Friday, May 18, 2018

mucking about...


I've been mucking about lately

plant-dyeing

oh such fun it is...

there's something deeply personal about colouring thread to stitch with, even though the results are rather difficult to control, never mind often unpredictable

maybe that's what I like about it though...

if I do it often I'm sure I'll learn enough to get fairly predictable results when working in a controlled manner, but as it's just for me, I really don't care - sometimes it's when we don't get what we think we want that we make astounding discoveries

anyway, I've bought a few books on plant-dyeing, read a few articles online, and recently, enrolled in an online class with India Flint where it all came together and I finally felt ready to make a start

below is my adventure with dandelions...


the first four plaits are straight from the depot, the fifth had a dunk in rusty iron water and the sixth went into a small amount of the dye to which I added baking soda - watching the colours change was indeed magical

these have all had a bath in synthrapol soap, followed by a good rinse and the water ran clear - this way, they will stay


avocado skins were another dye-pot I set to brew

a nice long, slow, simmer - the first threads were quite dark, and as I was using a small pot which I think I over-stuffed, the dye wasn't even... the second batch, seen below came out much better

the first two are straight from the pot, the next had a dip in rusty iron water and the fourth went into more of the dye with rusty iron vinegar added

from light peachy-pink to a deep plummy-grey - love...


my last thread adventure was with a dye bath that had some of both the avocado skin and dandelion dyes with the addition of a branch of eucalyptus leaves garnered from a local florist

this dye-bath yielded soft pinky-beiges with a hint of grey - "fawn" might be a good colour name for these... the one on the right was the only plait that was treated with a pre-dye mordant and gave out a beautiful, soft brown, tempered slightly with grey

oh my stars 


I'm busy plaiting more threads in preparation for a good bit of dyeing next week

I have lots of the avocado dye as well as the eucalyptus mixture and the dandelions are still growing

there's lavender and rosemary and the carrots are peeking out of the ground already - carrot tops make a lovely colour


last year I grew woad and got enough leaves to extract enough pigment for a couple of skeins of grey-blue thread... this year I'm hoping to do even better with that


after the thread dyeing, I tried my hand at eco-printing

decent results with one branch but I can't say I care much for this process at all - I did dye small pieces of fabric when I did the threads, and they turned out fine, but it's really just dyeing embroidery thread that has captured my imagination


though the marks of the wrapping string on this pale mauve fabric look rather wonderful

so much opportunity for stitch here

the true colour of this is wonderful - a pale, pinky mauve but I can't edit this image to anything but grey...


and another outer covering fabric with even more string marks


it's a messy business, and not a quick one but if I putter away at it over the summer I should have a lovely range of threads for winter stitching

though I expect I'll be into them long before then...

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

the world is indeed full of magical things...

I was listening to something the other day that made me think of growth, especially plant growth, and thinking about how my two favourite fabrics, linen and cotton, are a product of sun and water

how amazing, how magical, is that?
from a tiny seed, can come a bolt of cloth, a skein of thread

more than ever I want to learn how that's done - I've found a workshop in the uk where you can do that with linen... a five day workshop where you go from plant to cloth, working the fibres, spinning the thread and weaving the cloth

it's on my wish list...

another magical thing is the book "out of fashion, the new fashion" 
a photo journey of textile magic

I think it's my most favourite book of all, even surpassing "the godfather" which has held that spot for decades


this "brick" of a book even comes with an overlay of muslin which I have been happily adding fabric and stitch too

making it mine


it sits by the bed and every night I open it up at random and sink into visual heaven...

so completely inspirational - I can never decide which it makes me want to do more of: travel, or stitch

maybe travel with a needle in hand...

at any rate, it has me looking at old work with new eyes 


today I reacquainted myself with my christian lacroix artist book

sorting through all the bits and pieces I started a while back, poring over images, fondling cloth, drawing sparkling thread through my fingers

letting colour and pattern wash over me again


and of course, there's always the magic of white

I've been learning to create new surfaces, some more solid than others

below is the latest adventure with karen ruane

a variety of machine stitched surfaces ripe for hand embroidery

this is my first, a base layer of paper and scrim with an open-work overlay


below is with the overlay folded back


 I've just started the hand-stitching; I can see many happy hours ahead with this one 

it's so light and ethereal and I don't want to wreck that

and finally, making magic with art paper and fabric snippets, stuck in place with gesso

dry now, waiting for the next step


which has been waiting on me getting an idea for what that could be

same old, same old - go so far, pause

I made extra so I can experiment and, then just as I was uploading the image, one thought occurred to me - tomorrow I'll try it out

fingers are crossed that my sewing machine has a little more magic in it too