Embellish Your Quilts with Dyed Sticks

9 Aug 2011

dyed stick quilt embellishment
Paper Quilt Collage by
Annette Morgan.
I love summer. But unlike at some places where the warm weather and beckoning beaches slow down the pace, at Quilting Arts summer is one of our busiest times of the year.

Still, even with all the deadlines and projects we have going on around here, I make sure to spend as many of my off hours as possible outdoors. You might find me taking a jog around the neighborhood or buzzing around a dyeing station set up in my driveway. 

Being outside also gives me ready access to natural objects I can use in my art. I might sun print fabric with seashells, use leaves as stamps on fabric or paper, or dye natural objects for later use as an embellishment in a fabric collage.

For example, it's easy to dye sticks that you can use to embellish a wall hanging. I love this idea, because believe me, I have plenty of sticks to choose from around my yard.

If you're a city dweller or would prefer more uniform shapes you can use unused wooden barbeque sticks instead. I always have plenty of those, too, due to another favorite summer pastime, grilling veggie kabobs!

These directions for dyeing sticks are from a piece on Paper Collage Quilts by Annette Morgan.

How to dye sticks

1. Cut the sticks to a manageable size; barbeque sticks can be cut in half to about 5." (14 cm).

2. Lay the sticks in a deep tray and pour some Procion dye (cold-water dye) over them; you don't have to add anything else to the dye.

3. Leave for several hours and then drain the excess fluid away. No need to rinse the sticks.

4. Leave to dry overnight. If they are not quite dry the next morning, just shake them a little and leave for a few more hours.

dyed stick quilt embellishment
Detail of dyed sticks couched onto a quilt.
Tip: If the sticks are left to dry on paper towels, the paper will absorb the dye and the papers can then be used in collage.

Now you're ready to couch the sticks onto your embellished quilts or fabric collage wall hangings.

Annette includes these dyeing instructions as well as how to paint papers and assemble a collage with the papers, sticks, hand stitching, and fibers, in The Cloth Paper Scissors Book, now available for pre-order.

I'm so excited about this new book; it's a wonderful resource for anyone who likes to mix paper, found objects, surface design, metal, and more with their hand and machine stitching.

P.S. Have you dyed natural objects? What was your experience? Share your tips below.


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