Archive for the ‘Fabric Dyeing’ Category

Back on the Face of the Earth

Monday, December 13th, 2010


"Cave Series VII" (C) 2010 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

I know it’s been a while.  I have been busy with non-art stuff for a while and haven’t had much that really seemed worth writing about. 

I just completed the piece shown above.  It’s another piece in my cave series; all are based on the incredible images found on the cave walls of Altamira (Spain), Lascaux (France) and chauvet (France).  As much as I work with these images, they never cease to thrill me.  I have another piece on the boards, so it will be a lot less time before the next post!

Taming Dragons and Layering Screens

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I know I haven’t posted in ages.  I’ve been absorbed in revamping my garden.  I downsized my big pond to a smaller one that requires less upkeep.  It involved moving tons of flagstone in the summer heat.  I wasn’t really feeling too creative afterwards. 

I fished this dragonfly out of the pond and he seemed quite content to dry off on my fingertip:

My Pet Dragonfly

Here’s a shot of the new pond.  I dismantled the waterfall, but have water bubbling through this millstone:

New Pond (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart

Three of these cute green frogs moved in the new pond.  So far, my big frogs haven’t returned.  This guy likes to hide in my lotus plant:

Green Frog with a Personal Umbrella

Here’s a couple of shots of parts of my garden.  I have gone heavy on the grasses and shrubs because my Great Dane and other big mutt mow down anything much daintier:

Tiger Eye Sumac, Hibiscus and Grasses (C) Tracy McCabe Stewart

and here’s more grasses in front of my garden shed:

Garden Shed (C) Tracy McCabe Stewart

and a shot of my old pond:

Fish! (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart

and I did manage to put multiple layers of screening on my latest piece.  It combines both regular and metallic paints:

Screened Layers (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart

Here it is with hand dyed silk organza over it.  I like the look; a bit more subtle:

Layered Piece (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart

Vat Dyeing and Dramatic Toad Rescue

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Okay, the rescue wasn’t really all that dramatic.  I did a bit of vat dyeing today.  When I came down to the basement, I had some little toads staring at me through the window wells.  we’ve had rain of biblical proportions the past few weeks and these little guys got washed through the grates.  It seems to happen every time we have really heavy rains here.



I finally used a great silk screen that I made at a workshop with the fabulous  Barbara Schneider (I love her workshops!).  The effect was made by dribbling the design goop and letting it drip.  I love the effect.  Here it is on some hand dyed fabric.  I’ll be using this for my latest cave piece:

dribble screened vat dye

and here’s a scarf I screened vat dye on while I was at it:

vat dyed scarf

It’s all one screen, but different colors.

Another layer tomorrow!

Big in Japan-More Preparation

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Here are the scarves I started a few days ago.  I will bring them all to Japan and let my daughter choose the one that I give to my daughter’s host mother.  I posted about this yesterday here.

I thought the scarves needed another layer of vat dye, so I screened an indigo and grey mixture over them.  I got better haloes today, too.  I think this one below is my favorite.  There’s a real hot spot from my camera’s flash.  The color is much more even:

Procion MX and vat dyed scarf by Tracy McCabe Stewart

 Here’s the second scarf:

Tree screened scarf by Tracy McCabe Stewart

The final scarf turned out all right, but the new screeend flowers turned out really blurry.  It was all the same vat dye, so I don’t know what happened.  I like the look of it anyway:

Procion and Vat dyed Scarf by Tracy McCabe Stewart

Big in Japan-Trip Preparation

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

I am headed out for a 10 day trip to Japan this Wednesday.  My daughter has been finishing her last year of university in Kobe and staying with a host family there.  she has a minor in Asian studies. 

Big in Japan is a fun song from the 80’s by Alphaville.  It’s one of the worst music videos ever; complete with Robin Hood sort of outfits that don’t really have much to do with Japan, as far as I can see.  See it here.   We hum it around here because I am 6’2″ and going to the land of 5′ people.  I’m guessing I won’t exactly blend in. 

Right now, I am trying to get gifts together for Ashley’s host  family.  The Japanese have a somewhat complicated ritual of gift giving.  Here’s what I know:  gifts from/related to your geographical location are appreciated.  The presentation is really important, too.  I will wrap my presents in hand dyed fabric to try to make them extra special.  

I am from Chicago, so I am bringing them a book on Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.  I am also making a hand dyed scarf for my daughter’s host mother.   Apparently she wears very plain, dark clothing, so I am trying to do something pretty subdued.  I started by dyeing silk scarves blue grey and screened them with vat dye solution.  Here are the results form the vat dyeing.  They will probably get a layer of fabric paint before they are complete. 

