Working outside (and inside)

Indigo dyed linen
Indigo dyed linen

July 15th — and I’ve finally set up a way to stretch my work in our little old gazebo. (Both sides of my basement are full of stretched work at the moment, so this is a helpful way to work on more pieces simultaneously.) This evening I’m soy sizing some small pieces (zig-zagged together making a long piece).

Sailboat cleats screwed into the wood secure the harite (stretchers), but that’s my brush hanging there.

the cleat, the brush (jizomebake)
cleat with jizomebake brush

Many moons ago I painted these vintage linen napkins with Earthhues natural dye extracts (logwood and madder) thickened with gum tragacanth. I was aiming for some background visual texture. The results were disappointing, so I tucked them away. Then, earlier this summer using some of my small stencils, I pasted-then-dipped them a few times in indigo. Now I like them. The under layer of dye peeks through in certain places.

water, grass, egret, indigo dyed vintage linen
water, grass, egret, indigo dyed vintage linen

Warm weather means indigo

This past week we had some 90 degree weather so I continued my indigo experiments using the stencils that Shibori Girl gave me along with some indigo moons I purchased from her shop. The darker dots were brushed on through the stencils after two more dips into the indigo bath, washing out the rice paste, and brushing on a layer of soybean milk. The soybean milk prepares the surface to minimize wicking as well as help to prevent the indigo from rubbing off (crocking). I mixed my natural pigments with soybean milk. Sounds like a lot of fussing but really wasn’t — just a few moments in the warm afternoons, out in the blooming garden. (If you want to learn more about painting with Indigo, check out this article from Turkey Red Journal, written by John Marshall.)

The glue-like grip of the paste resist never ceases to amaze me. This week I did 2 more dips leaving the fabric in for 2 minutes each and drying on the line fully between each dip.

And closer up…

A gift of hand-woven African cotton; read for dip in dye vat later today. I pasted through some old crocheted doilies – doilies as stencils.



Dyeing the Work

These photos show my work during the dyeing process. The rice paste resist (golden in color) was “printed” through the stencil and allowed to dry. It forms a strong, yet water-soluble bond with the fibers.¬† The colors are gently scrubbed into the cloth with a rather dry brush. I paint my colors on in 3 layers, drying the work between each layer, as I learned from John Marshall in 2004. This ensures even coverage as well as a strong bond between the dyes and the fibers.

In the piece above, I’ve used the same stencil, based on my species tulips, but have dyed it in a different color palette.