Sunday, April 22, 2012

A bEARTHday wrap-up

This is my CED entry for this week, and a wrap-up of my bEARTHday. For years, I've been known by many of my friends as "Dr. E., Queen of Free." I think this is really appropriate, since my birthday and the biggest celebration of the Earth and on the Earth, are on the same day. The term "reuse, recycle, repurpose" was once considered a catch phrase for those "kooks" who wore Birkenstocks and hugged trees for a living. It took nearly 40 years for the idea to take hold and words like "compost" and "found objects" to become part of our vocabulary and daily lives (those of us who are not necessarily tree huggers, but who are eco-conscious and love to recycle). Here we are 42 years strong and I'm so proud to have been born on this day. I couldn't have picked a better day if it had been planned!

So I'll let you, my dear friends, followers, and first time visitors who may have come from CED, see how I celebrated this, my bEARTHday. So, put your altered books aside this week and have some fun with fabric.

I admit this post almost didn't happen, because I lost my internet last night and no amount of rebooting got it back. I feared it was a virus, especially after bragging to my friend Sally the first of last week, after she admitted she had yet another virus on her laptop, that I have no commercial virus protection on my computer. All I have is free stuff I downloaded years ago and they have served me well. But this time, it was clear I needed help. So, I called my internet provider, and after over an hour of various procedures and tests, learned it was the internet connection, and I was finally able to get back online. It was one of the best early birthday gifts I could have gotten.

Early this morning, I started by having coffee outside (not shown) along with some instant coffee, a leftover piece of torn fitted bed sheet, a plastic bag to cover my table, and a container of water.

I wet soaked the sheet, then

spread instant coffee granules over the fabric. The early morning made it hard to get a good shot, so I hung it on the

clothes line and allowed it to drip dry.

When completely dry (after my late birthday lunch), I scanned it and got this image. This fabric will need to be overdyed, I fear.

Before I went to lunch with my friend Sally, I took a walk through my front garden and noticed a rose bud had bloomed overnight. How perfect! Of course, it was so windy, the rose bud didn't want to stand still in its bed for a head shot.

So then it was on to the side yard, where a single iris was on its last leg (so to speak). I should use it for flower pounding, something I haven't done in two years, since I had no flowers bloom last year.

I've got a plethora of peonies blooming. I see three in this photo, and a bud that will be out tomorrow I suspect.

Then it was off to lunch with my friend Sally. My meal was free because it was my birthday, so I really enjoyed it! Queen of Free, remember? You can see I chowed down on two veggie egg foo young patties and fried rice. It may have looked like a mess, but I love egg foo young.

Sally was more diverse, enjoying both American and Chinese food that was on the buffet.

After we ate, we dropped by Ace Hardware, where I picked up some tomato, eggplant, and one bell pepper plant. I decided I would need to take a trip to the "feed and seed" store for seeds, since Ace's seeds were pre-packaged. That means I'll be out every day this coming week, going in different directions each day. Not exactly eco-friendly, but sometimes it is more economical to make two trips than to backtrack from one side of town to the other.

After I returned from my free birthday lunch and visit to Ace Hardware with Sally, I decided to rust some fabric (another bed sheet) that was badly stained when I bought it. I used vinegar, my rusty metal pieces, the stained sheet, and a plastic bag to hold it all together. Not shown are the plastic gloves I was wearing as protection from the rust, which can attack the hemoglobin in your blood.

I say this every time I rust fabric or paper: always wear gloves when handling anything rusty. Wear them when you wrap the fabric or paper in the rusty element, then wear them again when you remove the rusty elements from the fabric. Wear them until you have treated the fabric in baking soda water, or treated the paper with a spray sealer.

I laid out all the rusty parts and saturated the cloth with straight vinegar.

then wrapped everything tightly in the plastic bag. It will sit for several days, hopefully in full sun it is possible to get all day in my driveway.

And it turned out to be the PERFECT day, too, with the high in the mid-60s F (~19 C), as opposed to the forecast for this week, where our highs are expected to be in the mid 90s F (~34-35 C), which is starting to sound like our weather last spring.

I had to take a short breather after I put the vinegar away (I know! I'm anal). After watching a video, I proceeded to the back yard once again, thus time with more than vinegar! And what was ironic, this time the table was in complete shade, as can be seen by the shadowy outline of my house in the background.

Supplies I used for this were (from left) black fabric, rubber bands, 91% Isopropyl alcohol, red Staz-on reinker, plastic container, bleach, black fabric already wrapped to save time, plastic container, vinegar, and warm tap water.

