Featured Artist : Susan Norlin-StaudaherWildflower Textiles
Artist Bio / Statement
Hello, I'm Susan Norlin-Staudaher of Wildflower Textiles. The scarves, flour sack towels, aprons, shirts, and more that are offered by Wildflower Textiles are hand-dyed with Dharma's fiber-reactive Procion MX dyes. Most designs are created with the batik method, using Dharma's beeswax, soy wax and tjantings. When the waxed item is placed in a dyebath, the dye is not absorbed where the wax has penetrated the fabric. After the item is rinsed and dried, the process can be repeated to enhance the design and add more colors. The batik process is almost magical, from the way the melted wax is absorbed by the fabric, to the way the colors of the dyes interact with each other. The wax is removed by placing the finished product in hot water. This also serves to preshrink the item, and to remove any “loose dye" from the product.
I am starting to experiment with silk-screening thickened dye, using Dharma's sodium alginate (dried seaweed) as a thickener.
Most of my inspiration comes from plants and other objects from nature. I take photos of flowers and other parts of plants whenever I have the opportunity! Some are from my own garden, and others are from trips to botanical gardens, national parks, and more. The patterns and shapes of flowers, ferns, and houseplants have always inspired me in terms of their possibilities for designs for hand-dyed textiles. Even the wildflowers growing along the side of the road (which some consider weeds), hold potential for beautiful patterns. I bring my camera when I run along the road or go for a walk in the woods, and use the photos as a basis for my designs. Visits to botanical gardens also result in many gorgeous subjects. A hike in Yosemite National Park also provided inspiration.
The silk scarves and many of the tops offered by Wildflower Textiles are from Dharma. They are all hand-dyed by myself, one at a time. My son Nick’s old room has been transformed into my studio, which contains white scarves and tops waiting for the batik process to work its magic, electric frying pans for melting wax, tjantings (kind of like pens with spouts for the melted wax to flow through), brushes, a light pad, dyes, measuring spoons and cups, a thermometer, large stainless steel pots, plastic tubs, drawing and tracing paper, pencils, markers, and a bed in the corner for when Nick comes home to visit.
I earned a bachelor of arts degree in Textile Design from the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, with a focus on both print design and weaving. The classes I had in graphic design served me during the many years I worked for newspapers as a graphic artist, and for 18 years as the owner of a small community newspaper in my hometown of Sterling, Massachusetts. After selling the newspaper, I returned to the work I enjoy the most in 2016 – designing and applying color to fabric! Though I had some experience with batik and fabric printing techniques as a college student, there was still a lot to learn. Through trial and error, I am learning to master the application of the melted wax and Procion MX dyes. The variables include the type of fabric, temperature of the wax, amount of dye, and time! There is always an element of surprise in batik, which adds to the charm.
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