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Category Archives: Ecoprints and Natural Dyes

even greater distances

I don’t know how many textile artists work, when out of the public eye on blog, Instagram and FB, but me, i keep files and a private blog for ideas, sketches, colour and fabric combos, inspiration and possibles. Though little was “accomplished” this year, i’m happy with the results, and the dye play i’ve been doing, BUT i found myself this morning opening a new file and category for “WORK 2018”.

A LOT of the 2017 notes are archived already. Some are switched to the 2018, and a LOT MORE deleted.

I love the little moon series i’ve created over the last two years, and intend to make many more, however i also need to get back to the larger works as well. “Samara” will be one of them, and after seeing her in the sun yesterday, i pulled a bunch of these naturally dyed fabrics.

They may not all get used here, but given the initially planned harder look, i think this is more on track with what she’s saying, softer, still strongly feminine, but with a more “fertile” approach. I want her wings to be more inviting, enveloping, brilliant even. Autumn after all is not just a time of endings, but of rich harvests and warm gatherings. I do need however more autumnal colours so into the dyepots again with some of these scraps.

For other work i’ve wanted to do, i guess i will be making larger pieces of the potassium permanganate dyed cottons after all. I must have cut up the piece i did during residency, thinking it was a “fail”, a lesson learned: leave it alone and the time will come as it needs to!

While digging around in the actual fabrics i still have, i found this, and am thinking to use it as a “marker” for a new series with the PP.

It’s snow dyed, with Procion, but that doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme of things, colour is colour. And the texture of this old rayon velvet is freekin’ awesome. It’s vintage, at least 20 years old and at a yard and a half, is plenty to incorporate into this dreamed of work.

Another week of dyeing, and i figure i will have enough of threads and cloth to “share” and to use.

 

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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 🙂 ) 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!)

 

seeing red

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Muchly great large happie fantabulous hugormous exultations this morning from the Dye Dungeon. I’m seeing RED because i FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY got madder to work properly.

Yes, there’s a faint cast of l’orange, and yes, some look “vintage”, but i can live with all of that because “Look! I have made Fire!”

Photographed dry, ’cause i hate that wet expectation 🙂 (Everything always dries lighter.)

And yes, this is a stupendous result for me. Yeah yeah, madder is supposed to give red under Best Practices, but look at what i always got before:

Pretty, but i was always madder after using Madder previous to this eek’s results. I was even ready to give the damn stuff away–and of course now after all the failed bits, i have little left out of a kilo of Maiwa……………………..Obviously time to restock.

And apparently i got rid of ALL my old embroidery bobbin cards, time to re-order those as well.

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Dyeing, Ecoprints and Natural Dyes, madder

 

heeling in

In a big way…

I have first year madder growing in a large pot, and it’s done rather well this first season. This is the hottest and sunniest spot for pots: our patio gets foot blistering hot and has full and /or reflected sun for at least 8-10 hours a day through the summer. (I watered thoroughly almost every day.) A bit frost tinged, as we had our first frost on Sept 16, it’s still growing and green, so it’s still alive.

HOWEVER, Calgary’s cold cold winters, heavy frosts and possible large dumps of snow mean that i either bring it in to overwinter–and where the hell do i put a pot that size where it can get decent light and warm-ish temps (ALL windows in the house are already, and always, glutted with plants)—–or mulch and insulate it like crazy, as pots freeze first, fast and heavily.

AHEM.

There *is* a plant planting procedure called “heeling in”. I’m just doing it with a pot, rather than bare roots. I can’t plant the root ball in the ground by itself, as madder roots spread (optimally!), and i want to be able to harvest them easily (see my Gallium post for reasons why that CAN be a good thing or not, even if the roots are a decent size), and also because our ground freezes HARD for quite a depth. That’s a BIG hole though, because the pot is 13″ deep and 14″ across.

A kind person in a FB group suggested this, and that’s what i’ma gonna do. I need to collect some insulating material still, for around the pot, and to mulch over it, but i’m keeping my hoofies crossed that this does the trick.

I won’t know until April probably if this works………………praying to the Dye Plant Gawdzesses, that this will blessedly show new growth then.

