Category Archives: dyeing

the rear view mirror

This post is like looking into the rear view mirror of last week.  It’s the last Monday in August now and in some places (not here really) Summer is connecting with Fall.  Here though, it seems summer is colliding with Fall.

pomegranate rinds-early!!

pomegranate rinds-early!!

Not even out of August and the pomegranates are ready!  So we (Trevor and I) picked about 25 and he seeded them for me.  What is left will produce some beautiful golds and greens (when added to to some indigo blue).
And if that’s not enough evidence of climate change for you- the persimmons are starting to go off as well!  This is unprecedented here (in the 36 years I have lived here and been the caretaker of this garden).  Generally, these are not ready until November when I return from Houston and peel and hang them for hoshigaki.  They are smaller this year (more work) and I should have thinned them.  I never have had to before.  A few had dropped and while the tip is orangey-the top is still green.  Softened, they are still delicious.  So this means I’ll keep my eye on them to try to determine the right time to pick and peel.

And if that isn’t enough, the ginkgo tree is dropping nuts.  I’m sharing with the boys who like to sit up in the tree and drop the outside parts on my head while I sit in the shade under the tree. A few years ago, Richard showed me how to prepare them.

And just so happened that Saturday was the NM hatch chile roasting at the nearby market…so of course I had to go.

It took about 3 minutes for 25 lbs! They put them in a bag inside a box where thy seated for a while and Trevor and I spent about 2 hours peeling and seeding them.
IMG_3337Whole and chopped and in the freezer in recipe sized portions. Some went to neighbors as well.  We had to wear masks while doing this and should have worn gloves as well.  The burning on the backs of our hands didn’t start until we finished and lasted for hours but is all gone now.  Next time…

The veggie garden is minimal at the moment.  Mostly kale, cukes and a new crop of heat tolerant tomatoes (a second tomato crop this season) which I wondered about but is doing as promised and setting lots of tomatoes-currently golf ball size.  I added some vermiculite to the raised bed to help even out the moisture and conserve on watering.  It appears to be working well especially with the new basil I planted- lots for delicious walnut basil pesto.  Never have done that before except in pots.

The fruit trees all have soaker hose rings on them and even then are wanting more water than I am giving them. Lots to adjust to as we get hotter and drier.

And in the studio- lots going on there too.  Ribbon orders and lots of indigo in addition to a little more beading trying to get to the right mix for the class project in Houston.  Here’s the latest addition to the shop– garden inspired with a remnant from the past…

I always loved this porcelain button and its garden theme.  The sense of something about to happen yet it lets you wonder.  I chose green shibori ribbon of course- some tailings.  The picot edge beads are like drops of dew. I stopped and started a few times on this, letting it tell me where wander.

I restocked the shop with indigo at the beginning of last week and mostly it is gone now- thank you!  The second part of my Houston booth now paid for. Phew!

I also received a nice stack of old linens from a friend. They belonged to her mother who passed away some years ago. I knew her well back then and it will be a treat to work with them.  They will be showing up soon.

 

 

ozone & indigo

Recently, in the workshop at the Japanese American National Museum one of the participants brought some fabric that she had dyed in another workshop somewhere.  It had faded radically and even more so along the folds and creases.  She wanted to know what had happened.
This is something that also came up a couple of times in the online indigo workshop and was struggled with over there.  Occasionally, I have seen it in my own indigo dyed pieces and strive to do those things which I find help to alleviate the problem.
As far as I have been able to understand, and the experiences I have had with this type of fading have led me to the following understandings.  Please feel free to jump in here and correct , inform and add to our knowledge on this for other folks as well.
The issue:
-fading of the fabric along exposed areas and folds where the cloth is exposed to air and or humidity. I have even seen fade lines on indigo cloth that I have hung (flat) to dry outside overnight that had a bit of a sway in the hung cloth. It seemed that in this case the overnight humidity was the over-riding factor.

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three shades from the fermentation vat ready to assemble into the cloth packs for the shop

What is happening?
– ozone in the atmosphere is reacting to the cloth and any chemicals left in the fabric and additionally with UV light to produce an oxidizing effect. Smog and humidity also figure into the mix even in cloth that is well washed out.

