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.

 

 

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so save the soy

Following a second extraction of dye liquid from the logwood pretty much solidifies my thought that soy mordanting does not work with some dyes. I’m not going to waste perfectly good dye baths! They will be used now with only the tried and trues, the soy cloth will be reserved for the indigo vats–or maybe i’ll just wash the shit out out of them, and be done with it, re-mordanting with something else!

Top is the first extraction, bottom is the second extraction as a new dyebath. Both were pre-mordanted with gallnut and alum, and there is definite colour uptake. Not like this crap from the first pot below!

All the osage dyeing is predictable and lovely:

After the logwood/soy debacle, that soy stuff ain’t going anywhere near my pots! Both above were again with gallnut and alum. See Maiwa’s instructions for mordanting cellulose fabrics(scroll down on the PDF), and also this clear Turkey Red article as well. I’m not going to waste time, effort, money or materials ever again, by not doing it right from the start!

And why am i finally going the proper mordant route? Because these below, done in 2010 with hollyhock and NO mordanting, are now greige and beige…..i was a hurrying novice, excited about the “potions”, and that stash paid for it ๐Ÿ™‚

And now it’s time to fire up the cochineal pot, and try some combinations of dye colour as well.

What kind of frosts my cookies though is that when i worked in plant stores many years ago, i remember scraping the damn bug things off cactiโ€“and eeeeuuwing about the gory red gunk i ended up with on fingers and toolsโ€“if i had only known!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There’s honestly not much stitch going on right now–i’m busy winding skeins, mordanting fabrics and building a stash for winter work. Lots of ideas going into the sketchbooks though, and maybe i’ll share some of that.

 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

string theory in the hollyhock bed

In physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. It describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other. Here’s my version ๐Ÿ™‚ Let’s see how one dimensional my threads are after they propagate with dyes, mordants and modifiers, and how they interact with a needle and cloth!

I’ve collected hollyhock blooms ever since i realized they could be used to dye with (2010). “Amassing” is not really a word i’d apply to this practice though: in the beginning i had huge swathes of them growing beside the house, but as the years went by, rust disease and aphids took their toll.

Above, this is what it looked like when we moved into this house in 2009.

And now……

very sad in comparison, but there is hope, because last year it looked like this:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These were the darkest i’ve had before:

I have maybe 8 plants now, only 4 of which are any good for dyeing with. One of my summer morning rituals is to go with coffee in hand, and collect the finished blooms from all the dark flowering specimens. The pale pinks give barely any results, and anything in any other colour family yields nothing. Each plant gives up maybe 30-50 blooms each *over the season*, so there’s not a lot of frenzied picking activity! Patience and anticipation are the key words ๐Ÿ™‚

This year i have this beauty in the side bed:

Darker than any i’ve had before, and with a huge bloom, i’m keeping them separate from the others, curious to see if there is a difference.

These are the wool threads i did with the smaller blooms collected from previous years:

I’ll have to wait probably until the end of August to have enough of the new darker blooms to work with though!

I have a fermentation hollyhock bath going as well, and will decant that when i can stand waiting no longer.

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