Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Making Natural Dyes

Our segment on textile art and design has been a lot of fun. For many years I have been transforming silk and other fabrics to create my Verona Collections designs. On various occasions I have explored the use of natural dyes, but primarily I use reactive dyes. The dyes I use are synthetic, but non-toxic; however, I wanted to further explore the use of natural materials for dying.

Natural dyes can be derived from plants, fruits, insects and other sources in nature. For centuries cultures around the world have perfected natural dying techniques. I researched this further and found countless books on the topic and will continue to explore this topic further as I expand and transform my own work.

On Wednesday, September 21, 2011 on Crafted Spaces Radio I shared how to prepare a natural dye bath and other tips for dying. Here are some images and further instructions.

Freshly picked Goldenrod

Start the process by separating the flowers from the rest of the plant parts and use as much of the yellow as possible. If you choose to include everything, this will influence the colour.

Place the flowers into a large stainless steel pot (thrift store find) covering with water reaching 2/3 of the pot or approximately 9 cups of water. You can also place plant material into a pantyhose (white) or wrap in cheese cloth. Please keep in mind that the material you chose to wrap with may also influence the colour of your dye bath.

Simmer for an hour and leave overnight in the pot.

Strain away the flowers from the liquid and there is the dye bath (right). It has an amber tint. You may discard remaining flowers.

Measure out eight cups of die bath and place into stainless steel pot.
(option 1) Add a 1/2 cup of table salt to the dye bath and stir.
(option 2) Prepare a fixative solution of 1/2 cup salt and 8 cup water. You will then place your damp fabric into this solution and boil for an hour. Then rinse your fabric and place into your unsalted dye bath. 

Place your damp fabric into dye bath and simmer for 1 hour. You can leave it soaking in dye bath overnight depending on the depth of colour your desire. To create a tie dye effect, twist your fabric and used a rubber band to secure. You can also place your fabric untwisted into the dye bath for complete coverage of fabric.

Silk Before

Silk After

 When finished, remove from the dye bath and rinse in cold water until water runs clear. Hang to dry and iron as needed.

Finished Project!

The final result is more muted than I anticipated, I twisted my fabric which significantly impacted the results. If the fabric was untwisted more colour would have penetrated the fabric; however, I wanted to see what type of tie dye effect I was going to get. Next time I will try using a mordant such as alum and compare the results. I hope that you enjoyed this project and for more details visit Crafted Spaces Radio for the episode that accompany this project.

It is recommended to use pots and other utensils that are dedicated to your dying projects. Do not use items that are also used for cooking or will otherwise come in contact with your food. I also suggest that prior to using any natural or other dyes, that you confirm the possible harmful nature of what you are using. Work in a well ventilated space and wear gloves as an added safe guard. There are lots of great resources available on this topic, so take the time to visit your local library or do some research on the internet. Have fun!

Some books on the topic include:

Wild Colour by Jenny Dean
The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing by Eva Lambert
Natural Dyes by Linda Rudkin
Harvesting Color: Making Your Own Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess
Eco Colour by India Flint

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: Simplicity Fabric Guide

Today's book review is focused on the Simplicity Fabric Guide: The Ultimate Fiber Resource, which was released this pass July 2011. I do have to say that I am really impressed by this book. I have wanted such a book for a long time and I'm happy to add it to the library of resources here at the studio.

Featuring over 500 photos, this book presents a brief history of fabric, provides information about different types of fibers, includes a handy testing chart and presents a catalogue of fabric types with helpful tips on how to work with each fabric. You also get a guide for linings, interfacings and stabilizers. I also find the "Estimating Yardages" and "Fabric Width Conversion Chart" a very helpful tool. There is even a guide on needles, a stain removal chart and a chapter on threads.

This is a great book for both the beginner or seasoned sewer or crafter. There are lots of other reviews available on this book and countless sources for purchasing one. I have included a link to Simplicity at the beginning of this post. I will also like to hear your thoughts on this book and any other books you will like to recommend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Silkscreening Art and Design

I was honoured to have guest Kingi Carpenter, designer and owner of Peach Berserk on yesterday's episode of Crafted Spaces Radio. Kingi joined us as part of our new segment on textile art and design. We had an amazing discussion on silkscreening, and Kingi shared with us her love and expertise on this wonderful design technique.

Kingi's designs are fun and bursting with energy and colour. Her store is a must visit whenever you are in Toronto. She has over 200 original prints in her collection and there is always something new. I have been a long time admirer of Kingi Carpenter's work and the half hour show was way too short a time period for all the questions I had. We also had questions from our chat room, which I hope we successfully addressed.

If you have not had a chance to listen to our interview with her, visit us at Crafted Spaces Radio to do so now. It was so much fun chatting with her and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to our conversation.