At first, I thought that only fabrics dyed in a chemical vat or a pre-reduced indigo vat were susceptible to this.  Not true.  They may be MORE prone to it but fermentation vat dyed indigo is also affected.

What to do to minimize this?
– wash out your fabrics well before dyeing to remove any chemical treatments.
-build up your depth of shade over many dips in the vat. Have a light vat and a dark vat to produce various shades of blue through repeated dips and really work the dye into the cloth.
-rinse your indigo dyed cloth well between dips into the vat and then finally wash them well with a good rinse in the end.  You may have seen photos of Japanese dyers planting their indigo dyed cloths along a river or stream to let the water run through- this would definitely do it!  Getting out any chemicals that can react to the ozone is beneficial.
-once dried and ready for storage until use, you can keep your indigo cloth in a drawer or wrapped in a towel to keep the edges from fading.

Finished pieces (such as a quilt on a bed, a pillow, a wall hanging) will fade more evenly and possibly without notice as they are more evenly exposed to the atmosphere. All indigo will fade with use (think denim).  Well dyed dark shades built up by many dips seem less susceptible.   This is one reason I prefer the fermentation vat over the pre-reduced or chemical vat-more work but a more satisfying process and result. Also, be aware that different fabrics will fade differently. Think about the weave and the fiber.

There are even products out now for commercial dye houses that speed indigo fading (ozone finishing!) with the use of ozone related treatments said to be less labor and water intensive. Consulting companies work with manufacturers to troubleshoot their process and diminish the fading (or even speed it up!).

What if it’s not a problem at all?  It’s a matter of perspective.

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Yesterday’s moon- on an open weave linen

 

under one moon

because we all exist under one moon,
because we all see the moon from our own perspective,
because it is a time traveler, a wave maker, a truth teller, a light giver.
the moon
-may its peaceful countenance shine in all the darkest corners

discharged moon-am i adding to or taking away? wondering...

discharged moon-am i adding to or taking away? a moon divided or one finding ways to hold together? wondering…

it's an old moon. we all become old moons eventually.

it’s an old moon. we all become old moons eventually.

I am dyeing more indigo cloth, more moons, more threads to hold things together. I am stitching indigo mooncloths in the evenings and in-between times.

shop links:
moons and more moons
indigo cloth packs
threads
and for those who are interested in dyeing their own:
online indigo workshop

orinui shibori and indigo おりぬい絞りと藍

After a very productive and busy weekend at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo (Los Angeles) I had a little idea in my head I needed to get out.

A few more photos might be helpful.

Dyed in the fermentation vat.

At the museum we worked with a wide range of fabrics- many recycled. Fabrics included silks, cottons, hemp, linen, & bamboo in many weights and weaves.  Much was learned about fabrics, shibori techniques and how to dye with the indigo.  Next workshops at the museum are scheduled for Oct. 8-9 and Dec. 10-11.  The new twist will be that we will also work with a fermentation vat and learn how to make a small one you can take home with you.  Contact JANM to sign up.

And just a reminder- My three classes at the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Houston are taking registrations at the Quilts Inc. site. You can see the individual events on my FB events page or go to the registration site and see all the classes there.

waiting for the thread to dry…

…is kind of like watching paint dry. Having finished off some orders in this heat I am able to get back to the vat today.  Dyeing a bit of this and that as needed.  As for the vat- it’s a happy vat at the moment.  My little experiment of sewing a big cotton scrim bag to put down into it (keeping any organic materials out of my more open weave cloth as I dye) has been successful.  I placed a few round stones in the bottom to keep it anchored below (somewhat). I also found I could move it over to my smaller light vat as well when needed.  It is not forming much hana (flower) but has a nice coppery sheen on top and is a deep green and dyeing well.
indigo vatAs a reminder- one needs to continue to stir the vat each day, especially when not using it.  This action reintegrates the organic materials and any undissolved indigo in the vat.  There are various theories on whether or not you want to get some oxygen into the vat while stirring (especially if the vat is in disuse).  My particular theory is that since the bacteria consume oxygen they need at least a little bit ongoing to keep up the good work.  That hana you see on your vat is a sign of good fermentation and the result of oxygen bubbling to the top and meeting with the air.

