Mossy Banks

Calgary has FINALLY greened up completely: no brown highway verges, leaves budding and fuzzing, flowers just starting to pop. I’ve been craving these fresh colours, and whipped up some dye pots to accomplish that as well!
All in the shop now 🙂
Luxe threads for stitching along and on Mossy banks! A mix of wool, silk and silk/wool in clear crisp greens and yellows dyed in historically accurate processes with osage and logwood.
 

 

What could be better than an amble along the riverside, finding little secret coves and mossy banks to sit on and dream? As the wind sways miniature willow stands, you daydream, floating in the clearness.

This pack includes silk noil, cotton velveteen and silk/rayon velvet, solid and streaked and mottled, with osage and logwood dyed in historically accurate processes, giving elegant calming blues and soft Monet mossy yellows and greens. (Note, threads are not included, just to give you an idea of depth of colour. Threads will be in a different listing!)

taken to task….

From the PM i got, someone (some many?) thinks my bad avocado results are because i don’t know what i’m doing………

I beg to differ. Cotton is one of the hardest fibres to get good results on, with natural dyes. I follow Maiwa’s insightful, clear, well researched methods, from scouring to mordanting to dye procedures for each dye. (Don’t lump all together, as each one usually requires a different set of parameters!) My results before this were lousy, but these instructions became my “go to”. (My other trusted source is anything by Jenny Dean.)

You’ve seen these before, but for the person/s who have taken me to task, eat your words please.

My ecoprints on cotton are rather spectacular too, if i do say so myself.

Lac and logwood on cotton, with eucalyptus leaves, oak leaves and osage strips.

So, let’s see *your* results then, Miss/’s.

something other than red

Admittedly, i have had some ‘fails” with the madder pot, resulting in a plethora of bad browns, pallid oranges and wth-is-thats 🙂 (Old mold, fridge scum, baby puke, baby shit, dog puke, dog….well, you get the picture.) Part of my problem is that i hesitate to throw away the dye bath, even when the colour left is a ghosty sad mud, with obviously not a lot of actual dyestuff left. Mordants and modifiers can only do so much magic too before it’s pointless with the colour left, and a person can have only so many decanted baths stored that more than likely will not be used again!

Madder is substantive though, which means most of the colour bonds hard with the fabric, (and requires no mordant really) which also means that even though i’m using the weaker resulting fabrics, any overdye has to be a rather heavy WOF.  I don’t need any more oranges, so rather than going with an easy dye like osage, i went with an easy dye like logwood, HA, with a post mordant/modifier dip of iron for lightfastness.

WONDERFUL purples and mottlings!

These may not be “suitable” for the project garment, even though they are part madder, but as narrow splash splices, i might get away with a teeny bit of it.

 

 

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 🙂 , 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.)  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!

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.

 

 

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

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?

 

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 🙂

 

 

 

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 🙂

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 cacti–and eeeeuuwing about the gory red gunk i ended up with on fingers and tools–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 🙂 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 🙂