An Idea for Art in Kyoto and a Spectacular Shop for Dyes

Introduction:

This post was about an idea I got for an art piece and about a spectacular dye shop in Kyoto.  Hence, I’m thinking people may be planning a trip to Japan this spring. I am going again in May!

I really liked this piece. It’s lit but what I liked is the proportion—so-o-o short and wide.


Here is the piece close.


There was a short piece in the gallery’s shop. I still like the idea. Maybe with a really nice, dyed silk fabric. That’s awfully big for me but who knows what an idea will come to.


Our guide, personally took me in a taxi to this spectacular dye shop. There are so many fabrics of all types of fibers. I bought 10th meter of many pieces. This is how I happened to have so many different fabrics in my dyed piece for China. There were dyes, all kinds of brushes, tools, equipment—I try to get there every time I’m in Kyoto.


Here I am outside the shop with my bags. I look pretty tired, and I was at the end of a long day.


I couldn’t find the shop name in English at first, but here’s the top of my bill. I bought 8, 1-meter pieces and 4 pieces less than a meter. Mostly cotton this time. I also got some interesting brushes. Take your credit card along! We Googled to get the shop’s name and address for the taxi. TANAKA NAO SENRYOTEN is the shop name!! Now you have it both in English and in Japanese for the taxi driver.


I’m Off to Japan: My Art is Going to China!

I’m off to Japan on a tour with my precious friend and tour leader, Yoshiko Wada, founder of the World Shibori Network Foundation.


Here’s A Ring of Silks before shipping to China.


All nestled safely in a large box.


It is a large box. Off to be loaded in the car.


Waiting to be weighed and labeled. And I’m saying Goodbye!


Good News! My work got into the BoND Exhibition in Hangzhou, China

Introduction:
In the post last June, I showed the silk swatches I dyed along with the dilemma of how to present them to enter a show in China. You can see it HERE

A Ring of Silks
I did get into the show! That means sending it to China! The title of the show is “Contemporary Art and Design Exhibition: Natural Dyes and Colors of Nations”. I assumed my pieces were the colors of old China. It will be in November at the Chinese National Silk Museum in Hangzhou, China.  My ring began as a hoola hoop!


Every piece started out as white. I used different white silks to get many shades in one dye pot. The dyes are the result of my experiments when researching old European dyes from a book, The Colorful Past. I was looking for natural dyes that might have been used in early China.


I made 48 separate dye baths for the project, each one using a different dye recipe or variation. There was a total of 720 samples.
A sack of bran, a handful of sumac, and three buckets of clear rainwater, are examples given in the old recipes. I had to estimate the size of “a handful” then estimate what weight that would be for sumac.

 I used a contemporary dye book , The Art and Science of Natural Dyes, by Boutrop and Ellis to help with the vague descriptions and proportions in the old recipes.


My Dilemma That’s Not a Real Dilemma: Or Is it a Quandary?

I dyed these silks with natural dyes a couple of years ago. Now I want to make a hanging with them. I think I want to integrate this group of silks with the ones in the next photo. I want to enter this year’s BoND exhibition in China. My deadline is August 31.


I dyed this group of silks around the same time. I’m thinking that the combination of the two groups will be my pallet. That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.


I had 35 different white silk fabrics that I cut into swatches so each dye pot had 35 shades or tones when the fabrics came out of the pot. Here are the fabrics before dyeing. I think one turned out not to be silk—“he” always showed up .


Presenting My Dye Project

Introduction:
After putting my favorite colors in my mobile for the China BoND exhibition, I wanted to have more of them. I began dyeing more silks in the same way as before.  (Using old recipes along with information in the book “The Art and Science of Natural Dyes”.) I cut different silk fabrics and put them into bundles. That way there was a variety of tones and shades coming out of one dye pot. My plan is to exhibit them a little distance from a wall and have a light fan gently fluttering them.

I hung a few with Japanese obis behind them. The orange was madder I think (that greatly disappointed me because I wanted red). The browns were from oak galls. The one on the left was in the same dye pot as the blacks. The difference was that the organza ones (undegummed) dyed black, and the silky silks dyed brown. It was interesting to me that always the undegummed ones took the dyes much darker. The white ones were how everything started out.


