Spring Garden

Posted April 9th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Garden, My Photography, Personal

Fern Fronds

Azalea 1

VA Bluebells

Azalea 2

In North Carolina, spring has arrived.  I was treated to a second showing of Yoshino cherry blossoms while in Greensboro over the weekend.  Just a hundred miles north of Charlotte, blossoms are only beginning.

I photographed azaleas just opening, ferns unfurling and Virginia bluebells in our garden this evening…………at the golden hour, my favorite time to shoot.  Hope it’s spring where you are!

Photos copyright Ellen Guerrant

Snow Dyeing – What Fun!

Posted March 2nd, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Dyeing Tips, My Photography, My Work, Tutorials

Snow Yellow GreenSummer Garden

Snow Purple Blue DetSummer Sky

Note:  Fabrics have  been pressed.  Some may show a fold line.

Snow Dye Storm Sky Stormy Sky

Snow sunsetSunset

Snow Dye Rust BlueCrab Chowder

Snow Dye Screen 2

Fabric “batching” on an elevated screen.  Nearly all the snow has melted after 36 hours.

Here are more of the fabrics I snow-dyed recently.  Hard to believe we had 10″ of snow a couple of weeks ago.  Today was sunny and warm, and the daffodils are in bloom

Here’s my method for snow dyeing:    Be sure to wear a mask, preferably a respirator, and gloves when working with dyes.  Make sure utensils and containers are for dyeing only!  Do not grab something from the kitchen to use.   Mix a solution of nine (9) T. soda ash to one (1) gallon warm to hot water.   Let soak at least 30 minutes.  Wring out fabric and use wet, or let dry to use later. Manipulate fabric as desired by folding, pleating, scrunching, twirling and twisting.  Lay fabric on an old screen suspended over containers to catch dye run-off.  Cover with snow.  Using Proxion Fiber Reactive dyes, available from www.prochemicalanddye.com  in solution or in powder form, pour or sprinkle desired colors on top of snow.  Try to remember where your fabrics are placed for more accurate color planning.  I chose blue, golden yellow and pagoda red.  I regretted using pagoda red, as it has a lot of orange in it, causing a rust or brown effect when it mixes with blue.  I’ll use care next time to choose a true red.

I let my fabrics “batch” until the snow had completely melted.  Then they were rinsed many times prior to a machine wash with 2 T. Synthrapol (available from ProChem or Mary Jo’s Cloth Store near Charlotte) and hottest water.  Toss a Color Catcher in with the final rinse to ensure excess dye has been removed.  Damp dry fabrics and then press with a hot iron.  Enjoy!

The folks at ProChem have an excellent website which includes instructions for many types of dyeing.  For those on the west coast, check https://www.dharmatrading.com/ -  another very good source.

If you try this type of dyeing, follow safety precautions and have fun!  I stashed several gallons of snow in our freezer and will have another “snow day” soon.

Appearing Near You

Posted February 14th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Exhibitions, My Work, News, Quilt Events, Teaching, Uncategorized

I’ll be presenting a lecture/trunk show Monday for the York County (SC) Quilters.  I’d love to see you If you’re in the Charlotte area.


Grace Lutheran Church, 426 Oakland Avenue

Rock Hill, South Carolina

LECTURE:  Journey of a Quiltmaker

February 17, 2014 – 7 p.m.


For the Birds

Posted February 12th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Birds, Family, My Photography, Recipes

Bluebird duoBluebird Buddies

Bluebird, LoneLone

Chickadee PuddingChickadee Pudding

Chickadee Pudding FormedFormed into a Cake

Woodpecker SuetPackaged suet can be found  in the pet section of larger stores.

It began snowing about 9:30 this morning.  Snow two days in a row – in the south?  Well, I never.  At first the snow was a fine mist, barely discernible.  As the morning wore on, the flakes became bigger and the wind began to blow.  Soon, everything was covered with at least five inches of new snow.  And the temperature was dropping fast.  Brrrrr.

Lots of birds were hovering around our feeders, especially the suet.  With ice pellets forecast for tonight and fearing a loss of power, we decided to have a big breakfast which included bacon. Yum!  The birds were eating animal fat to keep warm, so why shouldn’t we, we reasoned.  As we ate, I worried about them. Each bird looked puffy, with its feathers fluffed out against the cold wind.  I wished I could do something to warm them in the frigid air.

Years ago, I bought a cookbook at the Charlotte Nature Museum which had a wonderful chapter titled:  ”Feeding Wild Animals.”  In it was a recipe for a home-made bird treat.  The birds love “Chickadee Pudding”  Using the bacon fat and things we had on hand, I made a batch of it this morning.  It firmed up quickly outside. In just minutes birds, including slate colored juncos (a bird almost never seen here),  were flocking (no pun intended) to it.  Love!

When I was a kid, my sisters and I were not allowed to sit down for a meal until we’d fed our animals.  ”Have you fed your animals? They can’t feed themselves,” my father would ask.  ”Get up and go take care of them.  They eat before you do.”  We didn’t just have a dog like we do now.  We had rabbits, cattle, sheep, horses and chickens to take care of.  Our father was a very wise man who taught us a great lesson.   I thought of that today as I mixed the special treat for our birds.

Chickadee Pudding (fromThe Nature Museum Cookbook)

Mix together a handful of each of the following:  dry rolled oats, bird seed, cornmeal, ground bread crumbs, dry cream of wheat and some cut up raisins.    Add a spoonful of peanut butter to melted bacon fat.  Let the peanut butter soften. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to moisten.   Put in a flat container, on a pine cone or in a tin pie plate.  Let harden before placing outside for the birds.   Note:  I used what was available, including dry grits, chopped cranberries and nuts.  It looked good enough to eat!

Snowbound or a few days?  Try doing this with your kids:  Make a piece of toast, cut out a shape with a cookie butter and make a hole for hanging.  Slather the toast with peanut butter then sprinkle with bird seed.  Hang outside for your feathered friends.

Stay warm and safe!

All photos are clickable.


Snow Day!

Posted February 12th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Birds, Garden, My Photography, Personal

Nandina 1

Branches Sky



Nandina 2

Woodpile 2

Yesterday Charlotte was blanketed with heavy, wet snow.    Although ours measured just over 2″, that’s a big deal for us.  I wandered around our yard and garden for a bit, photographing images which caught my eye.  My hands were so cold I couldn’t hold the camera still.

The coldness reminded me of my childhood in IL, where winter snows were common.  My sisters and I would spend all day outside, building snow forts and snowmen, having snowball fights and sledding.  Sometimes Daddy would hook a team of ponies to the sleigh, and off we’d go. At day’s end, our wool mittens soaked and our fingers red and freezing,  we’d all rush to the sink in our one bathroom and soak our hands in warm water until we could feel them again.  Mittens would be hung with clothespins on a wire hanger which Mother placed in front of one of the few registers we had in the 19th century farm house.  Forgetting how cold we had gotten, we’d be in the snow again the next day.  What an idyllic childhood it was.  Truly.

Photos are clickable.

Photography copyright  Ellen Guerrant, 2/11/2014