For my work for The Power of Stitch I am trying to depict the power of nature through volcanic activity, so I wanted a bright red. A bright red is not easy to get with natural dyeing, but fermentation dyeing works well with madder.
I put 100 grams of ground madder in a 4 pint plastic bottle and filled nearly to the top with water.
Every day I removed the lid to let any gases out and gave it a good shake. Madder works better in a high PH and fermentation tends to make the dye acidic so after a week I added a teaspoon of slaked lime.
After 3 weeks I put the liquid into a dye vat and added wetted out fabric. This is a silk cotton mix fabric. I soaked it in the dye vat for a day and this is the result, just what I wanted.
For anyone interested in the history of tambour embroidery – I will be presenting my new talk at the Chelmsford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild tomorrow evening. It is based on the research for the work I am doing for The Power of Stitch
will be displaying in the spring of 2019 (details to be announced shortly).
My talk will look at the arrival of tambour embroidery in London, England in 1765. A fashion ‘must have’ of the late eighteenth century, the technique was both a favourite of the queen, and a means of exploitation of the poor.
(Images on this page show items in the Victoria and Albert Museum which may (or may not) be of tambour work. This chain stitch technique is difficult to identify without access to the reverse of the garment.)
The Chelmsford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild
meets in the Main Hall, Christchurch, New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0AW. Meetings begin at 7.30pm and end at 9.30pm. Visitors are wellcome – there is a small fee.
I am working hard on my exhibit for our forthcoming exhibition “The Power of Stitch” which will be at Braintree District Museum to coincide with 2019 Textile Fair. My exhibit tries to show the history of textiles in this country – a hard task and one which took not only a large amount of research but caused quite bit of angst designing.
This detail shows cake wires, couched with grey madeira thread for electricity pylons which makes a reference to power in the title. The background fabric is calico which I coloured during the hot weather. The good weather enabled me to spread the wet fabric out on the grass to dry and consequently the powerful sun fixed the dye. The only slight problem I had was to stop the dog walking all over the dyeing.
I had a great day recently with the lovely Vinny Stapley at her studio on Mersey Island on the Essex coast. We were exploring the Japanese Paste resist technique, Katazame. We were using a simple flour and water paste but I think traditionally the Japanese used rice flour paste. A technique that I had not heard of before.
The first method we used was applying the flour paste straight on to fabric, spreading it thinly with a spatula allowing it to dry and then scratching marks into it. Also applying the paste through a needle nosed bottle. Then applying colour using screen printing inks, not a method I would normally use being more familiar with procion dye paste but the screen inks are more instant.
We then squeezed the paste through a commercial stencil and lastly through a hand cut stencil.
A really enjoyable day learning a new (to me) technique, one I think I will probably use in the future but using my preferred procion dye paste.