None of these made it for the mobile but I loved the subtle colors. The lavenders were using different shades of indigo overdyed with cochineal. The oranges were madder. I was disappointed greatly in them until I put them together with the others. The greens were from indigo and weld then some were after-mordanted with copper or iron. The greenish tone one in the middle was a cochineal disaster (it did nothing) after-mordanted with copper.


The purples are from cochineal and the blues from indigo and woad. I strung all the swatches on monofilament (fish line) and made blobs with a glue gun to keep the little bunches in place.


The reds were from cochineal. The reddest one used the recipe for scarlet and the others for crimson. One recipe asked that first dye with turmeric, then mordant with tin before finally dyeing with cochineal. The yellows were dyed with weld and the lavender with indigo and cochineal.


Here they are hanging in my hallway outside my door. The ruffles I wove years ago are hanging in the background.


The other side of my hallway. In front is a gorgeous silk dyed by a friend in India. Look her up on Instagram under “Medium”. They do exquisite shibori works. The framed pieces on the floor were my first projects using different fabrics in the same dye pot. The round piece on my door is a fan I brought back from India. The piece with the little squares I dyed with black walnuts and played with the grain of the silks. The blue circle is a Japanese print and the square piece above it is by Lia Cook.

The little sculpture is a kitchen tool to shred things, I think. Another treasure from India.


I Got into the China BoND Show: Next I wanted to reproduce the colors!

Introduction:
I wanted more of my favorite colors for another idea for presenting them. Besides, I loved the colors. This post is about getting the purples again; all with cochineal. I was using both old Chinese recipes and the ones in the wonderful book by Ellis and Boutrup, The Art and Science of Natural Dyes.

These are my favorite purples that I ended up with. It was really hard to reproduce them. I had photographed the original colors; then took the bundles apart for the mobile.


I started trying for the purples on July 1st. I had copious notes, but it was hard to be patient and decipher them. Since I had the mobile, I knew I had gotten the purples but my first attempts were disasters or near disasters—definitely not the purples I wanted again.


I got some really terrible results and thought maybe the problem was that I was using cochineal extract powder instead of the actual bugs. But when I post mordanted some of them, the original results weren’t so bad. I used iron and also copper.


I got another batch of uglies but realized it was the mordant that was the problem. I was using the old Chinese recipe and the dye just wasn’t taking. So the recipe in The Art and Science of Natural Dyes was the one I realized I’d used before. In the meantime, I liked the greens a lot that came when I post mordanted the bundles with copper.


These were dyed using the Chinese recipe for scarlet. But I had to improvise and work hard to get these real reds. I’m glad I had enough left over because my notes were useless.


All the purples began with the Chinese recipe for “crimson”. Here is a batch of early trials, trying to use fter mordants to get purple out of the pinks without success.


These were the scarlet trials just in case they would turn into purple by some chance.


When I was photographing them last night, I couldn’t resist putting everything out on a card table. It was a long journey. Today I’m dyeing another batch of PURPLES just so I’ll have a nice supply of them. The pot looks great this time.
Each “bundle” was composed of a variety of silks. That made for a lot of nice shades and variations from one dye pot.


Trying for Purples: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I’m trying to replicate the purples in my mobile, my entry for China (no word). I’m spending the weekend working with cochineal trying for purples. The reds were first—I went the wrong way with the pH but really got a red red which I wanted at first. Then I dyed another batch for the pinks. Now, for the purples. Before that I mordanted everything in alum.


Here are the reds and then the after-processes I tried: copper, iron, ammonia with more or less time in time in the baths. I have some asparagus pots which are perfect for sampling small bathes.


Here are the purples I got from the reds. I have more I can dye but want to decide which colors I want to dye for real.


Here are the pinks and the resulting shades using copper, iron, ammonia again in after-baths.


A closer look at the samples. Next, the decisions.


Update:

In the light of day none of these are what I want. I’m starting over making a new batch of dye working with the Chines recipe for cochineal crimson instead of scarlet.

As usual the undegummed samples dyed darker than the silky (degummed) silks.


