Natural Dyes, New Methods

5-daagse workshop o.l.v. Elin Noble (USA)

In the first part of this class, each participant will use natural dye extracts to construct a color library. This color library will be created using three mordants (and mixtures of them) and a broad palette of dyes (including a.o. cochineal, pomegranate, Himalayan rhubarb, weld, and madder). This will become a reference library for future projects.

The second part of the class introduces polychromatic dyeing. Prior to dyeing we will apply mordants to cloth through shibori, hand application, and printing techniques, including discharge and overprinting. In a one-color dye bath we will attain multiple colors and patterns, depending on the mordant mixtures and where and how they have been applied. We will also hand-paint a range of dyes onto the mordanted cloth, thereby achieving an even wider range of colors, shapes and spaces. 

We will also explore a method of painting and printing using mordanted dyes on un-mordanted cloth. The dyes and mordants are mixed together making a dye paint to apply directly to the cloth using the same shibori, hand application, and printing techniques. The process is direct and the results dynamic.

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What you need to bring (please put your name on your supplies)

  • Scissors for paper and to cut or snip fabric
  • Fine point permanent black marker for marking your name on your cloth
  • Roll of masking tape (partial roll is fine - any width)
  • Rubber gloves (Casabella or Playtex-type household gloves that are at least 4-5” above your wrist) that withstand hot water
  • A few pair of close fitting disposable gloves
  • Apron
  • Selection of paint brushes - bristle and/or foam - various sizes
  • paper towels (1 roll)
  • rubber bands
  • small clamps
  • rotary cutter, mat and ruler
  • string
  • rubber or wooden stamps for printing
  • towels
  • stack of old newspaper
  • Cloth: Most work will be small scale in order to develop an extensive body of information.

The cloth needs to be 100% natural: plant or animal. No polyester or acrylic, or natural cloth treated with permanent press or protective finishes. Bring silk, bamboo, rayon, cotton, linen, hemp, or any blend of these.

Bring two pieces of the same cloth cloth (cotton, linen, ramie, or silk) that are approximately 1 meter in length. This will be to make your color library. We will make one library with a light indigo blue base and the other a white base. We will begin the class by hand painting stripes of thickened mordants in one direction and on the second day, stripes of thickened dyes in the other direction, making a color grid library. 

Bring from home a selection of cloth (and or scarves or yarn) totaling approximately three meters, for dye tests. Students are encouraged to experiment with fibers they are most familiar with and that they will most likely use in their own studio. 

Scour: If your cloth is PFD then wash it in hot water with a natural pH detergent. This can be done in the washing machine.

Scour for cotton (ONLY):

If your cloth is not PFD, then simmer the cloth for approximately 30 minutes in a pot of water with 2 tsp soda ash and ½ tsp synthrapol or free and clear dish detergent (that is free and clear of any scent) or orvis paste per kilo of dry cloth. Make sure the cloth is covered and do not crowd it in the pot. Rinse in warm water and hang to dry. Wash a second time if the water is particularly dirty.

Things that are handy to have

  • 2 or more pieces (45 x 60 cm) of clear flexible vinyl (from fabric stores) for monoprinting
  • Brayer and/or foam roller (the single handle small circumference dense foam roller)
  • We will do a little bit of screen printing. If you have a small screen with an image, thermofax, etc, then bring it along with a squeegee.
  • Spool of upholstery thread and needles if you wish to try stitched shibori.