Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist. My current emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with me on Facebook at Drye Goods Studio.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fifty Shades of Brown

I am always trying to find something to do with things there are plenty of, in this instance, horse chestnuts. They are everywhere in the fall and are something of a nuisance to home owners. I had done a bit last year and vaguely remember the swatches I did coming out kind of beige and were promptly used to eco print with no documentation as to how it all came out. This time, I separated the hulls from the nuts and let those soak for a couple of days. I was really hopeful when I spilled some transferring the soaked hulls to a cooking pot and it left a really kicky orange splash on the floor.

I cooked them for about an hour and then strained out the liquid into several pots. Since I already had dupioni swatches pretreated in various ways I decided to use those. Reading left to right, the first one was treated with soda ash, the second I poured the dye in my trusty iron pot, and the last was a pretreat with alum. The results were nice, but not kicky orange.

The next day or so, I was digging around on the internet and found a post on the February Twelve Blog where she got a really lovely brick red on wool. She added a bit of ammonia to the initial cooking liquid. I hadn't ever added ammonia to a dye bath and since it was a tiny amount and I just happened to have a tiny amount under the kitchen sink, I decided to try it. As you can see, no matter what the pre-mordant, I got pretty much the same color over and over. So much so I decided it was better to leave the plastic hangers in the picture so you could see they were actually different pieces of fabric. It could be it is just different on silk than wool, or that I let them soak or cook too long, or that the water here is really hard-who knows?

Never fear, I use this sort of thing as a first layer for other things. The top and bottom images are of the "browner" samples treated with iron-rusted nails and steel wool along with plant materials; the middle one is the sample that the dye had been cooked in an iron pot that I then eco printed with windfall leaves.

What to do with all these noodles of brown fabric? I call this a beaded infinity scarf, although it is more of a necklace. 

You may be wondering what happened to all the nuts that came out of these hulls. Well supposedly they make a soap with bleaching properties, although it sounds to me like it is more of a "bluing" if you know what that is. Anyway, the crucial ingredient is rain water instead of hard water, and rain water is something we have been short of. Today it is raining! A lot! So I put out a bucket and will hopefully have enough to make some soap.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fall at the River

Gray fall days are my favorite, the colors of the leaves seem to glow against the sky. It is good to get out and think about nothing for a bit.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Art on the Prairie

This is another example of a redo that came out great in the end. If you would like to see it in person check out Art on the Prairie this weekend. Check my show list for details.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How Long Does it Take to Make a Scarf?

When you include the time it takes to go collect fall leaves and other materials I am never sure what to answer. Spending a fall afternoon in the parks around town hardly seems like work, but it does take a fair amount of time to collect both fresh materials and things for future use. Now the work begins with this pile as they have to pressed and dried.
The horse chestnut experiments are going well, pictures coming soon! Also elecampane and artemisia wormwood.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Black Bean Dye

Since pictures of soaking horse chestnut hulls didn't sound too interesting I decided to post a do-over. People ask "What happens if they don't turn out right?" Well, then it is time for a do-over. I usually save these up in a pile and when I have that type of energy I get them out and ponder what to do with them. Some have tags that identify what I did to begin with, and this can be helpful when deciding what to do next. It is also good if I decide my do-over is something I would like to turn into an intentional process. (Now how did I screw that up to begin with???) One great solution is black bean dye. It is a cold water soaking dye, so no chance of losing what you already have to boiling in a new dye pot. Of course, depending how badly the item needs to be done over, you may want to lose the first effort! 

The first thing to do is determine if there is any alum in the scarf to begin with. If I did a pre-mordant with alum before eco printing I usually don't apply any more. In the case of the scarf in the big jar I used rusted nails as my mordant. It was a scarf I did while on the coast of Washington so I had used thimble berry and fern. This would be a great place to insert a picture of the original effort, if I had thought to take one-sorry! Anyway, while the thimbleberry was great, the fern, not so much. So as a scarf the design came out a bit too asymmetric, even by my standards. So I applied alum to the scarf, using the usual method for applying alum to silk. 

To make the dye I put a 1 pound bag of black beans to soak in about eight cups of cold water. As to the type, most black beans are packaged as a store brand and there is no way to know what the variety it is. Anyway, I have noticed some differences from store to store, but decided it wasn't worth stressing over. I let the beans soak for 24 hours. By that time the soaking water is murky and it is important not to let this set around any longer, it gets smelly fast. Using a strainer I pour the liquid into a larger vessel. It is important to not get too much of the sediment from the bottom in the soaking vat, it mucks up the dye vat and to my understanding can turn the color brown. I wet out the mordanted scarf and put it in the dye. I weight it down with a small plate, or you can do what I did in the second one and put it in a canning jar and just remember to flip it over periodically. Now it sets for 48 hours. Again, keep track of it, it smells bad enough after 48 hours, I can't imagine what would happen if it went longer than that. I remove the scarf from the vat, rinse it in clear water and hang it to dry. 

