Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Shibori with Osage Orange, Indigo, and a Bit of Cochineal

The fabric is a cotton/linen jersey I bought from Mood (the official fabric store for Project Runway) in New York City. Above, a detail that shows a color I take great pride in: turquoise! It doesn't appear throughout, of course, but if you look at the shading on the perimeter of the golden rectangles, there it is. Turquoise is hard to achieve with natural dyes, at least for me, and yet it's one of my favorite colors.

"Sawdust, Leaves and Bugs" is what I like to call the combination, and it's the title of a course I hope to teach soon at the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center. First, I immersed the entire fabric in a vat of osage orange dye, purchased from a friend, David Barnet, who is a master woodworker with the Rochester Folk Art Guild. (For more on this talented group of people, click here.) Second, I did some tying and clamping -- using techniques that are jokingly called "dirty shibori" -- before immersing it in a vat of cochineal. In this case, the cochineal wasn't as bright, perhaps because I used the vat once before: It doesn't really show up on this fabric, other than lending a red-gold hue in the center of the rectangles above.

The last and best part, of course, was to dip the fabric five times in an indigo vat. Before dipping, I used a number of shibori-resist techniques: arashi, where I wrapped and tied it around a piece of PVC pipe; knotting, in which I simply tied four overhand knots in a length of fabric; folding and clamping with rectangular blocks of wood; and folding and securing with closepins.

My favorite results are on the back (pause for snarky comment: of course), where I used the arashi-shibori technique of wrapping the fabric around a PVC pipe and then tying with cord.

 This is the back of the garment

A closeup of the back, showing that elusive turquoise

I made another top, using similar techniques, and the results were completely different. My thinking is that the amount of fabric exposed to the dyes was very different in the two garments, which meant that the color blending was entirely different as well.

Sawdust, leaves, and bugs yield wonderful results! Thanks for reading!

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