in which i publicly humiliate myself

Because we’ve all done Stoopid with a Capitol 9 at least once………

“Normally” i would have thrown this in the unfinished pile where it would have sat forever, but the lace is too precious to me to “waste” it. And i *have* gotten much better at (im)patiently pulling or cutting out mistakes, because the initial idea is good. When they lack in interpretation though, cut your losses, or cut the threads!

Firstly, the lace puffed up and made itself look big, trying to scare me. I do believe i forgot to iron the underlayer (Lazy!) and a wrinkle in there resulted in this lofty attempt at escape.

What’s REALLY sad is that though i had a very clear picture in my head of how she would look when worked, i didn’t stop for any consideration on HOW i was going to do that, and just Started. Dear GAWDZ but this is Horridatious, looking as if an inexperienced newbie or a 4 year old got hold of it. I have done trite work, i admit it (we all honestly have) but this? Not only trite, but badly worked–NOTHING to do with what the figure is/says, NO beauty in any of that working, and seriously, i am embarrassing myself horribly by showing this. Is it any wonder she’s holding her head in her hands???? She’s wailing!!! “What have you done to meeeeeeeeeeee???”

I picked out ALL of the interior stitching. I slit the lace and flattened it down–nothing anywhere says that can’t be done, or will detract from the work. I don’t know about you, but there’s nowhere in my contract that says i HAVE to do something ONE way or it’s Wrong! I had to also soak the whole thing to let the resulting holes and pulls Relax. (Relax, Baby: i’ll still respect you in the morning.)

I had this bright idea to use several of my naturally dyed threads, and while the colourway would have worked, it took too much away from the figure, putting focus on the threads instead. I have gone to my commercially dyed threads in rebuttal πŸ™‚ As i’ve always said, colour is colour–yes, brown is too a colour!—and i’m not about to get all precious about just naturally dyed, so all my “bland, boring, beige” browns in all their glorious permutations are being hauled out.

I’m off to appease the Stitching Gawdesses with a cup of fresh coffee, small sweet biscuits and a sacrificial thread loaded needle or two…..i already gave blood, sweat and tears…………

a natural moon

I’ve been slowly (and not so diligently, as other pursuits in the studio have “interfered”) working on this indigo moon, using my newly dyed naturally dyed threads. This is a lesson in itself, as the indigo i’m working on is strong enough to overshadow certain colours, necessitating some more neutral backgrounds for future plans/use.

 

The moon is worked with cotton, silk, silk/wool blend and wool threads in cochineal, osage, logwood, and privet berries, with the brown of the seeds coming from potassium permanganate (actually an inorganic compound). I found a walnut bath i had stored several years ago, when i was setting up in the basement, and shall test to see if it’s still “live”, for some of my browns in future, though i do love all the permutations the PP gave on the skein of cotton. On the background surround, in cotton, silk, wool and silk/wool, the colours i used are privet berry, cochineal, brazilwood, rhubarb root, hollyhock (and that’s where the “oh-oh” happened, as some of the colours are so soft, they are barely discernible), osage, logwood, and sandalwood. Using pre-mordanting (VERY important), and post modifying methods, changes the colours to a wide range. (Ha, just realized i used none of the wonderful madder results!)

I have two other moons still in the finishing stages, and hope to get them done soon too! All will be in the shop.

 

 

abracafabric!

I SWEAR that i looked everywhere for the fabric i wanted to use for a new big work. Potassium permanganate dyed, it was a substantial piece of yardage, and i could not for the life of me figure out where the damn thing went, and finally surmised i must have cut it up. I had scoured bins, boxes, bags of fails, scrap debris in the dye dungeon and the usual odd places where something goes to be “kept safe”.

Yesterday i was going through a stack in the studio, pulling out chunks to be redyed, admiring or not in new separate piles πŸ™‚ , refolding, and hanging larger pieces over the back of the chairs, and

WHAT????!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had just refolded the piece i was looking for all along.

