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Category Archives: journal: lessons to learn

last man standing

The second figure for this piece has been a bit problematic. The original sketch’s colouring (above centre right) did not translate well the first time to the haremcloth—too green, too dark. The sampling (above centre left) was actually done before the large attempt at the stitching, but i lost sight of what it was and didn’t go to the now aborted attempt with it.

I’ve gone back to the idea of the stitched sample (which will become a small piece on its own, as i quite like it), for the colouring and the “flavour”. Less is more.

I however DID like the stitching i did on the first, so will be doing that again.

The tapestry frame worked a dream for stretching the expletive deleted haremcloth, keeping it taut and 99% on grain. I’m sure any nun or lace maker would agree that the 1% should be more important, but considering the piece when done will be loosely attached to the main background, subtle stitch manipulation will true it up.

I stitched it to both sides, then flipped it over and stitched one end because there was enough overlap, but the other end had to be stapled because there wasn’t enough at the end to fold over. Poohpoohpeedoo, it worked.

Now we’ll see if i can work it this way, as i am unused to hooping of any sort, except on the very very rare occasion. I suspect i’ll be propping it on the edge of a table, and working stab fashion, instead of my usual fold, borgle, crumple method.

 

indigo frustrations

Now WHY would the henna (123 vat) solution work as a solution, but not as a vat when added to more water??????????? Maybe the henna IS too old after all to keep working in the increased volume? Whatever! I’m completely frustrated by this, and to boot, the chemical vat is not working either. WTF? I did recommended “top-ups”, still Nada.

(Proceed to step two of frustration: slam doors, stomp around, curse, yell at the vats.)

SO, if a 123 is considered a fructose vat, i had to cast around for some info on what i could use for the fructose. Yeah right, the one week we have only apples and oranges in the fruit bowl…..oranges are too acidic and apparently apples do not work. BUGGER. Taking a trip up to the Co-op would necessitate getting dressed, catching a bus, doing the shopping, getting back on a bus, getting home, and undressing (errr, changing back into to the HouseClothes.) RAISINS!! Oh joy, usually we have two huge jars crammed with them. What do i find? One scant 3/4 cup.

Step three: weep.

Step four, just huck the damn things in a pot with 3 cups of water and boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Decant the syrupy sweet smelling liquid. (Henna smells like pudding made with mud.) Cool somewhat and gently introduce to the 123 vat. “Hello Stoopid, meet Fructose. Fructose, meet Stoopid. Get jiggy with each other please, i promise not to peek.”

Step five; keep hoofies crossed. Go do something else.

As to the “chemical” vat, i am going back to the original MAIWA instructions. Nobody else’s method seems to work, though you’d think it would all be the same. Something is missing there, but not sure what. I compared all the measurements, the instructions, the temps, and i’ll be bamfoozled if i can see any discernible difference……….  MAIWA’s method helped me revive a  frozen-through-three-harsh-Calgary-winters vat (NOT the true definition of a 123 vat), so i’m sticking to them!

FINE> I’ll have go back to embrilting in the meantime to wile the waiting away……………………

 

 
 

damn dyelot differences again……

I KNOW it’s impossible to get consistency in dyeing, especially with variegated threads, and over a period of years, but wow. The original dyelot i bought in 2012, at the top, the new one below:

Fortunately, this is one time i don’t need to worry about “matching”, as neither is already being used in anything!  And i actually like the new ones better 🙂 I do however when buying now, order 2, preferably 3-5 skeins of each so that interruptions won’t happen with colourways. Minor differences may not make or break work, but major ones *might* if you can’t integrate the different look.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Probably talking to just myself

 

small things, and lessons to learn

I had a hankering to do a spring heralding something this week. Saturday was a blissful, sunny 17C day. Sunday it dropped to 0C and snowed. April in Calgary as usual.

The bulb to the left is from March 2 years ago, rust dyed cotton and embroidery, the right one is this week’s effort, my favourite Caron colourway of the day, on indigo dyed cotton. I mashed up Emily Dickinson “A light exists in Spring” with Alexander Pope: “When Hope springs Eternal” on the shoot, since either as a start to something makes sense. “When Hope springs Eternal, A light shines in Spring, When Hope springs Eternal, etc etc etc”

I’d still like to make a bowl of these as a Spring tonic!

I was going to prune the Stoodio Jungle also this weekend, but up near the ceiling where there’s a snarled mess of live and dead vining, i found this:

Since the passionflower blooms last  barely a day, i’ll wait until tomorrow!

