I enrolled in this natural dyeing workshop as my own personal ‘bonus add-on’ relating to the manipulated fabric works in Assignment 3. How lucky that this opportunity came up at this time.
Kirsten Ingemar, visiting Sydney from her property in Byron Bay, offered a 2 day introductory course on dyeing fabric using plants and vegetables with different mordants as the basis to create colour, pattern and depth.
- She included various eucalyptus leaves, cinerea, rosemary, grevillea, bottlebrush, onion skins and red cabbage.
- The 3 mordants were alum, iron and copper sulphate.
- Fabrics choices included silk noil, silk georgette, silk chiffon, silk satin, linen, cotton, rayon, wool, wool fibre and yarns.
After the alloted time fabrics were removed …….
Then came the fun part.
Clamps, string, elastic bands, wooden blocks and so on were removed and the fabrics were rinsed.
The piece to the left, from the gum and copper bath, had been folded, tightly wrapped with heavyweight ‘fluffy’ string and then pushed tightly to one end of the plumbers pipe.
It came out quite well but obviously the technical specs stamped in black on the pipe couldn’t resist the boiling process and transferred to the fabric. Not something I planned but interesting all the same.
Day 2 saw us incorporating leaves, flower heads and small twigs within the tightly manipulated fabric in the hope they would leach colour and give added depth to the cloths, along with any other tying and binding we also applied.
Left: grevillea flower pods in red cabbage dye bath. Right: folded silk noil held with bulldog clips in gum and copper dye bath. I found the noil difficult to pattern well, the outer sides worked but the dye would not penetrate the layers.
Silk satin with cinerea (that’s the yellowish areas), gum leaves and twigs in paperbark and iron dye bath, left overnight. Close-up on the right. Great results for all of us once they were left in the cooling / cold dye vat over many hours.
Overall a very enjoyable experience with many samples, not all good of course. I’ve ordered a book on natural dyeing and have bought the mordants to continue at home. I did learn a trick to help to improve the leaf imprints and I’ll give that a go next time.
I love workshops and they are an excellent place to learn basics to build on later. I like to give it a go and then continue alone at home exploring and finding out what works for me, in this case extending what I picked up over a frantic weekend with 13 people crowded together and all wanting to do as much as possible.