Monday, May 11, 2009

Colours colours colours

So this past weekend the textiles studio hosted a natural dye workshop. I could only go one day (Saturday) since I committed to brunch with the family on Sunday for mothers day, but it was fun! 

A whole bunch of the girls from the textiles program (and then me, the non-official textiler), and some of the teachers and program head all got together and were informally taught by Gitte (I can't remember her last name) about different kinds of natural dyes and how to dye with them. We dyed with osage orange, cochineal, tumeric, logwood, and cutch on Saturday. It was quite interesting and fun to see what colours came out. Gitte also brought tons of samples of other natural dying she has done, and the colours are so beautiful and soft! I'd be happy to have an entire wardrobe of only naturally dyed clothes.

We were put into pairs to work on different dyes, and Kerri and I were working with cochineal, which is the shell of a dried out bug from Mexico! It was super cool. We had to grind the tiny dried up bugs into power the consistency of icing sugar before putting it into the water. The cochineal dyed the fabrics a beautiful vibrant pink. It actually accidentally started dying in purple partway through the process, apparently because of alkaline (?) stuff in the air (maybe from windex?) so we put cream of tartar into the dye bath, and it eventually turned it back to the correct pink colour. It was neato.

The colour we got from cochineal was one of my favourite colours, but the rich goldeny mustard yellow that we got from tumeric was amazing too. I'm excited to dye more stuff, especially with cheap materials like tumeric.

While we were waiting around for our dye to do its thing, this cute little Japanese Canadian woman named Hiroko talked to us about what she does in the field of textiles. Basically, she is a paper thread spinner, dyer, and weaver. She takes Japanese paper that is made from the mulberry bush, and she cuts very thin long strips of it. She then spins these strips into paper thread on a spinning wheel, then dyes it with natural dyes (of course). Then she weaves it. It was amazing. Every one was in awe. The thread and woven fabrics felt nothing like paper. I want to try!

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