I have revived my indigo vats and neither of them is dark enough for my taste. This picture is what I gave as gifts to the artisans we visited in Japan last year. The writing is Peggy Osterkamp. Gift wrapping is important there. This is the blue I hoped for with the revived vats now. [click images to enlarge]
This is what I got from my oldest vat after many dips. I was disappointed but maybe I’ll learn to like it. I plan to dip again in my “younger” vat and see if I can achieve the depth of color.
The technique I learned from a class with Yoshiko Wada with Chris Palmer. After folding the cloth I wrapped it on a pole for dying–called “arashi shibori”. I love the technique and the mysterious lines it makes.
I have my indigo vats from some months ago and they look awful but i was determined to revive them if possible. The vats were covered with mold.After I doctored up the little vat, I think it looks pretty good–the flower looks just fine, but maybe the surface needs to be more coppery–not just along that edge.
Here is my asparagus cooker vat–I love the size for doing the small pieces that I do and the basket inside keeps things from getting lost in the vat and off the bottom, too. My tiny kitchen in my apartment is also my dye kitchen. When I’m not heating dye pots on my two burners, my dish drainer sits on the burners. This is my ironing set up for small pieces. I take my iron down the hall to a regular ironing board when needed. I absolutely love my cordless iron–it has points at both ends. Mine is a Panasonic.
I was busy over the holidays making this piece. All the fabrics were dyed with black walnuts I collected in early December. Some I put in iron water for a short time to “sadden” or grey the colors. There were two different fabrics which were shiny so I could play with the color differences when I turned them 90 degrees. I cut the squares and turned them 90 degrees from each other to get the same effect as changing the nap in corduroy or velvet. I mounted the pieces on cotton fabric strips and moved them around to make the composition. Then I mounted all the strips on black fabric. Everything was joined with long straight pins. Some time ago I realized the straight pins in my pin cushion were too fat for silk fabrics so I got “Extra-Long Satin Pins”.
Last night when only one light was on in the room, the pins themselves shimmered for further effect.
When I got started I wanted to know what fiber my fabrics were made of. I went to my files to look up “burn test” and there was a page from my own book! I’m still not exactly sure of what I have—it came from a warehouse sale I went to in November. I think they are silk. Here is the chart from my book, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“.
I took a workshop with Yoshiko Wada’s Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley, California recently. We learned to fold cloth in origami-like ways and then we did arashi shibori (pole wrapping shibori) with the cloth and got these lovely simple patterns. The teacher was Chris Palmer and his book is called Shadow folds: Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Geometric Designs in Fabric by Jeffrey Rutzky and Chris K. Palmer.
I folded and dyed 11” silk squares I got already hemmed from Dharma Trading Company. This was my first attempt at arashi shibori and I used my own indigo vat. I am proud of the results for such a novice. They can be used singly or as a group as pieces for the wall or gifts.
I took small pieces I’ve dyed and made little collage compositions and mounted them on squares of dark indigo linen I got in India a few years ago. We went to see the Matisse and Diebenkorn show yesterday and I decided to call these pieces “My Little Diebenkorns”! They can be used singly or in a group, too. I have put similar pieces in CD cases to present them! They also could be little coasters or gifts.
I had really nice responses to my previous post which showed details of my new collage wall hangings with my dyed fabrics. Now you can see what they are like in reality. There are seven–all 11″ wide and 36″ long. Now if you want to see details again, you can go back to the first post. Click on these thumbnails to see them full size then click again to see the detail.
Each composition is made up of fabrics that were in the same dye pot. The differences in the tones are due to the different fabrics I put into the pot. I love these subtle “colors”. The yellows were from woad plants. The browns were from green persimmons over dyed with indigo. I especially find myself liking things that have almost no color at all. One of these is from oak galls. I can’t remember all the specifics but I like to put dyed fabrics in a bath of iron water to “sadden” the color.
Over the holidays I dyed a lot in my very first indigo vat. Lots and lots of dips were necessary to get the different shades. I always used a variety of silks and cottons in each dye bath to get a variety of close tones. I’m thrilled with the results and all the “colors” I could get just by using different cloths. Then I did similar experiments with saffron, henna and turmeric. It has been fun seeing what I could get. My next post will show some of the art pieces I made using these small pieces.
I’m weaving 125 fine threads per inch so I can weave another ruffle (see my gallery) which I will shibori dye with indigo. Then the ruffle will disappear and appear in the dyed and un-dyed areas. [click any photo to enlarge]
I’m trying to weave with finer-than-ever silk threads. I should have starched them first but didn’t because I didn’t realize it would be necessary. That would have made the threads stronger. There are 125 threads per inch and I made more threading errors than I’ve ever made in my life. I have spent hours correcting these almost invisible threads and have lost a few and a few have broken –there are 16 threads to date that are hanging off the back of my loom and I expect I’ll have more as I weave along. Here is a close up of the weaving and one broken thread pinned in. (I’ve been mending the threads with sewing thread so I can see them.)
