Spilled Milk and this Week’s Progress

Yesterday I forgot to screw the bottom of the blender on tightly so the soy milk spilled all over the table and floor (I walk away while it’s blending to save my ears). This gave me the perfect opportunity to try John Marshall’s “quickie method,” which involves grinding dry soy beans in a coffee grinder and then swishing and massaging the resulting flour around inside a damp cloth inside a bowl of water. I like the slow method better, which is actually faster (provided you remember to soak the soybeans overnight in the fridge).

Ready to dye
Ready to dye

The old lab cart works well because I can wheel it around my work as needed. The dry pigments are mixed in the soy milk, which is still a bit frothy from freshness. Pigments settle out, so with each application you need to stir them up a bit.

Today's dye work stretched out
Today's dye work stretched out

My basement studio has many obstacles I’ve managed to work around! Two vertical 6×6 posts stand in the center of the space about 10 feet apart. The boiler, chimney and water heater are between them. I’ve rigged two stretching areas, one from each post attaching to the concrete wall opposite via aluminum door handles. I added a carabiner (i.e. D-ring) to one of the handles, which allows me to move around more easily with a minimum of ducking and crouching. I can stretch approx. 2 1/2 yards of fabric on each side of the room.

Owl detail
Owl detail

Above is a close-up of my new owl design after curing and wash-out.

Author: Kit

I’m a St. Paul MN Artist, working in Japanese woodblock printmaking and Katazome (stencil dyed textiles). My work celebrates daily encounters with the wild birds, plants, and lake breezes of my local urban surroundings.

9 thoughts on “Spilled Milk and this Week’s Progress”

  1. I am fascinated by the whole alchemy of this process . The results are such clear images and the colours from the natural pigments are beautiful. And that’s a handsome owl!

  2. This is the first time I have really looked closely at your blog. Your work is beautiful. I have never really tried my hand at dying fabric. (of course if you count coffee and tea staining then I have done that. ha!) Anyway, Love the owl. It is so beautifully done. I am amazed at how precise you are able to create the picture without “bleeding” over. Does that make sense? : )

  3. Hi All – thanks for your visits and comments. Marie, your comment does make sense. Think of the rice paste resist as a very strong, yet water-soluble, glue. This is “printed” through a stencil, and allowed to dry on the stretching equipment. Then, dyes are brushed on with flat stencil brushes using a dry-brush technique which simply means the brushes aren’t dripping with dye. And you paint 3 coats to build the color up and lock in the pigment. So, you can scrub on the work with the brushes around the edges of the rice paste and it doesn’t dissolve because it isn’t wet enough. To remove the paste after dyeing and curing, the work is soaked in a tub of water which slowly dissolves the paste. There is virtually no wash-out of color. You wouldn’t be able to soak the work in a dye bath, as in batik, because the resist is water soluble. However you can immerse it briefly in an indigo bath if that is your interest, and do this several times (with drying in between) to deepen the color. I haven’t experimented much with indigo.

  4. Thank you Kit for taking the time to explain that…it is so fascinating! Perhaps someday I can try it.

  5. Yes, Annie, these are the same brushes many people use for for moku hanga – surikomi bake.

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