In my short experience with indigo vats I have had very mixed results; I have worked only with fructose vats, because I do not want to use harsh chemicals, but have found them temperamental [maybe reflecting my own states of mind on occasion!] and have been often disappointed with the depth of blue achieved. I’ve also had problems with splodges forming on garments, and with the colour washing out [but not the splodges, sadly !], and am learning to respect every step of the process, and to really build up a close observation and understanding of the vat. And as with all natural dyeing, to be PATIENT…waiting for the reduction to take place, sometimes over several days if it’s a revamp of the vat; and really checking the ph and the colour.
This latest time I decided to try a henna vat, and have been delighted with the depth of blue in my new dress, hand stitched as taught by India Flint in one of her wonderful workshops and made out of silky merino [from Beautiful Silks]: will add some pockets and patches and it will be done!
I am also finding that I could revive this vat a couple of days later much more effectively than I have achieved so far, and am in the process of over-dyeing some other garments…more pics later.
a growing obsession…… bought India Flint’s new book Bagstories, and joined the private facebook page…..some wonderful ideas for using my stack of naturally-dyed fabric off cuts to make different bags. Love their earthiness and love the process of slow stitching to make them.
This long-term project is moving forward: the top is being assembled now; I will add some more stitching and then back it to make a snuggly blanket. I haven’t felt in any sort of hurry to finish it, as it is a lovely pick-up-and-stitch project; I enjoy looking at the wonderful prints that have emerged at different times from my eucalyptus bundles; some pieces have been individually dyed, some are leftovers from garments. I have bought some lovely fine soft wool fabric from Beautiful Silks and will dye this before using it as the back, so there will be plenty more stitching to do, as i will join the front and back pieces with some form of kantha-type stitching.
A very fun blue-letter day: my first attempt at an indigo vat. Used the natural 3-2-1 pickling lime and fruit one, used fructose today but will try with bananas next. I muddled along a bit with the proportions and getting the lime to dissolve into the brew, so as I always seem to do, I was learning on the job! but it seemed to follow the general process which all the instructions point to, and I managed to sample -dye a number of pieces of fabric! very exciting, will keep practising with this over the next week or two; a change from my favourite eucalyptus – based dye pots . Will be pleased to see how the fabrics look tomorrow after washing: can’t quite believe it has been so successful and so quick! The vat was very strong, I actually weakened off some of the brew for the lighter pieces but I suspect they will be lighter in any case after washing………..watch this space !!!
glorious colours, a new dress, very happy with this one!
So inspired by wonderful March workshop with India Flint; sometimes [rarely] a class can be life-changing: having already been starting to learn to construct simple wearable pieces with cloths woven on the Saori loom, India’s Second Skin class taught me that I can make simple garments stitched by hand with lovely natural or recycled fabrics, then dye them in the ways I have been learning to do, with plants and natural mordants; a meditative and gentle process that feels totally right to do, and causes no harm. So I find myself enjoying wearing the garments that I am making; I love the comfort of them, and the ethos of them, they make me feel connected to the earth. Community awareness of the destruction the textiles industry is inflicting on the environment, and the exploitation of its workers, is growing; as with food, it is impossible to un-know the realities of mass production and of the inherent problems with the toxins in synthetic materials once we understand them; and the power we have is to individually change our own approach first.
Have spent a week here in our holiday cottage stitching some simple dresses, skirts and tunics with Marion’s lovely silky merino [Beautiful Silks at Allansford]; and now the cauldron is simmering with local eucalyptus leaves and bits of metal [the Daylesford market is a treasure house for old metal discards!] and garments being bundled with autumn leaves, eucalyptus leaves and sundry other mark-making bits and pieces…………..as the garments come out of the pot it is always a surprise; the beauty of this method is that if the surprise is not entirely positive, there are always ways to cut/patch/cover/re-dye!!
In between the stitching and the dyepots, lots of long walks in the glorious autumn landscape; a beautiful environment to work in and be inspired by:
Perhaps i should change the name of this blog to “feast or famine”…….posts are very sporadic! this may be the start of a run, to catch up on my own recording; the blog has been a good way to keep track of the journey.
I am pottering away with eco dyeing; it’s a consuming interest really, hours can disappear with the pots simmering and the “what-if’s” bubbling up along with the brews. Some days the results are disappointing, other days so exciting; and i feel very much still at the beginning of the learning curve. A projected three day workshop with india Flint coming up in autumn will be a wonderful opportunity to learn from someone who is such an inspiration.
These pics are of a cloth i am working on based entirely on fabrics dyed with eucalyptus leaves…..am playing around with some embroidered bits, not sure if I will incorporate them in this cloth or not; maybe will just gently quilt it and let the glowing colours speak for themselves.
Also my first attempt at eco-dyeing a garment…in this case an old op shop singlet-tee, which went from dull washed white to a very interesting print! I am still not achieving the clarity of prints I would like but the effects are still really interesting and encouraging me to continue..