I used this stand which I’d used when I was weaving velvet to rig up a way to keep all the threads from tangling. Knowing that the only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension this is what I did.
I took the threads as they came from the warp beam and made a cross to keep them in order.
While in Kyushu Island south of the main island of Japan near the town of Karume is a distinguished master craftsman kasuri dyer. Kasuri is a form of ikat and can be warp-wise or weft-wise. The threads are dyed in a pattern then put on the loom and woven. Here is a photo of Shoji Yamamura tying threads to make a pattern. Then the threads are dyed with indigo for the traditional blue and white kasuri fabrics we know. We bought one of his gorgeous pieces–a length of cloth for a kimono with the idea of splitting up the piece when we got home.
On a Saturday afternoon the three of us met to divide the fabric–over 15 yards.
Here one third has been cut off and we are about to cut off the second piece.
This is the end piece– it’s the signature of the weaver and is woven at the beginning of the length of cloth. Note that the unwoven area shows the ikat pattern that was tied in the threads. Also notable is the dyeing of the warp stripes–a specialty of this artist.
It’s always a treat to visit Mimi Luebbermann’s Windrush Farm in Petaluma. When I asked her if she would do a guest post for my blog she mentioned that there will be a spinning class beginning next week–October 1. Just being out in the country is special, but learning how to spin yarn from a sheep’s fleece is the icing on the cake. I think there are two sessions.
She told me about a flea market she has in the fall where people bring what they don’t want to keep in their stashes anymore and take home new stuff.
I went to her holiday sale and farm day last fall and look forward to going again.
“We have our beginning classes starting next week, Oct 1 and 2, a two part beginning to really get folks spinning. Then, on October 9, I am having a spin-in day, with spinners coming to the farm to spin and have a potluck lunch and for those folks who wish, a fiber flea market.”
There’s always a Holiday Sale at the farm: dyeing, spinning demonstrations and of course, seeing the sheep. (Lambs don’t come until the spring.) I forget when the day is to see the sheep getting sheared–but that is a really nice thing to do, too.
I took a workshop called Shibori and Sublimation Printing on the weekend. It was really inspiring. We were dying on polyester using shibori techniques and dying by sublimation using disperse dyes and a heat press. I hope to use the ideas with my persimmon dyes on silk and cotton.
I had a glorious day in the countryside near Petaluma at my friend’s farm with some of her fiber-loving friends. After a fine lunch we sat around and visited while knitting. Then we cooled off in the pool. I love this landscape and drive out to be in it whenever I need a country fix. In August I always look for blooming naked ladies. They were flourishing along the roadside. I brought home some precious green persimmons–perfectly hard–to make my own dye called kakishibu. It might take 3 years to ferment to really do a good job!
I’ve been interested that I could dye with green persimmons for awhile and I have a friend with persimmon trees. But when I got Chris Conrad’s book, “Kakishibu: Traditional Persimmon Dye of Japan”” and found I could buy the dye already made I was hooked. These are some of my first experiments. I love them and have more pictures for an album we’ll make later. Her book told me all I needed to know to get started. Visit her website : http://kakishibui.com/
My show ends next week–I will be sad to see it come down–LAST DAY is Friday, December 4 at 3:30 pm.
It’s a show I am very proud of–40 pieces and they are very creative (if I do say so myself.)
Here are times when the gallery at the library is open to see the show. Closed Friday after Thanksgiving.
- Saturday November 28: 10–5:00
- Sunday, November 29: noon–5:00
- Monday, November 30: 10–6:00
- Tuesday, December 1: 10-noon; 1-3:00–5-7:30
- Wednesday, December 2: 10-4:00 and 5:00-7:30
- Thursday, December 3: 10-noon; 2-4:00; 7:30-9:00
- Friday, December 4 10-3:30–(Last Day!)
People who purchased items can pick them up on Saturday morning when we take the show down at 11:00 am or get them from me later.
Now I have all my pieces for my solo show in November done! We hung the Boro today on my wall –the first time it’s been hanging on the board with Velcro I made. Before it was always pinned up on my studio wall. It’s hanging well, thank goodness. The safety pins that hold the three layers together take the light nicely, I think. The blues are all fabrics I dyed in indigo. The brown pieces are from a thick, stiff textile sack used in making sake. I got it in Japan and loved the tannin effect of it.
Now, all that’s left to do for the show is the pricing, inventory lists, contact list and sending out the invitations. I love them–you’ll see it in a post nearer to the opening of the show.
Now I start packing for Morocco!
