Happy Winter 2020!
Would you be surprised if I told you that two of my top New Year’s resolutions involves fabric? Read on to learn how to use fabric to make beeswax wraps to reduce plastic waste in our environment.
Then save those fabric scraps and organize them so they are easy to find for your next quilt project!
I love this hay bale snowman with wheel eyes, tire hat and a grate mouth! The photo was taken on one of the few days this winter that
we actually had any snow on the ground!
USE YOUR FABRIC STASH
Make Beeswax Wraps!
Quilters have LOTS of fabric. We call it our “stash” or our “fabric library.” We have more fabric than we can possibly use in a lifetime, so why not put it to good use by making colorful beeswax wraps to cover our food instead of plastic?! They can be re-used over and over again without creating extra trash to pollute our precious earth.
Before I made my own beeswax wraps I ordered some online to see if they really worked and whether I would like using them. I think they are great! I wrap sandwiches, fresh veggies, fruit and cheese in them and also can cover a bowl or pan easily. Anything I can do in my house to reduce the amount of waste, especially plastic makes me very happy.
The 3 ingredients; beeswax pellets, jojoba oil and pine resin were easy to find online. I opted for organic versions of each.
After a lot of reading and hands-on experiments in the kitchen, I found two articles online that walked me through the process successfully.
The first recipe I tried was from Mother Earth Living. I loved all of their step by step instructions and hints.
Next I tried the Chef Sous Chef recipe. It was very informative too, but the best part was, that it doubled the amount of beeswax and resin, and reduced the jojoba oil, which provided the perfect ratio of beeswax/jojoba oil/pine resin. It also made twice as many wraps.
What you need to get started:
The basic recipe: 2 TBSP jojoba oil, 6 TBSP pine resin, and 1 cup beeswax pellets makes 8-12 wraps in different sizes
A paint brush, wooden stick to stir mixture and fabrics cut 12” x 12”, 10” x 10” and 8” x 8” (sizes are approximate). The size squares or rectangles you cut may depend on the amount of fabric you have. Keep in mind that the fabrics must fit on a baking sheet without hanging over the edge. Parchment paper is helpful to make clean up easier, but it is not required.
Place the ingredients in either a small saucepan
or a heat resistant mason jar in a double boiler.
Sauce pan VS double boiler…
The saucepan heats the ingredients very quickly but it is VERY hard to get the pan clean of the hardened wax.
Placing the ingredients in a mason jar and heating in a double boiler is the better option, it takes longer to heat, but that’s OK. For my “double boiler” I used a larger pot and a collapsible strainer to hold the mason jar in place….otherwise the jar wobbles and tips when the water boils. I also used jam jar tongs to hold the hot jar.
The great thing about using a mason jar is that it doesn’t have to be cleaned. If I have leftover mixture, I can leave it in the jar and reheat it the next time I make another batch of beeswax wraps.
Once the ingredients are mixed into a thick liquid, TEST ONE piece of fabric by spreading the mixture on the fabric with a paint brush. Coat the surface as evenly as possible. If the wax gets too blotchy smooth it out with the brush. The heat of the oven will even most clumps out. No need to turn the fabric over, since it soaks through to the other side.
Heat in oven for 5 minutes at 200 degrees.
FUNNY NOTE: beeswax wraps were the FIRST thing I “baked” in a brand new oven!!!
Create a “clothesline” in your kitchen by tying a string from one chair or cabinet handle to another. Then clip the fabric by the edges and allow to dry for 15 minutes. (Do this ahead of time so it’s ready when the fabrics come out of the oven).
To test if the mixture is correct: once the fabric is dry, fold a corner of the fabric on top of itself, press down, then lift the fabric corner back up quickly. It should make a clean little snapping noise. Once you have this right, you can proceed to coating the rest of your fabric pieces.
…in other words, the mistakes I made so you don't have to!
TEST your mixture first on one piece of fabric (which I didn’t do the first time, and wound up with wraps that were too oily and sticky*)….. IF it makes a nice clicking sound when it’s dry, then your mixture is correct. If not add more resin or beeswax…and test again.
to fix the wraps that were too oily. I placed them between old hand towels and used my iron to press the excess oil out (excess oil gets absorbed into the towels). I hand washed the wraps in soap and water, and air dried them. Then I was able to re-apply the correct mixture and the beeswax wraps are now perfect.
If you use the Mother Earth Living recipe: only use 1 Tablespoon of Jojoba oil (4.5 tablespoons was too much). 5 TBSP beeswax pellets is approximately 1/2 cup.
Use beeswax pellets. A lot easier than grating a block of beeswax.
Some fabrics continue to ravel even with a coating of beeswax. Use pinking sheers or a rotary cutter with a pinking or scallop blade to tame those fraying edges before applying the wax.
A clean new wooden stirrer for paint worked best for me. The long handle was much easier to use than the recommended popsicle sticks.
Wear an apron or old clothes. The mixture can bubble up and splash on your clothes.
The only negative aspect of using the beeswax wraps, is that since they are not transparent and you can’t label them, you need to guess by the shape and location in the refrigerator as to what’s inside. It’s actually a pretty easy guessing game!