I began by adding vinegar to the water, about 5 to 1 ratio (water to vinegar).

I then poured pure bleach in the first container. For some reason, I felt this bleach was old and I could use it full strength.

The fabric soaked into the bleach immediately, but I wanted it all covered, so used my finger to press the ball of fabric into the bleach.

After a few minutes, I could see the bleach had worked, but I couldn't see much difference in my fabric.

As it sat in the warm water and vinegar, the fabric began to take on a brownish color.

I allowed the first fabric to sit in the rinse water, while I tied the second swatch in a far less intricate design. I used the original bleach, and the fabric sucked it up, much like a sponge.

After the first fabric was well rinsed, I laid it in the cup I was going to use to color the fabric. Instead of first adding the alcohol, I started with the reinker. The fabric absorbed it far too quickly for me to do anything, except remove the rubber bands and watch it dry.

When it was completely rinsed and dry, the first swatch turned a pale grey in areas, and brown in others. Although the red was so intense in the cup, it was far less so when the fabric was dry. And I have NO idea when this fabric turned this pale, because it was still black when wet. I was a bit disappointed with the results, but I can always cut it into bits and use it as background or embellishments. Please be aware this is just the small part of the swatch that fit on the scanner.

All that was left, was to repeat the same process as before: allow the second fabric to accept the bleach, soak and rinse in vinegar water, then accept color. This time, as you can see, I added the alcohol and reinker before I put the fabric in the cup. I'm sure glad I did, because

even though this looks a bit pale in the scan, it is a gorgeous and symmetrical piece of awesome fabric. I intend to use this as a whole cloth. Not sure how, yet, but the spirit will move me. After all, to top it off, it's fabric that was not really good enough to be anything except recycled, repurposed, and reused, making it perfect for reducing unused fabric in my stash.

I hope you enjoyed your Earth Day and in some small way, also celebrated my bEARTHday, too. Thanks for stopping by. I am SO glad you visited! Next week, we will return to our altered books and show our examples we made from Lesson 6.

17 thoughtful remarks:

Helen said...

Happy Birthday to you! Sounds like you crammed a lot in.

Anonymous said...

Happy bearthday to you, E. Looks like fun was had by all and you got to eat a lot of good food and got to play with your material. Must have been fun.

XX Rachel XX

elle said...

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth. You are right, it is a gorgeous piece of fabric!

Currie Silver said...

Happy bEARTHday!! I really enJOY the way you walk through things. It's quite a gift to read you.

May this year BE an extraordinary one!!

Stephanie Mealor Corder said...

WOW that fabric turned out GORGEOUS- I wouldn't have the heart to cut it up either! Maybe we'll see it return as one of your amazing quilts? Whatever you do with it, I know it will be great! Happy bEARTHday again, my fellow Taurus!

Redanne said...

I really like the way the fabric turned out. Glad you had a happy birthday. Loving that George Street T-shirt.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful fabric! Wow, how did you learn to do all those fun techiniques?!

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Happy Birthday ~ lots of creativity expressed here ~thanks, namaste, ^_^

Jo Murray said...

Well, that was a very full day. Glad you have fun on your special day.

~*~Patty S said...

You sure know how to have fun on your bearthday AND every other day too dear Elizabeth!

You got into some great projects...always fun seeing your creative process and mostly always fab results too!

Happy Day after your birthday :)

~*~Patty S said...

oh and at the risk of sounding too "motherly" ... I would wear gloves anytime I play with bleach too ;)

sandee said...

You would be such an interesting friend to live next to, I would come over just to see what you were up to! lol I love the flowers coming up after the tornados, always a little surreal. I want to learn more about your flower pounding!! Now, back to my AB! waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

Sue from Oregon said...

A great day for sure!

Dianne said...

what a busy day...that second batch of fabric did turn out beautifully! you get so much done in a day, it makes me feel positively lazy! so glad you took photos of your day to share...

Terrie Purkey said...

Holy moly - you do it all! I'm always intrigued by your experiments with fabric dying - actually just your experiments in everything! I need to take a page from your book....

Happy belated birthday.

Halle said...

WOW! The last picture is awesome! Love the pattern created!! Fun experiment.

peggy aplSEEDS said...

belated happy bEARTHday, Elizabeth! yes, that is a great day to be born! thanks for sharing your experiments. i really really like how that last cloth turned out!!! and your birthday lunch sounds yummy!