A Blue Sunday

We started our natural dye project in earnest. This will give us colored wool to use in the tapestry project we have started. This month we activated our indigo pot. We have one that we store in a covered pot so as not to waste any of our indigo, We bring the pot out several times a year. Normally we do this outside in the summer. This helps bring the temperature of the pot to an appropriate level by using some sunlight and allows us to do the entire process outdoors. We are dyeing carefully weighed wool skeins that we will continue to use in upcoming months to over-dye with other colors to get a number of colors to use in our tapestries. Some have already been dyed another color and we will overdye them with indigo blue.

The indigo bath must achieve the right pH and the right temperature in order to successfully produce color. We heat it if we need to and add commercial dye remover until we achieve the appropriate pH. We must be careful not to introduce oxygen into the pot which, amazingly, looks like its green, not blue.

dipping a yarn skein into an indigo dye bath

When the yarn is removed from the pot, it looks green. But as it gets oxygen from the air it starts turning blue . It’s magic!

But the yarn that had already been dyed yellow turns green!

four skeins of blue and green yarn drying on the fence

This is just the beginning! More colors to come.

 

New Year, New Project

This month everyone came prepared to launch a new tapestry project. Sandy has been doing tapestries for some years and has studied with some of the best instructors. She was prepared to get us all started. This included building our own copper looms from parts she had assembled into a kit for each of us–which even included a handmade carrying pouch that could accommodate the loom and necessary tools.

When the loom is assembled it can stand upright and has adjustments on the side bars to tighten or loosen the warp.We spent the first hour assembling our looms.Next came the warping instructions. Sandy had pre-cut enough 12/8 warp strands to make a three inch warp width. We half-hitched each doubled strand to the top beam of the loom and tied the strands together with a square knot around the bottom beam (as opposed to using a single strand that wrapped back and forth around both beams) .And finally it was time to weave. We established a base and wove a few rows. Next month we will start exploring shapes.

 

November 18, 2018 – From ikat to tapestry

Fiber Artisans met to finish their ikat projects and prepare for next year’s tapestry project. As they sampled the wonderful variety of homemade cookies Phyllis brought,

Sandy, Frank, Phyllis, Sharolene, Christine and her sister, Ann and Anne presented their insights, ideas, and questions about their ikat projects. Frank then showed the dazzling, jaw-dropping collection of indigo-dyed ikat pieces he has collected over the years.

Phyllis also brought a sample of her handspun natural colored cotton fabric.

fabric woven from natural colored cotton

We then talked about the future tapestry weaving project. In addition to constructing our looms from copper tubing, we will need the following equipment that Sandy showed us.
This includes (from top to bottom) beaters, scissors, a mirror (to see the reverse side), clips, a ruler, bobbins, a basket to hold our stuff, and a bag to keep it in.

We will meet again in January to get started.

August 26, 2018 – Ikat and More

 

Today we learned about removing the warps we have been carefully tying In patterns that will resist dyes from the frames. This will make them ready to dye with indigo next month. Our warps were mounted on frames with dowels that stretched them back and forth on the frames. This made it possible to tie our resist patterns efficiently for several repeats with one tie rather than having to tie it several times down the entire length of the warp. Each time the warp was doubled back on itself on the frame, it was held in place by a new dowel that was placed behind two pins at that end of the frame. Depending on the length of the warp, this meant there were multiple dowels holding the warp.

 

We started by placing ample loop ties through the warp wherever we had a dowel holding the warp to the frame. After doing this, we carefully removed the dowels and gathered all the loops from both ends in one hand. This will permit us to lower and then retrieve the warp in our indigo dye pot when we dye it next month. Multiple dips will allow us to control the depth of shade of the indigo. So check back next month to see how we are doing.

 


You may remember that last month we experimented with some natural dyes from Earth Pigments. After mixing our dyes and learning the process of using the dyes, we took our sample dyes home. Everyone had a limited range of colors to use. Some of us had some amazing work to show and information to share about what worked best for us. Here and some of our results.

Frank stamped patterns on a number of swatches of cloth. He learned which colors work best when used on top of other colors and came up with an amazing number of objects to use as stamps for his swatches. Here are six of his swatches.

Sandy had studied the cave and wall art of our very early ancestors and honors them by copying some of their figures on T-shirts that use the colors of the earth.

Ann also choose to create garment art. Using the stamping technique for the front, she found some of the color had leaked onto the back, despite using a separator to keep this from happening. So she picked up a brush and painted her colors on the back.

Next month: an indigo dye pot and who knows what else!