Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Natural Dye workshop Day 3

Today was a day full of glorious color. 
Here is a so-so picture of my five step value gradation of the indigo on tapestry yarn. The picture does not do the yarn justice.

Dye baths were done today using cochineal, ground up from the actual bugs. What an amazing process, with rich color yield. The fibers are sitting overnight, so I will have pictures tomorrow. A bath using cutch was also done. Both of these dye baths have samples of cotton, silk, linen and wool for the class to share and bring home for reference,

Late in the day several of us put yarn and cloth in the cutch and cochineal exhaust baths. These will of course give a lighter value of the original bath, however the color is still beautiful.
                  Cutch is shown above
             Cochineal is shown above

I decided to make a dye bath using madder, so that I could complete the Tencel warp and weft that I brought. It was done at a 5% depth of shade, so it is a medium value. My plan is to apply two different mordants to it, ferrous and titanium, to alter the original color of the madder. Ultimately this is a way to dye just one color but get numerous others in just two processes. I hope to have this done by the time we finish class on Friday.
             Madder is shown above

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Natural Dye workshop Day 2

Today we worked with thickened and unthickened natural dyes in a direct application process. We had weld, madder, cochineal, pomegranate, and cutch to work with.
For my thickened dyes, I decided to work on some silk broadcloth that I brought with me. Instead of doing the typical swatches of each natural dye, I hand painted a variety of marks of each color. I also made a decision to test two different ways of finishing the piece: one by steaming the fabric when dry and the other to just let it sit for two days and then boil the cloth.

Here is a picture of my hand painted cloth before it was cut in half to finish. On Friday I will post the two side but side for comparisons.

I also used the unthickened dyes to paint a small skein of yarn. I am doing three methods of finishing the yarn to research which approach will give me the best color yield.
1. Steam the  yarn right after it was painted and still wet
2. Steam the yarn when it was bone dry
3. Wash the yarn two days later

Here is the finished skein immediately after painting.

Here is the steamed yarn on the bottom with the dry yarn above it. I was amazed at how  much more intense the colors became, although it seems like the madder and cochineal lost their intensity.

I also began dyeing in the 1-2-3 Henna Lime Indigo vat today. I dipped my sample, using the indigo paste resist, three times. I'll have the before and after pictures tomorrow. 
I also started a value gradation study on my 3 ply tapestry wool in the indigo vat. So far I love the results. Next I need to start designing a small monochromatic tapestry with those beautiful yarns.

We also extracted this gorgeous yellow from Catharine's weld dried plant material and then used it to create two dye baths: one for wool and the other for cotton, linen and silk. 
Here is the wool sample:

More tomorrow!!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Natural Dye workshop Day One

I am so happy to be at Arrowmont School of Art and Craft this week, studying Natural Dyes with Catharine Ellis. We began our day with the preparation of a natural indigo vat. I LOVE this recipe because it uses natural indigo extract, henna or fructose and lime (calcium hydroxide). There are no offensive smells like in your typical synthetic indigo vat, only the sweet aroma of the henna or fructose. In addition to that, I can now make a strong and a weaker vat and maintain them properly over time and be able to achieve lighter values of indigo blue from the very beginning and still not worry about sacrificing light fastness.

This picture shows the wonderful surface of our natural indigo vat as well as the flower it created in just a few hours. We are letting it sit overnight to continue reducing. Please excuse the shadow from the porch where we were working outside. The vat itself already has a beautiful mustardy yellow quality to it. 

We did a test strip and it looks beautiful. I'm anxious to see the difference in tomorrow morning's test strip.

We also talked about the role of tannins and then prepared some of our cellulose fibers with a tannin. I brought a prepared Tencel warp and some weft to weave a scarf and treated that with tannin. I cannot wait to start dyeing my warp tomorrow. 

We ended the day by making an indigo paste resist. It is water soluble and very easy to rinse out of the cloth. So I used one of my new stencils from The Stencil Girl to apply the paste to my cotton fabric. I will post pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sketching and Dyeing

I've been busily dyeing three strand Paternayan wool for this series of small tapestries that I plan to weave over the next few months. I've got a pretty good inventory of colors that will work really well in a series that deal with my passion of Fall colors in New England. One more dye session to achieve some lighter values of colors for the backgrounds and I should be ready to weave.

I recently bought an iPad to use when I travel but most of all to use as my sketchbook. I want to say "Thanks" to my artist friend Sue Bleiweiss for recommending an iPad app for my sketches. It is called Paper by 53. I spent most of yesterday learning the tools and making some sketches for this series of tapestries. Here is one of them that I plan to use as my cartoon for the first tapestry.