So, i redyed it in the PP vat, as the original bath it had at the summer res was weak and old, resulting in a negligible beige blandness, and have now a warm deep milk-chocolate-verging-on-dark-chocolate chunk. I’m going to introduce it to both logwood cloth (cotton and silk) and madder, osage and logwood (cotton) threads.

See how much darker the silk is? Technically this is why protein and cellulose fibres shouldn’t be in the same pot, as proteins uptake faster and deeper. (I should have divided the bath and done separate soaks.)Β  The logwood threads were done by themselves in the first new pot, and the colour uptake was phenomenal. (The silks and cotton fabrics were done in subsequent soaks in the same pot, in two sessions.) Of course, that’s because i accidentally dumped in what was left in the jar, instead of actually measuring!

I am perfectly happy with the results though, even if the cottons are quite mottled (due to sitting in a pot all day while i was at the DayJob and unable to stir once in awhile), and will use it all anyways. I still however have to do a post mordant/modify with iron, so expect these to become somewhat darker. Again, going with the flow, and happy the work is working!

And there’s still some dye left in the bath, so am scrounging up some more protein fibres: a lone piece of linen, maybe some wool threads and a bit more silk. I expect they will be not as deep a shade, but can always build on them in other dyes, such as cochineal, madder or the old stand by, indigo.

HOWEVER, since i have been lazy/uninspired/busy for at least a month and a half, i am keeping all my notes in the 2018 file. I have 3 small moons to finish, and will not allow myself to start major new work, while dibbly bits are still hanging around waiting for their turn. I WILL get to new work before the end of the year, but the luxury of starting will be only when the UFO’s are gone!

happily ensconced in the dye dungeon

Sandalwood

Cochineal

Madder

Osage

NOTE: some of those above are overdyed or post modified, something i’m not about to share, not because it’s a secret, but because there are so many variables it would get ridiculous. (“Noblick tannin and Retooty acetate premordants, dyed with SuperPow pink, post modified with dog spit, overdye dip one end in Prang yellow, other in Choplitz blue, post mordanted AND modified with Ogden iron”…well, ya get the picture πŸ™‚ ) What a range and hard to believe too that these are not synthetic dyes–who says natural colours are dull??????

I made myself a form of Niddy Noddy to wind skeins on, and happily wound 31 before realizing that my measurement made it necessary to do 40 winds to get 20 yards–i ended up with 10 yard skeins because i counted to 20……..ah well, that means when packaging, there will be two of those per card then, as i intend to keep the offerings to 20 yard lengths. You’ll note too, that most of these are on cotton: i do love the wool (which i am now out of) and the silk/wool blend that arrived rather snarled from the supplier, but the strands are so tangled that i’m having the devil of a time winding skeins. Have to figure out some sort of hanging apparatus so i can wind, untwangle and skein, without major body english and copious swearing. My rudimentary engineering and building skills are getting a work out also!

I’m spending most of my time this month dyeing threads and little bits of fabric (can you say mm–mm packs going into the shop soon?), while in the evening trying to get some stitching in. The naturally dyed moon is coming along nicely, but i’m not ready to share it yet.

 

Good thing too, that i am happily engaged. A typical fall week here: winter on Monday the 2nd and back to summer on Thursday the 5th, and now back to “seasonal”! (Thankfully, i dealt with the madder pot heeling in already!)

a new moon

This one is particularly satisfying–99% natural dyes!

The first section is osage and cochineal on cotton,

centre section is privet berries on silk and potassium permanganate on cotton (technically an inorganic chemical dye…)

and third section is three flavours of cochineal and logwood on wool, silk, and silk/wool blend, all on a background of indigo on cotton. (And yes, i am fully aware there are natural substances for browns, but i happen to like the permutations of “potperm”, and i have none of the naturals at the moment.)

And i just realized, that as usual my photos are mislabelled…….left and right always confuse me………..these are portrayed in the correct order above, but the orientation in the file name is reversed!

I have only to add a few more milkweed seeds to the centre, and then i can finish the whole.