A note about that smell; remember that beans in general are notorious for growing botulism-that smell is a warning sign, so toss the beans, don't try to cook and eat them, wear gloves and keep your hands away from your face while doing this.

Eventually, it gets rinsed out with shampoo, hung to dry and ironed and it is ready to go. These are phone snaps and the color in real life is quite a bit darker than it seems here. I really like the way the original prints look like they are floating on water.

In the event you are wondering what was in the canning jar, it was a piece of silk crepe de chine I had done in Anacortes, but with alum as the mordant, so the prints came out a pale yellow, the operative word being pale. It is now a nice shade of blue and I will cut it up to make smaller scarves. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

I Feel the Need to Experiment

I need to have a "what if?" moment. In the basket at the back is elecampane, which for all my research seems to be a definite possibility of a firm maybe as a dye plant. About the only thing I could find about it was from a book written in Ireland in the 1700's saying that you mixed it with ash and wortle  berries to make a blue dye. Ash, I get. But what in the world is a wortle berry? Turns out it is a wild European blueberry. One that is similar to our blueberries in the Americas, but with more staining power than ours. It kind of makes one wonder if the elecampane is actually an adjunct or mordant rather than a dye, although it is in several lists as a blue dye on its own and the seeds are sold as a dye plant. Being one that loves to experiment, I decided in the coming days to try out various methods and see what happens. The wild blueberries here are long gone but there are still plenty of blue elderberries on the trees, so I thought I would use those instead. If I am feeling particularly rich one day I might grab a small tub of blueberries from the store and I am planning a couple of experiments with no berries at all. Then, there are still some huckleberries in the freezer, which make a wonderful purple stain on everything-but they make even more wonderful pancakes, so I may not be willing to part with those in the name of art. Even if it doesn't work as a dye without the berries it might be interesting to see what it does as a mordant.

The basket in front is horse chestnut hulls. I did some experimenting with them before, as I remember they made kind of a brown dye, which I used as a base or pre-mordant for eco printing since I had no idea if it was permanent at the time. Supposedly, the horse chestnuts themselves will make a soap with bleaching properties. I want to give that a try as well, horse chestnuts being everywhere it seems like one should be able to do something with them. 

Stay tuned to see what happens next!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Listings on Etsy

I got some stuff crossed off my list today and it feels good! Jet tub-cleaned! Floor-swept! Etsy listings-pictures taken and listed! Yeah! I put up some of my infinity scarves done in natural vat dyes. Tea, black beans, tansy (in both its yellow and green versions, thank you very much) and eucalyptus (in brown AND peach!) all went up for adoption today. I also added in some more of my ceramics work, chunky big raku beads suspended from distressed silk dupioni. AND I put it on Facebook AND I am now mentioning it here! Next I am going to Pin it as well.

Who is this strange marketer sitting at my desk and what did she do with the real me?

If you actually end up going to Etsy through the mini at the right hand side of this blog, please forgive any typos you may find there, after all this activity (or lack there of) my brain and my butt are both numb. I will go double check it tomorrow, right now it is time for a walk. When I get back maybe it will acceptably late enough in the day for a glass of wine!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Summer into Fall

Wow! I can't believe how long it has been since I posted anything, time does fly! After the Anacortes show in early August I taught my first class in eco printing, it went well. Here are some pictures of us in action and the final results.

Then it was on to Sausalito California for a show over Labor Day weekend and two more shows here at home. In between I have been trying to make good use of the last of the summer greenery. The sunflower leaves are finally ready just as the locust are about done for the year. This scarf also includes pressed leaves from last year and marigolds that didn't get hit by our first frost. The marigolds will yield an olive green, the locust leaves a brighter green and the sunflower will print brown while the pressed leaves will be a purply black.
Now I am traipsing around collecting this years leaves as they change color. Mostly from the parks and yards as the wild trees have pretty much given up with all our hot dry weather this summer. Leaves from the small shrubs and trees I would normally collect and save just shriveled up, turned brown and fell to the ground. I know how they feel, I was at my load limit for heat, dust, smoke and no rain. I am not sure what it is about fall, but it must be the cooler temperatures and the bright blue skies that make this my favorite time of the year.