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.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Progress Report on the Acorn as Mordant

I did three long sleeve 100% cotton T-shirts. The lightest one is the one I did with protein and soda ash so I would have something to compare to. The next darkest one is the one that the alum was applied first and then the acorn "juice", the darkest one is the one that had the acorn mordant first and then an exposure to alum. I have to say, that dark one is a really pretty mauve. It does have some weird spots you can't see in the picture, they will become part of the eco print. Why I keep getting this pink, I am not sure. It may be our water quality here, or it could just be that I am too lazy to peel the acorns and the shells have some effect. At any rate, it is a pretty color when you can get it with out the funky brown spots.

The next thing I did I probably should not have done just for the sake of the experiment, but I happen to love the interplay of rust with various plants and so I laid out the shirts and let them set with some rusty nails on them over a couple of days.

I steamed them the other day, using my "go-to" leaves, the ones I use when I want a guaranteed print, no matter what other crazy thing I am doing. It is mostly a mixed bag of maple leaves and stuff from the box I marked "miscellaneous" which are from a lot of little scruffy trees that grow out by the river. I also used iris petals from the stash in the freezer. Tempting as it was to use all different stuff on all three shirts, I decided I would learn more if I just used all the same leaves and could compare them from one mordant to the next.

And now, we wait. I left them in plastic bags for several days to keep them wet, now I am leaving them out to dry.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Well that was Great-What's Next?

"A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare to the jeweled vision of a life started anew." Aberjhani

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rattling those Pots and Pans

I am still working on the T-shirts with the acorn mordant, tomorrow is steam printing day on those, so pictures to come soon! In the meantime I have been working on various projects.

Applying mordants:

Making a REALLY BIG pot of tea for tea dyeing:

And one wild hair experiment involving Chianti by the jug.

Not sure how that last one will come out, but it made the house smell great!

Monday, January 16, 2017

More Snow

"We spend January first walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential."
Ellen Goodman

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Road to Hell Being Paved with Good Intentions and All That

I think it is interesting to observe how people see New Year's Day. After all, it is just another 24 hour period pretty much the same as the 24 hour period before that. I spent New Year's Eve participating in First Night at Pottery Place Plus. I decided that rather than trying to do a full blown eco printing demo in the dead of winter it might be smarter to have some fabric bundles done up with dried materials ready to open and just work on paper in front of people, mostly because I thought it would make less of a mess in the gallery-Ha!
Bundles ready to open
These don't look too bad! I rarely get anything usable from demos, probably because I am talking about doing it and not concentrating on actually doing it.
New Year's Day seems to be the day everybody wants to start over, have a do-over and make the day noticeably different than the last 365. Mine was spent unloading the van, sorting and putting things away. By the time all the running back and forth was done, it was discovered there was no food in the house. Why is it that the elves around here eat all the food and then take a long winter's nap? So hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to the store I go.

So far, this year is shaping up to be a lot like last year.

When I got back my intention was to go out to the studio and just hang out, the theory being that the way one spends New Year's Day is the way the rest of the year will be and that is the way I want to spend the year. On my way back from the store it had started to snow, but by the time the groceries were put away it was snowing in a Laura Ingalls Wilder "The Long Winter" sort of way. The studio building is about 60 feet or so from the back door and it was totally invisible behind a wall of blowing snow. I had just gotten new books last week so the choice seemed to be between having the skin on my face sheered off in a blizzard or laying on the couch with a new book in a nice warm house. Hmmm...let me think about that one for a minute.