 

 

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Apparently i have scared a few people with the potassium permanganate. It’s as “safe” as using any other dye, WHEN you follow the protocols! (Would you drink or bathe in Procion??? Or even indigo???????) People also assume that “natural” immediately classifies as safe, and that’s not true either. Yes, PP is corrosive, so wear gloves—-i don’t stick my bare hands in ANY dye pot, mordant or assistant, i wear protective gear when mixing. PP is inert on the fibres: it is not going to explode or spontaneously combust, UNLESS you let ALL the liquid in the bath evaporate and then store it improperly. PP is poisonous–guess what? So are pokeweed, privet berries, rhubarb leaves can be problematic with all the oxalic acid, and logwood is potentially deadly. I also NEVER stick my nose over a pot and inhale deeply while exclaiming how earthgoddessywonderful it is, or blithely swish my unprotected hands through a conventional indigo vat, or even a 123 vat (there’s lime in there, right? and i’m not talking about the fruit.) Common sense people, common sense. We *don’t* know cumulative effects for most of these substances, because when they were in common use, nobody was doing studies about it, were they? Who wants to die from dyeing?

sometimes you just get what you get

Well, how about that. Acidity, alkalinity, science, weird science, real science. It was mentioned to me that perhaps the soy pre-mordant was too acid? On the advice of a friend, i hucked in some soda ash, to “blue” it up a bit–after all, nothing to lose at this point! Edit: it did change the colour to a more blue-purple, but the bath had already exhausted, so i got minimal colour— so weak that the poor babies shouldn’t have been taken away from their mommies! (Is logwood supposed to exhaust that fast????)

So, the next pot will be using the reverse osmosis filtered water, and NO soy pre-mordanted fabrics (i’ll save them for the indigo).

I want to use these colours together, in some new work, logwood top, bottom 2 potassium permanganates:

The logwood in proper light is definitely a red-violet, not a blued shade, but i’m starting to like all the variations. I may not get the results that everyone else gets, but that’s kind of the point for my purposes. I want to follow the tried and true METHODS, but i’m happy to get different colours, as long as they are not weak and namby-pamby!

The Osage dyepot was predictable (WHEW), with no surprises there πŸ™‚ Warm yellows with a hint of orange, like a summer sunrise. I might throw some narrow slices of that too in the mix of fabrics in the above photo.

I’ve been collecting the blooms from my “black” Chater’s Double hollyhock all summer, and with only a few more blooms left on the plant, this is the sum total:

Left below, the Chater’s and right, my single deep red and burgundy–they don’t look that different dried, except for their size, but i’m still hoping the colour will be richer and deeper.

Of course, there’s only enough to do a couple of skeins of thread, but that’s part of the game as well πŸ™‚

 

 

rinsed and dried

So…..obviously a soymilk mordant does little really for potassium permanganate on these cottons. They *are* nice shades, and the two plain pieces are somewhat mottled as i had hoped they would be, but they obviously weren’t fooled by Mr Smelly SoyMilk:

But alum, and gallnut with alum does. And longer soaks work too.

The first four are unmordanted fast dip-and-squishes, the fifth is a unmordanted 10 minute soak, six and seven are respectively, the alum, and the gallnut with alum, the last two are 5 minute unmordanted soaks.

Go figure. Soymilk mordanting is not all the exciting WooWoo treatment it’s cracked up to be after all, at least not here πŸ™‚

I love these various permutations of brown! HA, get that little (VERY little) joke PERMutation, haha PERMutation….

But i want still darker shades. Will pop some of these back in, and see what happens, and do some new batches with the A/G and A pre-mordants i have a stash of. I want CHOCOLATES (don’t we all?): milk chocolate, cocoa with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, bitter chocolate, mud pudding dirt deep soil chocolate—- THOSE browns. Rich, deep, satisfying, sombre, swarthy, earthy, atramentous, important, stately, statement, strong browns.

first “potperm” results

Though i’ve used the vat at school, this is my first home usage of this scarey dangerous wonderful stuff πŸ™‚ so we’ll just call it the first results. I call it “potperm” simply because potassium permanganate is a mouthful, and one i commonly mangle in pronunciation as well, usually in front of knowledgeable people, resulting in some embarrassment. It’s also referred to as PP in “industry” usage.

