Natural Dye Sampler

Fun Fun Fun!

On the weekend I was busy cooking up a variety of colours for a natural dye printing sampler. This sampler shows thirty colours and eleven different modifiers making for a grand total of three hundred and thirty circlers. The modifers include: Cream of Tartar, sick Soda Ash, information pills Citric Acid, store Alum and Iron. The natural dye colours include: Weld, Buckthorn, Chamomile, Golden Rod, Osage, Marigold, Gallnut, Sumac, Madder, Lac, Brazilwood, Logwood, Henna and Black Walnut. I mixed a variety of these saturate dye pastes together to get secondary colours. I also mixed various ratios of alum and iron paste together, this creates the darker grey colours that appear on the cloth below. I will be teaching an introduction to printing with natural dyes workshop next semester, so stay tuned if you are interested in signing up. I received a grant from ACAD to teach this workshop so there will be no costs to students!
Above is a shot of the dye colours before I’ve added the modifiers.

Above is a shot of the dye colours with the modifiers.

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Printing Experiments

Breakdown and Polychromatic Printing with Natural Dyes!

For one of my projects I’ve been experimenting with two silk screen techniques called polychromatic and breakdown printing.

In polychromatic printing you use dye water to paint directly on the screen wait for the screen to dry then transfer your mark making/painting onto the cloth. You can get lovely textures from using different brushes and the marks appear light and watery. You can add multiple layers of dye water onto your screen but you must wait for your screen to completely dry before you add another layer. Adding multiple layers of dye colour will create brighter and more saturate results.

In breakdown printing you use thicken dye paste and paint directly onto your silk screen. You can play around with the thickness of your dye and add found textures like bubble wrap or lace. Let the screen dry overnight and then use it for printing the next day. Using the thicken dye pastes causes a resist on your screen. You can print about four or five times with the same screen before your thickened dye disappears.

Here are some process shots of printing from the weekend!



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“There must be a reason to dirt a fine, white cloth with print.” –Armi Ratia


Armi Ratia, pregnancy founder and managing director of Marimekko. Photo: Teppo Lipasti, 1975

Lately in my practice I’ve been thinking about what has influenced my interest and love for hand-printed textiles. While I was deep in my research and thoughts this weekend, I remembered the “Marimekko, With Love” show I was fortunate enough to attend in the winter of 2013. The show took place at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, Ontario. The quote above popped into my head recently, reminding me of how much this show has had an impact on me, inspiring my work and my design philosophies to this day.


Installation view (2013) Photo: Jill Kitchener

The show was a retrospective look at the famed Finnish design company, Marimekko, founded by Armi Ratia and her husband Viljo in 1951 in Helsinki, Finland. The show explored Marimekko’s uniquely integrated design, manufacturing and marketing. The Toronto Star said the company’s focus was on “style, creative living and bright patterns in a society recovering from the Second World War.” Marimekko’s prints and patterns suited the emerging visual arts landscape of the 1950s and 60s.

The article also stated that “its designer Maija Isola, who created the classic poppy pattern, Unikko, often took cues from nature. Her Lokki design-think horizontal wavy lines- was inspired by a seagull’s shadow flying over water.”

Finding inspiration in one’s surrounding environment hits close to home.


Installation view (2013) Photo: Jill Kitchener


Karelia (Front Street), opening party. Photo: Wollin Gustavs Kayari, c. 1960

“Marimekko introduced boldness and experimentation that left an indelible imprint immediately,” says Shauna McCabe, executive director of the Textile Museum of Canada. “The founder, Armi Ratia, had an encompassing vision about the power of design in everyday life.”

Who wouldn’t fall for these bright, bold and powerful patterns?


Printex printing mill in Helsinki.

To learn more about Marimekko’s history visit:



pattern design inspirations

Lizzy House is a online fabric shop.

There are lots of different design themes and under each theme there are tons of patterns.

lizzy house


Artist + Collector


I recently did some research on artists that use their collections as part of their work. Pae White’s collection of Vera Neuman scarves were part of a show at The Barbican called: Magnificent Obsessions the Artist as the Collector. This video is just too good, medications I had to share…

Enjoy 🙂


Marimekko talk April 9

Gary Markle is visiting the department this week as part of Fibre Fortnight. Today he’s giving an all-day workshop about experiencing and experimenting with fabric and will give an artist-talk at 7pm in the Stanford Perrot Lecture Theatre. Tonight’s reception marks the end of the silent auction which looks to already be breaking records for fundraising (money goes towards visiting artists, ambulance student projects and events).