Galls Post

My mobile for the China entry took all the pieces I’d dyed of those colors. I wanted to have more for myself so began dyeing with galls (oak galls) for the brown-grays and blacks. I spent most of the week recreating the dye which meant practically starting from scratch even though I had lots of notes from the first time. These silks are all degummed which is the way we usually think of silk. They were in the same dye pot as the blacks in the next photo! I pretty much used the old Chinese recipe that called for a handful of sumac at one stage.


These sheer and not-so-sheer but stiff silks are all undegummed. That means the sericin from the silkworm when making the cocoon has not been removed. Organza is an example. “Silky” silks are all degummed like in the photo above. In all my experiments the undegummed silks took the dyes extremely stronger. That surprised me. I got blacks on these and the brown-grays on the degummed silks. Both dyed exactly the same.


Here is a close up of the black silks. The backgrounds for both are Japanese obis.


This is how I made my strings of the silks. With a glue gun I made blobs on the monofilament to hold the pieces in place.


FINISHED! My entry to the China Exhibition

I sent in the photos and entry papers on Friday! What a relief to see everything DONE! The photos, the statement and finally, SEND. To see the mobile in motion, check out my Instagram video below. I’m happy with the colors. They are what I think of as “old Chinese colors”. I used old Chinese natural dye recipes and that was a challenge and a big journey. I had 48 bundles with 15 different silks in each. That’s 720 swatches. There are lots I didn’t select; available now for something else!


This is me at the photo shoot for scale. It is my entry for the Contemporary Art and Design Exhibition: Reconstitution of the Past Colors at the BoND Biennale of Natural Dyes in Hangzhou, China. I went last time but it’s not possible this time. I commissioned my tech guy, Bob Hemstock to make the mobile and be the photographer.


This is the mobile I sent 2 years ago with natural dyes. It got into the show and the China National Silk Museum bought it! Right now, I just want to get into the show. That year the mobile was Bob’s idea!


Five Dyes Selected

Introduction;
Here are the 6 dyes I have chosen for the entry for the BoND exhibition in China. I made hundreds more nice colors, too. Variations came from different silks, different mordants, and different post mordants. Working with old Chinese recipes, I had a great time figuring out what a bucket or a handful etc. meant.  And I learned that 2 ”loots” equal 1 ounce. The Art and Science of Natural Dyes by Boutrup and Ellis was a lifesaver.

I am already thinking about using the “extra” colors for future projects in different ways.

These are the reds. Probably cochineal. Now I’ve separated the bundles with their precious labels and grouped them according to which colors work together.


Here is the group from my woad vat. I had to order the woad from Scotland. Michele Garcia’s indigo Workshop At Home at Slow Fibers Studios explained the chemistry, so I knew what ingredients in the woad recipe related to his 1-2-3 indigo vat. The woad vat has indigo in it. You make dips in the vat like you do with an indigo vat.


The blue purples. There will be 6 groupings.


These all were from oak galls with iron and sumac additions. The undegummed silks took the dye much darker and make black for one of my groups. (these are stiff silks). The shiny silks make lovely greys and brown greys as they all were dyed the same as the blacks. Consistently the organzas, etc (undegummed silks) dyed significantly darker than the “regular” silks we are used to.


The red purples.


Slow Fiber Studios Presents ~ Conversations with Cloth

A note from Peggy…

“I have absolutely loved every one of the many workshops I’ve taken with Slow Fibers Studios. Check out the video and you’ll see why. The workshops are deep in many ways: culturally, artistically, and creatively. I’ve taken classes with both Yoshiko Wada (and taken trips with her) and Ana Lisa Hedstrom and they always give a wealth of information as well as the tools to understand how to make things. I find each one has inspired me and Yoshiko has praised me for being “uniquely creative”. Whether you want to make your own creations, become more knowledgeable, or love seeing wonderful textiles, this is the place for you. Yoshiko and Ana Lisa’s depth can’t be surpassed. Yoshiko wrote the big book on shibori—in fact, she re-introduced shibori to the Japanese themselves. Ana Lisa’s fashions sell at Bergdorf’s in New York and are wearable with great pride and pleasure in the Bay Area as well—timeless, unique, stunning. Her creations are truly  conversations with cloth. I own two stunning, unique pieces that I wear to the fanciest places as well as on just nice occasions.


