Over the past few weeks, we've been getting pummeled by unseasonal winds here in SoCal. They caught us by surprise in the wee hours of the morning that last week in April. Just the week before, we had finished our landscaping projects and fancied up the area around the fire bowl. We were quite pleased with ourselves for being ahead of the summer entertaining curve for once. But then those Santa Anas blew in and made a mess of all we'd planted and prepared. Daylight finally came and we had nary a moment to survey the damage. We made a mad dash to secure anything that had not yet blown into the pool (or the neighbor's yard) and bring what we could inside to protect it from further damage.
Such it was that the deep seated bench that once sat around the fire was relocated to our enclosed patio and tarped over to spare what was left of the cushions. Two steps forward, one step back as they say...
When the winds eventually subsided, it was evident some of the outdoor cushions I made just last season would need replacing. The truth is, we had left them outside most of the year and they had become weather-worn long before that gusty week. While I was not happy about the added expense, I was thankful to have a good reason to replace them with a softer pattern and easier on the skin textiles.
I was lucky enough to find inexpensive white linen-like pillow cases, along with a couple of flat weave rugs and linen place mats that would eventually become additional pillows. To give them a little color and bring this mish-mash of materials together, I decided to try my hand at shibori. There are so many tutorials out there on this hand dyed technique, picking it up was fairly easy (here's one of my favorites yet). Supplies were inexpensively acquired and one night after work, I outfitted our shower area with Home Depot buckets and created a dye bath station.
I soaked my twisted, banded and knotted fabric in basic black Rit dye, alternating the bath times to result in contrasting tones. I even tried my hand at painting fabric, sketching dozens of lines down the face of one pillow with screen-printing paint. The once brown, grain-sack place mats I found on the clearance rack at Home Goods were sewn together and stuffed to create a couple of striped accent pillows.
Once they dried and I had a chance to iron them, I was pretty tickled at how well they turned out on my first attempt.
The winds have passed now (hopefully for the rest of the season), but we have not yet moved the bench back out by the fire bowl. The display of plush, shibori pillows makes for nice visual transition walking from indoors to out. Just beyond our kitchen door, this little area has also become a favorite, cozy spot to thumb through magazines or just curl up in our bathing suits while having lunch on weekends. It may eventually be relocated, but for now, it's a good place to settle in for the lazy days of summer that lay ahead.