Category Archives: creative life


Last fall I tried dying fabric using plant products and was immediately hooked. I love the nuanced organic hues that you can get, but also standing over a steaming cauldron and stirring a bunch of weird things together to see what color they will produce. It’s like being a kid again and making potions from stuff you collected in your back yard.

Admittedly, I did a little research before starting. Even more than the Internet,  Sasha Duerr’s book on the subject has been the best resource I’ve found to date. It turns out there are several steps you have to take just to prepare a fabric for dying, and Duerr explains these very thoroughly. Unfortunately, she does not let you cut any corners. I was scouring and boiling and mordanting my little pile of fabrics for days before they were finally ready to go in the cauldron. There was a kitchen scale involved and I had to use math.

Normally I may not have gone to all the trouble but truth be told I really felt that I could not let Sasha Duerr down. Read the book and you’ll understand.

Anyway, so far I’ve dyed fabric using:

  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Oak hulls
  • Pokeberries
  • Blackberries
  • Turmeric
  • Black Beans
  • Madder Root


For my latest project I ordered powdered dyestuff from Maiwa because I don’t know how to forage for madder root in the dead of a Cleveland winter.


I dyed a small batch of vintage linens from Lithuania that had seen better days. And look how nicely they turned out:


For one of the pieces, I added iron powder to my dye as an “after mordant.” A mordant is an agent like tannin or alum that helps bind plant dyes to the fiber. But you can change the color of a dye pretty significantly just by adding iron. In the case of my madder root, the iron powder turned the dye a plum purple color, which ended up lilac gray after it dried.

I made this bird with it.

lilac swallow front_edited-1

lilac swallow in flight_edited-1

I just love the idea of turning a tattered piece of vintage cloth into something like that. You know?

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Bird Parade

The bird obsession continues. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to draft a few good patterns I can use consistently. In the process, I’ve found that I have almost infinite patience for tasks such as un-picking seams, fiddling with wire, sewing beaks, and drafting and re-drafting patterns.

Because apparently that is what it takes to be a bird maker. No matter how well thought out I may believe a pattern to be, it seems never to yield the bird I had in mind on the first try. Take this specimen for example:

A Bird with Boobs

It was supposed to be a mockingbird. But after I started stuffing the body, I realized that my mockingbird was going to be hunchbacked and have chesticles. So I turned it into an approximation of a type of pheasant called a “Chukur.” Still, I find him rather endearing.


So bird making involves a lot of time, trial, and error, but there is something especially rewarding about turning a simple sketch into a three-dimensional object, then giving it character and personality.


Ready for Takeoff

Green and Brown Songbird Closeup


Red White and Blue Bird in Tree

Odd Bird

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I Have Customers!

Remember when I realized I love birds? Well, I put up some bird feeders in the backyard soon after writing that post, and for the longest time not one single bird chose to dine in either of the three restaurant options available to them. Which I couldn’t understand because the stuff I put in the Squirrel Proof Deluxe Perch-n-Peck Limited Edition Avian Diner On A Stick looked so good I was temped to pack it in my kids’ lunches.

Then one day while I was looking at pictures of birds on the Internet, I heard some chirping outside and wouldn’t you know it but I had two customers! Really pretty ones, too. I don’t know what kind they were because it happened before I had purchased my Field Guide to Birds of North America, but I stood looking at them with my face pressed up against the windowpane for a solid minute, maybe more.

Those two were my only visitors for several weeks, until just recently. Today I was sewing a bird in my sunroom with the windows open when I heard a veritable chorus outside. There  were several robins, a couple of sparrows, a cardinal, AND a gorgeous red headed woodpecker with black and white spots in one of my trees. Just like Woody! I ran upstairs to fetch my binoculars, but by the time I came back down the woodpecker was gone.

And here’s the little dude I finished sewing today:


He is made of of linen and embroidered with crewel wool. His wire legs are wrapped in florist tape and jute string, and he’s got some extra wool roving around his feet (talons? claws?) because he is also freakishly skinny and will need all the extra warmth he can get in order to survive the winter.

I love him.


But I think it may be time to change his diaper.

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Hi everybody, this post is to announce some major changes to the format and content of this blog. I know I’ve threatened this sort of thing before, but this time I really mean it. From now on I’m going to use this platform mostly as a way to share my crafty and artistic endeavors. I am not even going to try to be funny anymore, people. I’m serious! I’m warning you ahead of time so you won’t be disappointed when I start talking about Japanese embroidery patterns.

I had a secret “art blog” on the side for a few months, but I accidentally deleted it. I tried to recreate it and link it to my personal webpage but things got very hairy with primary domains and add-on domains and root files and so forth, and even though I own three domain names, I can’t seem to blog under anything other than good old So Rimarama may undergo many iterations, but it will apparently never die.

I hope that you’ll still follow me here, though. I will try to make it worth your while.

So, onward.

I’m contributing to the Heights Arts Holiday Store again this year, and though my original block printed clutches and pouches will still be represented, I’m throwing a few new things into the mix. Inspired by the amazing embroidery of Japanese artist Yumiko Higuchi, I made a series of tiny linen coin purse necklaces that I freestyle embroidered with my own designs.

mini coin purses close up

And some embroidered linen bracelets to go with them.

bracelets and mini coin purses on pattern background

I’m drawn more and more to making things with reclaimed vintage fabrics lately, and so I’ve also made a few patchwork zip pouches using scraps from my vintage fabric stash.

Patchwork Whale Pouch

This one features a quilt square made out of an old feedsack, as well as a vintage button. I only recently discovered that during the Depression Era, when feed supply companies learned that people were sewing clothing out of old feedsacks, they started printing them with colorful patterns and designs. It worked out for everyone involved because women had nicer material to sew with and it was incentive for people to purchase grain from the companies who did this.

Patchwork Postcard Clutch

This one is not made with vintage fabric, but it features a print of a postcard from the 1930s that I bought at an antique fair, scanned, and printed onto a piece of silk.

For those of you who live in the Cleveland area, the Heights Arts Holiday Store opens on November 6th with a reception at 7:00, and will remain open seven days a week through December 30th. They offer an amazing variety of items in various mediums (prints, paintings, ceramics, fiber art, jewelry, clothing, accessories and holiday cards). I’m always honored to contribute.

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