Saturday, July 24, 2010

Workshop, Money and Onion Skin

About a month ago I discovered to my detriment India Flint's dye workshop in Nelson is going to cost about twice as much as I had expected. Jo Kinross the kind organizer warmed me months ago, so I should have started saving then, but you know me.

Anyhoo, after much fretting ABOUT spending money I don't have, (which lasted no longer than 24 hours), I signed up. One does not get a chance like this very often in the first place in Nelson, but also I know at least Jo and Felicity who are sure to be there, and if I add the cost of flying or accommodation, it is a no-brainer. And I said again what I always say at these junctures: "the money will come from somewhere."

I've been reading, yes, the words, instead of just gazing at the pictures in, India's book. I find dye an unfriendly subject because of all the chemistry and potentially toxicity. But having experimented with Dylon dyes a little, and knowing most of the people in the workshop have gone to at least one, but up to three or four, of India's workshops, I wanted to catch up as much as I can, so I got started. I'm actually enjoying reading her book as it is not as dry as other dye books I abandoned after 2 or 5 or 8 pages; in fact, it's like reading a Nigella Lawson cookbook as opposed to, say, Julia Child's serious baking book. (Have you ever seen that monster?)

On Jo's advice, I started collecting onion skins. I bought some woad seeds, though they won't be ready by the time of the workshop. And I'm thinking of making a bunch of small drawstring bags out of an old sheet and stuffing some of them with wood ash from my fireplace. Today, I got a kitchen rubbish bin with a nice handle; I needed something tall to stick my bohmaki/pole wrapping in.

I'm such a wimp-wuss when it comes to dyes, though I used to love mixing paint and dye water as a child. I'm trying not to get the spinning bug but I find the mixing of color slivers intoxicating, and I realize I could easily go down that way with dyeing.

We say boys' toys are so expensive, but girls' crafts are so interconnected when you get into one seriously, there are always few other crafts you need to investigate to help improve your primary craft, yes?

So this is part of the reason I agreed to weave the red scarf in the previous post in two days. I am really hurting, though; I need another dose of the green-lipped-mussel soft-tissue serum.

6 comments:

  1. Had a nice long talk with Mom about dyes. I think she told me this years ago, probably 2000, but I had forgotten, that mordanting is important with natural dyes, but with chemical, it's mostly salt/vinegar. Well, that was important - I feel a bit weight off of my shoulders as I think I'll be dyeing with chemical/commercial dyes for the most part. But I want also to try coffee grinds and tea leaves. Perhaps next week!

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  2. my natural dye experience is limited, but I notice you get a lot of beiges and tans with it. The mordant is everything to color with natural dyes. Mom is right.

    it's a very good idea to find a book with color charts of dye and mordant combinations to achieve what you want. Unless you don't care how much beige and tan you come up with!

    marigold make a beautiful yellow or orange dye depending on the mordant. Save the dead blossoms. and queen anne's lace, a mere weed here, makes a beautiful lemon lime with tin (i think) as mordant.

    tea made well, a tea stained color and coffee, likely a muddy brown. Black walnut makes beautiful brown and you can use leaves, bark or shells to achieve the color. They grow abundantly here.

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  3. Traditionally mordants have been used with natural dyes, but India Flint dyes without and from what I recall of her book is anti any use of anything other than the dye plant. She is an advocate of re-dyeing items to compensate for fading. However, while this is fine for dyeing cloth and items of clothing as India does, it is not ideal for people who dye fibres or yarns before weaving or knitting a design based on colour patterns and interactions.

    Have you seen Helen Melvin's wonderful blog post on mordants? http://growingcolour.blogspot.com/2009/01/mordanting.html

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  4. Dana, I've been looking for someone with a walnut tree for six months now. Doni does beautiful grays - my favorite blue-grays, with green walnuts! Sublime colors.

    Dorothy, India does use some, or at least discusses them, including co-mordanting, using pots and containers made of certain metals. My problem is as you said, what to do with our yarns.

    Thanks for the pointer to Helen's blog. I shall check it anon.

    Now that I have some understanding of India's methods, I'm amazed how many people I know in Nelson/Marlborough area are following in her footsteps. Lucky we have so many trees and plants around us, but many of the weird and strange and wonderful things were, ummm... not original ideas but came from India.

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  5. Hi Meg,
    I am soooooo envious you're going to attend a workshop with India Flint! I'll be following your progress (will you write a detailed report for us poor people on the other side of the planet?)

    I'm sure you'll have lots of fun ;)

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  6. I shall certainly try, Doni. But I'm a complete novice with natural dyeing and a novice in dyeing, so I guess I'm relying on having some sort of a presence of mind to at least take pictures. :-D

    But I shall keep your request in mind, for sure.

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