Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Ecoprinting, part II

In addition to the ecoprinted scarves, I also tried dyeing some larger pieces of cotton and linen-cotton mix PFD fabric.  I ecoprinted with various leaves, and I also dyed some solids, all with logwood.  This time I let the bundles sit a good four days or so before checking the results.  Now I have the beginnings of a quilt on my design wall:

This was back in November, and as the weather got colder and more and more leaves dropped from the trees, I thought I was done for the season.  One day, however, I was walking in the neighborhood, and I saw a smoke tree in which the late season growth had produced enormous leaves.  At the October dye night with India Flint, one of the participants had mentioned to me that leaves from smoke trees made good prints.  I knew I had one more silk scarf blank at home, so I couldn't resist gathering some leaves and conducting one more experiment.  I made sure to dye my silk bundle just before an out of town trip, so that I wouldn't be tempted to open it prematurely.  Instead, it sat for more than a week, and the results were fantastic:

I laid the leaves onto half the scarf, folded the other half over, and rolled it all up.  Luckily, the ends were on the outside of the bundle, which meant that they took up more dye, and the string lines made a nice pattern, as shown in the first photo.  I rolled the bundle around a piece of PVC pipe in order to maximize contact between the leaves and the silk, as well as to minimize wrinkles and achieve more consistent results.  It was thrilling to see how beautifully the leaves printed.  The remains of the original leaves were like tissue paper in the end, which also suggested just how well the pigments from the leaves transferred to the fabric.

I made just one error: the printing on the PVC pipe also transferred to the fabric.  D'oh!

Fortunately, the numbers are on the back side and right in the center, so they're at the back of my neck when I wear the scarf.  Next time I'll make sure there's a layer of scrap fabric between the pipe and the silk.

I hope I'll be able to report progress on the quilt over the next few months.  I'm planning to use some of the silk scarves from my previous round of dyeing, in addition to the cottons and linen-cotton mix fabrics.  I need to interface the silk, and then I can start playing with it.

Happy holidays, and happy sewing!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ecoprinting with logwood, and yes, I'm still alive

I've now managed to go more than a year without posting, despite, or perhaps because of, a diverse array of fiber-related adventures.  I'll try to catch up a little bit, starting with more recent endeavours and then working my way backwards.  Apologies for the photo quality, but part of laziness means taking photos with an iPad and not doing any editing.

At the end of October, I had the good fortune to enjoy an evening of ecoprint dyeing at Maiwa with India Flint.  She introduced the group to the basic technique of bundling leaves or other plant material into a piece of fabric and then steaming or immersion dyeing in order to transfer plant pigments onto fabric.  The workshop moved too quickly to get much in the way of actual leaf prints, but I ended up with a nice silk scarf dyed in a range of amber browns from the eucalyptus leaves and branches that we used in the dye pot.

Afterwards, I bought some alum, gallnut tannin, and logwood chips and experimented over a period of several weeks. Using Maiwa's natural dye instructions, along with miscellaneous other sources, I mordanted some silk scarf blanks and applied both tannin and mordant to some cotton and linen-cotton mix fabrics.

For my first dye session, I gathered all manner of fall leaves:

I had asked India about using fig leaves, and she suggested soaking them in iron water first, which is why those leaves are in a bucket, along with a few leaves from our backyard smoke tree for good measure.  The other leaves, which came from various spots in the neighborhood, I used as is.  Here's how things looked after layout, bundling, and dyeing:

I managed to wait about 24 hours before unwrapping.  Here are some of the results:

The Japanese maple prints didn't stay red--they faded to a light caramel brown after washing.  Meanwhile, the fig leaves in iron water (underneath the top scarf, on the lower part of the photo) didn't print very clearly, but that scarf ended up with an interesting yellowish cast that the other scarves lack.

The best results came from a heavier weight silk charmeuse scarf:

I don't know how or why, but some of the leaves printed strongly with a beautiful gold-bronze, and there are all sorts of green splotches in addition to the purple tints from the logwood, and gold-browns from the leaves.  The charmeuse seems to give everything a remarkable pearly sheen.  I've pressed the scarf properly since taking these photos.  I'll cut up the other three scarves for fabric, but this one is worth wearing.  It's not the most sophisticated example of ecoprinting, especially since I didn't think about how I was bundling--hence the rectangular-ish purple block in one corner.  But it's not bad at all for a first solo outing.

More soon!