Conversations with Cloth

A four-part presentation on SHIBORI hosted by 
Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada with Ana Lisa Hedstrom

STREAMING SERIES ON ZOOM
10/28, 11/18, 12/9, 1/6

Conversations with Cloth – Fall/Winter 2020 Series Teaser from Slow Fiber Studios on Vimeo.

Conversations are streamed talks with esteemed textile artists and artisans, specialists, scholars in the field of textile art including in shibori, natural dyes, sashiko and quilt, weaving, fashion and costumes, delivered through Zoom webinar. 

The program will be interactive with Q&A after each presentation/conversation. We welcome participants to forward questions in advance using the online form

You may sign-up for the full streaming series at a discount or pick and choose episodes to attend. If you miss a specific episode you registered and still wish to see it later, we will send recordings for you to watch, for two weeks after the event date.

Guest Presenter: Ana Lisa Hedstrom

Ana Lisa is known for her signature textiles based on contemporary adaptations of shibori. Her textiles are included in the collections of museums such as the Cooper Hewitt, the Museum of Art and Design, the De Young and her work has been exhibited internationally. She has taught and lectured at numerous international Shibori conferences and schools, her awards include two NEA grants, and she is a fellow of the ACC.

Host: Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada

Yoshiko I. Wada is an artist, curator, and textile scholar, president of World Shibori Network, founder of SFS, producer of the Natural Dye Workshop series, and co-chair of the 1st – 11th International Shibori Symposia. She is the author of pioneering publications on kasuri and shibori. Today she continues to lead a wide range of workshops, lectures, tours, and symposia internationally, emphasizing sustainability & tradition.

Beware of Scammer!

Here is a piece I thought I sold. I got an email saying that this person wanted to buy a piece of my art to surprise his wife on their anniversary. AND would I accept a check. I emailed back that I proposed this piece, the price plus crating and shipping, and that a bank check or payment by PayPal would be required. I was a bit suspicious, so didn’t want to spend much energy on it.


Meanwhile, I began to get the piece ready: meaning finished. I dyed all the shiny silk fabrics and pinned them to the background for the finished piece, complete with hundreds of pins. He texted back that he needed to send his personal check because his wife dealt with the family finances and he wanted it to be a surprise.


A close-up of the piece I call “Shiny”. Another text said that he was transferring to the Philippines and that a shipper would contact me about sending the work. And he would accept that I required that a check needed to be cashed by the bank.


I realized that squares of on of the fabrics were curling at the corners. Oh, my! I thought that wasn’t too bad but wouldn’t look like the photograph I’d sent. So, I set about flattening each and every one with archival double stick tape. The next text said the check would be coming and that it would include extra money that was to go to the shipper.


All of the pieces were laid so that the grain of the fabric switched 90 degrees to create the checkerboard effect. I also liked that often the silks weren’t ironed flat and added another shine to the fabrics. After awhile I got a text that the check had been delivered by Fed Ex. Soon it came to my door—empty except for a check written for an extra $1,000 written by a bank. I immediately mobile deposited it on my iPhone and a notice came that it would be held for 13 days. When I texted him that news, he said to take it to a teller or ATM because he couldn’t wait because that it would spoil the surprise for his wife. I called my bank and was told something was fishy if it was to be held that long. So he said to go ahead and deposit the check which I did. When the confirmation was emailed to me it said the reason for the hold on the check was: “Paying bank states check may not be paid.” I texted that back to him and have refused to respond to a couple of his further “testing me” texts. THE END.


Scrolls Show Up At Last

Here are the first of 14 scrolls. The final photo shows them all together. It’s my first chance to see them all in a row as I imagined months ago. The fabrics are linen (one silk) and all began as white yardage I bought in India in January.


Here is the next batch, working from the left to right. All of the pieces in the center of one scroll were dyed in the same dye pot. That is, I put a small piece of each white fabric into the dye pot. They came out all a bit different simply because they were different fabrics to begin with. The backgrounds I dyed each separately.


