Everyday Beauty

Hand-dyed covers for massage table face cradle cushions

Hand-dyed covers for massage table face cradle cushions

Art isn’t just for the wall, and for artists at art shows. This year I am creating more art for everyday use. I sewed hand-dyed bolster covers and face cradle covers for a massage therapist. I dyed a tablecloth that is thinking about becoming a shower curtain . . . doesn’t it already look like a psychedelic waterfall?

Water Water Copyright 2015 by Janet Hovde

Water Water
Copyright 2015 by Janet Hovde

I dyed heavy cotton for a coat for a regal dog I know. And I am brightening “old” pillowcases with dye. Handling art brings me joy.

When I dye fabric, I carefully put together color recipes, a ½ teaspoon of deep navy, a tablespoon of bright blue, etc. I clip the page of printed recipes to the clothesline next to our basement utility sink.  I don old clothes, old shoes, apron, breathing mask, goggles and big yellow rubber gloves (the dye powder is toxic until it dissolves in water). Instead of measuring carefully, I eyeball the amounts on my recipes. Once the basic colors are prepared, I take off my mask and goggles. As I mix the basic colors into secondary colors, a transformation begins. And by the time I add the dye to the fabric, the transformation is complete—I have become a mad scientist! I wring out and scrunch and twist the chunks of wet fabric. I dump a little of this color over here and pour a little of that concoction over there. I squish the dye more deeply into the fabrics in plastic bags if I want more complete coverage. I turn over the clumps of wet fabric in the individual plastic containers and pour another color over the whole thing or in only a few crevices. I let it “batch” for 24 hours and then I rinse, rinse, rinse, wash, dry, iron . . . and am almost beside myself in excitement as the final patterns reveal themselves. In hand-dyeing, as in all of my work, my intention is that the work holds wonderful healing energies and qualities to be shared generously with anyone who sees or uses the work. Do I have a fun job or what?

I am adding this, everyday beauty, to the mix of my work intermingling healing, art and intuition. If you have linens you’d like to brighten, consider whether you might like to hire a mad scientist . . . I’m available. Contact me to start a conversation.

If you could handle art while making your bed, or walking your dog, or putting on an apron . . . would you? I’d love to hear your ideas. And you are welcome to use the buttons below to share this post.


  1. What a great idea Janet! I love the Water Water pattern, very peaceful. You do have a fun job! Thanks for sharing:)
    Nancy Jambor recently posted..Soul Day RetreatMy Profile

  2. Oh yes indeed Janet – you have a most wonderfully fun job! And your dyeing some fabulous things. When I was a teenager I used to regularly dye my sheets and pillowcases and paint my bedroom furniture – every few months. I just LOVED LOVED LOVED playing with color. And every night I’d sleep on a “newly” colored set of linens I’d have the most incredible dreams. What fun! I totally salute your mad scientist color alchemist.
    Deborah Weber recently posted..Triskaidekaphobia Free ZoneMy Profile

  3. Hand dying does seem to be a good way to be able to tell your face pillows from one another. No duplicates to get confused.
    SKJAM! recently posted..Comic Book Review: Essential Rampaging Hulk, Vol. 1My Profile

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