Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Another year is almost over – don’t you feel they go by faster these days? We Fibrecircle girls have just one more meeting for the year before we go our separate ways until January.

Meanwhile, we’re just as obsessed with colour and pattern as always. Our biggest event this month was a session of natural dyeing at Tricia’s. For simplicity, we decided to all use the same silk habutai scarves, so we spent one meeting preparing our scarves for dyeing in many different ways, like tying, stitching or clamping with blocks.

Our first pot was avocado skins and pits. We’d read about people taking the trouble to cut the pits in half beforehand, but that seemed like a bridge too far for us. In the end, we found they split open in the pot anyway, so we were quite glad we hadn’t struggled to cut them!

 Here are the results:
Maz tied red onion skins into her first scarf. Isn’t it amazing? 
Inspired by Maz, Tricia also clamped onion skins into her scarf, using both red and brown onions.
Bev tucked Eucalyptus cinerea leaves into the folds of her scarf.
The cinerea leaves give a reliable red quite easily and most of us tried that technique, in the various pots.

Nola tried machine stitching tiny pleats on her scarf with a long machine stitch, and pulling up the threads.
The results are interesting but perhaps don’t justify the amount of work. It was much faster than hand stitching, but still fairly fiddly.

Our second pot used Eucalyptus pilularis Blackbutt shavings from Nola’s husband’s workshop. We hadn’t tried dyeing with them before, but we’ve had good results with sawdust from other trees. We were slightly disappointed but unsurprised to see we were able to achieve… beige. This colour seems to be the basic colour for Australia plants and it’s very easy to achieve!

However, dyeing isn’t just about the colour; it’s also about the pattern. Maz stitched her scarf by hand down the length, which gave an interesting pattern.
Carol pulled up small sections and tied hers randomly.
Bev clamped red onion skins in between square wooden blocks on her first one...
… and prunus leaves between triangle wooden blocks in her second one.
This one from Tricia was an experiment. She clamped toothpicks between Perspex blocks along the length of the scarf and it’s give her some beautiful patterns.
Nola stitched by machine along the ends of this scarf, just to see what would happen.
She thought the result was pretty ordinary on this one too, so she later overdyed it with fibre reactive dye with washers clamped in the folds.
Looks a lot better and the stitched stripes have become a lot stronger. The interesting thing is that the tiny holes where the needle went in have been emphasised too.

Nola’s second one in this pot was tied around tongue depressors with green twine.
Some of the colour of the twine transferred to the scarf in interesting ways.
The third pot was Eucalyptus cinerea leaves. Although the leaves give a red colour when clamped in the folds, they give a different colour when boiled in the pot. The colour is a strong orange on wool but it’s much milder on silk.

Jan created eccentric folds on her scarf, with red cabbage inside, and tied it with some of the green twine.
The eccentric folds are certainly effective, aren’t they?

Nola tied this one onto triangular blocks.
Maz tied hers onto marbles…
… and so did Bev.
You can see that the kind of tying makes a big difference. Maz has some traces of colour from the twine, while Bev’s thread was finer and firmer, which gave a much tighter resist.

The fourth pot was Helichrysum petiolare, a grey-leafed garden plant which yields a pretty yellow.

Maz clamped grevillea leaves between wooden blocks. Grevillea doesn’t add much colour but it does add pattern, and her scarf has a lovely delicate pattern between the bars of colour.
Nola clamped cinerea leaves in the folds of her scarf with parallelogram Perspex blocks.
Tricia tied blue wooden beads into her scarf. Some colour came off the beads during the process.
Bev used rectangular wooden blocks to clamp her scarf.
Our fifth pot was the bark of Eucalyptus sideroxylon Ironbark.  Maz clamped cinerea leaves into her scarf with wood blocks… 

…and so did Nola.
Tricia did the same but added loose tea leaves, which gave even more texture.
Maz tried a cone fold with interesting results…
… and Carol tied hers in the same way as her other one, in irregular bundles.
This one from Bev had red onion skins in a triangle fold, which gave an interesting radial pattern.
Jan used onion skins, nails and tea leaves in this one…
.. and in this one, she tied onion skins, red cabbage and unknown plants.
Wasn’t that an interesting day’s dyeing? Eco-dyeing is a slow process so while we were doing it, Maz was stitching on this piece of painted background fabric.
Jan was working on her Paint Chip Challenge piece.
It’s going to be a book cover. I’m sure we’ll see more of this to come!

Later, Nola boiled up the ironbark bark again, with fresh water, and dyed this scarf, which she’d pinch pleated and tied along the length with green twine.
It looks rather like Arashi, the pleating done on a pole.

Tricia had a couple of scarves in the cinerea pot that she wasn’t happy with. She had a dyeing day with Nola later in the month and overdyed this one with orange and red fibre reactive dye…
… and this one with turquoise.
She had another one from the avocado pot also dyed with brown onion skins, but she felt it needed a lift, so she over-dyed it with yellow fibre reactive dye.
It really looks great!

 This scarf is crinkle chiffon with a silver thread through it. Tricia dyed it originally in ironbark and then over-dyed it with orange to lift it.
She folded this one in triangles and dipped the corners into fibre reactive dye.
This makes a wonderful radial pattern.

Nola plaited three lengths of tissue silk together quite tightly and dyed them with pale turquoise and red fibre reactive dye. When she took them apart, they all had a similar pattern.

She twisted another scarf until it twisted back on itself and dyed it with pale yellow, pale turquoise and a few drops of red and rubinole.
She also space-dyed a child’s cotton tee-shirt…
 … some socks…
…and an apron.
Jan has also been doing some dyeing at home, but on paper.  She wet the paper and clamped the plant materials between two layers. She dyed the papers with red cabbage, some leaves from her neighbour’s red plant and an unknown hedge plant. Others were dyed with dried eucalypt leaves.

 The colours are delicate and the papers are highly textured.

As usual, we swapped postcards this month. This one from Nola was called Summer Breeze. The background fabric was sun dyed, and she added hand embroidery.
Helen used some fabric that Nola brought back from Aatuti Art in Norfolk Island. The shop has a blog here. The background fabric is a commercial print.
Here’s the fabric Maz was embroidering during our dyeing play day, made into a postcard!
Jan’s was made from some of her eco-dyed paper, and sun-dyed cloth.
Our next meeting will be small, as some members head off for the holidays. But you can be sure we’ll still be creating stuff!

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