Indigo Napkin Tests

Started testing various types of napkins as well as different stitches for the CHT (Contemporary Handweavers of Texas) conference dinner table napkins. The conference is not until next May but there is lots to do. The more we can get done ahead of time the better.

Tried to use some simple patterns as I didn’t know how much help there would be and what shibori experience there was in the group.

Think we’ll also be doing other natural dyes not just just indigo. That should make for some very colorful table settings.

We’re still checking out napkin sources. I used Dharma for my test. The ones shown here are actually sold as men’s handkerchiefs but are very substantial and easy to work with. I also tried using the Dharma items sold as napkins but they were so thick I had a hard time stitching and even clamping was a problem.

Hope decisions will be made soon. There are a lot of napkins to make.

Indigo Pillows

Have gotten my pillows made for the annual Handweaver’s Sale. The pillow above had little space for embroidery but I did get a bit on it. Didn’t think about the addition of stitching when I sewed the strips together. Was more concerned about getting the most interesting strips maximum exposure.

This pillow had a bit more ‘in front’ space for a bit of embroidery.

The embroidery on this pillow is a bit more subtle. This was the only pillow with shibori designs on both the front and back so embellishment was kept to a minimum.

This is the patchwork pillow and despite all the patterning I decided to add a lot of stitching in a lovely dark orange. This pillow is not going to the sale and is very happily sitting on my couch.

I’m now adding more shibori stitched fabric to an increasingly large pile to get ready for another indigo dye session. Stay tuned for those results.

Also trying to get a little eco printing done. The results so far have been less than spectacular. Think I’ll just concentrate on the indigo for the moment and when that is off my mind I’ll focus on some eco printing.

Paper Fun

Due to other projects I haven’t spent much time the last month doing botanical printing on scarves. Paper printing, however, doesn’t take the same amount of time for preparation so I’ve managed to get some of that done.

Paper printing is a lot of fun. Each piece becomes a miniature work of art. And like art, some are exquisite and some are just nice. The same processes can be be followed but Mother Nature also has a hand in the process. When the prints are ‘just nice’, adding some watercolors can help enhance them. (The papers pictured have not been enhanced in any way.)

These prints were all done on 140lb (300g) watercolor paper that had been dipped in aluminum sulfate and steamed for 2-3 hours.

They will make lovely cards. Perhaps a couple may end up in small frames.

First Spring Batch

Started my resist stitching last fall. Took my time and ended up with a small basket full of fabric.

Finally made up my indigo vat (was waiting for the evenings to be not as cool as they had been) and dipped my basket of fabric. Didn’t wait to iron my pieces before I took the photos below (although they are washed).

Loved these. Tried several stitch options. They are destined to grow up into a couple of pillow covers.

Another interesting piece. Maybe this design on a couple of larger pieces. Would make a lovely top.

Can’t decide which side I like better. Maybe good for a pillow cover. Each design on a different side.

Only did one clamped fabric. Now that all my stitched pieces have been dyed I’ll clamp some pieces for my next dye day.

Not to be Forgotten

I have been so busy with my botanical printing I almost forgot a favorite pastime: kumihimo. The last several braids I have done were with wire.

I do love these and the challenges they present. I have some ideas for additional designs but, every now and then it is good to return to the traditional: braiding with silk.

This one is titled ‘Rose’. Ir does remind me of the roses with the deep green leaves and the vibrant deep pink flowers.

So now with the CHT (Contemporary Handweavers of Texas) conference coming up in a year it is time to get started on making more braids to consider for entry into the member’s exhibit. Hope to have both silk and wire for submission.

Simmer vs Steam

This print done primarily with pecan leaves, some sumac and annatto seeds was covered with an iron blanket and processed in a simmering bath.

This print done with oak leaves, pine needles and onion skins was covered with an iron blanket and processed over steam.

Both pieces were processed for the same amount of time and show, virtually, no real difference in appearance. I had also done an experiment using the same young fresh leaves and some hibiscus tea on two different scarves. One was simmered and the other steamed for the same length of time. I found no color difference between the two.

I see samples done by others who note they have steamed their pieces and there is definitely leaf coloration in their prints that I am not seeing in mine. All of my test pieces are silk habotai and have been processed in alum in the same way. I’ll continue doing this experiment with different leaves at different stages to see if that is the determining factor.

At Last!

It’s been way too long since my last post but I do have a couple of interesting botanical prints to write about.

One of the more difficult fabrics to offer up interesting prints is chiffon. The fabric is such an open weave that the most one can hope for is some interesting (and it usually happens) color. This time, however, a small piece of silk chiffon fooled me.

The hamelia leaves as well as the sweet gum did themselves proud. The annatto seeds provided a bit of color. The very vague and disappointing print is a grapefruit leaf. Otherwise, very nice result.

The other piece is one that I had promised to publish a couple of weeks ago. It is the scarf that was covered by the iron blanket I wrote about. It is a beauty. Don’t know that I can part with this one. The oak leaves and the onion skins are a perfect complement to the red of the madder root.