Kingi has also been generous to offer our listeners an opportunity to WIN a copy of her book "Silkscreen NOW" along with a Peach Berserk Hoody OR the choice of a Silkscreening Workshop at her store and studio at 507 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario. Remember to leave a comment and/or email us at for your chance to win one of the two great prizes. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on next weeks Crafted Spaces Radio show on Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. est.

Listen to interview >> Click Here!

Peach Berserk

Monday, September 12, 2011

Your Business Plan - A Clear Outline of Your Vision

by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

Earlier this year Crafted Spaces was fortunate to have Dr. Cheryl Cottle of Cottle’ Professional Consulting contribute a post to our blog titled; Developing a Business Plan. This post was part of our “Business Tips” and has added great value to this section of our blog. This post however, is meant to further expand on the question; what is a business plan, and why do I need one?

The task of writing a business plan can be a “daunting” and rather time consuming task. It does require some research and the analysis of some data. However, the rewards far out weigh the difficulties. A business plan is more than just an intimidating, boring document, invented by people to make things difficult.

A business plan is an extremely valuable tool to you and your business. It is a formal statement of your business’s goals and outlines why you feel these goals are attainable. The plan also outlines how you plan to accomplish your goals and the tools available to do so. It is an invaluable tool as you shape your business, develop your brand and work towards getting your products and services to your target audience. A business plan can be utilized internally or externally. You can use it as a guide and reference for what you want to achieve and where you will like to go with your business. It is usually a required document when approaching potential investors.

You may say; well I do not plan on going to the bank or approaching any investors; so why do I need to take the time to draft a business plan? I simply do not have the time nor can I afford the time needed to dedicate to such a task. However, I suggest that you do not have the time not to dedicate to such a task. Think of it like this; taking the time to develop your business plan can save you valuable time and money while developing and growing your business. It by no means guarantees your success, but it goes a long way towards ensuring success. Further more, you do have an investor, yourself. A mistake that many small business individuals make is not identifying themselves as their biggest investor. Your biggest investor therefore deserves a clear picture of where your business is at, where you will like to go, and how you plan on getting there.

A good plan will accomplish several important things; assist you in developing a clear statement about your goals, helps you to take a look at the feasibility of your business venture and provides valuable insight into your industry and target audience. The process of writing your business plan is just as important as the plan itself, as the process allows you to think deeper into the various aspects of your industry and effectively develop the goals of your business and its benefit statement. A business plan can also be a valuable tool when bringing others on board and can provide them with a clear outline of your vision. This will allow others to be more effective members of your team and facilitate the growth of your business, by better tapping into the skills and expertise available.

Get started today on your plan. There is never enough time or the right time to get started, so dive in. Pay carful attention to “Cash Flow” and understand how critical it is to the success of your business. Be specific about how you plan on achieving results. Do the legwork and research required for learning more about your clients, competitors and your industry as a whole. Gain an understanding of where things are at and where they are going. Analyze how the industry currently impacts and or will impact your business. As an added word, seek help when needed. There are many government agencies and various websites available that will assist you in the development of your business plan. However, it is also recommended that the services of a professional be employed. It is also recommended to revisit your plan regularly and rework every three to five years.

This post is written by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby and was previously published on - and CPC Women in Business blog.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chalkboard Paint Facelift

Our new DIY project is fun and easy. The technique used can be applied to countless other pieces. The piece we used is a mini storage unit that was purchased at a local thrift store for just $3.99. The face of the draw units were painted in a stencilled pattern and might have been used in a child's bedroom. Chalkboard paint was used to paint over the stencilled pattern and it provides a new surface to label the contents of the draw units.

Over the years I have used chalkboard paint for a number of craft and decorating projects. You can use this product to transform almost any object into a writable and erasable surface. You can also add a touch of style and ornateness to the finished piece by adding interesting embellishments. For this unit we added a beautiful pair of decorative knobs; which were purchased from Michaels craft store.


This little unit has been used at our studio to store some of our stamping supplies. One of the great benefits of covering it with chalkboard paint, is the ability to easily label the draws by writing on the surface.

This is a latex paint and can be washed off with soap and water. I used a sponge brush to apply the paint onto the draw units; however, I have also found that a sponge roller also works well. When applying your paint, use even strokes in the same direction. A second coat may be needed to cover existing finishes.

Project Piece
Chalkboard Paint
Sponge Brush
Hardware or Decorative Element (optional)
Tape (optional)

  1. Lightly sand the surface of your project piece
  2. Clean the surface after sanding with a damp lint free cloth
  3. Use tape to mark off the desired area you plan to paint (optional)
  4. Using a sponge brush or roller, cover the area with the chalkboard paint
  5. Let dry based on instructions
  6. Reapply a second coat as needed
  7. Condition for use based on instructions
  8. Attach new hardware or decorative embellishments as desired
You can choose to lightly sand the surface of your project prior to applying the second coat of chalkboard paint.

View our video to learn how you can transform a piece of your own.


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