in a nutshell

So, what do you do with something you’ve stared at for 2+ years, and then cut up?

Throw it in a dyepot. Because if it’s no longer “precious”, you might as well go the full “wtf, why not?” route.

With natural dyes, it’s predictable that if there’s already iron present on the fabric, it’s going to darken and sadden colours. However, with the unmeasurable concentrations of iron used in rusting cloth, there’s no predictability about the shade or depth. Add to the stew, the fact that these pieces were already lined with cotton flannellette, my favourite stabilizer and crunchtexture “additive”, the dyes uptake was even more capricious. And note too: i did not premordant other than using the iron already on the cloth–if i had thought a bit longer, i could have might have done an alum acetate soak to see if the colours grabbed more, but it’s not a big whoopee bad because i didn’t.

I had thrown the figure itself in an osage bath, and was not happy with the resultant boring tan she became. Admittedly, the osage bath was on its last legs, having been used multiple times, but wow, there was a lot more iron on her than i had suspected. After the fabric had been made during the residency, i immediately washed it in hot water and some synthrapol and baking soda, as i do all of my rusted fabrics, removing stray particles, but this really shows how much the rust/iron had penetrated. Invisible to the eye, but not to chemistry! There are many arguments about how to actually “neutralize” the rust, by many different camps of dyers, but this has been the one that works best for me. AND NO, SALT DOES NOT WORK: does your car STOP rusting in the winter when you get road salt on it????? I dunno where that logic came from….idjits.

So i threw her in a pot of madder and sandalwood (using up two old dyebaths). I’ll have to work around the stocking appearance of her from the thigh down though! The other chunks were also cooked in the madder/sandalwood: the largest piece had been randomly and quickly dipped into indigo first, with the hope i’d get some purples. The wings apparently had the most iron on them, but i really like the effect it had on the madder, strong. NOW she’s singing!

Here’s the comparison, before and after:

Fortuitously, the indigo features centred and right above her head, a serendipitous effect.

While these are not the best examples of these dyes, and certainly not the best way to do things (no premordants other than the residual iron), i’m actually quite pleased with the results. She looks muddier, dirty, earthy, but given that Fall is all those things, and that her name is “Samara”, implying dried seeds, leaves changing and falling, the end of Summer and the return to the earth, that is more important, and actually there are some “pretty” areas.

Sometimes “wtf, why not?” is worth the effort.

When i see my thread choices (also naturally dyed) with her, i think the results will be perfect.

Now………..i have to figure out how to use those threads appropriately for this. As beautiful as the dimunitive leaves and flowers have been on the recent moons, those tiny motifs are not going to cut it for this. I need stronger, scaled up structures/objects/designs. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the FrankenStitch approach.

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