I discovered these oak galls under an oak tree. I have always thought they were gorgeous—and that they make a nice dye, too. I’ve given away all my dye chemicals and pots but wanted to see what color they would give. I smashed some of the less-beautiful galls and poured boiling water over them and let them steep with a couple of scraps from my boro project—silks and cotton flannel. I soaked them over night and was not impressed with what I found the next morning. So I went to the internet and of course there were entries about dyeing with oak galls (and more about the galls). I discovered I needed to soak the cloth in a solution of rust and vinegar or lemon juice after soaking the cloth overnight in the gall and water solution. You can see what I’ve gotten so far. [click photos to enlarge]
I’m seduced with the subtle colors so far and want to continue experimenting with longer gall-soaks followed by longer rust soaks. So far I’ve just done overnight. The info said I should get black with this recipe but I’m very far from that. Greys and darker shades would be fine. The two darker pieces were light indigo dyed before I did the two oak gall processes. I think they have a lot of possibilities, too.
This before-and-after photo show the silk crepe cloth I wove before and after dyeing. It took the dye much stronger than the other silks. The cotton flannel hardly took any color at all. I think it was darker because the threads were undegummed silk—silk organza is made of this type of silk. I clamped the middle to make the resist that formed the diamond in the center.
You can see my “dye pots”. Dying in my tiny kitchen(ette) in the retirement place where I live is a challenge. I found a chipped latte glass and glasses from Starbucks and The Oakville Grocery. That way I can keep them separate from the glasses I drink from. I heat water in the microwave and stir with a chop stick. This is perfect for the small scraps I want to use in a new boro piece. On the left is a solution with just the pulverized oak galls and galls. The right glass has just the solution of rust and lemon juice (and some water) and some rust before it was pulverized. Getting the rust was a lucky break for me. I told a friend I needed some and her son chipped off a jarful of it with 2 cups of gorgeous rust. When I pounded the rust into a powder it worked much better giving darker results. Rusty nails or steel wool is supposed to work for the rust. Taking the photos was a challenge. Bob, my photographer and web guru, had me lying on my stomach to shoot me pounding the oak galls.
I’ve been using my crepe silk cloth in my small Boro pieces where the cloth is crinkled (collapsed) or shrunk because it was intentionally wetted in the indigo dye vat. I then wanted to show a friend what my cloth looked like before it got wet (off the loom). So, here it is: before and after the cloth was put in water. We show a close-up of both cloths. The original piece I wove was 5″ wide and after shrunk down to 3″. The two photos are super-imposed on each other. To see the change, move the slider back and forth.
I’m thinking of making a book with small pages of my own woven cloth dyed in indigo with clamp resist. The cloth is sheer silk I wove in a crepe weave. It is flat when it is woven and doesn’t crinkle up until it gets wet. Sometimes I wet the cloth before dying and sometimes I let it crinkle when it got wet in the dye vat. This is great fun. The pieces are mounted on small pieces of cloth about 4 1/2″ square. I love these little miniature patches and can’t wait to begin stitching them down.
Yoshiko wanted us to be able to make our own indigo vats at home and her method seems doable, even to me. I am so excited about what we got in the class (and an extra day on our own) that I will surely make a vat of my own. You can see from the photos why I’m so excited. We did clamping and stitch resist and dipping multiple times. I dyed pages from an old Japanese book I have and scraps of my own weaving and a wonderful white silk cloth that I bought long ago to make an outfit.The picture of the used clamps just look nice and arty, so I included it. More of our dying results are in the previous Boro class post.
I bought this little baby’s top at an antique store for $20 because it was so terribly soiled, thinking I might use it for patching. Yoshiko Wada would have nothing of it. “that was a very healthy baby”, she said and the stains are testimony to that. You should wash it and then stitch on patches to cover the spots. She suggested I use my own woven scraps. At first I rejected the idea, but came to love it. I dyed some of my scraps in indigo and turmeric and stitched them on. It was so pleasurable doing the composing of the patches and the stitching, too. I have lots of spools of sewing thread in my studio for weaving so I could match the colors quite well. My stitches aren’t all beautiful, but they got better with practice. [click photos to enlarge]
The workshop was two consecutive Saturdays ending over the weekend. My creative juices went wild. I worked really hard the week between sessions to get as many ideas as I could started. My glove leaked when we made simple and effective indigo vats each day. On Easter Sunday I began to work with my weavings that I dyed in the class and here are some of the results. The yellow piece I dyed in my kitchen at home with turmeric (an idea I brought back from India). We also focused on stitching for Boro (mending) and here is the beginning of a book of sample stitches–all running stitches plus the knots I had to learn how to make.Some stitch work was inspired by Kantha cloths from India. The cloth I own has back stitches as well as running stitches, so I practiced some of them.
The patching work I did isn’t finished yet but is exciting, too. You will have to wait for a future post for that. It has been wonderful to be so inspired and energetic. Thanks, Yoshiko! [click first photo]