I seem to be heading in several directions at once lately, which is tricky, to say the least! Though I guess they’re really more of the same – different ways to add colour and pattern to cloth.
I did a little more breakdown printing recently. It was a screen I painted back in early July, but ran out of energy to print with the others. I have some ideas of ways to use some of my existing cloth, which involve a deep red-brown or purple colour, so I decided to print in tones of those colours. Here’s the screen:
My first series of prints used a mixture of purple, magenta and blue. These prints have the highest contrast, since there were more areas where the dye paint on the screen resisted the print.
The result was surprisingly delicate and lace-like. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, although the colour is just as I imagined. I suspect this will be too highly patterned for my plan, unless I over-dye it to tone down the light background.
The second series of prints used some scarlet as well as magenta and less of the purple. It has less obvious pattern, as the screen had begun to break down, which added some warmer tones to the print.
I think this will work well with some of my other printed fabrics.
My third print is a brighter shade again, with more scarlet and no purple. It has only small areas of print, and the colours should work well with earlier prints.
So I felt pretty happy about that printing session. I feel I now have a better idea of how to create interesting fabric using this process.
I had a little play with dyeing with the Drimarene K dyes that we’ve been using for breakdown printing. My favourite is this silk yarn, which was dyed using the Four Minute Rapid Fix Dyeing method from Batik Oetoro.
I poured turquoise and scarlet dye over the skein in a snaplock bag. It has traces of the two colours and every shade between. I love it! It was a pretty ratty skein left over from someone else's stash, probably because it had acquired a twist and tended to tangle badly. After some days of patient work, it now looks like this:
I think I'll weave with this yarn, probably as the weft, because it's just too nice not to use together.
My friend Tricia and I had another eco-dyeing day together recently, when we boiled up two pots of plant material. The first one used leaves from a fallen branch from an unknown tree, which Tricia collected a few weeks ago. However, it soon became apparent that it wasn’t yielding anything interesting, and the tree was identified as Lemon Scented Gum Eucalyptus citriodorus. So we added some yarrow leaves, to bring the colour back towards yellow, and some copper sulphate mordant. Even so, the silk scarf, tied with slipknots, that I dyed was very muted and tan.
The only thing that gave this some interest was the pattern on it. It was quite a simple process. I tied slip knots in the centre and then roughly equal distances along the scarf and tied the bundle together with string at the ends. It would have been very boring without it!
The wool skein I dyed in this bath was tied with green twine, which ended up being very interesting because, as well as the resist effect from the twine, it also stained the yarn a muted purple in places.
The best result was a wool scarf, into which I tied wooden beads at each end. Although the beads were very dull in colour, they gave the yellow cloth a vivid red colouring.
The other pot used ironbark leaves and twigs from my street trees, which I collected when a branch came down earlier in the year. We wanted to see if the colour would be significantly different from the colour using the tree bark.
The ironbark pot had a mordant of ferrous sulphate added to it. I dyed this length of silk georgette for a scarf, by folding it in a concertina, lengthwise, and folding geranium leaves into the folds, before tying the folds with wood blocks. I added some wooden beads in the centre, twisted but not tied.
Some scented geraniums will leave colour, but these ones did very little and the beads were not tied in tightly enough to do anything either. But the wood blocks yielded the usual rectangular patterns, which have made it interesting.
I also dyed a wool skein, using three tongue depressors, one in the centre of the skein and one each side, tied together…
… and a silk skein, twisted around two tongue depressors, Arashi-style, which were tied together at each end, not touching the yarn.
This one has a lovely silvery colour, which seems to be typical of silk yarn dyed in ironbark. I love the effects I’m getting with dyeing yarns. My plan is to weave something interesting with these yarns, especially the wool ones, I’m building up a good collection of skeins from the same 2 ply wool cone, which all relate to one another really well. I'll photograph them all together soon, so you can see what I mean.
I also tried dyeing with a grey leafed plant, which has ambitions to take over my front garden. I identified it as Helichrysum petiolare, also known as Licorice-plant or Trailing Dusty-Miller. It has quite a strong smell, so I thought it might yield something interesting in the dye pot. That’s the next part of the garden due for a tidy-up, so I really wanted to find out whether it was worth saving the cuttings for dyeing.
I boiled a small amount of it for an hour and the dye bath was a lovely rich brownish-red colour, so I was quite optimistic. I added some wool voile and it went a lovely pale yellow, not at all the colour I expected from the dye bath colour! I don't have any mordants, so I added some vinegar to make the dye bath more acid, which suits wool, and let it cool and sit for two days.
Despite the photo, it's quite a pretty lemon yellow, so it would be interesting to see what different mordants do to the colour. I didn't use a huge amount of the plant, as it was my small pot and was by no means full, so maybe more of it will yield a stronger colour, too.
Anyway, my conclusion is that it's worth saving the trimmings and drying them out.
We did another Drimarene K dyeing session again this week, using the same method as before. It's fun and quick and has the benefit of not requiring pre-mordanted fabric, but I'm not sure it's the best way to get interesting results. The cotton I dyed was ordinary in the extreme, but they were pieces that had already been dyed with breakdown printing. The silk scarf was a lovely green, but the other colours on it went muddy. The best fabric was this wool voile length:
It looks almost as if it's been eco-dyed! It's mostly red-brown but it has deep areas of red and blue. Just lovely but not what I expected.
The yarns from this session were great, though. I dyed this silk yarn, using scarlet and blue.
Of course these mixed together into purple, but between the mixing in the bag and the tying with tongue depressors, it's very variable in colour and looks just gorgeous.
The wool yarn is just as beautiful.
It has a lovely heathery mix of colours, from quite yellow in some places down to a deep purple. I dip dyed one end of the skein into yellow and the other into blue, before pouring over scarlet and blue. It was already tied with tongue depressors at each end, so these ends were held out of the way while the dyes were poured over the remainder of the yarn. I love it and I wish the skein was larger than just 25g!
I plan to do some more discharge dyeing next week, as I think that has huge possibilities, especially for some of the breakdown printed fabrics that I like less. I'm planning to stencil and screen print with the discharge paste, which I haven't tried before.