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“Jody Bowyer … Fabric Mandala Dying & Uses”
June 15 @ 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
My name is Jody Bowyer, I am a longarm quilter, and Tie Dye artist. Like many woman my age, I have been sewing most of my life. While raising my children it was always a chore to get the sewing machine out to make a few items and clean up the mess before the next meal had to take over the dining room table. After the kids were raised and out of the house, my interest in sewing was sparked again. At that point we finally had a spare bedroom that my husband agreed to turn into a dedicated sewing room for me. That was a couple of years before I retired from my long career in a public service job.
I knew after working full time all my adult life, I was going to need a serious hobby to fill my days. My sister-in-law was a quilter, and she talked me into making my first quilt. Well, needless to say, after that first quilt, I was hooked. Soon I began collecting my fabric stash and quilting tools needed for this hobby. After quilting one or two of my quilts on my domestic sewing machine, I decided there had to be an easier way to quilt these things! So I bought my first longarm machine – used mind you. After all, I didn’t want to sink all that money into a machine that like my exercise bike would become an expensive clothing rack!
Well, that used longarm machine got used so much that a business developed from it. This huge frame and machine was housed in the 3rd bay of our garage, amongst the lawn mower, bicycles, cars, motor cycles and all the grandkids outdoor toys. About three years ago I purchased a new longarm machine, and my husband turned that 3rd bay of the garage into an enclosed quilting studio for me. He even installed heat and air conditioning!
I began quilting wholecloth quilts and entering them into quilt shows. I totally got bit by that bug, and started searching for some type of new and exciting way I could create more show wholecloth quilts. I purchased my first Tie Dyed 108″ panel from a professional dyer on Etsy. He worked with me on my color scheme and tie pattern choices. I designed my quilting around the tie patterns of the fabric. I entered that in a few quilt shows and got so many positive comments that I knew I was on to something.
After taking a few dying classes and watching tons of YouTube video’s I decided to start experimenting with tie dying my own fabric. After several trial and errors, I found a technique to dying that worked for what I wanted to do, which was wholecloth quilting.
The technique that I use is called “Ice Dying”. I use PFD (prepared for dye) high quality 100% cotton muslin fabric. I cut each piece to size, soak it in a soda ash solution, which helps bring the PH of the fabric up so the dye adheres to it. After soaking in the soda ash, each piece is spun out and hand dried. Once dry, each piece is folded and tied using a wax coated string called sinew. The wax on the string acts as a resistant to the dye, leaving the white fabric under the string undyed. The tighter the sinew is wrapped, the more likely to have the distinct white lines between the dye colors. After the fabric is folded and tied with the sinew, I place it on a screen and apply fiber reactive procion dye powder directly on the various tied sections of the fabric. Once I am satisfied with the placement of the dye powder, I cover the fabric with ice. As the ice melts, it dissolves the dye powder and saturates into the fabric. Once the ice has completely melted I wrap each piece in saran wrap and set it in a heated room for at least 24 hours to batch. After the batching is complete, I unwrap and untie each piece, and rinse, rinse, and rinse again, until the water becomes clear. Then I soak each piece in HOT water with a special laundry detergent called synthrapol, which stops the dye process. From that soak process, they are spun out again and rinsed several more times, then it’s time for the final run through another HOT water wash cycle with more synthrapol. Then dried and ironed.
Each piece is original and unique. As the dye artist, if I tried to duplicate a piece, It may come out close, but would not be a perfect match. Tie Dying is a very labor intensive and messy process, but so worth the effort. It is such a thrill to see how each color melts and merges with each other to form some wonderful pieces of art.