Archive for the ‘Dyeing’ Category

What are these alien looking lumps, you ask….

They are pieces of woollen Doctor’s flannel that have been tied, stitched, knotted or crumpled in preparation for a dunk in a dye bath, using my local Eucalyptus leaves.  I have several varieties growing on this property, and they each give a different result – then there are other variables:- age of leaves, tap or rain water, steel or aluminium pot, length of time boiled, which mordant used, if any, whether there are other leaves enclosed, or metal clips used, and I reckon you can add the direction of the wind or how one holds one’s mouth as the results are always unpredictable.  I wanted to get some pieces with the red colour one usually gets from E. crenulata, to go with some other bits already dyed and all pieces were tied or stitched in the shibori manner, rather than clamped to avoid any darkening from the metal.  They were boiled for a couple of hours, as usual, but when I checked, they seemed to have taken up little colour.  I pulled them all out – looking a sort of dull cream colour and immediately put them in another pot with leaves of a different sort to try again.  I kept just one of the first attempt to see what it would look like when cool and unwrapped.  It was this…

It is the most gorgeous wattle yellow with blue tinges around the areas of resist.  I tried to replicate it the next day – same leaves, same pot, same rainwater, same time and got a completely different result, so this is the only piece of fabric I have of that colour.  All the others from the first day turned out a red/orange as I had initially expected, and those done the next day were similar.  I was really after something a bit darker and brighter, and I have no idea what caused the yellow, but I shall try again another day.  These are some of the other pieces, a few of which are back in another dye bath as I type as they were a bit uninspiring.

This last one is a piece of vintage kimono silk…..

I have friends who approach natural dyeing in a more scientific way, keeping notes and samples of their results with different methods, leaves etc etc.  I prefer to just see what happens, but I do intend to do a test with each of the Eucalyptus trees I have to see if it is possible to be more accurate in reaching the desired colours.


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Home Again

The dogs and I have just had a few days in Melbourne, staying with my daughter in the inner city, and we all had a great time.  I went primarily to have a mini holiday and take some photos in a different environment……….but in the end, did not shoot much at all.  A couple of her dog, but that is about it!  I did however go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, go swimming early one morning in the rain at the famous Fitzroy swimming pool, go dog walking in the local park on another, buy a couple of pairs of shoes and some fabric, go to a couple of movies, catch up with an old friend, and see a wonderful exhibition at the Ian Potter Gallery, called Tjukurrtjanu: Origins of Western Desert Art, a selection of Aboriginal Art from the 70’s.  I was not allowed to take photos, but there are a few online at the Gallery website above.  I immediately thought of the colours obtained from natural dyes on wool and silk, and how this sort of graphic design could well suit the pieces I have dyed so far.  I really need to do something with them, rather than just enjoy the process and stockpile the results – such as these from my latest evil looking Eucalyptus and Walnut dye pot.

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This piece of lurid cotton was dyed with Procion dyes in 2010. Though I liked it, I could not decide how it might be used as I thought it was too bright.

So I cut it up into 2.5 inch squares…… rearranged it several times….

and stitched it all together again……

The true colours are more like the photo above, I like it, but I still don’t know what to do with it.  Do I really need another cloth bag??  A cushion??  Or shall I just put it back in the stash cupboard?  Suggestions welcome!!

PS.   I do wish WordPress would not put all the photos into the slideshow – the last three were not to be included, but I cannot stop it happening – Sorry for the duplication, I think I shall contact them to see what the options might be.

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Last week some friends gathered around the dye pots and played with leaves and fabrics.  I brought mine home in bundles and have been so very good in not opening them immediately…..I planned to leave them a week or so…the little wooden beads are to identify my pieces when they all come out of a communal pot, and look pretty much the same.  The other way I sometimes mark my bundles is by tying them with a striped synthetic string – you can see I used it to attach the beads.

I also brought home a few branches of prunus leaves and boiled them up.  I then strained the beautiful dark red liquid, left it overnight and added some alum before using it to dye the next day…..it initially looked like this.

Ever impatient, I decided to open all the bundles today, including those dyed with the red leaves above.  Here are the results, some of them most surprising.

wool blanket dyed with prunus on the day.

wool and smaller piece of alpaca, dyed with eucalypt leaves

Wool dyed with the above prunus leaves at home - yes it's green!

