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..
this is for Anne who likes to see things “finished” …….which is very good for me! so inclined to wander off from idea to idea……… two small painted tables, not quite finished, need their protective coating……
so the rich colours are still happening…….but I also love the subtlety of these, just out of the dye pot this morning….. “failed” bits of previous dyes that then sat in a soak of fermented cherry juice…..and a bit of iron water……..on different fabrics the soak gave this lovely range:
I am still enjoying hand stitching, and have returned to the natural dyeing pots, this time I think with a bit more understanding of the process and perhaps different expectations; I am already very happy with the colours I am producing, even though I have so far used very basic materials and techniques. I have acquired a little portable cooktop, which is making the process much simpler…having pots simmering outside or in the laundry keeps things separate and easier to manage. I am also achieving some lovely colours with just jars sitting in the sun for a few days with some silk and some dye-worthy material in them..purple carrots have been a revelation! I am setting up some cooked jars using India Flint’s Stuff Steep and Store preserving method; that will really be slow textiles! they will sit for several months.
The resultant fabrics are being stitched into my ongoing cloth books, and into some panels that may become pages, or parts of quilts….the whole flow of the processes, and the tactile pleasure of the stitching and random piecing, is pleasing me enough for now.I have also discovered Jude Hill’s lovely Spirit Cloth blog, and she has recently opened up some of her older classes, which I missed being able to join, for general readers to peruse; a generous gesture that is also very inspiring, and is helping encourage me to keep following my instincts with these pieces.