Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Visitors to the Lotus

The lotus are blooming outside the front door now. Nine blooms this year. I've had three special guests the past few days. The mori ao gaeru( Japanese green forest frog) is an endagered species. I have a huge tank behind the clay storehouse next to the stream for the adults to lay the huge foaming egg sacks in the trees high above. They fall into the water and the tadpoles are relatively safe there for the few months it takes to grow legs. Their croaks are especially charming. (Imagine a frog imitating a woodpecker on a tin wall with a hoarse throat.) This handsome fellow just wanted to get as close as possible to the most fragrant beautiful spot in the entire valley. He cuddled right in there with his eyes closed, stoned out his mind on heavenly lotus fragrance.

White Shadow/ Shirokage shibori

Eri made the tremendous amount of effort to try white shadow/shirokage shibori.
The cloth was some heavyish linen I picked up in Austria at an antique market. It wasn't best suited to this type of shibori as it it thick and doesn't bind up tightly to keep the indigo out. So instead of a pure white shadow, a light blue shadow was the result. None the less, the results were unique and beautiful. The stiching was done in alternating black and white heavy thread so it is easier to see what you are pulling and tying. You really need to pull hard to bind the cloth and if the thread breaks you can't really re-stitch it perfectly. Cutting the threads after dying is also a major task. It seems that it was worth the effort as four other students asked to learn white shadow the following week. Yamaguchi san is a new student and her very first shibori attempt is this advanced technique.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Silkworm Eggs Hatch

The eggs hatched far before their autumn arrival date . Grrrr. So there is another batch of silkworms finishing off the mulberry field leftovers. These will provide moths and eggs for next spring. The eggs will go in the fridge soon after being laid to prevent hatching this time. Less than a thousand silkworms so not that much work. The weather is hot now and they are growing fast. The mulberry must be picked before six in the morning to be fresh. Dew on my jeans and fresh early morning air... feels like you could live forever on this alone.

The clear eggs are the already hatched ones. The babies are one millimeter long. They will grow ten thousand times this size in twenty eight days. And then make cocoons.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Creamy Yellow Mulberry Root Dye

With several hundred mulberry saplings made over the past few years taking up too much space it was time to put some to use now. Some were made from berries. These revert to a wilder type of mulberry and I use the strong base to graft on a good variety in early spring. I have a hundred or so of these saplings and used 30 for a dyestuff today.

The creamy yellow was too good to not take to a higher level. The indigo vat is in very good condition and I can get a dark blue on a single dip right now, effectively erasing the under dye of yellow. To get a lighter blue, take out two liters of liquid from the indigo vat and mix it with four liters of water. Mix it vigorously to introduce a lot of oxygen almost 'killing' it. Then you can over dye a pale blue on the pale yellow. Of course it doesn't dye evenly.This silk is headed for the knitting machine and the irregularities in the dye will turn out just fine in knit.

To get even a finer, lighter green put a handful of indigo leaves in the mixer , filter out the leaf matter, add some lime and a pinch of hydro sulphate. Kawamoto san over dyed her beautiful mulberry root dyed silk scarf the freshest of fresh willow green.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Eggs for Autumn

Just some images of last weeks work.

Indigo Knit

Here is a first attempt at indigo knit. The thread here is stocking grade mercerized cotton. It was very fine, so I threw four treads after dying them. The knitting machine was imported to Japan the late 1950s and still in use. Originally it was a t-shirt fabric knitter. This is a new world for me and it looks like fun. Silk thread, paper thread.... trying something new every week. Perhaps by autumn there will be some new products in the shop. The stripes are a bit too much...