Our local SDA “chapter” was fortunate enough to be able to bring Yoshiko Wada in for two workshops this August end. I participated in the first one, a two day intensive Natural Dyes and Pigments class.
Above, Yoshiko talked about how complex — or SO simple– cloth can become with natural dyes, with so many different application processes and defined tested knowledge used. In other words, there really is no need to re-invent the wheel with the traditional methods. (Experimenting with lesser known possibly indigenous materials is a bit different and more experimental, but the basic PROCESSING workings are the same.)
And OMG i am totally enthralled and smitten by her teaching methods, her persona and her knowledge and sharing. I’ve had few such engaging teachers in my life, but she
takes gets the cake! Clear explanations and actual SCIENCE, i just fell in love with her and her style :)
Above, the first arrivals, and a very very clean and quiet room :)
And then it was abuzzz and awhirl!
Yoshiko is a dynamo, though calm and focused. Soon there were dyepots bubbling, ingredients being measured and added, and a lot of curious and excited faces peering through the steam.
Above, two madder pots, one a lake extract, the other a dyebath. Below, Yoshiko pours the extract for lake making.
With the classic natural dyes, we learned about madder, weld, indigo, and osage orange, first using them as dyes, then concentrating them into lakes for painting with. The indigo vats were a 123 organic and one with henna.
Above, the Indigo Stomp :) Squishing the cloth pieces between newspapers made sure that a lot of moisture was pulled out, then we all madly flapped and flailed to get the blue happening!
I hadn’t got much better results with the madder in the workshop than i got at home, so decided to overdye in indigo:
Alas, the photo above is wet, so i knew it would dry lighter, and BUT more “alas”, my silk hadn’t been washed properly so most of it washed out!!!!!!!!!
I was absolutely thrilled though at what an indigo dip did for an ecoprint! Yoshiko was appalled that i would sacrifice such a beautiful piece, so i tore only a small section off, suddenly realizing that if it didn’t work, i would regret it:
I wouldn’t have!!!! The chemical reaction between the indigo and the previously deposited leaf pigments made magic magic! Of course since we had talked about the colour of an indigo vat, i asked if it would be squeakingly impossibly possible to rev up a vat of my own that had frozen through two Calgary winters, but that still had a clear green liquer evident. It might!!!! I’m still looking for my chemicals long packed up since it was fresh, but i know they are in the house somewhere!
Below, Mahira’s delicate lovely shibori from the henna pot–we noted that it gave a greener blue than the 123 organic type.
Then Yoshiko made real magic! She told us about Maya Blue, a mystery ingredient in South American frescoes that wasn’t properly analyzed until the 50’s. Containing sepiolite clay and a type of indigo (Indigofera suffruticosa), heat is applied to a mixture of the two, resulting in the most gorgeous aqua colour!
Because this is a pigment, it must be “carried” using a binder–we used egg and made a tempera mix for painting on paper.
I tried my small dish on silk,and stones (!) and then threw in a skein of thread.
Being a pigment, it is of course not that durable on fibre, but i still ended up with a lovely pale blue. I’d show a photo of it, but it’s lost somewhere in the stoodio! Plenty of indigo threads to work with though once i get them untwangled:
Because we had also made “lakes”, more concentrated extracts from the dye baths, we each got a tiny amount of each to paint with:
Above are silk and linen with ferrous sulphate and gallnut.
I also used the indigo and the Maya Blue on silks and cotton:
At first i was thinking “i’ll never paint fabrics”, but given my love of fine detail now and my continuing use of asemic writing, well, never say never. The technique may show up after all.
Our organizer and facilitator, the redoubtable, inimitable powerhouse Karin surreptitiously collected small pieces of work from all of us on the second day and disappeared during lunch to stitch them all into a long scroll, which she fastened to a wonderful old spool. It was presented to Yoshiko as a thank you from all of us:
And that dress Yoshiko was wearing? That was an inspiration as well :) Naturally dyed and discharged by a friend of hers, it was gorgeous:
Due to the short time, and the number of participants, we had to content ourselves with small pieces, most being 10-15″, with some slightly larger, but that’s okay–i intend to use mine down the road somewhere as “components” in future work. Hopefully i learned enough to make up the larger backgrounds needed to base them on! Fifteen excited artists jostling for position around small dye pots could have been accidents in the making :)
I had gathered up linen, silks (twill, charmeuse and habotai) and cotton, but no wool, except for some wool yarn. (I’ve never worked with wool, and due to the short advance notice we got for supplies, was unable to source any.)
A bit of needling in linen on silk over cotton– i had wanted to do more stitching first and then dye, but added threads too so i can later! I stitched this feverishly the day and night before, then realized i can do during and after class as well. Turns out i was so involved with possibilities and sampling that i totally forgot about this! But i DID get threads in…except for the wool yarn.
And nope, i won’t be sharing methods–not because i am keeping close to the chest what was done, but because the “recipes” we used are classic and easily available everywhere on REPUTABLE sites. (Don’t fall for those stoopid “kitchen scrap” dyeing sites–very few have truthful facts, or sound advice on how to or how things work.)
Now i really must get to doing things!