Thursday, March 31, 2016

AIR Week Five, Dorset Buttons and Dyeing

Here's the setup for the day

And the weaving I embarked on, and had to stop working on to pack and come into the libe to set up for the afternoon


This is the back, hence the ends sticking out, much calmer on the other side. And here's the green yarn I dyed

stretched on the niddy noddy and waiting to join its friends in the weaving.  Just two colors for the yarn dyeing: Dharma Trading silk dyes, in French blue, undiluted, then heavily diluted daffodil yellow with a touch of the blue for the yellow, to take the edge off the color, then more blue in the yellow diluted dye, for that really nice soft variegated green. Simple chemistry. This is the yarn I was spinning last week.

Today was a busy one, with a continuous stream of visitors, complete with a continuous stream of comments and questions, mostly on topic, but with some meanders along the paths of food, Field and Fen, Chinese art, Japanese art and history, recent bereavement, diverging family opinions, the bubble test, and more.

All very welcome and interesting, and an illustration of how art is intermeshed with daily life, as I listened and  stitched a newly started piece of goldwork, and started a Dorset button (Tayra B and young daughter joined in and did some of that one) and showed the weaving in progress.  I switched back and forth as needed for the demo.

The dyeing with natural materials was interesting -- not demonstrated, but the linens I was working on and displaying with Dorset buttons were dyed with onion and turmeric, as well as being printed.  

I did bring a container of powdered turmeric along, with a bag of onionskins.  And I talked about harvesting local plant material, rose heads, Japanese maple leaves, black walnut hulls, spinach and other kitchen vegetables, and so on, for dyeing at home.  Good timing for the upcoming season, if I do say it myself.

And the Dharma Trading catalogue, I love dealing with them, also the book on natural plant dyeing, both come highly recommended.

I have to acknowledge sister dogonart for first introducing me to Dorset buttons, unleashing a frenzy of making them, and I recounted their history to several groups today, all of whom were quite surprised to hear how it worked.  

I was unable to find a book with Dorset buttons and their history, at least outside of the rare books category, so I recommended people google on it to learn abit more, and explained the history in brief. the slices of Dorset rams' horns that were the earliest base for the buttons, how they were used for practical buttons on garments, and other background.

I shoved in an economic fact or two, along the way, about how England's great wealth was founded on the wool trade, and how to this day the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that's the head of the Treasury,  sits on the Woolsack, a ceremonial seat stuffed with English wool, as a symbol of following the money!  I guess in those days instead of saying every war was about the oil, they said every war was about the wool.

This artist in residence series is proving to be a great way to transmit history, sociology, physics, chemistry, and economics.  And here was I thinking it was going to be only about stitching..much richer than that in the event.  An appreciative audience deserves a lot of the credit.

1 comment:

Minimiss said...

I love to know about the history of things like Dorset buttons and the Chancellor's woolsack. It makes things so much more interesting.