The third batch, working toward 14 pieces total. I used yellow onion skins and black walnuts for dyes plus three tannins I brought home from Japan: Myrobalans, Quebacho, and Brugeriera. Then some I put in an iron bath at the end and a few in a copper bath. All were mordanted with alum.


Dyeing linen was much more of a process than silk, wool, or cotton. The big difference was a two-hour scouring process in the beginning.


The end of the row. The idea of scrolls has been with me for a year or two. And for years, I’ve been buying any white fabrics I could find with the idea that a variety of fabrics will give me a variety of tones and shades when dyed.


Here’s a gallery view. It’s been a long process. All during the pandemic.


What’s Next?

Since I think I’ll be locked in for a long time ahead, I’m beginning to think about the white silks I brought back from India. Again, like the linens, I expect the different fabrics to take a variety of shades and tones when they come out of a dye pot together. I have 21 different ones.


The silks look nice bunched together even before dyeing. I think they will look better bunched up somehow, rather than flat like the linen scrolls.


These are the samples I dyed with red onion skins and the 3 tannins I’ve been using. They are on a cloth I wove just before the pandemic. Maybe my scroll project is finished and I need to think of another way to present the silks.


These were dyed with red onion skins. I don’t think I used a mordant. I like the mottled colors I got from bunching up the fabrics in the dye pot and not stirring them much.


Here the colors are more even. I like them, too.


Now I have a good supply of red onion skins and yellow, too. So, maybe I’ll just plunge in—next week??


Finished Linen Scrolls: Looking Back

Here I a photo of all the background fabrics I dyed. This was in a post at the end of June—seems long ago. I loved the results, seeing them lined up, and felt they would look good together.


All the were white when I began about 3 months ago. All (but 1) were linen which is a fabric I love. The second from the lightest end turned out to be silk. The reason I wanted so many different whites is that I knew they would vary slightly when put into a dye pot together. I think the salesmen at Linen Club in Chennai, India were perplexed why I got “a meter of this, 2 meters of that” etc. and when I asked only to see the white ones.


On the scrolls, I made the “art” the dyed fabrics that were in one dye pot together to show the subtle variations.


More of the fabrics in a single dye pot. I only used 2 natural dyes: onion skins and black walnuts to make the 14 scrolls.


Another set of fabrics. I used 3 tannins (quebacho, myrobalans, brugeriera), alum mordant, and iron and copper with the onion skins and black walnuts.



Scroll Project Update: I Will be Hanging Them Soon!

The linen scrolls are finally finished! And all 14 of them will be hung in our gallery space in the common areas in the retirement place where I live. Here are some of them hanging ready to be rolled into a room to be quarantined for a week. I began with white linen fabrics that I brought back from India in February—just before the pandemic hit. Way back in March I began dyeing with onion skins from our kitchen’s chef and black walnut dye I made a year ago.


Here is the rest of the 14 in the collection. I began with 9 different fabrics with the idea they would be subtle variations in color when they came out of the dye pots together. One fabric turned out to be silk so in all the different dye baths it was always the lightest one. Usually silk dyes the best and linen the lightest but I used techniques for dyeing linen and the silk wasn’t happy. The Ellis and Boutrup book came to me just at the right time. It’s hard to believe that everything started out white sometimes.


Here is one of the scrolls. I almost always arranged the pieces in the center from light to the dark. Often I basted the swatches to a backing pad I made out of cotton. Then I attached that to the background fabric. To make the small pieces lie flat I used French knots to tack them down.


Since I have been in lockdown all this time, I could not get to my studio to find matching threads for the French knots and stitching. I used what I had, matching the value of the thread to the fabric. Colors of the same value blended in so well they were barely noticeable—just like the threads had matched. I had a lot of spools of thread of different values to work with.


What is a Scroll? A Trilogy of Scrolls?

Introduction:

What is a scroll?
My inspiration is Japanese scrolls. They are narrow “wall hangings” that hang in little niches where art is displayed–usually a flower arrangement. Usually they are long and have a nice background with a piece of art mounted on it. I went to an exhibit in Japan a couple of years ago and the artist’s scrolls were many shapes and sizes–all with a background she chose for the art displayed on it. So that is what I’m calling MY scrolls. I’ve been matching up backgrounds and art. Sometimes parts are made by me –woven and/or dyed or things I’ve brought home from many trips. I’ve been under lock down since March 8 and can’t get to my studio where my looms are. I’ve been enjoying looking at what I have in my apartment and using what I have on hand.

