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Category Archives: journal: lessons to learn

first “potperm” results

Though i’ve used the vat at school, this is my first home usage of this scarey dangerous wonderful stuff πŸ™‚ so we’ll just call it the first results. I call it “potperm” simply because potassium permanganate is a mouthful, and one i commonly mangle in pronunciation as well, usually in front of knowledgeable people, resulting in some embarrassment. It’s also referred to as PP in “industry” usage.

Moronic giggle here: “i’m dyeing with PP today”.

And yes, i was apprehensive. Put on my Steel Loin-and-Bosom Girding Big Girl Pants and Bra Set (the beige ones, no sense in calling any more attention than usual) and suited up. I mixed my “vat” in the back alley, wearing an apron, respirator, safety glasses and neoprene gloves, and used a PLASTIC cup to mix in a PLASTIC bucket, with a PLASTIC handle, with NO metal bits. (And carried it by the bucket itself, as i trust no handle ever, given the potentially caustic splash factor.) This stuff is reactive with metals, so i’m not messing with metal lidded glass jars, metal pots, metal spoons, metal bowls, nuttin’ metal PERIOD. The bucket lid is TIGHT as well–apparently this stuff can blow (literally, UP) if it dries out. It *does* exhaust, of course, as it’s used: there’s only so much that can remain in suspension after repeated dips of cloth, something i found out at ACAD. (WHY did i think it would last forever??? Does any other dye? NO, duh, dumdumdum. Sometimes this Mad Textile Scientist can be rather dense….) I also hosed down the area after, thinking any minute particles would be diluted enough to harm neither friend nor foe (local wildlife and plants).

Since i intend to do some fair yardage with this “dye”, obviously i increased the proportions of water and potassium permanganate. (Most home usage i’ve noted is 1/4 to 2tsp per litre of water, whether for dye, garden application, or anti-fungal/antiseptic use.) That means i used 3/4 cup for 15 litres of water. (Not an exact measurement or conversion, but there’s a large margin here for colour depth, so adjust accordingly πŸ™‚ )

I did the actual dyeing on our concrete back patio, again hosing down after. I used some soymilk, alum, and alum with gallnut premordanted cottons ( 3 premordant solutions), and some unmordanted pieces, and was completely surprised by the results! (These photos below are all as the fabrics oxidize and dry. I’ll show photos of the dried effects and colours later in another entry.)

The soymilk took the least amount of dye, but hopefully once rinsed, the lovely mottling will stay as an effect:

You can see the major differences here in the soy (far right) and the unmordanted, left and middle:

Above, the middle fabrics are top a 5 minute soak, the bottom a 10 minute soak, not sure if this will make a difference either.

Not sure if the different dye absorption, dry rates on the main fabric and the threadwork will make a difference in end colour

The results, still oxidizing and drying:

Potperm comes out of the pot in various shades of purple, then oxidizes, like indigo does, but to browns, so don’t get excited by those pinker shades πŸ™‚ See those two bottom ones? The stripey one was mordanted with gallnut, the oneΒ  on the bottom rung was mordanted with gallnut and alum—quite a difference from the others! You also can’t see the ones on the other side that had longer soaks, as the light is whack.

Just as obviously, there are a lot of dye techniques to try out, from shibori to over-dye ( i know how it reacts with/to indigo, but how does it affect other dyes?), ecoprint to discharge*****. I think i’m going to have quite a stash. I also momentarily worried about what it would do to silk, but then i remembered that several years ago at the school, i did this one on 8mm habotai silk, a very sheer, delicate weight–it’s still fine, no damage. It appears the vat i used for this was very active also, possibly quite a new mix at the time, as the colour is deeper than i got this year during res.

 

 

Tip o’ the day: do not mix up with the mid morning break of iced coffee: same colour, different effect.

(YES, THAT IS A JOKE: i never eat or drink around dyes, dry, inert, mixed up or in use.)

***** NEVER DISCHARGE POTPERM WITH BLEACH, use LEMON JUICE

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

oh gawdz…………………..i discovered my bucket of soymilk mordant shoved behind a box in the basement by Himself…….actually, it was fine moving it after THREE MONTHS–but OH SHIT THE REEK, as i poured it in the toilet. Oddly, no mold, just festering masses of curdlets…………………no crust even! just a solid mass. Weird Science at it’s best. Or worst.

it didn’t even shiver when i lifted it and carried it upstairs, no smell, no mold, weird, but the minute it was tipped…………. OH LORDY, there are no real descriptors……..

And since this is the bucket i used for the above, it was washed with boiling water and soap, and rinsed really really really really really well, as potperm can also react with other materials, organic and chemical. I dried it in sunshine. (No eclipse here, just some weird light and bent holes through a colander….totally underwhelming.)

Β 

 

 

the wings of possibility

Rarely are things set in stone here in the Stately Barr Manor Studio. Evolution, the Baby,Β  and tossing out part of the bathwater is part of the game as well, to mix several metaphors…….

Samara’s wings aren’t exactly what i’d call problematic, but with a clear vision in mind that somehow isn’t getting to the actual execution, it appears that the plan has to be changed somewhat. When i started her wings, the “feathers” were like this:

Not quite what i wanted, though i like them, so i started these:

Ha, still not quite what i wanted, so i’m going to combine the ideas. I also like both fabrics i used, so redrawing the pattern is also going to have to take into account the placement of both to present an integrated it-makes-sense design.

And no res exhibit for me after all. There is no way human for me to even get enough done to vaguely represent what the whole will be. I can live with that, studio work being the more pleasant result than forcing a deadline.

