Friday, September 23, 2016

african indigo textiles

More inspirational photos from a program given by Matthew Scheiner, Director of the Gallery Jatad in Houston.  The gallery features fine traditional African art and contemporary works on paper.  They have a Facebook page and are open by appointment. 

The pieces he brought to our guild meeting were impressive.  You can see the audience was in awe and cameras were aimed at this one from all directions. 

Close-ups of the same cloth. 

A similar design with additional natural color added. 

I can almost see all the needle marks on this one to figure out how the stitching was done.
"Adire are indigo resist dyed cotton cloths that were made by women throughout Yorubaland" according to the Victoria and Albert Museum site - click here to read the entire article.

This is a different textile and I didn't make note of the pigment or dye used to create the rosy areas.   I love the texture retained after the stitching was removed.

Another fabric with similar design and colors but smoothed to show the stitching lines.

More stitching and clamping techniques next time when we dive deeper into the indigo vat.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Sometimes projects just don't turn out as planned.  Over dyeing was on my agenda when I planned out this month of indigo.  My daughter had made a success of it with a woven cotton shirt that had stains on it.  I have no before shots of the shirt with stains but I promise you I cannot find any sign of them after the dip into indigo.

I on the other hand still have a "not for public consumption" t-shirt after a dip in the indigo.    The stains were intensified in the indigo vat.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Not giving up on changing things with a dip in the indigo.  I shibori stitched this scarf - which was in two different MX dye baths and still hadn't made the grade - and pulled it up very tightly.  Put it in the pot and forgot about it. 

Midnight after the workshop, I emailed the teacher that there was a stray item left in the vat and I'd pick it up later.  Connie was kind enough to fish it out, oxidize it and dip it a second time, rinse it and leave it to dry in the Guild House office.  I took one peak ... and ...

I was too excited to wait and unpicked all the shibori stitching immediately !

Wow.  Pleased with this changling.  It's quite a reincarnation.  There is some controversy over whether I should iron it or not.  I lean toward ironing but I'm asking opinions.

Monday, September 19, 2016

cotton ikat scarf

Deadlines are what keeps me going!  I committed earlier in this series of posts on indigo dyeing to finish the project I began in October last year at the Indigo and Weaving Workshop in conjunction with the SDA Conference at Arrowmont.  Putting something in writing is a promise to yourself and publishing adds even more pressure. So thank you for making me a better person, to paraphrase Jack Nickolson in "As Good As It Gets."  

This is the cotton yarn after it was wetted out.  I had measured it out on a warping board - forgot to take a photo of that step.  While it is stretched in place on the warping board is the time to wrap it with the ikat tape which will maintain white areas against an indigo background.  You can wrap the whole warp or you can split it and wrap parts of it.  I experimented with no real pattern in mind.  I was standing next to Shelly who was also measuring a warp and we were enjoying a lively conversation - no time for concentration or measuring carefully.  Workshops are a great way to get to know people you might never have bumped into ordinarily.  Below is my dyed warp drip drying in front of someone's dyed cloth. 

After rinsing and drying, this is warp tied with the green ikat tape and the skein of dyed cotton for the weft.

The opportunity to warp the looms at the workshop was there, but we were running out of time and most of us were weavers with looms at home. 
This is the warp on a couple of pegs to hold the cross I made when measuring - this ensures that I will use the warps in order as I had "planned the design."  See that little chain on the warp?  That is the counting thread I put in as I measured.  It slips out easily when you're ready to thread the loom.  Each chain represents 10 warps and so I knew I had 140 ends.  The heddle I was going to use only accommodates 96 warp ends (8 inches x 12 ends per inch).  If you're lost here, just think about those numbers on the package of bed sheets.  Thread counts on woven goods indicate the quality of the goods in most cases.  A sheet with a 120 thread count is much coarser than one with 600 thread count, so a 120 thread count would be about ten times as dense as my little scarf. But that's fine for a drape-y soft neck scarf. 

I decided to use the remainder of the warp as weft and it's coming along great, IMO!  :)  I did a line of hemstitching at the beginning and the excess which is tied to the loom (and looks like a jumbled mess at the bottom of the photo) will become the tasseled fringes.  Crossing my fingers I have enough weft dyed to weave enough to hang around someones neck. 

Here is the weaving a little farther along and you can see I split the warp when I was wrapped it with ikat tape.  I'm weaving this part with some of the leftover warp.  The horizontal white bits in the woven part are caused by the color of the weft. 

At this point in the weaving, I'm about one-third of the way through the scarf and I've switched to the solid dyed weft yarn.  I will finish up the scarf at the other end with more the leftover warp with the white spots so that it looks balanced. 
There are very tiny specs of white in this part because I tied the skein to keep it neat and didn't work hard while it was in the dyepot to be sure the indigo attached in that area.  It's kind of a nice accidental effect and breaks up the big expanse of just blue.  It's easy to learn to like what you can't fix.  Back to weaving since I want to be able to show you this scarf finished.
 The cloth rolled up on the beam is getting pretty thick.  Close to the end of the warp. 

There was two inches of weft left after hemstitching the final end.  Then I tasseled the fringes and after this final photo was taken, I dunked it into cool soapy water and swished out any remaining indigo.  It's drying now and will need a bit of a press.  So happy to be finished with this one.

Friday, September 16, 2016

wool indigo ikat

Diane here with another post on the Arrowmont workshop on indigo and weaving.  I should begin by saying that a lot of the following may sound foreign to non-weavers but play along, smile and nod knowingly.  Much of what happens on the 'net is pretty foreign to me, too. 