Another background cloth from the striped warp in previous posts.

The background this time is plain weave. The warp threads are DMC 6-strand embroidery cotton. Someone gave me two cartons of cones of the stuff we usually see as little tiny skeins. The colors are wonderful and can be subtle. I took some light ones and some dark ones for the stripes.


Here is a close up of the art. They are shiny silk squares I cut from fabrics I dyed all with black walnuts a year ago or so. I attached them to pieces of cotton fabric (also black walnut dyed) with a museum-quality double stick tape. I love this tape and use it a lot. I got it from a bookbinding supply place in Brooklyn. The name is Talas. They have an extensive catalog and do online orders. I then attached these pieces to a flannel cloth for just the right amount of body for the hanging.

I’m thinking I have a trilogy—not a triptych; but they might hang together.

Here is a close-up of one section. In all the sections I turned the shiny squares 90 degrees so the way the light catches them makes the checkerboard pattern.

The fabric for the squares in this section was an upholstery fabric, I think. One side is silk, the other is cotton. The squares didn’t like to stay flat with time! However, it shows you how I mounted them with tiny bits of the tape in the middle of the tops of the squares

Three Scrolls: Almost Finished


I was determined to get 3 pieces ironed and the bamboo added today. Worked until 9:00. This is the original one all wrinkled. Thanks to all the advice I got about ironing and dampening.


This one my neighbor collaborated with me on the composition. She is just the right person for me.

This is another one. No rolling pin needed today, just hours of ironing. I enjoyed the day completely. A joy to see the linen iron out so flat.

Scroll Project Going Ahead

Introduction:
I got several good suggestions about ironing my linen fabric. They all seemed to remind me of things I’d known but not thought about. The main thing is that linen likes water and it should be damp then ironed dry. One recommendation was to take it from the machine and iron it then. I’ve done that with great success—but this time I was worried that the spinning in the machine might put in permanent wrinkles. Read on.

I ironed it at midnight then hung it in the shower overnight. It is beautiful.

One person suggested sprinkling it with water and rolling in a towel overnight to evenly moisten the cloth. That is what I did but did it after lunch and waited until bedtime to iron it.

Around midnight was when I got to the ironing board. The cloth was nicely and evenly damp. One suggestion I received was to roll the cloth with a rolling pin like the way they use a mangle with pressure to iron linens in Scandinavia—Sweden? I used to do that years ago with linen and forgotten completely, however finding a rolling pin was an issue. I looked in the back of my drawers and there was none. So I called our kitchen and was able to borrow a big, heavy one—4 pounds. I ironed a portion on the front, then on the back, then used the rolling pin on the board on the area. It looks beautiful. The cloth is seamed so there are two layers and all worked out fine. Yea! Now I’m rolling ahead again—what a good feeling it is.

A close-up of a portion of the cloth. Next is to hem the ends, put on the swatches and the lovely piece of bamboo I have for the top. Then the first one will be DONE. I’m glad not all of them need such treatment, but I think they will be beautiful hanging together.

Scroll Project Interruption


This is the first scroll in the linen project and I decided that it was too long given the size of the dyed pieces section.

Here I folded some back at the top and bottom and decided I liked this proportion better. So I was all excited to cut off the extra and have a beautiful finished piece instead of a first draft. I cut off the piece and finished the top and bottom and was all ready for the beautiful ironing part.


I practiced some on the cutoff piece with my wonderful wrinkle releaser and decided to go to the main piece. On the main piece some blotches appeared where the releaser was and they didn’t iron out! Oh dear.