Fine wool, dyed in Cherry Ballart with eucalypt leaves wrapt in bundle.

Silk with eucalypt leaves and some metal scraps in Cherry Ballart.

Silk with eucalypt leaves and red prunus leaves, dyed with prunus - it is actually a bit more green than this photo shows.

There are more, but these are probably the best ones……a good result I think, despite getting shades of blue/green from red leaves.  I wonder if it would happen again…

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Sunday was spent with friends dyeing various bits of wool and silk with Eucalyptus leaves and also, for the first time, Indigofera australis which is supposed to give a blue colour if used in a particular way.  We obviously did not do it correctly as my silk fabric ended up a bile yellow colour…..not very nice at all really.  I did obtain some good leaf prints on both silk and wool, which is what we were all trying for.

The blue stripes on this piece transferred from some raw silk with pink and blue stripes that I had on top when they were bundled together……I was not expecting that!

Now I just need to figure out what to do with my ever increasing stash of natural dyed fabrics…………other than just enjoy touching and looking at them!

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The fabric book has finally been finished, I completed the binding of the pages last night.  I’m fairly pleased with it, but as always , if I were doing it again some things would be done differently.  There are eight pages inside the cover, each one demonstrates a technique learned at Nifty Needles, the EG interest group that focuses on non traditional embroidery techniques.

The pages are bound with a simple stitched Japanese binding.

Each page is backed with a hand-dyed fabric, and the edges finished with buttonhole stitch.

Each facing page has a label with the name of the piece, and details of how it was made.

The labels were printed on the computer and attached with Vliesofix

The background fabric for the covers was made by enclosing a piece of wool prefelt between two layers of hand dyed silk, stitching them together by hand and machine, then felting the three layers together. It is a lovely texture to touch.

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Our dyeing group met again on Friday, the first time for the year.  There were four dyepots going, with a variety of things in them. Two had Eucalyptus leaves, one was Cherry Ballart in an iron pot, and one was made with the seed-heads of a native plant my friend called Garnia, but I cannot find anything of that name to give you a link….Eucalyptus crenulata which grows on my land usually gives a good red/brown, but this time it was not as red, while another unknown Eucalyptus, thought to be an Iron Bark of some sort, gave a deep orange/red.  My bundles were wrapped with various leaves – Eucalyptus, Rose, Bay (dark green prints) and some red Prunus leaves, which gave a red/purple in places, plus a few other things to give some textures by resist, and some metal bits.

The wool used was an Australian Doctor’s flannel which shrinks a little and becomes a bit thicker, so one gets different effects on either side of the fabric which is useful.  All bundles were simmered in the pot for about three hours, then left in overnight, and kept for a couple of days before unwrapping.  I’m too impatient and I have never found leaving things longer makes a whole lot of difference.  These are some of my results…..too many to post photos of all!

Wool – Eucalyptus crenulata

Wool – Ironbark

Silk – “Garnia”

Wool – Ironbark

Silk – Cherry Ballart in iron pot

Wool – Cherry Ballart, iron pot

wool – Cherry Ballart, iron pot

Wool – Cherry Ballart, iron pot

Wool – Cherry Ballart, iron pot.

Posts may be a bit sparse for the next few weeks, I’m  going to be very busy doing another class with Jude Hill – Contemporary Woven Boro, plus one with Kim Klassen to learn the Essentials of PSE9…….I swore I would never do two classes at once, but resolutions are made to be broken!!

Still taking photographs though, so don’t forget to have a look at the latest on Fractions in Time.












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At long last, some stitching ……nothing flash or particularly clever,  just another page for the textile book.  This one is to illustrate some of the possibilities of dyeing fabric with rusty metal objects, and then using them as the basis for stitchery.  The design came from a piece of curly wrought iron which I found in the garden when I moved here, and it now adorns the old dunny door which serves as a gate to my fenced and netted vegetable garden.  The underlying fabric was obtained by wrapping an old steel star picket in cotton and leaving it in the rain for a week.

This will be mounted on another background of embellished green felt which will be the actual page, and then this and the other pages will be bound together to make the actual book.  There are still a couple of pages to be completed, and the whole needs to be completed by April for the Guild Exhibition.  Better get a move on!

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