Saturday, November 30, 2013

Red Dye Intensive

This August we held a four day workshop where the focus would be solely on the dyeing with natural materials that give the color red. I had wanted to work on the dyeing of cotton and linen with madder for years and thought that holding a workshop would be the perfect opportunity to give me the push that I needed to do this. With Zoe's help we planned to have the first two days set aside for the mordanting and dyeing of the fibers and the last two days would be taking those dye stuffs and use them for printing and silk screening. We had four very enthusiastic participants....Jean Hosford, who came all the way out from Michigan, Billie Smith from New Jersey, Jane Quimby from NH, and Eileen Crawford from Vermont. The two exciting things for me were that we were going to be using my homegrown madder root for some of the sampling and that I had decided to try a real authentic "Turkey Red" receipt. Consequently I had started the mordanting process for that a month ahead of time. I was using the procedure outlined in the book by J. Liles, The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing which involved mordanting the yarn with oils, tannic acid and alum...over and over again...with a final soak in sheep or cow dung for good measure. He was very adamant that not just any red could be called Turkey Red and I quote.."Do not call your product Turkey Red until it is....and there will be no question in your mind when you have it". Well.....see for our yourselves if we didn't succeed in our attempts for the illusive Turkey Red! Besides that, we all had fun and learned alot.
Kate's fresh madder root ready for dyeing.

Cochineal on wool.

Jean with her sample of madder root.

Some of the cotton and linen skeins dyed with madder and cochineal.

Cotton and linen skeins dyed with lac and brazilwood.


Eileen getting ready to make dye paste.

Jean measuring something??

The mordant samples ready to dry.

Another successful day of dyeing.

Zoe explaining the workings of silk screening.

The silk screens ready for designing.

The dye paint samples.

Making up the sample books.

Jean, Jane and Billie starting to make up the sample books.   Kate looking on (note ice pack!)
A successful but exhausting four days!

photos by Jane Quimby and Kate Smith

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