So I decided to spray on my fingers and pat an area that had a wrinkle for a more gentle approach. If you look carefully, you can see my palm and fingers on the cloth! I knew that wouldn’t do but also knew that it would wash out. So I soaked it in a basin of warm water with some Dawn liquid detergent and sloshed it up and down, wrinsed it, and hung it to dry. Beautiful. Now I’m at square one again! I am thinking that I’ll just dampen it with plain water and iron it like the olden days. But I should make some more trials on my practice piece probably first. The issue is that the cloth is double–can I get both the front and back ironed nice. Or, must I take out the seam and start over but be very careful not to manhandle the cloth and get more wrinkles when I redo the seam and finish the ends. Any advice or thoughts are welcome. I’m letting the project marinate for a few days, but a bit sad that the oomph I had last week has died down a bit.

The Scrolls: It’s the CLOTH that Counts – More First Drafts

Introduction:
I think the reason I’m enjoying this project so much is that I get to enjoy so many textiles close up, over and over and over. The woven linens just speak to me; even the selvedges. I’m afraid my photographs aren’t doing them justice. (I need some encouragement.)

This piece is short and wide. I have been inspired by a show of unique scrolls in Japan a year or so ago. There were a couple that were short and wide like this one that I can’t get out of my mind. I began with cloths that were different sizes and that determined the size I had to work with for each scroll.


The black marks from the safety pins during dying dictated the shape for this one. But when I saw the shape, I knew it was right.

This was my favorite dye outcome—wouldn’t you know, it was the smallest piece I bought. I think it might be silk and it probably was expensive. In all the samples I made with it, it came out darker than all the others. It’s an open weave and looks like linen and I treated it that way, so it stays in the linen collection.


This is another short one. The cloth wasn’t wide enough to double so it and the black one is only one layer of cloth. I matched up each bundle from a dye bath to its background. When all 12 are finished, I may rearrange them and make my final decisions on dimensions. Part of the excitement is that I know this is only the first draft.

My Dyed Linen Scrolls Progress Report

Introduction:
Here is the center piece of my first dyed scroll. In previous posts recently I’ve told about dyeing linen fabrics with 3 tannins (myrobalan, Brugueira, and quebracho) before mordanting with alum before dyeing with onion skins or black walnut dye. Sometimes I only used the tannins after-mordanted with alum and no dye. Sometimes I used an iron or copper afterbath. That means with 9 different fabrics I ended up with a lot of swatches too good to just go into a notebook.

I featured the swatches on the background cloths I dyed a week or so ago for my scrolls. Here is the first one. The pieces are only based in place. They came from two dye baths: myrobalan, alum, walnut and myrobalan, alum, onion with iron afterbath. The different fabrics took the dye deliciously different I think.


Here is the whole scroll. The background is dyed with myrobalan, alum, and onion skins. The linen fabrics ironed beautifully but wrinkled when I manhandled it. When I’ve made final decisions, I’ll do a good ironing with my wrinkle releaser and it should be beautiful. As of now, I’m not exactly sure of the dimensions and exact placement. The swatches can be exchanged around, too.


Here’s how I handled the black marks made from the safety pins during dyeing. I folded the pieces anyway I could so the marks wouldn’t be on the right side. The seam could hit anywhere in the back or on a side. You can see the mark on this one on the upper right

I’m So Proud of Myself!


This is the most I’ve ever dyed all by myself! And I love looking at the pieces all together on the shower rod. (Couldn’t bear to take them down this morning to take a shower.) These are the dyes and the linens I chose from my samples; the first time I ever made anything from sampling. I’m thinking of using them for the backgrounds of scrolls. I would have loved to own my own store, just by looking at the quality of the ones I have with me right now! Imagine me having an online store, with items curated by me – oh how they would sell like hotcakes! I might take the help of companies like Qualtrics to get a better knowledge about product positioning, sampling and other marketing techniques, but yes! Just the thought of it is giving me goosebumps!

I love to see the fabrics after they’ve been ironed. I was up until 2:15 last night ironing them all. I just hung each one up after I finished and I like the arrangement a lot.

The black and grey textured ones I just ironed with a hot iron. The black came from putting the cloth in an after bath of iron.

For the smooth ones I used the wrinkle releaser spray I mentioned in a previous post. I am in love with the cloths and colors I got.


Look what my safety pins did! I guess I will have to sew tags on if I need to keep track. The label is cut from a US Mail plastic mailer or a plastic Amazon mailer.