 

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Oh fer…………………

The Callender “Shibori” book is FANTASTIC. Clear diagrams, lots of eye candy, concise instructions, plenty of inspiration, how to work with natural and chemical dyes. One should however think through what one is doing though, instead of just jumping in. Lessons learned:

  • A. Don’t make copious stitches on a substantively dyed fabric and then
  • B. put it in a previously untested dye substance and
  • C. suddenly discover that a leftover chunk from a previous project is actually a poly cotton blend and that’s why the *first” project turned out the way it did and
  • D. don’t further the insanity by using “saved” Procion that is past it’s due date and then expect any results…..

I got all Gung Ho on using Henna, thinking i would get a “rich brown” as some sources stated it would give, dumping in 1/2 cup of the powder to 2L of water. (Advice is that you must use 20-50% WOF.) The resultant slurry was a cross between mud and congealing chocolate pudding, fooling me into thinking i would get that said Rich Brown.

Uh, NO.

I’ll save the henna for the 123Vat.

About that poly/cotton blend that didn’t work initially: way back when i was first ecoprinting, i had a huge bucket of cottons and silks that i would use, but somehow this damn chunk snuck in and got used, predictably becoming a “FAIL”. I *did* make something beautiful from it after all, but why in hell did i never do a burn test to see what the fibre content was?????????????

I’ll get there yet…….

 

 

is it the right way on the wrong track, or the wrong way on the right track?

I started the second figure yesterday and up until 33.2657 minutes ago was pleased.

Now i’m not.

Photographing things helps me see more “objectively” and looking at this now it really doesn’t represent what i want in the second figure.

There’s also the fact that i WORKED IT FROM THE WRONG SIDE!!!! I want the figure facing the left, the hexes that represent stronger memories, youth’s facile way of remembering and the naive thinking that always the mind will be the same. (I know mine’s not anymore…)

It’s too red. The greeny blue is too greeny blue dark.  It’s blotchy, but at the same time, too “solid”. This one has to be more robust, less disintegrated, but as it stands, it’s too Too.

The fabric must also have been pulled wrong, off grain when i started working it in the hoop, as the proportions and angles have shifted. I *knew* i would have a bit of a problem with that, due to the larger size, so i think it’s going to have to be stabilized differently.

Though the colourway of DMC 4140 matches in the perle #5 and the 6 strand embroidery floss (separated into 2 strands at a time in the needle), the perle is too heavy. Even if i was happy with the whole, i’d have to pull that head stitching out, and redo it with the floss. And i don’t think the harem cloth is strong enough to withstand having been so tensioned, stitched, ripped out and then restitched.

Time invested in this though was not Lost. I learned some things, and will start again.

 

cosmic debris clearing

Oh MY. It’s the annual “Clear all this crap, WTF was i thinking keeping this?” time. I’ve been going though boxes and piled bags, big Rubbermaids and small mystery piles, pulling out crap and good stuff and more crap, and getting rid of it. No more shuffling it into new piles or boxes, not gonna use it, LOSE it!!!

A few delights along the way though.

I don’t have this piece of fabric anymore, but i did find the metal “flowers” that left the marks. Set that aside for res work.

In one box, i discovered dozens of separating zippers, still in their original packaging, from the days of my wearable art business—1999!!!!! (That number looks so wrong now that we’re in the 2000’S….) I found plant saucers, sheer synthetic uglies, empty journals, full journals (half of which are not worth keeping, though i still have sketchbooks dating back to ’93 that i consider “valuable”), dried eucalyptus leaves, bags of rubber bands, patterns i haven’t touched for 20 years at least, bundles of fabrics tied together from when i mass produced bags (all cut and ready to stitch), a lot of paper garbage, scraps too tiny for even the savviest of hoarders to use and clumps of hair where obviously some animal we’ve had made a nest.

I apparently also have a plastic bag fetish, a secret one even to myself, as i had no idea that i have stored in various other plastic bags, enough to fill two large garbage bags……..pitched it in the recycle bin of course, not the garbage.

I managed to sort my cottons (and other “naturals”) into white solids for dyeing, and coloured solids for over-dyeing, by emptying 2 Rubbermaids that were filled with definitely what would be considered Crap with a capital S. Though i don’t sew clothes for myself anymore, i still can’t bear to part with a few yardages, but most of it is going going gone to UjaamaGramma donations.

I wish i could find someone who was truly interested in a collection of at least 100 Threads magazines.

Somehow i have three containers of indigo, and several of soda ash. And more measuring cups and spoons that you can poke a snake at. On the bright side, i have two boxes of ecoprint “fails” that are destined for indigo over-dyeing.

I figure by the time i’m done, i should have at least 5 very large garbage bags full of stuff to donate, and 3 to either recycle or huck in the Gar-bahj. Even if it doesn’t sell for the Grammas to use the funds from, some will get shipped after to places/people who can use it in some form. The last bits are today’s plan.

There’s floor space again.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Probably talking to just myself

 

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.