Posts Tagged ‘dyeing’

dipping into shirokage

July 10, 2016

Shirogake (white shadow) shibori has been dangling like a carrot before me for some time. The pattern mystified me to be honest. Then a friend went to an out of state exhibit where a kimono in the pattern was on display.   She sent a photo and I was hooked (again).  To bring it about took some time.

wrapped on a pole

wrapped on a pole

After stitching the pattern and pulling it up, all I wanted was to dye it – see those results! In my haste and excitement, I forgot the next step – wrapping it against a rope or pole. Then, I realized what I was doing and stopped. I wrapped it against a pipe and continued on, hoping I hadn’t spoiled the shirokage. If I did, well, I’d try again.

unbinding from the pole

unbinding from the pole

In removing the piece from the pole, there seemed to be some resist. So, something worked.

before releasing the stitches

before releasing the stitches

The proof would be in removing the stitches and it seemed to work. The question was whether or not the pattern could be read.

releasing the pattern

releasing the pattern

It isn’t completely shiro, but the pattern can be read. It works…well enough to at least give an understanding of the technique and theory. This was practice, theory, learning, experiment…it’s all it can be and quite satisfying.  Yes, I would do this again.

the pattern - not completely "shiro" and blue, but it can be read.

the pattern – not completely “shiro” and blue, but it can be read.



September 18, 2015

Flying in earlier this week,  the lakes and rivers were a welcoming indigo blue.

welcoming blues - heartening


A good sign! I’ve been away for a bit.

butterfly bush

butterfly bush

Other good signs – it has taken all summer to coax this bush to bloom. Was it the heat or lack of rain? I can’t be sure, but we have bloom.

promise of seeds....


This shows promise of seeds later in the season. I’d started talking to the plants out of desperation.

beginnings of indigo bloom - can't wait.

beginnings of indigo bloom – can’t wait.

I thought they would never bloom, now suddenly, there is promise, possibility.

morning's dip

morning’s dip

Yes, vat, I’m back.

small buzzing things

September 4, 2015

It isn’t the heat and humidity that’s keeping me mostly indoors – it’s the vicious mosquitoes. We had a good soaking rain yesterday morning. The flowers loved it, but it also brought that other element.

blue & white on silk

blue & white on silk

Still, I managed to put a few pieces on the line. They’re in slow process of making their way to being listed in my shop. It’s taking more time than I expected, but there’s no rush.

blue 'scape study

blue ‘scape study – detail

My “scape” studies are also moving at a “considered” pace. There’s no need to push these either. What I visualize is one thing. When I determine the techniques or approach I realize there’s going to be more involved.

currently reading

currently reading

Recently, I read Creating with Reverence by Claire Campbell Park. It’s a short read but thought-provoking, asking the reader/artist/maker to consider a series of questions about the nature of his/her own work. I’m slowly working my way back through it as I ponder the interactions I have with dyeing clothing and other various cloth and fibers.

Park says, In many parts of the world, people have traditionally owned very few sets of clothes, yet, what they wear connects them to their heritage and the shared beliefs and values that are the foundation of their community.

I wonder how we would look if our clothing reflected these things? How about me? What do my colors and “style” reflect?  What and who comprise my community?  Heritage?  How do I define that?  That’s just one small aspect of this book buzzing around in my head.


June 5, 2015

I’ve long needed to pull out a box of crayons and just scribble.


I’ve needed to play and yesterday was it. Although, that’s been the goal for this month especially. If I can make it last, then so much the better.


Sometimes, I’m an obsessive planner. It’s probably a hangover from teaching in earlier years. In some ways, it has been a good thing, as it taught discipline and nourished my love of research.


But, I also know the value of “throwing it all out the window” and running out to play – another way to learn.  We know that.


Yesterday, I returned to some materials and ideas that have been running around in my head for more than a year –  long overdue and pure fun.

more than….

July 10, 2014

Over the holiday, visits to both the farmer’s market and art museum were refreshing. Hurricane Arthur’s rain bands surprisingly downed a few trees in the area, but later also brought lower temps and less humidity for a few days – a suggestion of autumn in summer’s heat.

