Cynthia St. Charles Store

Friday, July 31, 2009

Indigo Dyeing - Still Singin' the Blues!

I am pleased with the results of this kanoko shibori on this raw silk jacket with patch pockets on the front.

You can see the nice texture of this raw silk weave. This is my new favorite silk fabric - ordered from Exotic Silks (wholesale). I love it - some of the threads are quite shiny, and it is very easy to sew (for silk). I also really love the variegation I got with the indigo on this jacket - even though it was dipped twice.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Indigo! Still Singing The Blues!

More Indigo Dyeing

The vat is still good after sitting a few days, so I decided to try some more items.
I did more elaborate shibori techniques this time. Above, on the clothesline - a long sleeve T-shirt, two silk scarves, and a raw silk jacket. Below, four arashi shibori scarves.

Here is the pile of unwrapped indigo dyed items - ready for pre-washing. I soaked everything in cool water for a few hours prior to washing with Orvis paste.

I am happy with the T-shirt!

Sleeve detail of the T-shirt below.

The silk scarves also turned out really great!

More indigo to come!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Indigo Love

The texture created by irregularities and manipulation with the indigo are very exciting to me.
It has certainly exceeded my expectations. This is the cotton bog jacket I showed you earlier - now it has been dyed and washed out . . . . and ironed. Love it.

(Please forgive the inconsistencies in color in my images. I am just not up to messing around with the color on all these shots. Not sure why I am getting such variation - same camera, lights, etc.!)

I am really pleased with these three scarves, as well. I am going to have to do more!

I checked the vat this morning - it is still active. Now that I know how it all works - I can continue with confidence.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Indigo to Dye For

I am really happy with the results of my first experience using indigo. Now that I see how wonderful everything looks - and realize how very simple this freeze dried indigo is to use - I wonder what took me so long . . . .

One thing that is a bit off-putting is the smell. The vat is smelly and there is a smell that lingers on the fabric or garment even after the washout. Joe and I both remember how our new blue jeans used to smell the first month or so. That's the smell.

The image above shows the two pieces of cotton yardage I dyed. One was dipped twice, the other only once. It's pretty obvious which is which.

Just love the texture that was created on this cotton yardage. Must do more!

I'll be showing you more of my results next time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Indigo Dyeing Continued

Here you can see two pieces of fabric on the grass. The one further away has just come out of the vat. The one closer came out a bit earlier. It is really fun watching the colors change before your eyes!

I dyed a number of T shirts, jackets, and scarves. I placed them on plastic lids in the sunshine to oxidize. I had to keep moving the fabric around to expose pleated areas, etc. so everything could oxidize.
As the fabric came out of the vat, it was green, gradually shifting to a nice dark blue.

Even on the second or third dip in the vat - the fabric would look green when it came out . . .even though it would be dark blue going in. Interesting!

I hung everything out on the clothesline to dry. Apparently the dye fixes better if it is fully dry when you do the washout. It got into the 90's today, so things should dry quickly.

The pale blue fabric only went into the vat once. The loosely woven wraps went in twice, and three times. The jackets went in two or three times.
It is so hard to wait . . . but I know I really need to delay handling these fabrics any more until they are fully dry. Then I will remove the ties and do a wash out. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Indigo Dyeing

I've had indigo dyeing on my mind for a number of years.
Finally! I was able to do it!

I wanted to do some garment dyeing, so I created several Bog Coats - such as this one above. A super simple pattern to make - from a single piece of fabric. I added patch pockets. The one in the picture is made of cotton, but I also made a couple in silk.
These were manipulated shibori style prior to dyeing to create visual interest.

I used the instructions for pre-reduced indigo from Earth Guild at
I'd ordered the pre-reduced indigo and Sodium Hydrosulfite from Shibori Dragon.
I also referred to "A Handbook of Indigo Dyeing" by Vivien Prideaux, published by Search Press.

The Earth Guild / Jacquard recipe was super easy to follow and worked perfectly in the 5 gallon bucket I wanted to use. Apparently, this will keep for quite a long time if it is properly maintained! Fortunately, I also have instructions for maintaining the vat.
So, in the picture above, you can see the stirring process after all ingredients were added to the vat. Below - see the "flower" in the center. This is skimmed off the surface before you start dyeing.

You can see that the liquid is clear yellowish green, but the surface is dark blue/indigo with a coppery metallic sheen. Beautiful!

The fabric looks pale yellow green when it is first removed from the vat.

Different shades of green - depending on the fabric.

I'll continue on about indigo dyeing in the next post.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Leaf Beetles

This spring I planted 5 small aspen trees in the front, where they should shade the big western facing windows from summer heat when they grow tall enough.
These trees are not supposed to attract deer, but they have been eating off all the lower leaves, anyway.

This morning, I discovered these poor baby trees are also being attacked from the top! I looked these beetles up and learned they are specific to cottonwood and aspen trees. I checked out our big old cottonwood tree and found them chewing away there, too.

Since I am sensitive to insecticides, I am going to just try picking these beetles off the leaves this time. There might be something organic I can do to remove them, but for now, I can reach the top of the trees, and they are small, so I will try to do it manually.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mystery Thistle

I do not recognize this plant that is growing at the edge of my wildflower patch.

I was ready to pull it up as a weed several weeks ago when I saw the start of a flower and decided to leave it to see what it would become.

So thorny, I think it must be some kind of thistle, but I can't find it in any of my flower books.

I keep checking to see if it is going to put out some petals . . .
or some color other than green.

I know I should probably pull these plants before they go to seed and cover the place with stickery plants . . .

But the shape of this plant intrigues me.

I just love the imagery created by these plants. Watch for this in some future art!

PS. I did some online research online and I am quite sure this plant is a teasel. I expect it was mixed in with the wildflower seeds. This is an invasive plant originally from Europe, where the spiny heads were dried and used to comb wool prior to spinning. According to my information - it is only as far west as Michigan. NOT! One seed head makes thousands of seeds. However, it is a favorite food of Goldfinches, thus the dilemma. Should I pull it up before it flowers and goes to seed or let it go (I understand the flowers are purple . . . . so tempting)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pine Siskin

A Fledgling?
I noticed this little bird sitting quietly in my flower bed the other day.

I just could not resist the opportunity to take some really close up pictures of this little bird.

I am thinking these are mostly young birds just learning to fly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Fingerpainted Gelatin Prints

I love this one - don't you? This is the first print (above).
Second print is shown below. I got 4 prints off this one, also.

This is a good example of the beauty of the irregular edge of the print against the stark white fabric - looks like a mat on a painting, sort of. Notice, also, how the gelatin has started to break down, giving more texture to the print - in addition to the details left by my fingers on the paint. I am going to have fun with this one!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gelatin Plate Fingerpaint Monoprints

Here are two consecutive prints from the same plate onto the same piece of fabric.

And the tree . . . looking very fingerpainted, but with the right stitching and embellishments - should be stunning. Yes?

This particular print was done with fingers and paintbrush. I used a paintbrush to get the grass texture on the ground, but the sky was painted with fingers.