The whole process is a little messy, but well worth the effort if I can reduce the amount of plastic I use in my house. They make nice gifts plus it’s so much fun using my fabrics in a new way.
When the wraps get “tired,” after about a year, you can either re-apply a new mixture, or pop them in the oven for a few minuets to redistribute the wax. I’ll let you know in a year how my wraps are doing and what I decide to do to refresh them
These instructions are provided as an overview only, to give you an idea of the process. For more information, please refer to the two articles I used, for complete step by step instructions in Mother Earth Living and ChefSousChef:
I love to organize everything, including my fabric scraps. Leftover fabrics are cut into 6” squares and 2” strips. These are shapes that I use a lot in my quilts:
6” squares are the base to Happy Villages, Rose Twirls, Color Twists and Layered Leaves
2” strips are the base to Layered Logs and Wiggle borders
So why did I need to re-organize? The squares were assorted by color, but the strips were a mess! Different colors strips were all mixed together. An organized person’s nightmare!
Solution: organize both strips and squares by color, so all the squares AND strips of one color family are now in the same bin.
36” X 67”
I found a UFO in my studio! (UnFinished Object) that dates back to 14 years! As a rule I do not start a new project until the one I am working on is finished, however here was an exception.
In 2006 “The Creative Miracles Board”* - our small fiber art group decided that it would be fun to learn about the Chakras by making a group project. Well, the group project was never finished, but our individual 6” squares were complete. I thought it was time to breathe new life into my seven squares.
*we had to have the word “board” in the group’s name so that one of the members could put our meetings on her calendar and make it look like a legitimate business meeting to her husband!
The Chakras are 7 energy centers in our bodies. They correspond to different colors, organs, emotions, life’s purpose, physical and spiritual elements, etc… I am not an expert on them at all, but the colors and meanings of each Chakra were interesting to explore as a group. Each person made a 6” square which represented each of the chakras.
These are the colors and locations of each chakra (chakra is Sanskrit for “Wheel”)
Chakra 2 Orange/Sacral/Reproductive System
Chakra 3 Yellow/Solar Plexus
Chakra 4 Green/Heart
Chakra 5 Sky Blue/Throat
Chakra 6 Midnight Blue or Purple /Brow or 3rd Eye
Chakra 7 Violet or White/Crown
My first challenge was how to work with 6” squares, when chakras are supposed to be round like a wheel or circle? I decided not to worry about that. These are my original 6” square blocks.
Instead of rounding them out, I set each square in a diamond by adding 4 triangles to each side. I needed to overlap them so they would fit on my design wall.
Here are the blocks overlapped and expanded.
I imagined the energy of each chakra vibrating in layers of color waves surrounding it.
First I selected fabrics to correspond to the chakra colors.
Then I layered strips to correspond with those colors (I definitely used some of my 2” strips from my re-organized leftovers!)
Strips are pinned together (edges have gentle curves and are pressed toward the back approximately 1/4” - just like we do when we make an Accidental Landscape, except the strips are skinnier)
Working my way down from the Crown Chakra, color wave by color wave
Here it is at the basting stage: layered with the batting and backing. Ready for quilting.
I couched yarns around any raw edges and added triangles to the perimeter of the chakra blocks to give them more energy.
Side borders were added using my topstitched “hanging diamonds”
Instructions for the diamond borders are in these books:
Layered Waves book* - page 45
Wearable Waves book - page 18
Wiggles & Waves book - page 38 shows a Zig Zag border….which is a variation of the hanging diamond border
*Layered Waves is out of print, but a few copies are still available on the quilterswarehouse.com site under my “The Quilted Lizard” designer page)
Finished quilt above with close-up photos of the quilting.
If you have taken a workshop with me or attended one of my presentations, you know that I love layers and lines. I see them everywhere and they are the inspiration for my Accidental Landscapes and my abstract compositions
(recent example: Chakra Waves).
Here are some photos from a recent trip to one of the Out Islands of the Bahamas. Layers of water, waves and sand reminded me of many of the little Accidental Landscapes I have made over the past 20 years.
I’m wearing the colors to match the layers of the waterscape! That was an accident!
Notice the beautiful pink sand.
Layers and lines on a palm trunk, in the coral rocks
and in the palm weaving of a hut wall.
Teaching Calendars 2020-2021
I hope that one of the workshop dates and venues will work in your schedule so we can meet again or meet for the very first time.
If you are interested in attending one of these workshops, please contact the guild or organization to get prices and registration information. If you need help contacting one of the venues, just let me know and I would be happy to give you the name of my contact person.
Below is a Happy Village created by Barb Montgomery, from Chagrin Falls, OH. She did this all on her own simply by following the basic instructions in my book as a starting point. Then letting her imagination and creativity take over to create "Montgomery Mills."
Thanks again Barb for sharing your village with us.
*new or updated since FALL 2019 newsletter
Melbourne Seaside Peacemakers, FL Jan 22-23 (Jan 22 AM:Happy Villages & Accidental Landscapes lecture, Jan. 22 PM: Color Twists & Leaves workshop, Jan 23 Happy Villages workshop.)
I will be the featured artist on the QuiltShow with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims on the Sunday morning show. If you are in the area, please get tickets and come join the studio audience and see the show live!