Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Hoodies!

IgNight Brochure Design

My Fire Spirit shakti made a special appearance on the IgNight Fire Flow Conference workshop schedule brochure.  Stay tuned for my post about my experiences of that amazing weekend! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

To Dye For

So, I've been experimenting with printing my artwork on apparel, and have gotten a good response.
So far I've tried t-shirts, tank tops and hoodies, which are turning out cool and are popular, but I want to do something more interesting and expressive, something more feminine and unique.  I also want something that I, personally (as well as other voluptuous ladies like myself), would and could wear.  The cute tanks and tees are usually sized for more petite women.  I'd like to make some styles that are flattering to all kinds of figures.
"Fire Spirit" on black burnout tank

I started looking around for options and discovered the Dharma Trading Company, (not to be confused with the Dharma Initiative!), which has a drool-worthy selection of fabric dyeing supplies, including a large variety of plain white garments made to be dyed.

The extent of my dyeing experience has been a few instances of using RIT to make something from the thrift store more acceptable.  But I adore textile arts - the fabrics, yarns, textures, colors.  It's something I've long admired but haven't actually jumped into.  Now I had the perfect excuse!

So I grabbed a few sample garments to play with, some dyes and other required supplies and began making a mess!  I mean...being creative!

My first experiment resulted in hands and feet stained a nice bruise-like purple.  I guess they were serious when they recommended wearing gloves and protective clothing. I'll have to get over my dislike of working in gloves. The colors ended up a bit less vibrant than I'd hoped, and one color didn't dissolve properly, which resulted in little flecks of intense effect I actually quite like!
Apparently, colors with red in them tend to be harder to dissolve fully. 

My next attempt had much more vibrant colors - I'd realized that I hadn't used enough dye powder for the amount of water last time.  I also was using cold water instead of lukewarm to mix the dyes, and adding the salt at the beginning with the dye and soda ash, instead of after the dye had had a chance to dissolve.  I was also working with a different fabric this time, which may be a factor - further trials are required to confirm this.  I also used a slightly different technique and let it develop for a full 23 hours (so I got a little impatient!), instead of the 6 hours I'd done last time.

"Namaste Reflectograph"

I’m discovering that dyeing is a bit like baking…there’s chemistry involved, so you have to stick close to the recipe or it’s not going to come out right.  I am by nature more of a soup or stir-fry/improvise and modify type of gal.  But this medium requires a bit more diligence, and I found myself getting into the process and enjoying taking the time to measure and mix things correctly…though I have to admit that it does take a fair bit of time to do it right.  But splashing the dye around and playing with blending colors and whatnot is pretty fun!

There's also an interesting element of surprise involved that I really like.  The colors often do not look the same in powder form, or even when mixed, as the end result, so you never know quite how it's going to turn out once it's processed, rinsed and dried,  or how colors are going to interact.  How wet the fabric is when you apply the dye is also a factor.  It reminds me of the random accidents that happen when working with pottery glazes or patinas - a little bit of chaos thrown in with your creative choices.  Just like LIFE!!!

Rayon sundress
Sun in my eyes...

Once I had the garments dyed, I screen printed my designs on them.  The results weren’t perfect – my printing press is not designed for apparel – but I think there’s potential here!

What do you guys think?  Would you buy something like this?  And how much do you think would be a fair price for this kind of one-of-a-kind, hand-dyed and printed-with-unique-designs apparel?

Cotton tunic with flowy sleeaves

Click here to see what I've got for sale!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Art Spotlight: Shakti: Metamorphosis

A glorious Spirit of Transformation.

 Like the life stages of a butterfly, we move through the metamorphosis of maturity and spiritual growth.
First, our caterpillar phase; like a lowly grub we crawl through life, ravenously consuming with care for little else. Then we wrap ourselves in a chrysalis; turning inward to explore the potential within. Finally, we emerge as radiant beings, soaring aloft on graceful wings of serenity.
The West African adinkra symbol "sesa wo suban", (at center top), represents self-directed transformation.

 The word "metamorphosis" is derived from the Greek words "meta", or "change", and "morphe", "form".
It is used in biology to describe the literal, often dramatic, physical changes that take place during the developmental cycles of many life forms.
It is also a term used in myth to describe the (often temporary) transformations of gods, sorcerers or other magical beings into alternate forms.
It can also be used symbolically to refer to profound internal, spiritual change - a transformation of perspective, attitude and understanding.

It is generally defined as: "A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function."*
It's antonym is stagnation.

"It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not.
 ~ James Gordon

For most people, change can be a scary thing.  We are comforted by the familiar.  But change is necessary for growth and improvement.  We must learn to transform ourselves from within, and develop the flexibility to flow with changes that we cannot control.

Follow this link for more information of the symbolism of the butterfly.

"Metamorphosis" is part of my "Shakti" series, featuring female figures and symbolic elements that express a particular theme.

Color fine art prints are available here:

* definition from:

Monday, May 7, 2012

NEW! Gypsy Mystery Apparel

"Fire Spirit" tank top
Over the past year as we've been hawking my wares at various marketplaces, I've had numerous people suggest that my work would look good on apparel.  I've also noticed that many people are more likely to purchase something that adorns themselves, rather than something that adorns their home.
Perhaps it is a matter of finite wall space, or maybe buying art seems like more of a commitment..?  Perhaps it is simply a more direct form of self-expression, one you can take with you wherever you go.  We humans have been decorating ourselves since the stone age, after all, and our fascination with "wearable art" has been fundamental throughout history.  What we wear serves many purposes, from the practical matter of protection from the elements, to the more complex social aspects of modesty, identification, and self-expression.

In any case – as I was pondering these suggestions and observations, I was contacted by someone else who’d seen my work on Etsy and thought my designs would look good on apparel – and he just happened to be all set up to print on apparel, whereas we are not. 

 Jeff Coleman, owner of NtheGroove Fine Art Printmaking Studio in San Diego, mainly focuses on collaborating with artists to create unique, high quality fine art prints, but has recently branched out into apparel as well.
And since I’m interested in creating attire that’s more akin to wearable art than mass-produced clothing, it seemed like a serendipitous connection.  Turns out he’s a joy to work with, as well. :)

Tupa spins some fire in one of my Fire Spirit tanks. *

We premiered our first, “experimental” batch of T-shirts and tank tops at the Lucidity Festival last month, and also did some for the IgNight Fire Flow Arts Conference (which was AMAZING, btw - more on that later!).  They were very well received, we sold a bunch, and we got a lot of great feedback.

Our available selection can be found on my Etsy Shop:

More options are in the works.  My goal is to develop some products that are more interesting than your standard T-shirt offerings, and we’re looking into more unique styles and possibly some hand-dying and other embellishments.
Stay tuned for future developments!

"Namaste" design
"P.L.U.R." design
"Fleur-des-Lis" design

Check Our NtheGroove's Etsy Shop:

* Special thanks to Curious Josh for the use of his beautiful photo.  More of this photos from the IgNight Fire Flow Arts Conference can be found here: