Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Indigo dyeing workshop

Last week I actually did some textile work!  I went on a two-day indigo dyeing workshop with Janice Gunner www.janicegunner.co.uk at Cowslip Workshops www.cowslipworkshops.co.uk.  I had always thought that indigo was a very dirty and borderline dangerous process so I did not want to do it at home.  Now I realise it isn't anything of the sort and I shall almost certainly have a go at home.

I have done workshops with Janice before so I knew I would learn a lot on this one.

Here she is demonstrating tying on the first day.  We did stitch resist, tying, clamping and scrunching fabric so there was plenty of variety in the fabrics we made.  I always forget what a long time it takes to do stitch resist so I need to sit in the sun and do a lot more!

My main aim was to make some cloth that I can use in quilts depicting Hayle. www.hayle.co.uk  In my head these are going to include pieces of rust dyeing to represent the industrial heritage of the town and pieces of indigo to represent the sea that surrounds it.  Here is one attempt to represent waves.  (All my photos were taken when the cloth had dried but not been washed so it looks a bit lumpy.)  I marked the lines with a flexible curve.  I know I also need to make some Arashi shibori, i.e. pole wrapped but as there were fewer poles than participants and as I know how to do it I let others have them..  It is top of the list for follow up work though.

I also did some Karamatsu (the larch) using templates Janice had made.

And at home that evening I made a doughnut with cord placed through a rolled up piece of fabric.

I also have a checked grid but it took hours and hours to pull the threads out and it missed the photo session.  It was linen and very tight.  A lovely effect although one row of thread was too close to the fold and did not really 'take'.  I came to the conclusion that the linen thread I used for stitching everything was really too thick so I must see what else I have.

On Day 2 we began with clamping.  I had not realised that there is a use for all the millions of Klippits I have acquired over the years.  Here is what these gave me.

This was made by folding the fabric samosa style and then anchoring it across the middle with the Klippit.  You can see on the right of the photo how you get interesting patterns from the ridges in the Klippit.  I then tied thick threads across the corners of the triangle I had created.  This means I got some dyed thread out of the exercise as well.

Then I did a small piece with bulldog clips placed on each of the four sides of a folded square.

A wonderful Rorschach inkblot type piece which I think should just be turned into a stitched piece as it is.  Now where are all the bulldog clips we have somewhere in the house?  And the clothes pegs?

These little round ones gave me spotty fabric.

Mixing the indigo vats turned out to be quite straight forward provided you remembered the health and safety aspects.

Ten minutes immersion in the vat and then outside for the pieces to oxidate before immersing them again.

We only had time to immerse pieces a couple of times but that seems to have been enough.  The very pale pieces at the left of the photo were dyed in woad in a communal vat.  What a fantastic colour it makes!

I tried out a lot of different weights of fabric ranging from silk organza to delphina cotton.  I have decided that the shibori techniques work better with lighter weights such as cotton lawn although you do need to take account of how tight the weave is if you are going to hand stitch it.  I seem to have come home with an awful lot of scrunched up pieces of different weights.

There are a few more pieces that I will photograph at the next stage of their development.  I have pressed everything carefully but in this household there are other influences.  Hinemoa took one look at the basket in which I had put the pieces and decided it would be a nice new day bed.

I hope she isn't High on the smell of indigo.  That was yesterday.  I have had to find another container for the fabric and turn this one into a new bed for her with an old pullover inside.  Meanwhile her sister, Pania, had decided to have a bath on the pieces I had got out and was musing about how to use.

Never share your creations with cats - unless you are prepared to get all the hairs off with sellotape or similar!

If you feel inspired by this, Janice has written a very good book: Shibori for Textile Artists which you can probably find on Amazon although I am not sure where it is in terms of editions.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a load of fun, and what results, great cloth. I'm setting up my vat in a couple of days, but first I have to sit in the sun stitching and binding. Tough life!