When it comes to celebrating Earth Day, art quilters and mixed-media fiber artists are lucky: for us, it's easy being green.
Not that we don't love a bin full of crisp, new fat quarters, but finding creative ways to use reuse and recycle textiles and fibers--thus reducing what goes into the trash--is in our creative nature.
We've written about green art quilting methods in many issues of Quilting Arts and even run a very popular "Go Green!" reader challenge, the results of which were featured in the August/September and October/November 2008 issues.
And several of our Quilting Arts WorkshopTM videos, like Texture Transformation with Natalya Aikens or Expression Session with Alisa Burke, demonstrate how to recycle "trash" into art.
Still, in case you need reminding, here are my 10 favorite ways to make greener fiber art.
- Resist and dye the natural way. Low-emersion plant dyeing saves water and energy; soy wax (for batik) doesn't give off nasty fumes. Flour paste resist is fun and earth-friendly. (Do always wear a mask when dyeing, especially when using powdered dyes.) Rusting with water and vinegar gives fabrics color, pattern, and interest, and gets that rusty junk off the streets!
- Use found fibers. Don't trash that holey linen tablecloth, stained silk shell, and even your dryer lint or used dryer sheets. Cut out the good parts of old fabrics and over-dye or distress them. Paint or print on used dryer sheets or dye-catcher sheets
- Needle-felt by hand or machine. The tiniest bits of yarn, thread, roving, fabric, and straggly bits of yarns and threads needle-felted together, felted woolens. You can also needle felt colorful dryer lint (hint: wash and dry a new, vibrant beach towel).
- Reuse old curtains. Sheer panels make excellent silk screens. You can print with lace curtains: just glue the lace to a firm surface, apply fabric paint or ink with a roller, and press evenly on your accepting fabric.
- Make use of found objects and papers. Remember, if you can make a hole in it or wrap a wire around it, you can attach it to your quilt. (For example, Karen Fisher's quilt at right was made from cut-up soda cans.)Leftover pieces of wrapper paper and tissue can be turned into fabric paper for stitching.
- Not playing with a full deck? If your game of 52-pickup is has dwindled to 37 or so, use those spare cards as ATC backs.
- Give "failed" projects new life. Paint, print, or stamp over them. Cut them up and reassemble them. Or simply cut them into ATC- or inchie-sized and bind with a zigzag stitch.
- Speaking of stamping... Pretty much anything can be used as a stamp. Old kitchen tools (never again to be used for food prep), well-washed foam meat trays, corks. Before you throw out something that has outlived its original purpose, consider its potential as a stamp.
- Swap and share. Do you need more dark tones in your fabric stash? Before you hit the stores, consider hosting a swap with quilting friends who may need more of your mid-tones or lights. Do you always end up with more dye than you can use? Next time, host a dye party and share the rainbow instead of pouring it down the drain.
- Send a message. If you care about the environment, use your art to communicate a message with words, imagery, or both.
There are so many ways to celebrate Earth Day in fiber art. How do you make a quilt earth-friendly? Leave a comment below!
Happy Earth Day,