time in their unsuccessful and unfinished state and had, after tearing each one in half, started painting over them slowly but surely, but it wasn't until this afternoon that things began to flow. I was sitting in the studio, a bit befuddled as to what was supposed to be happening, only sure of the fact that I was feeling this way because I was facing something new....the work was about to shift and change and it just hadn't quite gotten into gear yet.  I was slow to recognize the signs that a change was about to occur....now I know...when nothing quite feels right, or when I work on something and it feels as if I'm repeating myself.  That's a sign...because I've come to a point where I AM repeating myself and I must sit back and wait for the new thing to be ready. Frustrating as that is....you all know the control vs. letting go battle that goes on in the studio on a regular basis...I figured I'd just bumble along, making a lot of rejects until things clicked.  Then I looked over and saw, tucked away on the shelf on my desk between some books, a few folded pages made perhaps a decade ago...pages like this...

It was like looking in the mirror...I'd been looking at the work of other artists so intently, being inspired and envious of the work of all the wonderful artists I continue to meet on a daily basis on my travels through cyberspace, that it was a moment of delight to meet the maker I was many years ago and to recognize the "handwriting" as my own...not so different from the maker that is me today.  These are the infant meditation drawings.  There were three or four of these little pages and before I knew it I was making marks on them...the one below has some drawing added from today.  It was sort of like hugging an old friend...I just had to touch them.  I got reacquainted with myself and went straightaway to those little 3 x 3" squares and painted them in wild abandon...and in color....lots of colors...letting it mix together on the paper.   Who knows where they go from here....I think those 70 little pieces of paper probably do know, but they aren't telling me...not just yet.


Oh, and I learned the name of that piece with the trees....it was a page from The Absence Tales and it's now listed in my shop.  Hope you all have a good weekend!  We have been given tickets to the Sioux City Symphony for tomorrow night and we're going to have a lovely dinner out first!  A real date...very exciting!  See you Monday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Made By Hand: Fiona Dempster

Peace is every step
(Thich Nhat Hanh)

Ancora Imparo

Two concise and simple statements. Only six words, yet they help chart my path as an artist and as a person. 

I am guided by the approach of Buddhist monk, scholar and poet Thich Nhat Hanh, who lives a philosophy of mindfulness and walking meditation, encouraging us to consider a peaceful way of being in the world with each and every step that we take.

I try to reflect a sense of peace in my work and believe that by reflecting and sharing peace in beautiful ways, we can create calm and peace in our lives.

I am still learning. Attributed to Michelangelo this quote also guides me in my life and in my art as I continue to seek knowledge, to learn new things, to reflect on interactions and to gather new perceptions, and become more self-aware.

I love that life continues to be an adventure in which we are exposed to new thoughts and understandings; fresh approaches are revealed; creative experiences are shared; alternative paths are explored; and that all along the way I am still learning.

Fiona Dempster

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday Words

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Franz Kafka

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Walk Through The Universe: Red, week 2

Pomegranates...hmmm....no.  Cranberries.....hmmmm, no that's not it either.  Red, all things red...what about that insect I'd read about, that they grind up by the thousands to get a red pigment....let's investigate cochineal!   And what an interesting walk I took yesterday! I started out with a Google search and quick scan of information on wikipedia, which you can find here and then went on over to Etsy where I met Kim, a charming traditional dyer in Columbus, Ohio, via her shop, Loch Lomond Studio.  She creates beautifully dyed fibers in a vast array of colors, any of which you can find here.  My initial search for cochineal on etsy revealed a good many hits, but the fibers from Loch Lomond Studio seemed particularly interesting with colors that ranged from deep, rich red to an ethereal lavender-like hue.  Kim agreed to answer my questions on short notice and generously provided a great amount of fascinating information!

Your shop description mentions both tradition and modern dyeing, and that you will be moving toward just working with traditional techniques. What are the differences?

Traditional dyeing is how all dyeing was done for thousands of years prior to the Industrial Revolution, specifically 1856. 1856 was when modern synthetic dyes were invented by Henry Perkins. I use the terms "traditional" and "modern" to separate the two. The more common terms are "Natural" and "Chemical" or "Synthetic", I feel these terms have been over used and abused, even though they are accurate . I'm more personally more comfortable with the terms "Traditional"  and "Modern". Traditional dye techniques use plants and insects (such as Cochineal) and metal salt fixatives (or mordants). All the materials used occur in nature. Some of the dye stuffs have been used for 5000 years; most for at least 3000 years. All modern dyes are synthesized from coal tar and petro-chemicals. They've been around less than 200 years. Most dyeing done today is done with modern dyes. I find doing traditional dyeing more fascinating from an artistic, anthropological, historic, and scientific stand point.

I'm amazed at the different colors of the yarns dyed with cochineal and what accounts for the wide range that goes from pink to purple (all things being relative!). It must be more than the yarn and the strength of the dye....can you elaborate?

The range of colors that you can achieve with traditional dye material is one of  the things that infatuate me with the process. My favorite dye materials are the ones that produce a wide range of color. Cochineal is one of those dyes.  Depending on what metals are used is one of the ways you can achieve  different colors. To get  American Beauty Red,  alum is used; for scarlet,  tin; purples copper and iron. You can also get purples with  chrome, but I wouldn't advise doing it. Chrome is highly toxic. By combining the mordants you can achieve more colors. Example: If you do a Scarlet Red with tin then do an after bath of iron you get a deep crimson.  Deep colors, stronger concentrations of cochineal are used, for lighter colors less concentrations or exhaust baths. I always exhaust my baths. It's more economical and safer.  It also depends on the Ph of the dye solution, acid more red, alkaline more blue. Different fiber also take the dye differently, I'm going to start working with other fiber and fabric. This dye season I've purchased a semi-wild variety, so I'm curious what colors I'll be able to achieve, it seems this type of cochineal goes more towards the purples. We'll see.....

You also mentioned in your announcement the price of cochineal is skyrocketing...what's happening in the cochineal market and why?!

Prices have gone up six fold!! The cochineal market is volatile. Seems like it always has been. It's a supply problem. Apparently the carminic acid (this is what gives cochineal it's red color) manufactures were keeping the prices depressed, so the small farmers stopped producing.  Cochineal supplies have been cut by half. Hopefully supplies will recover by 2012-2013. Also the harvest was late due to rains.

How did you go from painting to fiber arts and dyeing and also do you make your own artworks with dyed material? 

Children. I stopped painting when I had my children. I was an oil painter and I didn't use the safest of paints. Also with fiber arts I could stop in mid project and deal the many demands that come with Motherhood. I started dying with modern dyes, then moved into Traditional dying when they got older. Although, I always wanted to make my own colors from scratch, even when I painted. What I'm planning to do in the near future is surface design using traditional material and methods..... with a twist.

Visit Kim's shop to see many more colors made with the cochineal dye, along with a great number of other beautiful colors!