Here’s a picture.  I am having a hard time getting the colors true because the silk is so reflective.  I barely got any haloing on these-too bad.  She wants plain, so I won’t add another design layer, but may screen some paint to make the effect more monochromatic.  

Hand Dyed Scarves by Tracy McCabe Stewart

A Bird in the Hand……..Reddish Egret Piece Completed

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Here’s the final piece of that reddish egret I’ve been working on:

Reddish Egret (C) 2010 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

“Reddish Egret”

(C)2010 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

Hand dyed silks and cottons, Shiva paintsticks, colored pencil.  Fused, machine quilted.

We are off to Cedarburg, WI for a weekend with our neighbors and to see the fabulous musician, Marcia Ball.  I already have another wading bird piece in the planning stages to begin when I return.

Have a great weekend!


Reddish Egret Progress Notes

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I have been working away at the head of my latest wading birds piece; this one based on a preening reddish egret.  I haven’t done any shading work to add depth to the head, but the feathers are placed:

Progress on Reddish Egret Piece by Tracy McCabe Stewart

The feathers are all hand dyed fabric, the beak commercial cottons.  On to the body next!

Starting a Reddish Egret Piece-Notes on Process

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I know I said I would post pictures of my last heron piece, but I don’t like the feet on one of them.  The scale is wrong.  Pictures will have to wait until I fix them.  In the meantime, I am starting a new piece of a preening red egret. 

I am concentrating on wading birds: herons, cranes and egrets for the whole of 2010.  Here’s the next one which is much smaller than the last one!

I decide on the basic positioning of the bird from a photo.  I used the picture as a reference to make sure I have proportions, general outline, and orientation of body parts correct, but pretty much wing it from there.  I usually don’t even make the same kind of bird.  I then freehand draw feather directions,  eye placement, etc.  Here’s my general drawing for this piece.  I think the head is a bit bulbous and the beak is too wide, but I can change the dimensions as I add the feathers:

(very) rough drawing for egret piece

Since I fuse my compositions, rather than piece, I make my general drawing of the bird directly on to batting.  From here I cut and iron on all of the hundreds of individual feathers directly on the batting. 

Here are the basic colors of the bird.  I hand dyed gradations of the colors and will further enhance colors with paintsticks or fabric paint later in the process.  Reddish egrets are a steel blue and rust color with a grey-black beak.  If I follow a triadic color scheme, my background will be a yellow-green or green or red.  None of those sound appealing to me.  I’ll audition fabrics when the bird is done.

hand dyed fabrics for egret piece

More to come as I progress the piece.

Rust Dyeing

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I am reducing prices on my work for the remainder of 2009-Read more here

I am featuring a piece of my work every day or so through the end of the year.  Here’s today’s piece:

"Crane Series I"  2008 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

"Crane Series I" 2008 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

“Crane Series I”


By Tracy McCabe Stewart


Hand dyed and commercial cottons, digitally created fabric.  Machine quilted.

2010 price: $600

2009 price: $450


Rust Dyeing


Last week  my work group, the Free Motions went up to Nina’s to do some rust dyeing.  Participants included Shelley Brucar, Nina Edelman, Leah Rosenthal, Cathy Mendola and myself  They needed to cure for a week to give the rust time to transfer to the fabric.  Here’s the results:

Rust dyed fabric

Rust dyed fabric

Nina had some fabulous rusty shapes to play with.  I’ll probably over dye them.  too much white for me.


Here’s another:

More rust dyeing on cotton

More rust dyeing on cotton


the rust transfer is nudged along by adding salt or vinegar to the fabric and keeping it wet.  I used both on these.  Lots of direct transfer, but not much bleed to the rest of the fabric.

More cotton:

Rust dyed cotton

Rust dyed cotton

and finally, some cotton velvet:

Rust dye on cotton velvet

Rust dye on cotton velvet

Progress on New Heron Piece

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

I have finished all of the feathers on my new herons and started shading and stitching.  Here’s how the head is going so far.  It will need more shading to make it look 3 dimensional and the eye needs some work, but in general, it’s good progress.  I’ve used some Shiva Paintsticks and colored pencils all over to get some dimension and iridescence.  I’ll post more as the stitching progresses.


"Herons II" (c) 2009 Tracy McCabe Stewart-In Progress

"Herons II" (c) 2009 Tracy McCabe Stewart-In Progress