Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Late September....the landscape is bedraggled and vainly struggling for warmth and sunshine. Last chance to gather leaves and vines for dying. Kudzu is draped on the mountainsides now. Insect weary. Today we gathered some vines and used them to dye silk thread and silk scarves. There is a somewhat complicated technique of boiling the vines and leaves to remove the yellow pigment. On the second dye bath you raise the pH with carbonic acid. ( I can't figure out why they call it an acid when it raises pH and not lowers it though.) This releases the natural green pigments. Although nature looks green there are no real green pigments out there. Just chloryphil which doesn't dye green. Greens are usually made with a yellow over dyed with indigo.

Once the green pigments are removed in a pH9 dye bath, the dye bath's pH is reduced to pH6 with citric acid. (Some vinegar or a few lemons do the trick.) Then the silk is dyed as usual. Today we mordanted with cream of tarter and copper sulphate and iron to get a nuanced spectrum of greens and mosses and cream.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Drying freshly picked indigo from the field. The color is exceptionally good for a September harvest. I will slowly compost this batch in the winter to reduce to a high percentage of pigment. The indigo has a unique smell. Smells like a lot of work and a potential beautiful piece of dyed indigo cloth and blue silk thread.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Weaving is the simple part. There are too many steps to count in the process of setting up a loom to weave. The creative process is just as long and complicated. I don't want to dictate to the students too much it is best for them to think for themselves. They should look through samples and photos to get a feel for stripes and checks. Kumi is going to weave an obi for a summer kimono. We chose some plain linen thread and a deep indigo blue dyed silk and a light green silk( gardenia and indigo) accent thread. She spent time planning the balance of her thread count and started warping. It took her several hours warp five meters.

It takes so long from the start of a project to the end that it is easy to forget the order of the steps.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Rika spent her weekend stitching and binding 14 meters of linen/cotton in preparation for indigo dying today. I try to give you and idea of the binding methods in the photos. It turned out beautiful. Although the technique was close to the one Ayaka used last week for her Yukata it turned out differently.