Monday, August 17, 2015

Those Pesky Plant Fibers

I need some help!!! Lots of fun last week with our mushroom dye experiments. I'm buying more raw silk - I love its texture and it took the dyes beautifully.

BUT. As you can see from this photo, the cottons (top left and bottom right) did not. And I thought I had prepared them (as well as some linen) by soaking overnight in a soda ash solution then drying them before the dye process.  Even in the colorful lobster mushroom dye with added soda ash, the plant fibers didn't color much.

Yep, I know the plant fibers need to be mordanted with various substances. And I've spent a couple of days reading about how to do that. I think I understand the chemistry.

But I guess the how-tos of mordanting are so basic that most articles don't discuss the actual step by step process. Or the processes conflict with something else I read.

Can any of you talented Dye Queens (or Kings) tell me exactly how to mordant my cottons and linens for natural dying? Do I boil the fabric in the mordant solution? Dry them before dying? Soak and dry 3 times? Use alum acetate? Wave a dried indigo stalk over the dye pot while chanting a specific incantation?

I'd love to hear about the specifics of your method, and I'll compile them in a post to share. Thanks a bunch!

Friday, August 14, 2015

My New Studio in Service!

On Saturday, my studio was the site of a wonderful silk painting workshop that followed an opening of art by Lynne Taylor and me, including many of her beautiful paintings on silk. Lynne taught the workshop, I assisted, and we had five enthusiastic students.
Lynne is on the right, showing us how to stretch the fabric on a frame.
Some wonderful work resulted.
Susan and Joey working on their gorgeous flowers.
Then, last evening three friends showed up in the studio to start our informal fiber arts group. Tonight's experiment involved mushrooms, fabrics, the little stove in my little kitchen, and a couple of mordants. Here are the mushrooms I collected.
A coral mushroom and some lobster mushrooms.
Stephanie, Karen, and Roseanne loving the results.
We used three different mushroom species, brews with no added mordants, and brews with either vinegar or soda ash as mordants. Also, we tried several types of wool and silk, some linens, and some cottons. I'll post more photos somewhere else for our group, but here is our array laid out to dry.
It was well worth the experiment! The lobster mushrooms performed  beautifully. We had three very distinct colors from the three different pH mixtures. I imagine there are several women scouring the Adirondack woods at this very moment for more lobster mushrooms!