exploring derangement

( foreward: after writing this extra long post i decided i needed to preface it by saying feel free to skip ahead to the pretty pictures at the end-i tend to get a little off track here and many may find this post intolerably boring)

Yes, I know it’s a holiday. But here in shibori-band-land people are working. The musicians are out entertaining or recovering from last night’s entertaining, preparing for the next gig and for tours abroad leaving next week. So I too, am working.

First things first. Next Saturday I will be in Claremont teaching a shibori ribbon flower making class at Phebies so am prepping for that-dyeing new ribbon colors and making pretty things to share. Come on by!

I see the catalogs have come out for both the Road to California and Quilt Festival Houston shows. I am teaching at both so check it out. Also doing a morning lecture in Houston-it’s free and a good way to pass the time with a cup of coffee waiting for the show to open. At Road to California I will be teaching the wired shibori necklace class in person- this will be a lot of fun and expect to leave with a great shibori flower necklace and inspired ideas on making some other fun stuff with wire and ribbon. In Houston, I will be teaching shibori techniques- always fun and inventive- the sky is the limit on this one and you will be surprised to see what can be done with minimum space and little investment in materials and supplies. As usual we will dye silk but techniques can be applied to cotton as well with the appropriate dye sets. All these classes have limits on class size so sign up early to make sure you get a spot. If you don’t want to wait ’til January to learn how to make the wired necklace, you can take the class online at Joggles beginning August 13th.

Over in the corner the new Instant Indigo Dye Kit from Jacquard has been teasing me. Having 3 vats going at the moment has led me ignoring it until yesterday when my vats decided to become “deranged” . This is now my latest & most favorite technical term when it comes to indigo dyeing and fits ever so well into my current state of mind seeing that, according to “some” people (and you know who you are) you have known this all along about me (or why else would I have “chosen” this as a career?). I use the word “chosen” loosely.
Not to get all political or religious or anything but some things you don’t really choose yourself. The universe chooses for you and you just submit and go along with it. One does have to be a bit deranged, willing and able to live outside the ordinary to be an artist or maker full time or make a living from it. Just embrace it and get on with it. Or do something else.
Back to the “derangement” and the indigo. Derangement of the vat occurs when, for whatever reason, the vat becomes useless and it is up to the keeper of the vat to determine its cause and rectify the matter. So far for me, it usually requires a slight PH adjustment with soda ash and an addition of thiox and a wait while the vat re-reduces and the indigo once again becomes soluble. None of this is news to most dyers but there is just something about the ability of the indigo vat having a mind of its own that I find intriguing. Maybe it’s because my work is fairly solitary and I like the idea of having it’s company in the studio (aside from the cats). Or maybe its the uncertainty of not really knowing what to expect day to day (I’ve been used to that for quite some time now) and having to solve the mystery. Maybe it’s the feeling of care-taking it back into shape, an extension of my mothering skills somewhat neglected since the boys are in college and not needing me so much. Whatever it is it has an allure aside from the colors (which can be achieved with chemical dyes) and the seemingly magical transformation that occurs while the indigo oxidizes and turns from yellow, yellow/green, to blue (fun to watch).
This all leads to where I started here, to the Instant Indigo Dye Kit. Seems somewhat like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Apparently there is no need to travel the globe to discover it’s intricacies. Everything can be distilled down into kit form in our ever expanding need for instant everything. Well truth be told, I opened the box, followed the instructions and POOF! Indigo vat. Hmmmm. The instructions tell you the vat will last several days and dye several items. Just pour the vat contents down the drain when it becomes “deranged”. Doesn’t talk about maintaining the vat. Guess you just order another kit.
My experience with the vat so far- it dyed a sample just fine. One thing I didn’t care for was the huge amount of hana (or flower/foam) which I take to be a result of the pre-reduced indigo crystals . For a small vat like this kit produces, the excess amount of foam is a bit of a pain. Any of the foam that settles on your fabric potentially leaves a light spot and leads to uneven dyeing. For many this will not be a problem.
One can order the pre-reduced indigo crystals to try on your own- the kit includes a pre-measured chemical packet of soduim carbonate and thiourea dioxide. Also included in the kit are rubber bands,popsicle sticks, and two squares of rough cut wood plus a pair of surgical type gloves. I think a lot of people will order the kit to try out an indigo vat. I like that. I also think that like many things, few will continue on to really discover what indigo has to offer in the long run. On to the next thing.

I will blame some of this on Neki, whose recent posts have been egging me on and who from all the way across the world is teaching me a few things. She recently discovered this book entitled “Colouring Matters” that is just fascinating and where I learned about “derangement”. Defined:
de·range (d-rnj)
tr.v. de·ranged, de·rang·ing, de·rang·es
1. To disturb the order or arrangement of.
2. To upset the normal condition or functioning of.
3. To disturb mentally; make insane.

