Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The finished fabric
 I am loving the results. I even love the wrinkly squigglies of the unironed fabric. And it's really thrilling to get something besides beige, tan and yellow, which are the predominant local colors at this time of year here in Tennessee. They are beautiful but hard for me to wear and the purples are just better.

I pulled out some other silks that I've dyed lately. All these are on silk Habotai of varying weights. The logwood pot of a few weeks ago yielded many treasures and this particular piece of shibori looks smashing with the new cabbage piece.

cabbage left, logwood shibori right
Here is the cabbage piece with a lovely violet green eco print from the new leaves of dark red maples. These are the big leaf maples, not smaller japanese maples. The piece on the right is a twisted and wrapped shibori piece similar to the logwood one above. It is walnuts and quebracho red, though it looks like logwood seeped in there somehow as well. The q red left an almost metallic surface on the silk. These three pieces are all the same value and look great together. I really love the combination of eco prints with traditional natural dyes. As the summer progresses there will be many plants to explore here, both on the surface and in the immersion bath.
cabbage left, red maple & logwood center, walnut and quebracho right

The Unveiling

the innards sans lettuce
 Well, I started thinking about the red lettuce leaves in this bundle. We all know how quickly red lettuce breaks down. It's always the first to go in bagged salad mixes. So I decided to peek and peeking led to untying and untying to unrolling. So sue me, I'm only human.

Actually, I'm really delighted with the results. I am more of an abstract expressionist than a literalist at heart anyway, so I am really happy with amorphous shapes of color. And that is what I got. When I looked at the bundle I could already see the color on the silk, and since it was reasonably brilliant, I untied and unrolled a little. You can see the lettuce under the top layer of silk where it is sandwiched in. What's a sandwich without lettuce anyway? Next you can see what it looked like with the top layer of silk peeled back and the sandwich innards still in place. The large photo at the top of the page shows the same spot without the lettuce. It left a ghost image of peach perhaps? Hard to tell. Further and further down, you see the silk with most the innards removed. Carrots didn't do diddly, really, but may have added to the peachy glow that comes mostly from the coffee grounds, I think. I wonder if the tannins in the java helped to extract or intensify some of the other colors.
I rinsed it just enough to remove the residual veggies and hung it to dry. Will get a photo when it's good and dry, then will hang this scarf for a good while before I actually wash it with soap. In fact, I probably won't really wash it until I want to use the fabric or store it. For now it will hang proudly in my studio as this week's inspiration.

peel back the top layer...

most of the innards removed

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Baptism by Mandoline

Sarah, meet India; India, Sarah.

my flavor base
One of my morning rituals is watching Sarah Carey's Everyday Food video that comes via email. I love her fresh, shoot from the hip style of cooking easy elegant meals and it inspires me to cook delicious food even when I've used most of my creative juices elsewhere. Today I started a pot of green lentils and as I peeled my red onion and carrots I realized they were both candidates for eco dye (that's where you come in, India). oooh! Food and color, color and food. Sarah talks about building a flavor base, so I grabbed a silk scarf and started building...first the red onion and carrot (skins and peels), a salad (deep red lettuce leaves from Carlene and Byron Mayes' garden...they call me "Lady Dye", and  purple slaw shavings from a hapless cabbage) and finally a beverage (freshly ground coffee beans). It was after I shaved the lovely purply cabbagy thingies onto the silk that I saw the nubbin from the carrot. Mandoline in hand I sliced one too many slices off the nubbin. I mean, everybody eventually does it, right? The skin graft of the thumb I mean. So as I'm arranging and rolling another organic colorant found its way into the piece. Blud. Everyone is always trying to get blood out of fabric, so why not put it in? That's what makes it art, right? A little of one's lifeblood.
close up of cabbage, beans and lifeblood

As I bundled, I mulled over how to apply heat. Realizing that everything in the bundle was on our daily menu, I decided to put it in the microwave...not my dye nuker out in the shed

but the actual kitchen wave. I hit the 30 second button and let it sit for a minute as I was watching my lentils come to a boil (ABP, right Sarah), felt for temp and repeated four more times with resting periods in between. Now my lentils were happily boiling, so I wrapped the bundle of silk and veggies in plastic wrap, gave it one more zap and carried it out to my studio thinking it might smell kind of funny in the house. But no. In fact, it smelled so good that I thought Sarah had followed me to the studio. As the fragrance wafted towards Monk, he started to get up for his morning meal, checking me out to see if I was now serving in the studio instead of his usual place in kitchen.

I'm posting this on Tuesday. How long do you think I can wait till I unwrap? Hopefully I'll forget about it for the rest of the week. Yeah, right. Stay tuned.
gud enuf 2 eet