Moronic giggle here: “i’m dyeing with PP today”.

And yes, i was apprehensive. Put on my Steel Loin-and-Bosom Girding Big Girl Pants and Bra Set (the beige ones, no sense in calling any more attention than usual) and suited up. I mixed my “vat” in the back alley, wearing an apron, respirator, safety glasses and neoprene gloves, and used a PLASTIC cup to mix in a PLASTIC bucket, with a PLASTIC handle, with NO metal bits. (And carried it by the bucket itself, as i trust no handle ever, given the potentially caustic splash factor.) This stuff is reactive with metals, so i’m not messing with metal lidded glass jars, metal pots, metal spoons, metal bowls, nuttin’ metal PERIOD. The bucket lid is TIGHT as well–apparently this stuff can blow (literally, UP) if it dries out. It *does* exhaust, of course, as it’s used: there’s only so much that can remain in suspension after repeated dips of cloth, something i found out at ACAD. (WHY did i think it would last forever??? Does any other dye? NO, duh, dumdumdum. Sometimes this Mad Textile Scientist can be rather dense….) I also hosed down the area after, thinking any minute particles would be diluted enough to harm neither friend nor foe (local wildlife and plants).

Since i intend to do some fair yardage with this “dye”, obviously i increased the proportions of water and potassium permanganate. (Most home usage i’ve noted is 1/4 to 2tsp per litre of water, whether for dye, garden application, or anti-fungal/antiseptic use.) That means i used 3/4 cup for 15 litres of water. (Not an exact measurement or conversion, but there’s a large margin here for colour depth, so adjust accordingly πŸ™‚ )

I did the actual dyeing on our concrete back patio, again hosing down after. I used some soymilk, alum, and alum with gallnut premordanted cottons ( 3 premordant solutions), and some unmordanted pieces, and was completely surprised by the results! (These photos below are all as the fabrics oxidize and dry. I’ll show photos of the dried effects and colours later in another entry.)

The soymilk took the least amount of dye, but hopefully once rinsed, the lovely mottling will stay as an effect:

You can see the major differences here in the soy (far right) and the unmordanted, left and middle:

Above, the middle fabrics are top a 5 minute soak, the bottom a 10 minute soak, not sure if this will make a difference either.

Not sure if the different dye absorption, dry rates on the main fabric and the threadwork will make a difference in end colour

The results, still oxidizing and drying:

Potperm comes out of the pot in various shades of purple, then oxidizes, like indigo does, but to browns, so don’t get excited by those pinker shades πŸ™‚ See those two bottom ones? The stripey one was mordanted with gallnut, the oneΒ  on the bottom rung was mordanted with gallnut and alum—quite a difference from the others! You also can’t see the ones on the other side that had longer soaks, as the light is whack.

Just as obviously, there are a lot of dye techniques to try out, from shibori to over-dye ( i know how it reacts with/to indigo, but how does it affect other dyes?), ecoprint to discharge*****. I think i’m going to have quite a stash. I also momentarily worried about what it would do to silk, but then i remembered that several years ago at the school, i did this one on 8mm habotai silk, a very sheer, delicate weight–it’s still fine, no damage. It appears the vat i used for this was very active also, possibly quite a new mix at the time, as the colour is deeper than i got this year during res.

 

 

Tip o’ the day: do not mix up with the mid morning break of iced coffee: same colour, different effect.

(YES, THAT IS A JOKE: i never eat or drink around dyes, dry, inert, mixed up or in use.)

***** NEVER DISCHARGE POTPERM WITH BLEACH, use LEMON JUICE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

oh gawdz…………………..i discovered my bucket of soymilk mordant shoved behind a box in the basement by Himself…….actually, it was fine moving it after THREE MONTHS–but OH SHIT THE REEK, as i poured it in the toilet. Oddly, no mold, just festering masses of curdlets…………………no crust even! just a solid mass. Weird Science at it’s best. Or worst.

it didn’t even shiver when i lifted it and carried it upstairs, no smell, no mold, weird, but the minute it was tipped…………. OH LORDY, there are no real descriptors……..

