Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Dying with Stick Lac, Indigo and Gardenia

I dyed two scrappy pieces of silk many years ago as an experiment. They looked like a a cross between a giant octopus hickey attack and a major roadkill of a tribe of tree frogs. A weird aesthetic and both scarves met the same fate. Taken off my neck still warm and not given back. 'Name your price. I am not giving it back...'

I miss them and decided to try to make new ones. The silk this time was slightly different and it didn't come out exactly like before. The green is too peacocky so it is time to try again. Ogata san helped out today painting on the Lac. Then the whole piece is steamed in this contraption for an hour to set the dye. Then the red rings are wrapped and resisted and then dyed brilliant yellow with gardenia pods. The whole thing is untied and retied with smaller rings and then dyed in indigo.

I picked up some stick lac when while working in North Laos five years ago and am finally using it. It is tough to dye with. Steaming is the only sure way to fix the color permanently and deeply.

Lac dye is a natural reddish dyestuff extracted from
stick lac which is a secretion of the insect Coccus laccae
(Laccifer lacca Kerr). The insect C. laccae is often found
in South and Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand and
India. In Thailand, the lac insect grows most commonly
on the Rain tree,


  1. It's so cool! It turned out great, I love the colour after you dyed with indigo. I don't know anything about lac insect before, thanks.

  2. Fascinating and what a great colourways you achieved! Hang onto it! lol

  3. That red is so glorious, such a rich colour.

  4. I'm glad you're back to your blog and have so enjoyed catching up on all your posts. thanks for sharing.