Is wasn’t bad enough that just where the pins were made marks but where other fabrics’ safety pins hit the good fabrics, they left a few marks here and there. I learned a good lesson. Not sure how I’ll deal with the smudges. Maybe add some of my own? Anyhow, I won’t use safety pins again

3 Tannins and 21 Silks, Oh My!

Introduction:
When there are 21 samples for each dye bath, it takes a lot of organization to figure out what is needed and to make small bundles of the 21 different silk fabrics. Then sort which pots to put them in. Afterwards, I found it important to organize the swatches so I would know what I got. The next step is to choose which ones I want to repeat for large pieces and for small ones. I love the colors and seeing them bundled up. They are much nicer to look at than the swatches.

I like these large samples and am thinking they might become a scroll. I safety-pinned them to a piece I wove not too long ago. These are the same tannins as in the previous post but on silks, rather than linen. From top to bottom: Myrobalan, Brugueira, and Quebracho. All were in an iron bath after dyeing. The first one took all the iron out of my iron bath but I didn’t realize it so the other two didn’t get enough to show much but I liked them the way they were so didn’t redo them in another stranger iron bath.


A closer look at the silks dyed with myrobalan with an iron bath after wards. The swatches show out of the original bath and then afterbaths of iron and copper and a folder dyed with onion skins after the tannin and then with iron and copper after baths. What a job to organize all of this. Each line is one dye bath. Some have fewer because some swatches got loose in the dye pots.


Brugueira is the tannin for this selection. Same processes afterwards as above.

Quebracho is the tannin. Same processes


Here’s what I was working with. 21 different silk fabrics.

Three Tannins: Myrobalan, Bruguiera, and Quebracho

Introduction:
There is a wonderful dye shop in Kyoto that I visit every time I’m in the city. I always brought home dyes and white fabrics for dyeing. These three dyes I’d heard of in a dye class I took at Slow Fiber Studios that was all about tannins in dyeing a summer or two ago with Michel Garcia. But I had no idea more than that. Then last fall “Exploring Tannins for Mordanting and Dyeing” with Catharine Ellis came to Slow Fiber Studios and I knew I needed to take that workshop. We made lovely samples, I took great notes, and Catharine is a wonderful teacher. That was the end of that until now I decided to see about those dyes I brought back from Kyoto since my apartment was in dye mode already with the onion skins from our kitchen. And I had all that fabric I brought home from India. This time I wanted to dye the 9 different linens I got at a shop in Chennai: Linen Club.


Here are the samples of the three tannins as dyes on linen. Boy was dying cellulose a lot more complicated than silk! The Art and Science of Natural Dyes by Catharine Ellis was invaluable. And I’m thrilled with the results. It took 2 hours to scour, 2 hours in the tannin bath, 2 hours in alum mordant bath before the dye bath itself. That was all day Saturday. Each group is from one dye pot with the 9 linen samples. (Sometimes a sample got loose in the pot so there may not be exactly 9 different fabrics.) From the left are the Myrobalan samples, then Bruguiera and Quebracho with alum mordant. The variations are all due to the 9 differences in linen fabrics. That’s what I love to play with.


The book showed lovely grays using an after bath of iron and I love the ones I got. They were in the iron water only a matter of seconds or a minute—I don’t know, I just watched until they got dark. So, these gray fabrics were dyed with the alum mordanted tannins then put into the iron bath which I made long ago.

These fabrics were dyed in yellow onion skins after they were dyed with a tannin and mordanted with alum. Again, from the left it’s Myrobalan, Bruguiera, and Quebracho.

These were dyed in black walnut dye I had from a year ago (the dye that leaked on my fake-wood floor in my kitchen a while ago).

Here’s what the undyed fabrics looked like. (I’ll have to check, one might be silk, but it got the cellulose “business” along with the others.)


Organizing them took some thinking so I could make comparisons and make choices on what dyes/fabrics to repeat. I am determined to use up what I brought home! I stitched them onto file folders and that way I can close the folders and the swatches are safe. I had to get them organized right away before my labels got separated from the swatches. I was up until 2:30 Sunday night, but I had to see what I got! I’m beginning to make plans for a set of scrolls, I think. I’m so excited with the linens!