Posts Tagged ‘cochineal’

some time out

July 7, 2013

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Perhaps a little low-key, quiet break is what was called for. I was hoping to be more productive over this holiday – perhaps a few more experiments in that rich Cochineal red.   I wanted to work with cotton this time round.  What I didn’t realize was the time it would take to prepare the cloth before the final dyeing – several days or perhaps a week or more, depending on the weather. We’ve had a lot of rain lately. So, as usual, I need to be patient and pace things.

In the meantime, at a friend’s recommendation I finally made it to the Nasher to see Wangechi Mutu’s Fantastic Journey. Needless to say, it’s a provocative exhibit, the images are powerful and beyond unsettling at times (of course and for a reason).

I’m barely scratching the surface here, but finding connections in some of the books I’m currently reading: Cold Running Creek – Zelda Lockhart, Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States – continuing with my “American” education – always learning.

Later in the day some japoniserie beckoned at the NCMA  – a collection on loan from the Chrysler Museum (Norfolk) – a tour was offered and went to investigate this collection.  After the brief tour, there was time to “really look” at these paintings.

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Lefebvre’s Une Japonaise (The Language of the Fan) was probably a draw for most of us and a pastel-colored Cassatt. Moving to a different gallery,  Milton Avery’s Blue Landscape made for a very satisfying ending to the gallery visit.

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June reds

June 20, 2013


June reds 3

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I had decided earlier that June would be the month I experimented with Cochineal. It seems that if I plan like this, it’s likely that I’ll follow through.

It isn’t always the case though, as I do have pieces I’ve planned or are still in process from months or years before. It’s just that I’ve learned that sometimes, if there’s a thing I want to explore and a certain season or likely conditions make it more possible, then, it simply has to be done (or something like that). At any rate, I marked June as the time for Cochineal – at least the time for beginning that exploration – however long that takes.

The approach brought to mind working with acid dyes and there probably is some correlation. While I have worked with other dyes, I’ve gotten used to the immediacy of indigo, so it was a different way to work.

The process went more quickly than  anticipated.  I had planned not to do any dyeing until probably Friday, but from the information gathered, it seemed that everything was in place and that I could go from the mordant to the actual dyeing earlier than planned.  So I took the risk and moved on.

The image here, shows a few silk pieces simmering in the pot.  It seemed that the dye color went deeper the longer they soaked.

It required patience on my part, as I so looked forward to the results and they were fairly unknown except for the hue. After seeing the results, I understand the ancients’ love affair (see Amy Butler Greenfield’s A Perfect Red) with that dye color.

Introduction to A Perfect Red

August 2, 2012

grinding chochineal
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

It was a discussion of Amy Butler Greenfield’s book, A Perfect Red, at the NCMA where this all too brief first experience took place. I’ve been intrigued for some time, so this was a perfect way to begin, by reading the book on the topic (cochineal), then a short but sweet hands-on.

We had a lively discussion over a light summer meal, then went on to the actual experience of the color and dye.  We looked at natural dye samples, then samples of wool with various results using different mordants.  Finally we experienced grinding it and then with dye that had already been prepared, we dipped a few textile samples.  It was delicious!


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