I am anxious to get on with it while I am in the mood but the thread I am dying to use is still wet.  I am working on a show piece for Houston (as in “show”, I mean a piece for the wall of my booth) and it seemed to me that I needed to set it aside and work on a smaller, simpler piece to solve some puzzles and answer some questions I was running into on the larger one.  I also depend on wondering here to catch a few thoughts.

Let’s just get clear on one thing. I am not a quilter.  This may not even be a quilt. It is something.

So that being stated, I have lots to wonder about as I go down the path with this one.  I will say that if you define a quilt as:

“layers of cloth held together with threads drawn through with a needle”

-then this is (a version of) a quilt. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is a dyers cloth (run through with a needle)? Ahh…to define something. To categorize. To make it black or white. How can it be one thing and still be another? Two things at the same time? Or none at all.  Maybe it is its own thing. That might ring true sometimes. Maybe for today. For now, it is a beginning. It is blue. Many blues. And it has moons. Many moons.

moon

I think the thread may be dry now.

summertime, and…

I’m redoing my indigo fermentation vat this weekend.  It’s been a while in coming.  I emptied it out (25-30 gallons) about 2 months ago when I was redoing a fence line that it sat along and it needed to be moved.  At  the time I was also having some issues with fruit fly larva in the vat and wanted to have a fresh start and see if I could solve that issue.

The vat will take at least a week to ferment to a usable state and in addition I need to receive an order of ground indigo from Cheryl at Aurora Silks.  Coincidentally, she is having a sale on the 1 Kilo size ground natural indigo and offers free shipping.  I only had 4 oz on hand so made the vat up with that to get it started and will add the rest of the indigo when it arrives in a couple of days.

I am adding a fine mesh cover to the top of the vat since the lid to this container is not a complete seal.  Additionally, I am making a large net bag to drop into the vat while dyeing to keep all the organic materials and sludge to the bottom and away from the cloth as I work.  It’s really only an issue when working with larger open weave fabrics which I seem to use a lot these days.  It saves having to pick out the particles by hand or resort to lots of water wasting rinsing.  Water is precious here.

When I disposed of the old vat I balanced the ph with some citric acid down to about 7 and used the liquid on the ornamental drought tolerant landscaping.  The rest of the sludge in the bottom I added to the compost and was ready to start again. This vat had been in use for 4-5 years.

I am adding some video of the process of this new vat to the student forum for the online indigo workshop I have in my shop.   Here is a little bit of day two progress…

August 6-7 is the final summer indigo workshop at the Japanese American National Museum. Signups are through the museum here.
Last time this is some of what participants did…
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And likely,since Jude had been busy with moons, folks have been ordering the moon assortments which has kept me and my studio helper hard at work…
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Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.

on a friday night…

time has seemed irrelevant lately. things just happen as they will.

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take this sunflower for instance. during the summer i had these growing outside the kitchen sink window where i could admire their happy faces smiling at me while i washed the dishes.  when they went to seed and needed removal, i cut the flower heads and dropped them in the driveway for the squirrels and the birds to enjoy (where i could watch them from where i work).  now, months later in December, a volunteer from that act is blooming in the middle of the driveway with the ginko tree shedding its golden leaves behind-definitely fall.
all it takes is a seed to be dropped, or an idea to be planted on fertile soil to generate something beautiful.

i received two intriguing books on kanoko shibori yesterday from Japan.

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some new seeds were definitely planted.

plus, he sent me an old apron from the Kyoto temple sale. we will visit there in 2017 on the silk study tour to Japan.

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and no matter what time of year, squirrelly boy hears me at work and lets me know he is hungry and needs fresh water! i’m so lucky to have such in interesting studio friend.

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ribbon orders are in full swing- thank you for being patient! there have been a few disruptions lately…
and thanks to those who have been emailing me and enjoying the Daily Dyer reruns. glad you find something useful there.