As some of you may or may not know, this word has a bit more meaning in my life than I care to admit. I was very interested in the recent news that Schizophrenia May Be Linked To Immune System. My mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when I was about 4 and my sister was 2. She was committed to an institution for 10 years of treatment not to mention complete disruption and derangement of her life. That was back in the early 60’s and she was a young woman. Of course the story is long but flash forward to now where she is nearing 80 years of age. She is a testament to so many things- can you even imagine? To live almost a whole lifetime with this struggle. To carry on despite it. To be self sufficient and independent in spite of it. To be productive. As she is aging it is making things more difficult and harder for us to help her. She is so fiercely independent- with a paranoid streak for good measure. When I am curing the indigo vat of it’s derangement, I wish there was such a simple fix for her. I’d love to make her life easier.

And now for the pretty pictures:

derangement

derangement

me in the alabama hills- mojave

me in the alabama hills- mojave

indigo moonrise (with rust)

indigo moonrise (with rust)

lots of hana-instant indigo vat

lots of hana-instant indigo vat

indigo dyed cotton twill tape-for sale at LB Quilt Festival

indigo dyed cotton twill tape-for sale at LB Quilt Festival

ribbon colors-some new some old

ribbon colors-some new some old

15 thoughts on “exploring derangement

  1. neki rivera

    sumimasen ga
    send over some hana 🙂 my vat s are deranged bcse of lack of it 😀
    intrigued by the instant kit. meanwhile watashi wa in combat with the unknown

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      yeah- but the unknown certainly does make things more interesting. the pre-reduced indigo might be good for quickly upkeeping a vat. did u listen to the India Flint podcast ? i have a flower in the freezer just for fun! still, i hate to see the indigo farmers lose a way of life if it is working for them and their communities.

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  2. whereishenow

    do any of these make sense???

    a german chemical that japanese call “PIYA”

    piya + lime+ zinc powder and boiling water—making 3 vats of various strength

    GO…5 pounds of soybeans..mashed..with water, pine soot and glue…

    2nd GO…with lye…

    tankawa…(boiled down mangrove bark)would give the dark blue a slightly reddish tint…

    from “THE DYER…5 pages in “memories of straw and silk”

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      no idea what piya is- neki?
      soybeans would ferment like bran and pine soot would just be a sub for wood ash which =lye
      glue? not a clue
      mangrove bark-kinda like adding madder i assume.
      sounds like a book i need to add…

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  3. jeanne, herself

    schizophrenia, independent, and a splash of paranoia. i’ve never had to deal with that specific recipe – my shoulders tense up just typing those words. wish i had a recipe bring ease and peace (perhaps i should say “pease”) for you and your mother. that’d be so much easier for me than all the chemistry behind shibori and dyeing. have missed you. gonna’ treat myself to catching up by perusing past posts . . .

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      hey jeanne-
      nice to hear from you. as you might imagine i’ve long been interested in mental illness – one favorite book was written by Mark Vonnegut (yes , son of famed father Kurt) who wrote of his personal experience with the illness. recently republished with a new forward, reading it again 30+ years later i liked it just as well.

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  4. The Ardent Thread

    Your work, as always, is a visual treat. The simple indigo and white twill ribbon is inspiring, to say the least!

    I was raised by a bipolar mother and grew up to marry a paranoid schizophrenic man. They were two very creative, intelligent and passionate people, but not easy to live with. Mom, thank goodness, was wise enough to seek treatment. My ex… well, he’s my ex for a reason.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      the mind is a tricky thing. i’ve had up close and personal experience with the concept of the fine line between insanity and genius. sometimes hard to tell them apart.
      one memory i have of my mom was of a trip to the grocery store after i re-met her again in my 20’s. walking through the soft drink isle we stopped to read the packaging and she was shocked to read that
      they all contained a statement warning that drinking them may cause cancer due to the artificial sweeteners. simply couldn’t understand why it would be sold. haunted her for days. i don’t think it ever made sense to her. not that it makes sense , mind you. now exactly WHO is crazy?
      like we always say around here- we’re ALL mentally ill in our own way.

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  5. Cathy Bullington

    My experiences with indigo vats is that they all flower and you have to remove and replace each time. The best range of color I ever experienced was from a naturally fermented vat–very time consuming–but the range of turquoise to almost black was wonderful. I have only been able to get medium to dark blues with my pre-reduced indigo vat so far.

    I enjoy your blog!

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  6. jude

    hey, a lot in this post and i just relaized my comment never posted from a few days back….anyway i love the way this post flows from one thing to another, i just picked this up from morna at bittersweet. interesting.

    thanks for all the indigo talk lately.

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  7. Acey

    the eden express, yes … I remember it and often saw Mark around town once he was a practicing psychiatrist. this illness was also very big in my own life via my grandmother. I grew up in her house with her as a primary (favorite) caretaker. It is a very long story, as you say …

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  8. shiborigirl Post author

    came back to this post today and have revisited some of these thoughts…
    giving thanks for all of you who commented here and have kept up with the adventure since! wow. love to you all…

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  9. johnmarshall302

    Hi Glennis! – One person above asked after the meaning of “piya” in reference to a German chemical. Could it be that she misheard “piyuaa”? (ピユアー), which simply means “pure” and is often used as an abreviation of ‘indigo pure” or pure synthetic indigo. -J

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