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Category Archives: Ecoprints and Natural Dyes

nothin’ like the smell of senescent soymilk in the morning

GAG. You know that garbagey, something’s-dead-and-liquescing smell that tells you there is something rotten in the State of Denmark?  I searched the entire house yesterday, thinking i’d find a decaying apple, a bag of decomposing rose leaves or an ancient pizza crust maybe that the DogFaced Girl had stashed. Turns out it was the soymilk i had made up for mordanting fabrics. GAG. Into the basement with that! I have one more dip to do tonight and then that crud is getting flushed!!!!!! GAG. Fortunately too, the Dye Dungeon is quite cool, the basement of a 107 year old house after all, and nothing is wafting up through the air vents!

While i was down there, i also poked the old indigo vat. I started it in the summer of 2011, managed to revive it even after it being outside and FREEZING through 3 Calgary winters, but Long Live the Indigo Vat, the Indigo Vat is dead………….

BUT Great Excitement abounds also! While the henna experiments failed as a dye, it’s working in a 123 indigo vat!!!!!! This is the stock solution below, and i’m hoping to get some indigo dyeing/shibori in this coming weekend.

Also started a conventional “chemical” vat, because i wasn’t going to hedge my bets that the 123 would work. That being said, i can now compare the two to see if i get the greener turquoisey results from the 123 i noticed while in a Yoshiko Wada workshop a couple of years ago.

And my threads arrived yesterday from my favourite supplier 123Stitch:

AND this weekend i am going with Susan to the UjaamaGramma’s sale, which means no doubt that some sad eyed puppy of a bag of thread or two, and sundry other heart-wrenchingly abandoned bits will follow me home. Good thing i donated too, so there’s room 😉

 

 

lightfastness, and other current pursuits

Annatto, while initially strong, does fade substantially. I wrote about the marvellous depth of colour here, but after 5 weeks in the sunny Stoodio window, there is quite a difference in shade. Considering too that spring in Calgary does not have the longest amount of daylight or the strongest UV rating, this does not bode well for future use.

Left silk, right cotton, both with the folded over section on the left in sun, while the behind section was covered.

I’ll be overdyeing these, using them as a base colour, but will do more lightfastness tests, because it may still affect the final outcome. I do wonder though how substantive dyes allow other dyes over top—-indigo works, so will the annatto???

 

I also started two indigo vats today, one a conventional indigo/soda ash/thio and the other a 123 with indigo, calx and henna. Since the henna did not dye fabrics for me in a straight dye bath, i’m hoping it still has enough “chemistry” in it to work for the vat!

My friend Susan (also in Calgary, so we have location in common, but our water as well 😉 ) has started a separate blog too, for her natural dye processes. We’ve been trading notes and she generously shares much info on dye subjects i have little knowledge of.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2017 in annato, Dyeing, Indigo Dreams

 

revving and refreshing skills

Honestly, i haven’t done any ecoprinting in probably over a year, so thought i’d best get back at it. I need to refresh my skills for the upcoming res and for some slated workshops in the fall.

Below, cranesbill on privet dyed silk with annatto overlay:

Very soft but quite clear detailing, but you’d have to be very close to appreciate the nuances.

Dock dyed silk, with Grevillea ecoprint, softly coloured, but not wishy-washy at all. And look at the detail from the Grevillea buds!

One thing immediately apparent with this method, is that the base colour has to be STRONG, as some of it disappears in the cooking method. (Steaming has NEVER worked for me.) Next up, some premordanted fabrics to be dyed. In cotton, because that’s what i work with, and prefer, i’m hoping the recent gallnut excursions help with colour development. I never had problems before getting richly detailed, deeply coloured prints from leaves and flowers on cotton/cellulose fibres, but now i want true depth, more colour laying and dye fastness also.

 

FybreSpace shop update

Fixed the glitches in the buy codes, and have added some few new chunks of fabric!

Shop here please 🙂

 

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.

 

 

fifty shades of orange

HA!!!!!!!!!!! After 7 years and some grey hairs, i’m finally getting my “true” oranges in natural dyeing.

