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]