Thursday, February 23, 2017


various pieces of cotton, linens & silks, windfall, spices, fruits & vegetables
with lots of string, hot plates & large pots for steaming

I love teaching this assignment and dedicate it every year to mentors
who continue to inspire me on a daily basis.

We start by talking about where all natural dye stuffs come from
and the kids go home and the search is on.
They bring back so much good stuff to use and have fun showing it off and sharing;
some goodies coming in with ants, worms and spiders as well.  
ha ha.
Some of the student bundles after emerging from the dye pots.
Notice how the color is seeping into the paper?
So lovely.

I save a lot of tidbits from garage and estate sales,
many pieces of laces, doilies, linens and such,
and cut them up into smaller pieces for the kids to choose from
(at least 20 varieties this year).
I also purchase at least 5 silk varieties off the bolt from Dharma Trading Company 
and rip banner size pieces for the students main foundation.
They can make as many as 3 bundles, 
and this year I had 4 pots of dyestuff to choose from to steam their bundles in.
I was able to find windfall from Ornamental Plum,
Eucalyptus, and Walnuts,
plus I made a cheater pot of Rit Turquoise this year. 
When the Rit mixes with the windfall it tones and softens the color to make it look like a natural dye.
I also made a pot of clear water to steam in 
which turned out many beautiful results
because of the rich source of dyestuff's the kids brought in.

These pieces above are from two bundles that I demoed with.
Loved how the doll bloomers turned out.
Included in each child's bundles are at least 2-4 butterflies of pearle cottons 
that pick up the color as well.
They use these to sew with on their banners.

After all the bundles are opened,
I have the kids gather round a table.
 They have to donate at least 2 of their pieces they don't care for or think they will not use.
Then we go round and round and they pick something new 
they might be able to incorporate into their designs.
I believe we made it around the table 3 times this year with 29 kids and 2 adults.
That's right, 
we also have English teacher Donna Hall and Coach Milan taking the class as well.
In the photo above Donna is the tall blond on the left,
and Coach Milan is middle right with hat on backwards 
standing next to our red head Assistant Principal,
 Rose Ellen Shea,
 who heard about the process and wanted to watch the excitement.
So let's see how these banners turned out this year.
There were so many outstanding ones that I've had to break this post into 2 parts.

I wanted to start with Ms. Hall's banner because the kids and I loved it so much.
The reason I want each kid to use at least 2 dye pots
 is so that they have two contrasting colors to work with.
I believe Donna used the walnut and turquoise pots.

Starting on their foundation,
students are required to stack fabrics 3 layers deep in at least one area,
and to use at least 5 of their 12 embroidery stitches they learned to tack them down with.
Also required were to incorporate at least one of their polymer beads you saw in an earlier post, 
and to figure out a clever way to hang their banner from a twig they've sourced.
Ms. Hall also found an additional embellishment (required) with the carved wooden button,
plus she sewed down lots of complimenting seed beads to catch the eye.
Most of the feathers you will see came from around my cabin this summer. 

This next beauty was made by junior Lynette Lee 
whom I'm finding is an incredible designer and craftswoman.
Check out these close-ups of her work.
My favorite part of hers are the woven fabrics ala Jude Hill with the eco-dyed thread X's over top.

The yellows in this dynamic piece were made from the spice Turmeric.
And here is a close-up so you can see senior Sarah Woo's handwork.
I'm hoping you are also noticing that each piece has threads
 that are being couched down in random patterns,
another requirement.

These are probably too earthy to be called adorable, 
but this one by senior Alexis Bilas-Imperial is pretty darn close.
The clever girl turned hers into a landscape.
Do you see it,
The clouds & flowers?
And if you look really close you will also see the clever use of safety pins
 to hold bead embellishments on top of pieces of eyelet.

In this next beauty you can really see the gorgeous turquoise that senior Crystal Lai-Ton-Nu was able to achieve in one of her bundles.
I believe her second bundle went into eucalyptus.
Two close-ups of her impeccable craftsmanship in her embroidery stitches,
and look how perfectly she couched down her thread.
So lovely Crystal!

And this last piece in part one was created by 8th grader Leanne Alcoy.
Every year I've been blessed with amazing 8th graders,
and Leanne is no exception.
 It looks like Leanne's two bundles went into the Ornamental Plum and Eucalyptus.
This is beautifully crafted,
and I love the dimensional effect she created with the overlapping of doilies. 
And then sewing on a dried flower in it's center is the perfect focal point.

Thank you all for bringing such beauty and inspiration into our lives. 


  1. These are so beautiful and creative. What wonderful work by your students.

    1. Thank you Lori! Such a great unit to teach. xoxoxo

  2. I've been slow to comment as I'm overwhelmed by how much there is to see and live here.

    Ms. Hall's piece sings a song of the Southwest, both in its color ways and its geometric elements.

    Crystal's sun, sand, and sea (for that's how it reads to be), touches another deep chord. And that couched spiral might just find its way into the middle of my current cloth flower project.

    Leanne's gold and rose piece does a masterful job of drawing the eye down through each element. It is very pleasing to the eye in its proportions and I love the string marks peeking out from behind the couched spirals.

    Turmeric is a challenging color to my eye, but Sarah has broken it up with forgiving patches of softly colored stitch.

    Kudos to Alexis for her beaded pins ... what a great way to attach patches!

    Last, but not least, I too appreciate Lynette's cloth weaving with its rosy x's and jaunty bow. But equally do I love the pocket-like patch of lace beneath it ... beautifully wrought.

  3. Thank you once again Liz for taking so much time to send these kids such beautiful written words and praise. You are the best!