 

 

 

i *can* “just can’t do it”

SIGH. Well, chalk it up to “know your limitations”, whether they’re skill set or interest.

I’m sure you’re all tired–hell, I’M tired, of all the blah blah about the end of res exhibit. *Nothing* i’ve pulled has really got the crank turned, even with the possibility of using the recent naturally dyed threads. And since we’re now down to 18 days until the show is hung, well, whatever……………..

SO, instead of beating myself up, and worrying about what i might Finish (in 18 days??? yeah, right…) , i’m going back to this:

Started last year, however much i get done on her will be my goal, and that’s good enough. She may have to be hung “creatively”!

Her body is almost done, though who knows what else may happen on those large alabaster thighs πŸ™‚ ?

I’m going to be doing her wings similarly to what i did on “Strange Soul Take Flight” (left), and “The Weight She Carries” (right), but not so slavishly that i’d be repeating myself.

Yeah, yeah, what will be, will be.

 

becoming a purple thread

Certainly a vanity, thinking one knows everything, but i’ve always subscribed to “Learn something new everyday, and you know you’re not dead” — i *don’t* know everything, but i do my research and i’m happy to not only do the correct thing, but to riff on that once the lesson is learned. If i need an affirmation of something i’ve done or a puzzlement needs solving, i’ll ask, but i don’t JUST ask and expect the whole answer “with 8×10 glossies and paragraphs and arrows on the back” to be handed to me on a silver platter.

I remember asking a Contextural member a long time ago how she achieved a certain shade in her natural dyeing/ecoprinting, and she sweetly and truthfully replied “Every dyer has her secrets” with no smugness, and in all honesty. I took that to heart, learning what i could and often failing because i didn’t follow the basics first.

I’ve got that part well sussed now, and am quietly thrilled with the tried and true, and the experimenting. All of this past week’s naturally dyed threads here have notes on each as to what it is, but you’ll have to figure out certain parts for yourself πŸ™‚

And the details in close-up:

Where these threads go next will be “the long white gown”,Β  metaphorically speaking.

 

making book

A real learning curve! I tried several years ago to do a Blurb book, but got so bogged down that it’s still sidelined.

However, i’m older and smarter now :), and have more patience and persistence, so i go i go i go–for hours, working on the accompanying journal for “Tabula Memoria”.

I knew from the beginning of this project that i didn’t want to send off a haphazard accumulation of the writing, sketches and samples i did as i went along, that it had to be something that would last, possibly be passed on (to “heirs”?), and that looked professional. From the start of this to the end, i kept a separate file for the physical work (said writing, sketches, samples) and a digital one with folders and sub folders (and sub sub folders….!), planning somehow to collate and correlate at the end.

Once you learn the program, it *is* easy. The hard part is picking and choosing what truly is relevant, deciding what should be featured and what is less “interesting”, writing coherently and in a timeframe sense for each photo, and then deciding how many pages really are needed.

From the initial query from Mr X, to the first concept scribblings, through process and progress, thoughts, changes, references and honestly some blah-blah, i’m up to 45 pages, with only a few left to do. You have to know when to stop too! There could always be another book for the “extras”, incorporated for a “how to” maybe…..

And maybe, just maybe, i’ll finish that first one, because there are others i’d like to do too.

 

 

 

slow slow summer

All i’m doing is experimenting, and adding knowledge, no stitching since finishing “Tabula Memoria”.

In all honesty too, time at ACAD for the residency has slipped away and i am left with a little more than a month to go, with very very little to show for it. Most of my ideas though are being utilized at home though so no loss really!

 

As much as i love all my commercially dyed threads, especially all the permutations of the variegated ones, i also want more naturally dyed choices, so i’m doing it myself. I can’t/won’t be doing huge batches, but enough to keep me happy at least. I’ll still use the “boughten” threads, and hopefully if all goes well with the pre-mordanting, will have a range of natural dye colours to supplement the arsenal.

I’ve gone through all my dyes and have enough of everything to get a BIG collection of colours, after different mordants and modifiers. This is more manageable in terms of space, time and effort also, as the batches can be quite small for threads.

Hoofies crossed.

 

 

residency exhibit plans again, revised

Nothing has really been turning my crank, despite plans to maybe work from this or this. Sometimes it *is* good, or necessary to return to what we’ve done before, but as i looked for fabrics, i realized this is what has the juice flowing:

This piece of cotton lent to be used as a table protector by another residency participant, and neither of us is sure why or how it became so black. (It reads blue in these photos, but truly is BLACK.)

There’s also this piece of silk. Though i’m hesitant to cut it up, or obscure the patterning with stitch, it doesn’t do much good making fabrics that are juicey, but never get used.

For the minute, they are piled neatly with a few thread choices. I’m working on the journal that goes with “Tabula Memoria” and as i shuffle around photos and chunks of writing, the back of the vasty head will stew on the possibilities. I do know i am going to be more “sculptural” this time, something i have wanted to do for a long time. I need to dye some more silk thread with my hoarded rhubarb root as well for this plan.

We’ll see by the end of the week if “best laid plans” are going to work out.

Our vacation this summer has turned to a “stay-cation”: it’s painfully hot (hot enough you want to take your skin off, hot enough you want to kill someone, something, anything if it touches you), old Mo Cat is signalling the Rainbow Bridge’s FerryMan (sigh…), barely eating, moving or drinking, and the Greyman is sick, sick, sick. (When a die hard coffee drinker who even has a cup before bedtime won’t take one sip, you know he’s really Sick, not just that ManBaby thing.)