nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘materials

harvesting colour – gathering more materials

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As I get ready for my first experiences with dyeing, I have thought about the materials I will be using.  I don’t want to get too complicated and sabotage my real aim, the poetry I will write.  I will try to keep it simple and generate lots of fuel for my writing.

Textile fibre:  As I explained in my previous post on ‘harvesting colour’, I will use both plant (three old cotton shirts) and animal fibres (unspun wool and silk fabric).

Source water:  I will be using our well water – slightly acidic and high in several minerals.  Our water is so acid, it reacts with the copper piping in our house to stain all the drains in our house a copper sulphate blue. I know that the acidity of the source water influences the colour outcome.   For some of the plant dyes I will use (for example madder), I will want to adjust the water acidity to get a full range of possible colours.

water crisis 2013

during our problems with our pump and well in 2013, we missed our tasty well water

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Utensils:  Last fall I bought myself a large stainless steel pot for my dyeing projects since I know it is important to keep my dying utensils separate from our cookware.  I also have my Mother-in-law’s copper teapot if I want to add some ‘copper kettle’ to my dye projects (copper is a mordant, an addition that helps keep textiles colourfast).

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copper kettle

my mother-in-law’s copper kettle – since my husband doubts it is solid copper, I may have to add some copper pennies to get the mordant effect of copper

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Plant material:  Even in winter, I have access to many plant materials for dying.  I have various flower petals and other plant material from my various botanizing adventures.  The drying line in my kitchen has a bouquet of tansy gathered last fall and a net bag of onion peelings I have collected since Christmas.  I have acorns collected last fall and, outside, access to the bark of various trees, including birch (I am anxious to try this since I understand birch bark can dye in hues of red).   In my freezer, I have frozen berries, including a tub of red currents picked by my Mom over ten years ago – I plan to use her berries to dye material for my weaving, after I have gained a little experience.  As for in-season plants, I know my husband is looking forward to being dragged all over the countryside in search of various kinds of plants (he was a very helpful participant in my ‘growing and gathering’ project.

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oak leaves with a cluster of acorns

oak leaves with a cluster of acorns

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For next Friday’s ‘harvesting colour’ post, I’ll talk a little about mordants and colour modifiers and I think I’ll post my first poem in the series!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 28, 2014 at 6:43 am

harvesting colour – the formula for colour

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My first effort towards my project is to understand what materials I will need.  From my early reading, I have learned the end colour for any project using natural dyes is much more than just adding plant material to water.  A final colour is the result of so many factors.

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My simple formula for this complex symphony is:

final colour = source water + utensils + plant material (dyestuff) + mordent + colour modifier + textile fibre 

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No doubt, I will discover I have omitted some important element.

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In my next posts, I will consider each of these elements and talk about the specific items I intend to use.

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For example, I will need some textile fibre to dye.  My intention is to dye small amounts of material for use in various weaving projects.  In my weaving, I use both thread and strips of textiles.

At this early stage, I have three materials I want to dye.  I have a small quantity of unspun fleece obtained a couple of years ago during our trip to Upper Canada Village in Ontario.  I also have three old cotton shirts – I loved to wear these before they became stained – perhaps I will wear them again, repurposed in rainbow colour!  And I have just purchased a meter of white silk (at $37 per meter, it is a splurge!).   I will have to do some preparatory cleaning to each of these materials before I use them in my dyeing projects.

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062_crop

some materials for dyeing … a meter of silk, three shirts, and a bundle of unspun wool … the shirts have already seen their share of accidental dyeing !!!

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Behind the scenes, I am finding poetic inspiration as I learn this craft of dyeing.  Eventually I will be brave enough to show my poems to you.

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 17, 2014 at 6:59 am

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