time and materials

a blog about working in textiles and fibers


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the next adventure

I have been working through a number of issues with natural dyes and product development. In this case, garment development. These first few posts are going to be a bit heavy…until I get the first layers of work out of my head and off my camera. I’ve tried re and re- writing to reduce the crammed feeling….just sit tight…..it’ll happen.

here goes.

I have been working long days to develop methods and outcomes that I can agree with. Although I have been working with dyes both synthetic and natural for years, until now, I haven’t tried to control the results of natural dyes and to use them as I have synthetic. I am also trying to develop forms in garments that stay true to what I can deal with.

The way I try to work is to work through a set of questions that I can try to answer, prove or disprove.

These are my working questions:

Can I get good, rich color on cellulose fabrics?

Can I screen print with these dyes?

Can I make eco prints?

Can I control the results?

Can I layer techniques?

How do I do this?

What mordants do I want to use?

Which ones work best?

Can I develop garments that work well with the patterns and colors

Can I use zero waste garment design?

I am not sharing the attendant corollary questions- there are too many.

Firstly, I am working out the mordanting system. I am focusing primarily on linen right now because I have some that I am repurposing (scraps and salvation army).

I am working through the aluminum acetate vs alum question.  I am actually thinking of (self) publishing some of my findings.

Right now, I am feeling the A.A. thing but, it  could be expensive. I have been reading Liles, Dean, Cardon and…Baxter Turkey red Journal, …

The goal I have in mind is to develop a pattern of working that offers me flexibility and reasonable predictability.

While all of my sources are excellent (of course). There is no one source that provides information for my current work. Hence the ….I need to put what I like in one place.

I have been focusing on surface design- screen printing, painting, stamping…etc. But,  I am also enchanted with eco printing, so I have been rolling that in too.

This blouse was printed with eucaplyptus. I gathered the leaves in California with my sister. I mordanted the fabric with alum only. Color develops slowly with this material. I had to steam the bundles for a little more than an hour.  I have a large canning kettle. I kept the jar rack. I picked up a splatter screen from ikea (aluminum) it fits perfectly into the pot. I roll the fabric on pvc pipe lengths that I sawed to fit into the kettle.

A word about this. I had the pvc from home projects other wise I’d use dowels…actually I think the best would be a roll of stainless wire. I have a bullet steamer at the studio at school- the core looks like a big curler.

Another word about this: the color in this moist medium travels through the layers of fabric- I know this isn’t always what I want. When I don’ I have been rolling some  interfacing/paper between the layers. This is also based upon the practice with the bullet steamer. ( why aint I using the school steamer? because it is there ….and I am here…and…the little pieces I am doing right now would feel very silly in that rocket.) I am looking toward making yardage..by then, my cute little kettle will become a nuisance and I will have to reconsider.

Here is a detail. The button is deer antler. That is another story about communicating with another species…the nice guy who sliced and polished these for me.

This blouse uses the same garment pattern, but in this case, the dyestuff was synthetic. I used a method called breakdown printing.

Go to http://www.committedtocloth.com/

I very much like the margins, and blocks and fascinating details that this process puts out. The committed to cloth artists have published some very cool process/technique books- they are well written and pretty thorough.

Here is a detail.

This is a close up of black walnut eco printed on linen and altered with iron…otherwise the color was bright yellow. The bleedthrough is visible here.

and one more. The faint pink edge is a slight coloration that was left by soaking the cloth in mordant that also had some previously madder/cochineal dyed pieces in it. And here is the issue I am working through now. I still don’t know the magical answer to the question…if you are layering effects…..do you need to keep remordanting? How and when does the mordant become saturated?

So far, I have been treating each step as unique. This is what I would do if I were using synthetic.

I prepare, dye, process, rinse, dry (or not sometimes) and then prepare again if I want to move on. This is if I want the effects not to bleed into one another. If I don’t care, I might process, – this means batch- dry, and then add the next layer. This is pretty context driven however.

This is why I think I will write these sheets up….but I need a little more time.  I am attempting to develop a process that will get me yards of goods…repeatability with results within a range of acceptance is the goal.

I have looked through India Flint- http://prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com/ she suggests you don’t rinse too much between processes because you are conserving not wasting.  I recommend her website, and just getting lost checking out all her links and images and her books. It is all extremely interesting and inspiring.

Okay…back to me.:)

This fabric demonstrates a couple of things. the use of a resist.

-inko- resist paste and iron thickened with gum tragacanth. The stripes are madder and cochineal. The little corner is the effect of washing after 24 hours. The bigger chunk remains unwashed. If I were really on my game, I would slice off chunks and wash one each week. this owuld show me……that the color is progressively more secure on the fabric the longer it cures. maybe.

I will check the difference.

Many sources have one storing your goods so long you forget you have them. I am thinking more short term than this.  (although…for me…just a couple of weeks when I am working might be enough for that measure.)

The question is…what is an acceptable range of time?

This is rust dyed and hand painted. It is rayon acquired from Dharma Trading. It was dyed and painted as one cloth and cut and laid out – so the design flowed correctly in the front. It feels great. It ia a bit roomier (not big, just swingy) because I wanted to use the fabric elements.

This is another example of breakdown printing. This is on cotton broadcloth, mercerized- it is 54 by 54. It is still in progress. This means, I have rinsed it and resoaked it in soda ash ready to be screen printed- which is the next plan after I create the screens I want to use.

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