Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dyeing and other musing

I retrieved two quarts of Japanese maple dyebath from the freezer, and used them to dye this shibori wrapped piece of linen for a big new wallhanging.  I used various shaped beads for the tying, and did a fanfold for the striped section.  

And, as you see, two views here, one with sun shining through it, one from the other side, dyed linen thread to match, for use as probably Dorset buttons on this piece, but we'll see about that.

I notice now that the photographer has got into one of the pix!  heh, the Hitchcock effect.  Except I was in pajamas, too excited about getting the stuff out and photographed to stop and get dressed.

The reason, well, one of many reasons, textile art is difficult for an artist like me is that you have to sort of plan your spontaneity, not a strong point around here, but I'm getting a bit more able to be patient and do that, rather than just plunging in.  The work on the tshirts and other test items is paying off.

This is unmordanted dye made from Japanese maple leaves, simmered for an hour originally, then after freezing, brought back to the simmer, for the linen to be put in.  I simmered for about an hour, then turned off the heat, put a glass lid small enough to weight down the fabric in the dye, but see-through, and left the thread and the linen all night, to be rinsed and untied this morning.

The rinsing removed scarcely any dye at all, a good sign. Really happy about this one.  It seems that freezing is okay. I can see a lot more of this sort of idea, where the shibori work is a rough draft of the needlework to follow.  And dyeing and freezing for future use will be good, given that the season is a good one for collecting material.  The remaining dye, only a few ounces were taken up by the fabric, goes back to the freezer for now.

One of my friends who vowed to save onionskins for me did so, and came over the other day to report sadly that her ferrets had found the bag, emptied it and scattered their new toys all over the house. A side effect of keeping a tribe of beloved ferrets. And a test of friendship, since she's still speaking to me.
And of course, since dyeing involves lengthy waiting times, while I waited for the simmering, I browsed through Freecycle.  And saw an offer of an inkle loom, complete with picture.  It wasn't an inkle, but was some sort of homemade band loom, but I still requested it.  

No answer, probably many people ahead of me, but I went and fell into the rabbit hole of youtube tutorials on inkle weaving, many, many of them, most of them so poor you couldn't learn a thing --- weaver's back in front of the camera, no view of the loom, weaver's hand covering the vital movements, loom completely out of camera range, I think all symptoms of the lone videotaper.   

And the guy whose language use was sort of hopeless, saying rotate for alternate, looming for weaving, and various other wrong words, making it really hard to know what he was driving at, while working off camera.  Very skilled at the weaving not so much at the teaching and taping and talking.

Better are the ones like Serena's where while she's learning from a teacher, there's a friend running the camera and reminding her to move her hand! and where she fast forwards through tedious repetitions, while still showing you what happened.  And where, blessedly, she has a lovely sense of humor about it all.  Those earnest and boring old woodsmen are, oh well, dressed like Davy Crockett with a solemn Facebook presence, you know.

I liked very much the number of presenters whose dogs and cats were involved in helping!  One big ginger tom, sitting right on the diagrams the presenter was about to hold up. And two labs flying round and round Serena and licking her face now and then.  And the woodsman's calm old dog checking out his progress.

Then of course watching these videos  led to tablet weaving on the inkle. More videos, and final realization that it's easier to do it with a belt setup, forget the inkle altogether, and that I can make my own cards...oh dear, this may be another rabbit hole...but it's amazing how you can change the design just by turning cards.  

If there's a way to fit it into my current work plans, I'm thinking of doing it. Especially if I can make my cards from scrap cardboard, or playing cards, and not buy commercial ones.  I have a nice corner punch thing, and I expect I can rustle up a hole punch in the studio somewhere. 

Once again I ran up against my reluctance to get involved with even simple machines and the tedium of warping and all that.  I've made some nice stuff with cardboard looms I made myself, and with weaving sticks, using drinking straws to teach kids. 

Just watching people endlessly warping the inkle loom had me nodding off, let alone doing it.  Someone offered me an inkle years ago, and I declined, since I didn't want to feel obliged to use it against the grain, so I hope she gave it to a more deserving person.

But tablet weaving, using homemade cards, hm.  And I can dye my own yarns, hm.  Having an exhibit date gives me a great destination and raison d'etre for some of these otherwise undirected endeavors...or, to quote good old Gilbert: to enliven an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative..which is how an honest artist so often sees her own work, regardless of what other people may say.


  1. can't stop to comment now. Have to go and find out what an inkle is.

  2. Very fetching pj's btw - and now I'm wondering if the people that now own our previous house would notice a midnight raid on the Japanese Maple - or if the tree is even still there.

  3. this piece has worked beautifully, wonder what the freezing does that is interesting. The loom also sounds like a good investment hopefully the seller will get back to you


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