The Eyes Have It – Part 2

The Eyes Have It – Part 2

A couple of months ago I did a blog about drawing eyes. I mentioned that someday I would like to rework  the eyes on a quilt I had made of my rescue dog, Koko. A Zoom class became available in September  from Lorraine Turner ( called “All About Eyes”. Lorraine sometimes uses Derwent Inktense pencil to make eyes for her animal quilts. I haven’t played much with my Inktense pencils so thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more about them and maybe find a fix for Koko’s eyes on her quilt.

Here is a close up photo of the quilt I call Saint Koko. The original eyes were plain fabric with a small bead sewn on.


Using an actual photo of Koko’s eyes, I tried to enlarge it enough to match the exact placement of her eyes on the quilt. Lorraine suggested making numerous sets of eyes to practice using the Inktense pencils on. I used a light box to trace the basic shapes of her eyes from the photo onto some plain white fabric.

What a FUN exercise! I went with the last set of eyes I had made. I then fused some Wonder Under to them and cut them out and lightly fused them to the quilt.

Right now, I am trying to decide if I like them or not. They almost look too real for my whimsical little quilt, don’t they? They definitely change things up, I think! They give her a totally different expression. I think more work will need to be done before I am satisfied. Perhaps more Inktense pencil work or thread painting. And I still may do some additional work on her face and body to lighten it up. Progress is being made though! Lorraine will be teaching more about Inktense pencils in November. I’m looking forward to playing with them and learning more about them.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been doing some dyeing with Procion Dyes. Jane Dunnewold ( ) has had some great Zoom lectures lately. She is an awesome instructor and person! I mixed up 12 of the pure colors to play with, scrunched up fat quarters and then rubber banded them before dropping them into the dye bath for 24 hours.

I have been wanting to play with dyeing my own silk/cotton fabric (Robert Kaufman PFD Radiance) that I use as the background for my tile quilts. Robert Kaufman quit manufacturing Radiance for a time and I was so sad as I love it’s sheen.  When I discovered he had the PFD available, I bought a whole bolt of it!

Aren’t these such beautiful colors!

Next I will cut each fat quarter into 4 equal pieces. One will be left alone, the other three will be overdyed using a complimentary color, an analogous color to the right, and then an analogous color to the left. I may use a different fabric manipulation prior to their second dye bath or I may just scrunch them up the same way. They almost look oversaturated to me already, so I’m really curious how the second batch will look. Dyeing is a lot of work!  But what fun!

Thanks for reading! Happy creating!

Tesi Vaara





8 thoughts on “The Eyes Have It – Part 2

  1. I love the new eyes. They really make her come to life, she looks so happy and quizzical. Dying is so much fun. I scrunch/low water immersion my silk for nuno felting. it is always such a surprise when you pull them out. it will be fun to see what happens with your experiments. Your starting colours are so lovely and bright. I hope they compliments don’t give you to much brown.

    1. I’m so glad you think her new eyes are an improvement! I’m curious about the mudiness of adding the complimentary color as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the dye studio sometime next week when the weather clears a bit and I can rinse outside.

  2. The new eyes are fabulous! They bring the quilt to life in a wonderful way!

    Love your rainbow of cloth. Yes, dyeing in large quantity is hard work but fascinating too.

    1. Thank you for your input on Koko’s new eyes!
      Dyeing cloth is definitely fascinating. So much to learn.
      Jane Dunnewold just reprinted her Art Cloth book and it’s available on Amazon now.

  3. Look at those new beautiful eyes! I love my Inktense pencils and use them for many things. Thank you so much for the eye illumination 🙂 and the info on dyeing!

    1. The Inktense pencils really are an amazing tool. I’m excited to learn more about them while following along with Lorraine’s sessions in November. So much to explore!

  4. I love Koko’s new eyes. I hope you show us the finished piece when you’re satisfied. Your fabric is wonderful and it is a lot of work but worth it.

    1. Thanks Ruth. Jane Dunnewold is much like Gail Harker in her note taking/sample making instructions. Now I hear both of their voices in my head when I am playing! I’m looking forward to more exploration in the coming weeks. I have some regular cotton ready to sample as well so I can test how it picks up the dye. Fun stuff in my future!

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