And since this is the bucket i used for the above, it was washed with boiling water and soap, and rinsed really really really really really well, as potperm can also react with other materials, organic and chemical. I dried it in sunshine. (No eclipse here, just some weird light and bent holes through a colander….totally underwhelming.)

Β 

 

making my own rules, potassium permanganate

I really like the effects i get with potassium permanganate, but there’s not a lot of info available, online, or in old books, when it comes to using it with cloth. Most sites tell you how to get rid of the “stains” when you are working with it, in either metal or wood applications, but not how to keep it! I *think* we might have done something with it in the textile arts program in the early 90’s at Capilano College, but if we did, i either took few notes (usually when i wasn’t that interested!), or i threw them out in a long ago purge…….

First of all, this stuff is actually Scarey Dangerous. Yes, very, no exaggeration, in application, storage and with other chemicals. It can be explosive, toxic, mutagenic, corrosive. I cringe when i see people sticking their hands in vats with no protection, but this one in particular made me yell at someone during res who did just that. But it’s also used as an anti-fungal, an antiseptic, water purification, in garden applications, for livestock use, and in science labs for staining specimens and slides.

(Ignore the “antidote” notes on the above, and check the MSDS for the real deal.)

It’s not a “natural dye”: it’s a chemical compound. So why use it if it’s so freekybeaky? Because i like the warm browns it can give, i like the way it chases (discharges, technically) indigo, i love the effects with rust and ecoprints. Respect for what we use as dyers, whether chemical or natural, can go a long way though and i have always stressed safety first in any of my own work, and certainly when i have taught classes. So i will use it, and with pleasure! (The few sites that have had any information make me shake my head too, as they blithely swish things around with bare hands……..)

I know brown is not an exciting colour to most people, and most natural dyers are going to use walnuts, chestnut, cutch or sequoia, or combine different dyebaths with various mordants and modifiers to get brown when they do want it πŸ™‚ (And i have, and do that as well. ) You’re not going to find potassium permanganate for sale on any dye house sites though, chemical or natural. I searched through chemical suppliers, university science sites, and finally water purification shops, and bought mine at a local supplier forΒ  “HVAC, Water Treatment, Fluid Handling and Conservation Industries .”Β  (I’ve heard it also referred to as “Condy’s Crystals”, an archaic name for it, and supposedly available at pharmacies/”chemists”, though i suspect that’s more in the UK than anywhere nearby!) And i asked for and got the 6 page MSDS that should go with ALL chemical use. (See that first link in this post.)

Initially, it’s expensive. I just about had a bird when i called and asked about the size they had on the website (10lbs)–$169.00!!!! The gentleman on the phone said though that they did have smaller 5 lb packages, at slightly less than half of that amount. In use though, it’s cheap, cheap, CHEAP. At 1/4 to 1 TSP per litre of water, it’s going to last a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time, great Cost Per Wear!

(HA. When i picked it up, he said someone else had just called and wanted that smaller size too, something he hasn’t sold much of in a good while. Maybe another dyer?)

 

ALL “mixing” of this will be done outside in a corner of the back40, wearing gloves, respirator and safety glasses. And lest anyone think i am totally looneytunes using this potentially bombwhacko product, a lot of textile program school scenarios have a vat of it in the wet studio, and no one has reported any Incidents. ALL dyeing should be handled with respect, safety and care.

I remember there are a few other things i can do with “potperm” and cloth, so am off to refresh my memory, and make my own (SAFE) rules for use.

 

 

out like a lion

I really need to photograph this at my favourite time of day, the mid afternoon, when the light bends properly over tactility. There’s little left on the right panel to work, but i still have void areas that will get a bit of treatment to balance the left side. (Photo shows side panels folded together, with middle panel not visible.)

It’s time to map out areas time wise. The amount of hours that have gone/are going into this, now need to be divided into other areas. I’m ready to start the top moon to stabilize the centre panel.