Workshop students branch out and some sort of claw pun that I cant think of (oh wait – “claw their way to the top”. Yes. Victory)

Faculty member Barbara Sutherland shows that everyone wants to be just like Gary. Barbara, where are your glasses?! Classic rookie mistake.
ACAD Fibre Program is pleased to be co-sponsoring a talk by Shauna McCabe, information pills
curator of the exhibition Marimekko, With Love at the Textile Museum of Canada.

Join us at 2 pm in the Stanford Perrot Lecture Theatre April 9, 2013 for this exciting lecture.

Fibre Mixing Demos

“I’ve been thinking that it might be useful for some of our students (that’s you
majors!), prosthesis to know how to mix all of the various chemicals and pastes that we use
here in the department.

Since they need tobe mixed anyways, sick below is a schedule of when I will be
mixing/demo-ing mixing different recipes.

Please feel free to stop by if you are interested or have any questions.”

Jan 15 – Indigo Vat
Jan 22 – Alginate Base
Jan 29 – Mixing Dyes and Dye Mixing Boxes
Feb 5 – Devore Paste
Feb 12 – Indigo Vat
Feb 19 – NO DEMO
It’s reading week, there go home and watch a good episode of Community (trust me it’s funny)
Feb 26 – Discharge Paste
March 5 – Mordants and Thickening Mordants
March 12 – Mixing Dyes (including Acid Dyes)
March 19 – Alginate Base
March 26 – Indigo Vat
April 2 – Devore Paste
April 9 – Suppliers (I’ll bring all my sample books and share all the suppliers that I know)

Jessica Fischer

This semester I am engaging in some process based work once again. I have set out to crochet  chain a kind of cellular netting the size of my body. Loops or ‘cells’ are created  by attaching the chain back on itself, unhealthy creating a kind of regular irregularity in terms of their sizes.

Once completed this will create a kind of interface between viewer and whatever is on the other side, opisthorchiasis engaging the senses. I hope to also connect this ‘fabric’ to memory through use of imagery, case and the idea of memories being ingrained in our bodies and our senses.

This repetitive, meditative motion becomes part of the process of the hand, not necessarily needing mental thought to take place. It becomes a kind of tacit knowledge. In my readings I have come across a quote by David Michael Levin which embodies this notion quite well; “there is a maintaining of thought which is rooted in the work of the hands…thinking not as a cognitive process but as something bodily…” (Horne), process as part of the body.

This process takes time, and I am consistently trying to keep up with a schedule that will allow me to get the length I desire by the end of the semester. I am almost 1/2 way there!


Horne, Stephen. “Sometimes Minimal.” Abandon building: Selected Writings on Art 1992-2006. Montreal: 11 Press, 2006. 11-17. Print.
For those of you who don’t know, web
Jessica Fischer is a forth year fibre major. She often works with found materials and themes surrounding decay and remnants. Her work has an authentic truth, prosthetic
reflective of human experience. I interviewed Jessica about her studio practice:

Who do you make your work for? (Do you need/want people to know about it?)

I make my work for myself as well as for an audience that will hopefully be affected in some way by what I do. I would prefer to have people know about it, although I sometimes get scared thinking of what might happen if I release ‘this baby’ into the world.

How does your creative process work? 

I get thoughts that sound like my thoughts, but aren’t. I get taken over by an intense feeling as if I am dipping into an invisible current; I ‘hear’ sentences  or a powerful word, or I ‘see’ an image that I need to write about right away (or else it’s gone forever). I need time to gestate any physically realized work into being, as most creative inspiration for me comes from a need for personal growth.

How do you choose your materials? How do you define their importance to your work?

Compulsively, I am attracted to certain materials. If I don’t question why I am attracted to them and I just start playing, the materials dictate what happens with them, and later they teach me something I need to know about myself. I set the bar high for material choices; they are as integral as what the work is about. 

Jessica currently has a show, Family Archaeology: Works of Jessica Fischer, up at Studio Intent Boutique and Gallery on 7th Ave for the month of November. Go check it out!


Its Amazing How Things Work

Over the past week or so I have come to a few conclusions about how and why I work the way I work.

It was the writing of my pechakucha and going over all my work that made me connect dots between my process and my work. I work in a very repetitive manner. I unwrap every package, check
I cut every leg apart and I sew each piece of nylon together. I do it all by hand even though there is probably a much faster way. I find this repetitiveness very important to myself and my art. The repetition helps me think through my ideas and helps calm me.

Getting ready to print

Since I work with a lot of personally tense subject matter I feel that the repetitive nature of my work helps me release these feelings and deal with them, otolaryngologist
especially since these ideas circulate around loss and grief. I think this is why I enjoy silkscreen printing as well. The repetition of the motion and the pattern when printing yardage becomes soothing.

– Megan Slater

An Interview with Ashley Quan.