After we had measured and wrapped the resist tape tightly on the weft, the wool was wetted out and dipped into one of the two indigo pots we had mixed up a couple of days before following the instructions from Sara Goodman, the indigo teacher for this workshop.  The weft bundles are the ones with the white areas hanging on the drying rack.  They have been washed with mild soap and rinsed thoroughly.

Now it was time to begin weaving and Mary Zigafoose, tapestry artist, who was the other half of the teaching team for this workshop, took over again.  She is second from the right in the photo below.

This is my weft arranged nicely after taking of the green ikat tape.  On this my first time using the tape, I had not wrapped tightly enough and the edge between the blue and white are not sharp and clear.  I improved on my technique when I tied the next project which was warp with cotton yarn. I took it home from the workshop to put on one of my looms - more on that in the next post. 

Here is the weft turned the other way and sitting on the loom I was going to use at the workshop.  This was the point at which I wound the weft on a shuttle beginning with the end that is closest to the bottom of the photo and ending with the last bit that is at the top of the photo.  That way when I begin to weave the design will end up oriented in the direction I intended - not that it's a realistic image... :) but it's sort of a house shape. 

The first shots of weft show that the spots of white are beginning to line up.  It was decided with a consultation with Mary that I really should have had a loom with two more warps to accommodate the weft width - no time for that adjustment - so she suggested that I use the temple (that red thing)  to force the width of the design to allow the spots to match up. 

Here is the finished piece below.  As you can see the middle is stretched out but the top and bottom are trying to shrink back to the actual warp width.  I'm okay with it as a sample!  I did a firm warp finish with the linen warps on the top and bottom. 
Weavings by others in the workshop.  This one shows that she too had ikat tape tying problems, the yellowness at the edges of the white.  Then the second weft she measured was obviously dipped into the pot after it had been improved with more indigo and she tied her tape only one side of the measuring groups.  I took a photo so I could remember this as I really like the way this turned out!  Mistakes can be beautiful.  

Here's another sample with the edge finish in progress along the top edge.  The bottom edge is completed.  I placed the sample on the red paper to give enough contrast to see the linen warps. 

Next up, I warp a small loom with the ikat dyed cotton yarn and got so excited I almost forget to take enough photos. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

stirring up the henna vat and actually weaving!

Continuing with the Indigo and Weaving workshop I took at Arrowmont last year in conjunction with the Surface Design Association conference.

All eyes are on the board with the recipe for the 1-2-3 Indigo with Henna vat.  Sara Goodman is in the center with the purple shirt and white apron.  We made two big vats of indigo - one with fructose and one with henna. 

Sara used an electric beater to get the henna mixed up and ready to add to the vat.  Here's the henna she used - emphasizing that we didn't want any additives in the henna.

Below she has added the lime to the vat - the third ingredient. 

 Every day she checked both pots and posted a progress report by dipping a cloth strip and hanging it on the bulletin board.

When we finally got to dipping - it got a little messy.

We had five days for the workshop and the henna vat came up faster than the fructose one.  While they were "cooking" we measured and prepared our weft for the ikat weaving.

Here's Mary Zigafoose with one of her pieces.  Above shows her deft hands tying ikat tape to prevent the indigo from seeping in to certain areas of her design.  In the piece she is holding up, all the white areas of weft were tied tightly with ikat tape. 

Here is my design tied and ready to to into the indigo.  She has these wonderful boards constructed so that you can measure your weft in 1/2 inch bundles and they are all connected so that when you have washed it and dried it and are ready to weave, you can just wind it on the shuttle and go for it.  The design has already been accomplished.

Below is my meager few inches of tapestry woven with white header on each side of the wool.  It was great to do this process from start to finish and understand all the steps involved in getting a design with the ikat process.
Did I already mention that the looms were threaded for us by helpers at Arrowmont?  All we had to do was tie them on front and back and begin to weave.  A luxury for sure.  The weaving studio from the second floor viewing area.

Monday, September 12, 2016

indigo and weaving workshop

Last October I went to Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for The Surface Design conference:  Made Aware.

Beautiful country, best time of the year to see the Great Smoky mountains.

The craft school is a big rambling campus on the side of the hill ... but just around the corner is a

bustling tourist town with lots of shopping and restaurants.  But there was no need to eat out, the dining hall at Arrowmont was great.  Housing was like college dorm life only quieter.  In fact, the a/c in my room was not working so they found me a new one right away.

There was a juried fiber art exhibition at the same time and I really enjoyed the time to carefully study each one. 

The facilities were fabulous work spaces and the workshops offered were taught by talented experts in their fields. 

I had such a wonderful time and learned so much about indigo and ikat weaving.  The workshop was team taught by Sara Goodman and Mary Zigafoose, tapestry weaver. Sara taught us how to develop two indigo vats - one with henna and one with fructose.  I tried a small vat when I was back at home and I proved the rule - you really have to deal with the pot every day.  Mine died a sad death when I went out of town for two weeks.  I poured off the water and kept the blue dregs and my plan to see if I can revive it during this indigo month.  I'll keep you up to date on that.  The photo below is not my vat, this is Sara stirring the indigo/henna vat at Arrowmont. 

I brought home an ikat dyed cotton warp and weft and I'll be putting that on one of my looms and finally seeing how well that worked out.  First ikat project we did in class was tapestry design using wool as the weft - the looms were mostly warped for us when we arrived.

My wool ikat was mediocre - more on that in another post. The dye seeped under the green ikat tape so my edges were not super crisp - lesson learned.  When I began the second project in cotton, I wrapped that tape reeaallly tight. I can't wait to weave up this narrow cotton band.