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Archive for August, 2013

Crazy symmetrical pattern left on the dupioni silk yardage - from the rusty rebar and plant resists. This pattern repeats down both edge lengths of the fabric.

Crazy symmetrical pattern left on the dupioni silk yardage – from the rusty rebar and plant resists. This pattern repeats down both edge lengths of the fabric.

Some images from my latest August dye batches. I used a selection of botanticals from the garden including my muse – the fennel. The plant material was laid out on the fabrics that had been previously dyed with natural dyes and indigo (silk dupioni, silk chiffon, cotton mull) then securely rolled and wrapped around rusty rebar from my rust stash… tied very tightly with a very strong cotton yarn I save for shibori work.

Some previously dyed fabrics that needed over dyeing to add interest

Some previously dyed natural fabrics that needed over dyeing to add interest (silks and cottons)

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Dupioni silk – oyster coloured – mordanted with alum – Catnip  & rusty rebar resist

Fennel

Fennel resist – placed on silk and tightly bound prior to dye bath

I used last year’s freezer stash of dahlia blossoms – with an addition of one huge fresh dahlia blossom from this year…brought to a simmer and placed my wrapped and secured bundles into the dye pot. I simmered for 1 hour then let cool and sit for 4 days. Because I used rusty rebar in all the wraps as well as a shibori dye resist (two rusty squares) – the dye left a rich dark brown on the cotton mull – verging towards black on the silks. The rust definitely produces a deeper colour effect the longer you leave it. The silks were undamaged (you have to be cautious using rust as it can stress natural fibres) but one section of the cotton mull had a couple of holes which I think was more in how I unwrapped the package. Imprints from the plants were left in varying colours even some red spots!

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relatively clean imprint left by the fennel resist – on silk chiffon

Bundles from dahlia dye bath. Prior to unwrapping

Bundles from dahlia dye bath. Prior to unwrapping

Some people are concerned about the mold that forms (depending on how long the bundles are left to cure) but mold is also a legitimate mordant that helps bind the colour to the fabric. Safety first though. I always wear my mask when unwrapping and rinsing and my lovely dog Biscuit (miniature poodle) is out of harms way. With these fabrics (as in all my dyeing work) I unwrap and hand rinse first using Synthrapol soap. With these fabrics most of which were large pieces of fabric (yardage) I also soaked them for a 1/2 day in salted water to neutralize the rust, then washed in the washing machine with Ivory snow. The fabric still retains a lovely botanical smell or if you wanna be fancy- a scent.

Sage leaves (purple sage) left imprints in different colours including this bright yellow on silk

Sage leaves (purple sage) left imprints in different colours including this bright yellow on silk

Cotton mull previously arashi shibori with blue indigo - overdyed in dahlia dye batch with a rusty square resist

Cotton mull previously arashi shibori (angled blue indigo stripes) – which was then overdyed in fresh dahlia dye batch using an acrylic square as the resist  (left original white repetitive squares like the middle one in the image), then finally overdyed in dahlia dye batch with a rusty square resist with a hole in the middle – which left the stronger repeated squares. Need to use this yardage!

This image shows off the fine quality of cotton mull fabric - you can see the garden behind it. It's lovely and drapey.

This image shows off the fine quality of cotton mull fabric – you can see the garden behind it. It’s lovely and drapey.

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Spending some time this summer with my Compost Dress that I started a couple of years ago in my first year of the Textile Arts Program at Capilano University.

Metal and polyester thread i.d. (composting process left it pristine compared to the natural cotton fabric)

Metal and polyester thread i.d. on the bodice of the dress. After 3 weeks in the compost bin the synthetic embroidery was pristine compared to the natural cotton fabric.

This piece is not just an exercise in textile design using botanical dyeing, printing, construction, and hand stitching – but a commitment to process and dreaming (and I guess delaying) as it’s taken me a couple of years to get to this point with it – but my intention has been renewed.

I have been hand embroidering small pieces of fairly richly coloured silks, linens and cotton fabrics in the holes that were left from the composting.  These small pieces were in my stash from my days at Capilano University when we learned the low temperature immersion dyeing techniques using ‘Procion’ dye. The Procion colours are a good contrast to the natural muted colours and patterns left on the cotton from the botantical dyes and composting creatures.

Adding some flower motifs with flower pounding - in situ at my community garden - a great outdoor studio for creating.

Adding some flower motifs with flower pounding – in situ at my community garden – a great outdoor studio for creating.

Detail - flower pounded Johnny Jump Up

Detail – flower pounded Johnny Jump Up beside maroon procion silk embroidered with running stitch in yellow silk thread

Flower pounding is such a simple process and completely addictive. The johnny jump ups give an very clean imprint on the fabric – even down to the little center stamens – clear as the fresh flower.

plain undyed cotton hooped dress - prior to composting

original plain undyed cotton hooped dress – prior to composting. I had constructed it as an experiment in format – to use for a Surface Design dyeing project in university

dress being bundled with Lady's Mantle (alchemilla mollis)...

dress being bundled with Lady’s Mantle (alchemilla mollis)…spring of 2011

...into the compost bin for just over 3 weeks

…into the compost bin for just over 3 weeks

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Out of the compost bin – prior to rinsing

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Detail of one of the patterns marked on the fabric

Johnny Jump Up waiting to be plucked for pounding

Johnny Jump Up waiting to be plucked for pounding

Further silk embroidery and additions of rust printing (with found rusted objects) and a natural kozo fibre under bustier from the paper mulberry tree are being planned to add another dimension to the dress.

Flower pounding a.k.a. therapy

Flower pounding a.k.a. therapy

My grand idea with this piece is to convey life’s fragility – that repairing can be beautiful if one accepts it. The composting process imparts random motifs and tears onto the fabric which I appreciate – unexpected beauty. The format of the hooped dress is one that I like to work with it because it shows the fabric off well and is iconically feminine.  There is a connection with the viewer that it could be worn but it’s much too delicate to actually be worn.

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