23 March 2013

pondering eco coloring

I don't know if it's because spring is nudging it's way in or if the seams of my artist self are tired of being tied together so firmly. But I'm searching for new things, new ways to express through fabric.

I've been struggling with one item in particular - dyeing. I'm trying to make peace with the fact that I am leaving working with MX dyes behind. There are a variety of reasons for it, but I've decided it's not something I'm going to do anymore. But removing dyeing from my skill set is not something I'm wild about.

I've been researching a lot of different options. At first I turned toward natural dyeing but there are some chemicals there I'm not eager to get my hands on. Spice dyeing? Tea dyeing? Coffee dyeing?

Nothing was making me rush to the studio to experiment.

Until I remembered that I had this on my bookshelf:

I spent a long time reading it last night. It's not a formula book but it's a whole different way of adding print and color to fabric I hadn't considered before.

I can't call it dyeing (neither does India Flint, do visit her site, it's incredible) and durability of the color is very questionable. But for some reason I find that...exciting. There is a lot to learn about this method of cloth coloring, it will be something that takes quite a bit of time I think. And I will most likely also have to concede working with cotton, it does not create as vibrant of prints. I need to find some form of silk that I can make friends with (not a fan of the shiny flowy stuff, feels too formal to me).

I also found another eco artist in my search today online (Pinterest is proving to be a great resource). Elizabeth Bunsen also makes beautiful fabric. Aren't you intrigued by that?? And check out Lotta Heleberg. *swoon*

 While I was in the studio today, I remembered this experiment. Out of all the pieces I clipped to that crabby frog, the only one that survived not being blown away is this one:

It was outside for nearly a year. Through a rather unkind winter, I might add. It's been bleached by the sun (this photo shows it's original color) and to be honest, it's nothing exciting. But the idea of letting things sit and slowly transform is rooting quietly in my mind, taking hold.

I had great aspirations to start experimenting with eco coloring for a big new piece I'm starting but if I'm being honest with myself, there are too many unknowns to me right now and trying to rush through them will not serve any purpose.

So until the studio shakes loose and I'm free to wander off into this unknown territory, I'll keep pondering and studying. The timing feels good as we are moving into the seasons with plenty of fodder.


Robbie said...

I ourchased India's book several yrs ago. It is a good book showing mx alternative. I have dyed using different types of wood and i achieved some nice colors. If you are game, I'd be happy to share with you wood given to me from a natural dyer I met in Florida 8 years ago. I won't be at saqa mtg in april as we're still in fl & haven't paid my dues! Yikes!

Jeannie said...

Tumeric provides a beautiful orangy yellow and it is easy peasy. Wild Color is another good book. It is geared more towards yarn, but the recipes work on other fibers. I love Lotta's work - swoon indeed! Judy Carpenter has been experimenting a lot, and has some excellent results on her blog. I just don't have the patience and was disappointed with all the beige I got. That said, there is still the kid that wanted a chem set who enjoys experimenting. Have you thought about indigo? There are some not nice chemicals involved (thiox), but it is so much fun. I recently saw Decodyes(?). They are like transfer dyes, but can be used on cotton with an extra step. I like the idea of painting a design and then transfering bits of it. So many ideas and ways to change cloth! I need to win the lottery and be able to stay awake 24/7. Looking forward to seeing where this fork in the road takes you.

Jennifer Solon said...

I was fortunate to take a workshop with India Flint last fall - it inspired me to experiment with eco-printing quite a bit. Onion skins are my favorite and readily available at the grocery store all year long. I did get great prints from leaves in the fall. Can't wait for winter to finally be done so i can play again. Would be happy to meet up sometime for dyeing party. :-)

HollyM said...

I'm also in a pondering mood right now, feeling like I need a new direction. Maybe it's spring. I don't have her book but have looked at it a few times.
As for silks, like cotton, it comes in lots of finishes and weaves. I used to buy one that had a lovely linen-y feel when I was making clothes. I'm sure you'll find something.
Happy pondering and experimenting!

Carol said...

You've made a challenging decision. With your creative drive I look forward to your process! I've worked with the "Wild Color" book but had a hard time leaving behind the consistent results from chemicals... maybe I just need to learn more about the process - looking forward to your work!

Lynda said...

I've worked a little with natural dyeing with Perilla. I guess I'm spoiled by the vibrant fiber reactive dyes - the ease and the colors - but I'm always willing to be pulled back. While in Hawaii a couple years ago I found an old dyeing book that I need to investigate. Thanks for the push back! I look forward to where you are going with this.

Sea Air Arts - Deb H said...

I have found that when my old self (the engineering designer) makes decisions they were "all or nothing' kinds and it made me nuts with indecision. My new (artist self) decision model is "I'll do this for a while". Life is all about flux and so is art. Decisions are easier if you acknowledge they can be changed at a later date if appropriate.
As for my favorite fabric - silk noil! Thai Silks has a lovely bleached white and since you are a business you can get a wholesale account from their sister biz, Exotic Silks! This fabric has become my "cotton", the pfd cotton I was so fond of in the early days has not been touched for years.

eb said...

thank you,
for your kind remarks about my fabric explorations and for linking to my blog...
India's book shifted my life in many ways - the magic of eco-dying is irresistible - so much to explore, experiment with and to love...

my Mother passed last Nov. and my sister and I used the eucalyptus from her fabulous memorial flowers to dye silk and woolens - at first purchased and then silks and woolens that she had worn - from these we made comfort cushions, filled with lavender (her favorite scent) and wheat berries (my Father once was a wheat farmer)... these processes allowed me to process my grief in an extraordinarily powerful way - so grateful for this...

be sure to purchase India's other book - Second Skin, if you don't already have it...

thanks again,