"I feel like I made it to the big time," laughed Cindy Lohbeck, who's teaching several fabric-dyeing classes during this year's American Quilter's Society Quilt Week in Paducah.
Owner of Hands on Hand Dyes in Scottsdale, Arizona, Lohbeck said she's been working with fabric in one form or another most of her life, but she found her true passion in fabric dyeing.
"I've always dabbled in fabric and textiles and fabric manipulation," she said. "I grew up sewing, and I've just always had a love for fabric. When I was about 18, as a sort of natural progression, I started playing with fabric dyeing and T-shirts, just as an interest, and I've been doing it ever since."
When Lohbeck started quilting, she said her passion for fabric dyeing grew even more intense.
"When I started quilting in 2002, I started getting really serious about dyeing my own fabrics for quilts," she said. "So, my business was born out of people wanting my fabrics, but me wanting to sew and telling people they should dye their own."
Lohbeck said she started to develop kits that would teach people the fabric-dyeing techniques she was using.
"I just realized there was a hole in the market for kits that give these quilters everything they need to go home and do what I do and have as much fun as I have dyeing fabrics and experimenting," she said. "They just needed the right set of tools, a little coaching that takes all of the confusion out of it and a good sound method. So I put everything they needed in a bucket and I started selling them."
Business boomed, she said.
"I did very well," she said. "I developed several different kinds of kits for different kinds of fabric dyeing techniques and I started my business in 2007, so I'm 10 years old this year. It's been a long learning curve and refinement process."
About six years ago, Lohbeck started teaching.
"It was sort of a natural by-product of what I was already doing," she said. "I would demonstrate my kits in my booth and people would ask me if I teach. And low and behold, I am going to be teaching for the American Quilter's Society, so I'm pretty much feeling like I'm at the top of my game."
During Paducah's Quilt Week, Lohbeck will be teaching several fabric-dyeing and color-removal techniques at the Paducah School of Art and Design.
In a class called "Black Magic," Lohbeck will be teaching a color-removal and re-dyeing technique.
"It is actually a discharge dying or color removal class," she said. "We start with black fabric, take the color out, and then put new color back in with the use of stencils and stamps and a combination of discharge chemicals and dye. Ã¢ Â¦ So we could have perhaps a field of turquoise roses on a black background."
Lohbeck is also teaching two ice-dyeing classes, which she said are some of her more popular techniques.
The first is called "Snow and Ice."
"The first one is just a basic class where we create random and playful crystalized images on the fabric with the use of ice as a resist," she said. "So, you pile clean fabric up and put ice on it, then you squirt it down with dye, like a big ole snow cone, and as it melts, the ice dilutes randomly and the dye plays 'chutes and ladders' in the ice and creates really beautiful patterns on the fabric."
The second ice-dyeing class is called "Dying Frozen Style."
"The second ice-dyeing class is kind of a mash up class of some old tie-dye methods of folding the fabric and an ancient Japanese fabric folding method called shibori," she said. "So, I use some shibori methods and some tie-dyeing methods and we dye the fabric with the ice-dyeing style to create patterned ice dyes. And we're going to be making giant mandalas in this class."
Another class is called "Tweaking Batiking," which starts with already dyed fabrics and uses water-soluble resists and over-dyeing techniques to create patterns.
"That class explores the world of water soluble resists," she said. "With a traditional batik, where you use hot wax as a resist, the wax is kind of a pain to get out of the fabric and it takes all the fun out of it. So, we're going to use water soluble resists instead, and what that means is we are going to use stencils and stamps to create patterns on the fabric, using resists that will wash out in cold water. This way we spend more time on the patterning and fun stuff than we do the rinsing and washing."
The final class is called "Welcome to the Fold," which uses a technique called itajime shibori.
"Shibori is kind of an umbrella term for different way to manipulate the fabric before you dye it to create pattern," she said. " So, itajime shibori is a method of folding and dyeing fabrics that creates big, bold and graphic patterns."
For quilters or fabric enthusiasts, Lohbeck said fabric dyeing is the icing on the cake.
"It's a very empowering thing to make a quilt, and quilters get pretty proud of their projects," she said. "And when you take that feeling of making a quilt and add on the fact that they started with white fabric and dyed all the fabrics themselves, it's just amplifies that. It's quilters' pride on steroids. They love it."
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