We have a group project every year and each of us creates a wide range of individual projects. Our current project is ikat dyeing. The directions can be found here. You can see our monthly updates below.
Note: Occasionally we have a program that is only open to members or guests who have pre-registered.
After our introduction to warping for ikat last month, we continued our projects. We found that we needed plenty of space to stretch out our warps in order to prepare them for tying off areas that would resist the dyes we would later use. And several of us found that it would have been easier to start with smaller warp widths than we had imagined for or projects. For example, Frank had used nine separate warp chains to weave the beautiful scarf shown above.
To accommodate our long warps, one of our members who works for Google took advantage of using the “Garage”, a work-space on the Google campus that employees can reserve for creative endeavors. It worked perfectly, allowing us to stretch out our warps and start bundling and tying them for dying.
One of us just starting the project learned from the experience of some of the rest of us and wound a warp for a 2-inch wide project. She easily caught up with others struggling with much wider warps.
And Shar, who had a disaster last month when her warp accidentally was severed, has forged ahead and is already wrapping her warp threads threads to resist the dye.
The saga will continue in upcoming months.
Today some of us started planning our ikat warps under the experienced eye of Frank and with the help of the instructions that can be found here. Some of us used a warping board and some used a frame, but the challenge came in twining around designated bundles of warp threads that will be wrapped to exclude the dye. Next month we will proceed to the next step.
Using a warping board
Using a frame
Stretching the warp
For some time we have had access to madder root to use to make a lovely red dye. Phyllis bought a single madder plant some years ago and it has turned into a fairly sizable madder patch that is occasionally dug and the roots used to create the dye. Some of the plant material is returned to the patch, sprouts, and the cycle starts anew. But Phyllis is moving to a new location. So the madder is being relocated to a garden patch in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today Phyllis helped search through the recently dug madder and selected some chunks of dirt that contained minuscule root shoots. These have now been incorporated into a bed about 4×9 feet. Will they take hold and sprout in their new locale? Only time will tell.
Phyllis selects madder roots
Madder roots ready to plant
Wool dyed with madder
Frank presented a detailed, hands-on overview on how to get started on a project that will continue for a few months. Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles. Bundles of warp threads are tied securely before they are woven so that they will resist dye when they are immersed in a dye bath. The ties are then removed before being put on a loom. This produces patterns in the cloth made with the undyed areas of threads. It is a time-consuming technique used by a number of cultures.
Frank had a warp that he has created that is ready to dye. In the photo the areas that look red and purple are warp threads that are tied together with red and purple plastic tape that is designed to keep dye from the threads. These areas will remain white when the warp is immersed in a dye bathe. The frame is simply a way of holding the threads taut so they can be tied with this tape in a pattern that the weaver would like to leave undyed. The warp threads will be removed from the frame, dyed, and then the tape will be removed before they are threaded onto a loom for weaving.
The process of putting the warp on the frame and tying the bundles is complex and exacting. We spent much time learning how it was done and planning projects to create. More will be happening in the next months.
This is a video of member Phyllis Karsten tying a piece of plastic resist onto a bundle of yarn:
Deborah Chandler, a name well-known in the weaving world, has been working for many years with Guatemalan handweavers to help them find a way to sell their beautiful work at a fair price to help support their families. But she also understands the economic challenges this creates. This is a thought-provoking discussion of the dilemma faced by handweavers, as well as many artists and craftsmen, not just in Guatemala, but throughout the world.
Source: The Industrial Revolution’s Latest Conquest
Sandy and Shar lead us in a hot day of Ice Dyeing.
These are pictures of Frank’s work.
Pleated and then rolled
The small one is scrunched. The larger one is pleated and rolled.
Fold into quarters
flower sack towel folded into quarters.
I was surprised how light the final colors are, especially on the flower sack towel. I let the pieces sit damp in a plastic bag for 24 hours. I rinsed by hand and then washed in the washing machine with hot water.
I liked the affect when I folded the flower sack towel into quarters. It made the quarters look similar.
My favorite was the pleated and rolled piece. I think it is the strongest design.
Most of us do at least some of our projects and experiments using natural dyes. And many of us know Kathy Hattori who has a company called Botanical Colors. Kathy has recently been in Alaska finding dye sources and is featured in a short video by Jenny Nichols called Wild Alaska. Here is a look at what she has found.
Wild Harvest: Alaska from Jenny Nichols on Vimeo.