Dyeing with Turmeric Shibori Style

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Hello Sunshine! I have been wanting to try turmeric dyeing for a while now. Some of the examples that I have seen online are really beautiful. Much like the spice itself, the yellow is super saturated and gorgeous like bright golden sunshine! I love saturated colors so this is right up my alley. I figured that a pillow case would be a good starting point. To add a design element I will be doing a stitch resist shibori technique.

Materials:

  • silk pillow case – animal or protein fibers such as silk and wool will dye brighter than plant based fibers such as cotton or hemp, but any natural fiber will work
  • something round – I’m using a ceramic plate
  • washable marker or a vanishing fabric marker
  • artificial sinew, embroidery floss, or dental floss
  • large pot – a dedicated dye pot is recommended
  • 8 cups of water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of turmeric – I bought a jar at Trader Joes for $1.99
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of alum – this is a mordant or fixative, I buy mine here 

 Tutorial

Step 1: Create a simple design on your fabric. I traced around a plate with a washable marker

Step 2: Stitch around your circle as shown below. I’m using artificial sinew because it is waterproof and I’m hoping it will give me nice clean lines. Make certain that your sinew (or whatever) is long enough to go around your circle and that you are left with a long tail (this will make more sense in a minute). In order to accommodate the sinew, I’m using a largish embroidery needle. If you do the same, you will notice that the needle will make small holes in your fabric. Don’t freak out, it will be fine as long as you’re okay with the holes. 🙂 If you are not okay with them then use a smaller needle and dental floss or embroidery floss. I’m going through both layers of the pillow case at once but you could certainly limit your stitching to the top layer if you want the back of your pillow to be a solid color. I’m also weaving the needle through multiple times with each pass (which makes this process go so much faster!).

Step 3: Now pull your sinew tightly making sure to pull the fabric in the center of your circle straight up.

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Step 4: Take your tail (the one you left earlier) and bind the center of your circle with your sinew. I want a lot of white so I’m binding quite a bit of the fabric. I would also like a solid colored circle in the center so I’m leaving a bit of fabric at the top.

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Step 5: Put four cups of water into your pot with one heaping tablespoon of alum and four heaping tablespoons of turmeric. Turn your heat to high and give your powders a few minutes to dissolve.

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Step 6: Wet your fabric (wet fabric accepts dye more evenly) and put it in your pot. Bring to a simmer and turn your heat down. For a nice medium yellow set your timer for one hour.

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Step 7: Once you are happy with the color of your fabric take it out, give it a rinse, untie your sinew, rinse again until your water runs clear and let it air dry. Iron to get out any wrinkles and to increase the colorfastness of your fabric.

I wanted my color to be really saturated so after one hour was up, I turned off the heat and let it sit for about four hours.

Please note that turmeric can be a fugitive dye meaning that it may fade over time and/or with exposure to the sun. The alum and the heat setting will help to prevent this from happening. Additionally, protein fibers like silk and wool accept the dye more readily and are more colorfast than plant based fibers.

Here’s the finished product. The yellow is SO gorgeous and happy! The dye pot is calling me to throw something else in…perhaps a scarf this time?

If you would rather buy than DIY go here.

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Rust Dyeing Shibori Style

In my never ending quest to find new and interesting techniques, I recently stumbled upon rust dyeing. I was intrigued by what I saw so I decided to give it a go!

This is a fairly easy technique and since rust or iron oxide is sometimes used as a mordant in and of itself, no mordant is required (mordants “fix” or make dye permanent). Rust will dye virtually any fiber, however, natural fibers like silk or cotton work best.

First off, I had to get some rusty stuff. Given the fact that I live in sunny (drought stricken) Southern California, I simply didn’t have any rusty stuff laying around. So, option one was to scrounge around my garage for some metal objects and then rust them myself. There are various ways to do this, but the best method seems to be a combo of vinegar and salt and time. I wanted instant rust, so I moved on to option two…buy some rusty junk online. Yes, people actually sell rusty junk online! And people (eh…me) actually pay good money for that rusty junk! Here’s a sample of what I got:

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The first technique that I’m going to try involves using rusty screws that are bound to the fabric and then left to sit for a day or two. I saw an example on another blog and I loved how it turned out.

My research also revealed that if you overdye the rust dyed fabric with black tea you get a a darker or “saddened” result. This is largely due to the tannins in the tea which act as modifiers. Modifiers shift the pH levels and subsequently the color palate. Since I prefer blacks and grays to rusty brown, I will be trying this as well. So come along as I venture into two new (to me) techniques!

Materials:

  • natural fiber – I’m using an 8mm silk Habotai scarf that is 14 x 72 inches
  • vinegar
  • rusty screws
  • artificial sinew, string, or dental floss
  • salt
  • Earl Grey tea (loose leaf) – optional

Tutorial

Step 1: Wet your fabric in a vinegar bath. The vinegar significantly speeds up the rusting process, so don’t skip this step! Next, tie on your rusty screws. I used artificial sinew (available at Dharma Trading) but you could use string or dental floss. I wound the sinew around one screw at each end of the scarf and I spaced three more screws somewhat equally along the length of the scarf. I then gave it another little soak in some vinegar.