For the record, i bought these madder seeds from a Canadian company, Salt Spring Island Seeds. While i appreciate being able to get them, i don’t appreciate companies that have NO information on actually growing and caring for them–WTF??????–an email to them resulted in basically “we don’t know” (anything about them)…………… Of course, this company also sells Elecampane seeds, touting them as a source for blue dye from the roots…….PUH leez…..

 

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?

 

i’m dyein’ here

🙂

There ARE plans for stitch coming, ideas developing as i dye the threads and fabrics i want to use.

Last night i tried a wee bit of overdyeing and some modifier experiments:

Left, osage dipped in cochineal, logwood dipped in osage–a lovely surprise as i’ve wanted this colour combination for the longest time! , then logwood and cochineal, and cochineal with soda ash, which didn’t deepen as purple as i thought it would. The two logwood overdyes have to have those ends dipped in some iron though to improve the lightfastness, so i wonder how much it will change, and if any will seep into the osage?

 

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2017 in cochineal, Jam Day, logwood, osage

 

The Dye Dungeon Openeth Again

BANG. “Shit”, pause, “Sorry!” BANG. “Fuck”, pause, “Sorry!” BANG. “dammit”, pause, “Sorry!” The poor water heater man was in the basement, fixing things, and that’s what i kept hearing. Our basement is low ceilinged after all, being in a 107 year old house. You *can* walk upright (unless you’re 6′ plus, in which case you will be grazing the first floor bracing beams), but there are areas where furnace ducts are low, and both Greyman and i regularly bash our heads on them. When my hair was long and i wore it pinned up, it would be a common part of the experience, catching that full tilt on the top of the head……….I finally had to tell that poor workman to stop apologizing, and just get on with. I’ve heard all those words before, so whatever 🙂

And yes, our basement is slightly creepy. The house is after all Old, and there are parts behind walls down there that are the original stonework and earth dug-outs. It doesn’t smell musty or moldy, just old, no strange growths anywhere or slithering whatthehellisthats, one of the benefits of Calgary’s dry climate, even with us being beside the river and probably not that far above the natural water table. (Actually after the 2013 Calgary flood, we *know* it’s not far above, but we do know we also have the only self draining house on the block!) You can stand up in it, something not said about a lot of 107 year old basements, it’s floored with concrete and mostly painted white. We don’t use it for much beyond storage and it occurred to me yesterday that it was largely being wasted.

It’s divided into 4 strange little rooms, evidence of the original size and shape of the house, documenting add-ons and renovations. There’s actually no basement below the teeny back bedroom, laundry room, kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom, unless you count the old stone and earth part (!), but it’s still big enough for a lot of uses. Dyeing space immediately comes to mind through the winter. The garage is uninsulated and too far from the house in terms of -30c weather, so why not just descend to the depths?

That’s where the Dye Dungeon is again, in the back part near what is the old cistern, long boarded and bricked up, and containing we are sure, a body or two…..There’s a tiny backroom with lots of old wood shelves for all my dye supplies, natural and un-natural chemical/synthetic, plenty of old pull string lights, and a concrete floor. Nothing fancy down there at all, just space where the dog never goes (she’s afraid of the creepy old narrow stairs down), and the cat rarely, as “it’s boring, so boring”. (You know how cats are.) I *did* have it set up 7 years ago, but admittedly didn’t do as much then as i had thought i would. I’m afraid right now if i keep using the studio, that the mess will become a wet one, with pots and jars all over, and inquisitive studio assistants, Slapshot (official studio cat) and Nessie the DogFaced Girl (resident i-go-everywhere-Mom-is dog).

(I’ll post pics in another entry 🙂 )

And the first cochineal results are in, and i am very very quite happy 🙂 These are dry too, so none of that misleading wet photograph stuff–we all know wet is more intense looking than dry!

Same threads, different light, to show their beauty, all on wool or a silk/wool blend, different mordants and modifiers.

I have cotton threads as well now, dried after a long soak in the dye bath, and oh i am thrilled with the results!

So, in the last two weeks, with experimenting and testing that i am doing things correctly, behold my new stash!!!!!!!!!

As soon as i can plan for being more productive, quantity wise, i really would like to be offering these in the shop. Stay tuned 🙂