I guess it is human nature to have the expectation that it is even possible to make some overnight change and all will be different than the day before. When I look back over what I have written here, I see the use of the words "expectation" and "intention" and the concept of "spending" time. Sometimes it is helpful to look at reality instead comparing life against how I think things should be. I spent the last few hours of the old year making work with friends and the first day of the year resting and recharging. As far as what I expect to accomplish this year, I intend to make new work, rest more, and enjoy time with friends. So, yes I guess the new year is shaping up to be a lot like last year, so not bad at all.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Stories

"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning." T.S. Elliot

I used this picture as the big white mound you see behind the trees on the left side was made to cover up a smallish (by modern standards) hazmat site. For now it is a man made hill with mulch that will grow grass, but eventually it will be covered with wildflowers and trees. This is the beginning of another story.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Eco Printing on Cotton and Cellulose Fibers

I have always used silk as it is the easiest to work with. While using a mordant is fun, and offers up a wider variety of colors and effects, it is not strictly necessary for color fastness in most cases. This for the most part is because in the world of natural dyes opposites attract. So plant dyes adhere better to protein fibers than to plant fibers. Some prep work is in order to get the plant color to bond and last on cellulose fabric (i.e. cotton, linen, ramie etc.). With eco printing you can get color out of a lot of things immediately, but without a certain amount of experimentation over time, you won't know if the color will last, even on protein fibers.

The reason this comes up is people do ask me over and over if I would ever do cottons for quilting. I have done some linen for decorator pillows and some up-cycled linen clothing that has seemed to pass the test of time and washing. I chose the Japanese method described in India Flint's book, Eco Colour. The fabric is mordanted multiple times, going back and forth between a protein (in my case whatever cheap soy milk I can find) and an alkaline such as soda ash, letting it dry between mordant baths. Then the fabric is supposed to set around for a period of time (according to India the Japanese let it set around for five years! This is slow dyeing, but who has that kind of time?), I let it set for up to six months, but now some of the pieces I have are years old, so I am sure the mordants have more than bonded. I also knew then that  cellulose fibers are very often exposed to tannins in order to make the bond between color and fiber.

Which leads me to this post. My daughter in law asks me about this every time we see each other. I keep saying that I will get around to experimenting some day. The thing is, I would hate to sell somebody yardage or fat quarters, they go to all the trouble to put them in a quilt of some sort and in a few years the color either faded due to minimal sun exposure or simply being washed. All that being said, I do see quite a bit of cotton being done and little mention made if there was any mordant used. 

Part of the issue is that I wasn't really aware of a local, ecological sustainable form of tannin. I started pouring over my dye books and it turns out, according to one, you can get tannin out of acorns (also oak leaves, galls and bark). Since the acorns are the most readily available, that is what I decided to go with. Much fun has been made of the collection of acorns sitting by the studio door. Foraging for winter? New diet? Along those lines. 

Now, this is where it gets sort of complicated. In one book it has you mordant the cotton with alum first, then the tannin. And the other book-you guessed it-has you do it the other way round and it also says to use some soda ash with the alum, where as the first book says nothing about that. Great. So, time to just give it a go. I found some white T-shirts on a clearance rack recently ($3 each, woo-hoo!) and decided since there were three exactly alike it would be a good way to test out both theories. I thought it better for the experiment to start with brand new, thoroughly washed shirts rather than chancing what a used shirt might have been exposed to in the past. The third one I think I will do the protein/alkaline thing and see if it looks any different from the other two.

1. Step one is supposed to be peeling the acorns. That ain't gonna happen so a zippy bag and hammer seemed to be the best route-and yes I realize the shells will have an effect, but I rather like those sorts of things.

2. I put the mostly smashed acorns in a jar that holds about a gallon of water.

3. Although I am usually not much of a stickler for water "quality" (Ph test strips? We don't need no stinkin' strips!) in this case I happen to know that you can make a gray dye of acorns with iron as an adjunct and the water pipe out to my studio is in need of a replacement. Last year we discovered that during the winter the water is quite rusty when we are not running irrigation. So, since my rain barrels are not in use at this time of year, I ran into the house to get water from there. I filled the jar with water. The goal is to have as little color change to the fabric to begin with so whatever you do next shows up better. I have made acorn dye before and it can turn out almost black.

As you can see, after just a few minutes the water is cloudy. This is the tannin being released out of the acorns. I did let it go overnight and when I got out here this morning it had turned amber. I have no idea if this is good or bad, it is probably the shells leaching into the water, so I strained it off. 

I have a meeting to go to today, so hopefully tomorrow I can work on the T-shirts. Check back in, we can all find out together how this goes during the next month.