Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Dying with Four-Wing Evening-Primrose

An old friend dropped by the shop and asked if I had ever dyed with Tsukimiso (Moon Watching Grass) or in English, a common variety of Four Wing Evening Primrose. I hadn't even heard of it. She said that it dyed a deep purple after having the initial yellow pigment removed in boiling water then in the second boiling being decocted in an alkaline dye bath and then reducing the pH with vinegar and finally mordanted with iron.

You can only get the dark color before the flower buds form in late spring. It sounded like a real pain in the ass to dye with. However, asking around the village it turns out it grows in the gravel on the stream bank just 50 meters from the front door.

The results were great on silk produced last spring. It dyed a pale yellow and instantly went dark purple in the iron mordant. Amazing reaction. On the right side of the picture you can see the pale yellow and on the left side the iron mordanted purple.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Indigo Days

It is stencil dying season again. The sun is warm enough to dry the glue paste. Here I have some lotus patterns I drew/carved last year and an old leaf stencil that Barbara cut out over ten years ago. The material is a hemp/ramie blend. Summer scarves for men and women are popular this year.

Eri spent ages individually trying these small square dots for her quilt project. I was worried it might turn out a little overdone..I was wrong. It tuned out perfect.

The vat was in great shape. All the light green is a sign that there is no oxygen in the vat and tha the pH is high. It is spinning after I stirred it.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

New Shop and Workshop

On April 24th I opened a very small gallery and workshop in my town at the entrance to a large prefectural art recreation facility , Fujino Geijutsu no ie . There is a hotel and campground , theater for 300, a woodwork facility, glass work studio, pottery studio etc. I've held workshops here in the past. It was a center for many of the local artists for 15 years. Nine other creative types: potters, a landscape architect, several contemporary glass artists, a few painters, a leather worker making shoes and bags, a wood furniture maker, a Japanese antique dealer and myself. We each have a small separate wood cabin/container like gallery. There is a restaurant in the center with a huge balcony looking out on the mountains.

I set up two indigo vats on my balcony here. I'm taking it slow and letting it evolve without too much structure. I had figured I would have customers come and experiment with indigo dying. I prepared cloth ready to dye. They can bring their old clothes from home and refresh them with indigo. Sadly, it seems that people just come and shop. I pretty much sold out in the first two weeks. (Now I'm in frantic production mode!)

So my blog is suffering.