Annato powder used on several fibre types

Annatto results from 2010—-corrections for silk types added today— i was still learning about silk, as i’d never used it before in *anything*, believe it or not!

The “Way Back Machine” aka my own memory dredged these up, from the first few months of my natural dye experiments. I had Jenny Dean’s book “Wild Colour” (STILL my go-to bible for all things natural, along with her other books), but could find only Annatto powder in the “International” aisle of the local StoopidStore. It was cheap in one sense, i think 50cents for a package, but of course i look at the weight (10 gr!!!!), and wonder if it was “cut” too with any waste plant material, and understand why i had to use 3 packages of it to get the results above! Not so cheap after all, except in terms of colour depth.

Pale, but pretty, i still like these shades, but now that i’m getting more serious (ie FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS–though there’s always room for experimentation), i lucked into actual Annatto seeds, thanks to my local dye and textile friend, Susan, who got these for me. And the cost is pretty much the same per OUNCE! By the way, if you really really REALLY like orange shades, you can buy Annatto seeds on AliBaba by THE METRIC TON for a mere 700US.

I could see the difference the minute i added a miniscule amount of soda ash to the bath. I don’t even remember using this that wayback time.

YUM.

Of course, cloth ALWAYS dries a lighter shade, but this bodes well.

 

And after an overnight soak (recommended, seeds left in, though they can be taken out also):

Above: threads, left top silk, left bottom overdyed pale grey silk, right cotton

Below, top previously madder dyed silk, bottom white silk:

Below, previously madder dyed cotton doily:

Below, the results all together:

Top left, gallnut extract pre-mordant, below unmordanted cotton, unmordanted silk. Top right, previously madder dyed cotton with matching doily, below previously madder and tansy dyed silk, bottom centre, unmordanted white cotton flannellette. Annatto doesn’t really “need” a mordant, but given the latest session of pre-mordanting craploads of cotton in readiness for Res 2017, i hucked a piece of gallnut extract mordanted cotton in as well, just to see if there was any difference.

MUCHLY better-er than 2010!!!!!!

I flung in two pieces of silk and some silk thread separately *after* the cotton was done, as different fibres have unique uptakes, and animal fibres grab the colour first. Best to take advantage of that after the cellulose fibres have had their turn–i figure it’s one way to “exhaust” the bath as well;) (Two separate baths if you want to do both in one session.) One piece had previously been dyed with madder over tansy, one was white and un-mordanted.

I plan on doing some other tests with various modifiers and post mordants as well, so who knows what shades i’ll get in the end? And some/most are slated for overdyeing with other colours.

 

EDIT: This dye material is INCREDIBLY POTENTLY STRONG. It immediately stained my stirrer, and at 3TBSP per 3L water, i’m pretty sure that next time, i’ll use much less, perhaps even “thirding” the amount of seeds to water. Of course i got a LOT of dyed fabric from this pot!!!!!! (I also did not cook and grind into a paste, as some do, as the seeds gave up their colour readily without a messy extra step. I suspect this was the influence of the soda ash–before i tossed that in, the seeds just laid sullenly at the bottom of the water, with no bleeding.) And sthere’s still a lot of colour left in the bath, so i’ll decant that into something dark and airtight, dry the seeds, and store all for the next use.

BUT:

However, it can be used as a base for other colours, and if they are substantive, or more resistant to fading, can hold the colour better.

And note, supposedly, annatto used as a food colouring has been linked to certain childhood behaviour disorders, and can cause an anaphylactic reaction in some!!!! As always, just because it’s Natural, doesn’t mean it’s safe for Everyone.

EDIT UPDATE April 18/17: lightfastness results here.

 

FybreSpace, the Shop, open for business again

I’m clearing shelves, as i make room for new work, and new fabrics to be created during my upcoming summer residency, so please do head over to the shop. I’ve posted information in the side bar there, about my policies and shipping info. If you have ANY problems, PLEASE let me know as soon as possible, so i can fix them 🙂

As i dig out fabrics, they will be listed. It takes time to photograph, do all the photo and writing editing, and generate the code for the post, so please be patient with me. At the moment there are “story fabrics” with deliberate design in mind, but some ecoprints will be added as i find them!