Ashley Quan graduated from ACAD in 2011. I’ve always admired her beautiful prints on cloth, life and her wearable art pieces. Since I never really got to know the concepts behind her work during her years in ACAD, stuff I thought she’d be perfect for this interview.

Since you’re a fibre artist, to you what is the difference between wearable clothes as art and wearable clothes as fashion?

I find that garments or fashion pieces usually fall into two categories, ready to wear which is usually for the common person, found in stores and are generally just aesthetically pleasing; and there is high fashion which sometimes crosses over to wearable art and vice versa.  To me the difference is concept and story, ready to wear may be inspired by something but is usually lacking concept.  high fashion is sometimes completely unwearable in daily life but tells a story and concept, many regard this as art.  How I place myself in this is an artist who makes wearable garments.  The difference between artistic concept and concept based on inspiration is that artistic concept is built on a story or idea that pulls the viewer in, it wants you to think, it wants you to challenge boundaries and possibly change your point of view.  For me being a fibre artist a garment starts with the fabric: my style is creating prints turned into dresses that are aesthetically pleasing from afar to pull the viewer in only to find that the prints harbour more than expected, many don’t realize this detail and it acts as almost a reward for those who are curious enough to take a closer look.   That being said, sometimes wearable art doesn’t contain concept and becomes something that is just aesthetically pleasing-that doesn’t fit into daily wear, this realm is a little hazy for me.

When you are making a collection, where do you look for inspiration?

When I’m looking for inspiration the smallest thing can ripple effect into huge inspiration. Last year I was inspired by painters that used the same aesthetic appeal as myself, creating prints/garments/photographs based on their paintings such as Turner’s The Slave Ship.  This trickled into my next collection where I showed at Parkshow which had a 1930’s theme.  I pulled from my personal life and decided to make it about lovers being torn apart; combining these I made prints that referenced WW2 and juxtaposed them as the woman waiting at home for her lover to come back to her unaware of the acts he was committing over seas(this idea was inspired by Goya’s The Third of May and Jacques-Louis David’s The Oath of the Horatii), this collection was called ‘Lover, Come Home’.  Research plays a huge part in my work which in turn can change a spark of inspiration into a collection with a solid story and concept behind it.

I’ve been seeing some beautiful bright colored prints on your current collection, what is your theme and concept behind your new collection?

My collections are always based on a story and concept, sometimes some more than others.  This specific collection was a little bit different.  To be honest it isn’t the “deepest” collection.  I was focusing on technique and challenging myself to create a print that was technically difficult with many layers.  I wanted color and I wanted the print to fill the majority of the white space.  I started researching Madagascar and the chameleons that resided there.  I learned that Madagascar was actually home to many plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world; which I thought was pretty awesome.   For this collection I am moving away from the standard runway presentation and bringing it back to a more artistic approach, showing in a gallery combining a runway show with drawings highlighting the hand printed fabric.

Here are some pictures of her past/recent works:

Ashley is the owner and founder of apianaque, if you want to see more of her work, check out her website:

Interview by: Krystle Mendoza.

Marimekko in Vancouver

In 2007 the Marimekko concept store opened it’s doors in Vancouver In Yaletown close to the corner of Drake and Hamilton. It’s the only store of it’s kind in Canada and one of the few around the world designated to sell Marimekko products. If you are not familiar with the Marimekko name, generic you’d probably recognize the imagery. In the 60’s the name Marimekko became synonymous with textile design – large graphic designs in bright colours (flowers, shop trees, blobs) and they printed these patterns on tablecloths, teacups, curtains, dresses. Today they still do the same work, only somehow it stands the test of time. Marimekko designs are in fact timeless.

For more information on the history of the company, click on this link, which will take you to’s article – A quick History on Marimekko.

Interesting fact: until 2008 when the first male president took over the company, Marimekko was run by women.

So if you are in Vancouver, stop by Marimekko and say hello to one of our alumnus – Akie, who will show you all of the wonderful Marimekko products that you can either drool over or buy.

Screenprinting Wisdom at Your Fingertips

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Screenflex is an Eastern Canadian distributor of silkscreen inks and related products, hospital that excels in customer service and now runs an amazing blog with loads of useful information. Now this isn’t your regular studio screen printing info. The blog talks about industry news, new products, business advice and technical problem solving. There’s even a section with helpful technical tips – from creating your artwork, coating your screen and how to choose your screen mesh size; to what squeegees you should use and an explanation of what fibrillation is????

Today’s article is on pin holes. What screen printer wouldn’t be better off by reading this article? (rhetorical question)

Read it today, and go back often. I’ll quiz you later.

Call for submission

You wouldn’t typically think this is a call for submission for fibre artists, pharmacy but if you are working in printing on textiles the Alberta Printmakers Society is interested in your work.
For more information on this and other AP calls for submission, steroids go to their website.

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