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I can already see the rust transferring on the heads of the screws. 🙂

Step 2: Next simply place your rusty bundle in a plastic bag, seal it well and let it sit. From what I have read the “sit time” needs to be a minimum of 24 hours and can be as long as 4 or 5 days. I’m very impatient, so this may be difficult. Basically, you want to wait as long as it takes to achieve whatever color you prefer while bearing in mind that the color looks darker when wet. I prefer deeper more intense colors to pale colors so this may take a while…

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It’s been 24 hours. Not ready yet!
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48 hours, looks good!

Step 3: Take your fabric out of the bag and let it sit for another 24 hours to “cure.”

It hasn’t been 24 hours, but I couldn’t wait any longer so I untied the screws and took a look. So pretty!!!

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I love how the fabric formed to the shape of the screws and the print is gorgeous! I promise I won’t touch it again until it hits the 24 hour mark!

Step 4: Iron the fabric to set the color. I used paper towels to protect my ironing board and more paper towels to protect my iron. Right now I’m loving the color so I’m on the fence about tea dyeing.

Step 5: If you decided not to tea dye then you will need to stop the rust from continuing to oxidize your fabric. Mix one gallon of hot water with one tablespoon of salt and soak your fabric for 15-20 minutes. In addition to stopping the rust, this will also help to fix your color.

Step 7: This is optional people! I eventually got off the fence and decided to go for it. Here’s my scarf soaking in a bath of salt and Earl Grey. It’s difficult to see here, but the color appears to have shifted towards the grey tones.

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Step 8: Wash your garment in a mild detergent or shampoo (shampoo actually works great on silk because it is a protein fiber just like hair). I generally use a professional textile detergent called Synthrapol (available at Dharma Trading). Hang to dry and iron.

Here’s the finished product. What do you think???

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Hmmmmm, well it definitely turned grey but the rusty brown stayed sort of rusty?! I wish the deep brown that was there when I untied the screws had stayed put. Otherwise, I think it’s really beautiful. Unfortunately, I noticed two very small holes at the center of two of the circles (where the heads of the screws were). I’m not sure why this happened since there was nothing sharp in these areas. Perhaps the rust actually ate little holes in the fabric? I think I may take another swing at this one at some point soon. Thanks for taking this journey with me! Please feel free to comment!

 

 

 

 

Reverse Shibori Tutorial

Okay, so this post will get you going with some basic shibori techniques. If you want a detailed explanation of shibori go here. But, and this is a big but, you don’t have to know what shibori is or how to do it in order to make this scarf!

I primarily utilize itajime shibori in my work. This particular type of shibori focuses on using resists to create designs. Resists can be rubber bands, string, or shapes (wood or acrylic) to name a few. Generally, the fabric is folded first which is a “resist” in and of itself and then a “physical” resist of some sort is applied before the fabric enters the dye bath. Reverse shibori differs from traditional shibori in that color is removed rather than added.

*Please note, since this is a reverse process you will need to start off with a dark colored scarf. The color that your scarf discharges to will vary depending upon the original color and the dye used. Synthetic fabrics will NOT discharge (ask me how I know), so please use a natural fiber like cotton or linen. Also, you cannot discharge silk using this particular technique (again, ask me how I know). 🙂 Obviously you can purchase a dark colored scarf, or better yet, use one that you already own or dye one yourself!

Materials:

  • dark colored natural fabric (cotton, linen, wool)
  • 2 acrylic or wood shapes (same shape)
  • rubber bands
  • bleach
  • hydrogen peroxide or bleach stop

Tutorial

Step 1: Fold your fabric in half end to end. In this case I’m using a black linen scarf with fringe, so the fringe ends will be together. This will ensure that the pattern on the ends of the scarf matches. Then follow the diagram below (just ignore the “sleeves” as the tutorial that this image came from is for a dress).

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This diagram is from Paula Birth’s site – which is an awesome resource for dyers!

Step 2: Apply your resist(s). I applied oval acrylic shapes to both sides of my triangular stack and then I secured it with rubber bands.

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Step 3: There are several options for discharging the color in your fabric and different fabric will accept the discharging agent in various ways. This is were trial and error come into play. This fabric discharged extremely fast! So much so that my first effort resulted in a scarf that was almost completely discharged. 😦 The lovely thing is that you can generally fix a dyeing error. In this case, I refolded my scarf, applied my resists and dyed in it in an indigo vat. And I’m happy to report that it came out beautifully.

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But I digress..I’m using 100% bleach to discharge this scarf. This is mostly because I’m impatient and bleach is one of the strongest discharging agents. I used a very small amount of bleach (given my prior error) and then I placed each side of my triangle in the solution until I liked the color. For this fabric, it was literally a matter of a few minutes. But there have been instances where I have left a scarf in bleach for hours before I achieved the color that I wanted.

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Step 4:  Take your fabric out of the solution and give it a good rinse in cold water. Then you will need to stop the chemical reaction of the bleach by soaking the fabric in hydrogen peroxide or bleach stop (available at Dharma Trading – my “go to” site for supplies). Soak for 5 to 10 minutes.

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Step 5:  Undo your bundle and soak the fabric in the hydrogen peroxide solution for another 15-30 minutes. Then rinse, rinse, rinse until your water runs clear. I always give my garment a wash in Synthrapol at this point (which is a professional textile detergent available through Dharma), but any mild detergent is fine!

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Step 6:  Voila! This is the finished piece. It reminds me of African Kuba cloth. So pretty!

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