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singin’ the blues

June 17, 2012

yesterday I applied resist paste to 2 old damask napkins, the day turned humid and very damp, not good for drying the paste  

this morning I turned on a heater – in June! – to finish the job 

I also started dyeing yarn and fabrics in the new indigo vat

but when the mist turned into a drizzle and then a downpour and then I was called on to drive a neighbour to the emergency ward (with blue hands) – he’s all right thank goodness –  I gave up

started again this morning, the rain has stopped but now we have strong winds

starting at the left; the pale skein is rayon – I think. The next skein is handspun bamboo which is interesting because when dyeing the same yarn with other natural dyes I can’t get a strong colour. Then cotton and two old hand towels with crochet and embroidery. I like to recycle old linens but when dyeing with them the old stains will leave  different colour markings.

I scour all old linens before dyeing them, in the middle is a bleached linen top that was looking worn and now has a new life. 

More skeins of a mixed fibre boucle, some rags for sakiori and thrums for stitching.

the reason for all the work

when dyeing with rice paste resist you can only dip in the indigo vat until the paste starts to degrade and come away from the textile. Your level of skill and the state of the vat controls the depth of colour. 

I love the way indigo dyes over old damask, especially linen








when working with old textiles and yarns from a guild give-away box you are never sure of the fibre content. It can lead to some surprises.


the single dragon is on a napkin with a circular pattern. I have a special use for it.





when I first take fabric out of the vat and squeeze it the air oxidizes the indigo  differently, it evens out as it is exposed to the air


the indigo vat after 2 days of heavy dyeing 

it is nowhere near exhausted – but I am!


12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2012 3:45 am

    Fascinating, amazing…what could I add? Deying is a wonderful world and if I didn’t already know, you would have convinced me with your incredible work.


    • June 20, 2012 9:01 am

      Blandina – I love natural dyeing, it’s addictive but can also be frustrating – and messy!


  2. June 18, 2012 1:42 pm

    looking very good, apparently you’ve recovered from your big trip!


  3. Judi bushby permalink
    June 18, 2012 2:16 am

    Your stencil is delicious. How long did it take to carve it?


    • June 18, 2012 7:49 am

      Judi – I carved a bit at a time, just ’till I got a bit shakey, over a few days.

      Neki – each vat is different but this one has a big flower and keeps making more – don’t think that is necessarily good either?


  4. June 18, 2012 1:10 am

    i love it on the damask fabric!!. healthy looking vat! i never get a flower 😦


  5. June 17, 2012 11:27 pm

    Fascinating Jean! Thanks for the info.


  6. June 17, 2012 5:08 pm

    gorgeous! the depth of color on all of these is quite marvelous. the damask print comes through so much stronger when it takes on color and really adds interest to the resist; i usually pass these type by when i’m browsing goodwill, perhaps i’ll think twice now.


    • June 17, 2012 5:27 pm

      Anastasia – if you see ones with interesting patterns and in good condition they are marvellous


  7. June 17, 2012 3:06 pm

    gosh–amazing colors–persistence pays off! When I first saw your damask “this is why I’ll the work” my first thought was oh, yah, full moon energy. Then I realized, I think, you meant all the work for those incredible dragon images. In any case, truly beautiful!


    • June 17, 2012 3:49 pm

      thanks – when you cut a stencil, make the paste, start an indigo vat there is so much time and energy goes into one small piece…


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