Sunflowers at the market

Sunflowers at the market

always the heron

always the heron

This week and beyond though, the focus is on completing ‘that’ piece that I think of as ensō. It needed stretching over a surface and fastened securely.

oncanvas1 stitching

The linen I dyed earlier has finally been stretched over a frame and layers of batting and cotton. The silk, the final layer, is in process of being stitched to that canvas. I don’t want to rush this.  That’s been most of this week’s work – most.


However, a few other things are in process as well – a series of banners. I ‘jumped’ into this first one probably more quickly than I should have. I followed my usual process, but there were some unexpected aspects that cropped up. It couldn’t be resolved in this piece, but did manage to work around it with some satisfaction. My dad used to say “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”


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!

The vat

January 12, 2012

The vat

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

I’m heating it up again this morning and hope it will “cooperate” as the temps are not really suited. However, it’s the warmest it’s going to be for at least a week or more. Today’s temps will be in the low 60s, but even now, with the sun, it feels quite tolerable. I hope the vat feels the same.

A custom job awaits, so I want to take advantage of this good weather. It could take a few weeks to actually complete things.

In the meantime, I’m like the vat – taking it slow and tentative. I’m easing into this new year. A virus or something similar knocked me flat for at least a week over the holidays so my energy level isn’t back to normal yet. It’s time, though, to begin work and this project will help.

continuing with that theory

January 27, 2011

J’s cloth

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

To continue with the previous blog…I did check the vat and cut a piece from the silk noil I was given. I have to admit, in spite of the cold, I really wanted to dip something in the dye.

So, I folded the piece in triangles, soaked it in warm water (to help with wicking), then dipped it between 5 and 10 times in the vat. Then I started to feel the chill and decided to quit for the day.

I washed it in a mild detergent then hung it to dry, which it’s doing now. I may just leave it out overnight. I’m not satisfied with it, but it’s one of the things that challenge me in this process. The image shows that and some of what will be addressed in the next workshop, which is what the day was about.

Kasane – layers of color

November 4, 2010

Colors and Sounds of Ancient Japan

Since reading about Hiroko Harada’s works and kasane, the question of its meaning has lingered.  This morning,  the Japan Foundation’s bulletin arrived with this event (not to be missed if one is in Nara or nearby this month) that led to more answers on that topic.

Exploring Sachio Yoshioka, a Kyoto textile dyer and historian led to further explanations:

The concept of ‘kasane’ originated in the aristocratic customs and lifestyles of 11th century Japan and is applied not only to textiles, but also to papers and interiors, for instance. Now Yoshioka has reintroduced this custom into his 21st century textile materials and textile installations.
Yoshioka uses it to represent Japanese’ sensitivity towards colours, seasons and nature as well as to enhance the visual impact of textile installation and its surrounding environment.


June 17, 2010

あめ あめ ふれ ふれ ame ame fure fure

Yesterday was an 雨の日(ame no hi), rainy day. Days like this, in this heat and high humidity, remind me of tsuyu, Japan’s rainy season that occurs in June. Sometimes, this time of year, it feels like we also experience our own tsuyu in North Carolina. I don’t know why we don’t just name it so.

While it rained, I put some pieces in the indigo dye pot. After removing them from the vat, and unfolding the pieces revealed yellowing greens that were slowly changing over to indigo. The high humidity though, slowed the oxidation process, so it took longer than usual for that change. It gave me the chance to record some of that process and to enjoy the colors, however fleeting.

So, it was a day around soaking, sopping, dripping, soggy wet things – inside and out.  Outside, the leaves were dripping from the pouring rain and water was running down the driveway and trickling down the street. Inside my garage, fabric was soaking in the vat, then later, the soggy pieces were dripping from the drying rack.

On days like these, a familiar word or expression often comes to mind: 濡れている(nureteiru)-it’s wet, or びっしょりぬれている (bisshōri nureteiru)-it’s soaking wet. To me, nothing quite captures the qualities of water like these words do.

In a short language exploration last night, I discovered there are quite a few words and expressions around the topic. Lately, this hot humid weather is 蒸し暑い-mushi atsui. To get wet is ぬれる-nureru. To soak cloth in a dye, though, is布を染料に浸す – nuno o senryo ni hitasu. The word senryo contains the character 染 (some/zome) which means “to dye.” Another pronunciation of the same character, in a similar context is shimikomu – 染み込む. It means “to soak into” or “permeate.” These are only a few examples from my brief research, needless to say, there is much more to be discovered.

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