Dyeing Silks and Playing with Light


I’ve been weaving a lot of white lately, mostly silks that Iinherited from Ethel Aotoni when she died. I had the intention to dye them. The silk threads took the light differently whether you looked at them warps wise of weft wise. This fabric is a white 12-end satin. I tried to see if I could make it completely warp face with strong colored wefts. i.e white on one side and red or black on the other. When I had the fabric in hand I noticed that it changed color accoring to whether the warp or the weft was vertical. You can only see the borders and center when the light is just right. (You can see bits of white showing the warps peeking through on the edges of the squares I cut). These are works in progress, nothing is set yet. [ click to enlarge any photo ]

Here is what the red and white pieces look like when looking straight on–no borders or center color change.

This piece I dyed with black walnuts. Weaving the 12 end satin going in 11 stages from warp face to weft face. It didn’t look very interesting as a whole but I liked a lot of the sections. That is why I decided to cut the squares. Then I realized the light-play and came up with this design.

Another satin warp of silk dyed with black walnuts. I dyed the weft silk before weaving. Then I dyed the whole piece again in a light walnut dye with iron after bath. This photo shows how the light changes the darks and lights.

This was the first white warp satin I did and I couldn’t bear to dye it. It feels gorgeous, and I love the way the fabric takes the light.

4 thoughts on “Dyeing Silks and Playing with Light

  1. Isn’t it interesting. While working on the Camo digital program for the Marine Corps, I was able to play at the Natick labs with various natural and chemical But, they didn’t want to consider. (egos). Any way I take credit for upgrade Fed Std 595 to accept defining colors with Pantone definition It is not as accurate as it could be but, it is measurable. It is funny that how it is seen changes depending at the type of light (UV) and ambient air quality. Surprising how the acidity of the water can change the color perceived. Texture, refraction of the light. (salt water / fresh water humidity makes a difference).

  2. These are lovely; I am particularly partial to the last two pieces. They are clearly what my university drawing professor used to call a “felt image.” That is, they are art. You’ve inspired me to try walnut for dyeing.

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