Patterning of fabrics using cold water dyes and fabric paints
Collect patterned fabrics
Images 1 and 2 show commercially produced black and white patterned fabrics I collected for this module. The first set are fairly standard cotton fabrics from Lincraft; the second set are more interesting, and came from the Kimono House in the Nicholas Building, in Melbourne. I’m not sure whether some of the Japanese fabrics might be a bit too cream (rather than white), so will need to decide later whether to use them or not.
Shibori methods using dye
For this exercise I used white cotton homespun from Lincraft which I washed and ironed prior to preparing the shibori samples. I used Jacquard Procion MX dye from The Thread Studio which I mixed at double the strength suggested in Jacquard’s downloadable instructions. I used soda ash instead of washing soda and mixed the soda ash and salt in the ratio recommended in the instructions. Images 3 to 8 show the shibori samples tied, wrapped or stitched, as relevant. I used buttonhole thread for the machine stitched samples and No. 12 pearl cotton for hand-stitching, to ensure that threads would not break when I pulled them taut. The descriptions of the various forms of shibori are from notes from a Kath Wilkinson workshop I attended a few years ago at the Embroiderers’ Guild, and from Shibori: The Art of Fabric Tying, Folding, Pleating and Dyeing, by Elfriede Moeller, as well as from my course notes.
Image 3 – Sample A: Mokume Shibori: Straight parallel lines machine-stitched through a single fabric thickness with varying distance between rows
Image 4 – Sample B: Diagonal parallel lines of three-step zigzag machine stitched through a single fabric thickness
Image 5 – Samples C, D, E and F: Different forms of Tritik Shibori: hand-stitched resists
Sample C is Karamatsu Shibori or Japanese Larch – concentric half-circles stitched in running stitch using a continuous thread, through two layers on a fold in the fabric. Sample D is Maki-nui Shibori – folds are made along the length of the fabric and whipstitched. Sample E is Katano Shibori – the fabric is folded in an accordion fold and a pattern is sinuous lines is stitched through the layers using a continuous thread. Sample F is similar to Sample E, but with two parallel zigzag lines stitched in long running stitches using a continuous thread.
Image 6 – Samples G and H: Arashi shibori
Sample G was accordion pleated along the length of the fabric, twisted then wrapped around a dowel and secured at both ends with rubber bands. Sample H is similar but was pleated on the diagonal.
Image 7 – Samples I and J: Tatsumaki Arashi
Sample I was wrapped around the pole on the diagonal, wound round tightly with string at intervals of about 2 cm and compressed. Sample J was similar, but wrapped on the straight grain.
Image 8 – Samples K to T: A variety of other resists
Samples K and L are Itajime Shibori, made by making a two-way accordion fold in the fabric (along first, then across) and sandwiching the squarish packet between two (in this case) 50 mm ceramic tiles. Sample K has the tiles aligned with the straight grain; in Sample L the tiles are on the diagonal. The packages are then wrapped tightly with rubber bands. Samples M and N are similarly accordion-folded; bulldog clips are used as a resist (in Sample M, across the ends; in Sample N, diagonally across the four corners). Sample O is described in Elfriede Moeller’s book as a Mandala. The fabric is folded radially multiple times until there is an acute angle at the centre of the fabric. The fabric is then folded in a ‘witch’s ladder’, the narrow end wrapped around and the whole package secured with rubber bands. Sample P has a number of points drawn out and bound with string; Sample Q is a double accordion fold on the diagonal of the fabric, bound at the centre with string; Sample R used some out-of-date dried borlotti beans as a resist, tied closely into the fabric with rubber bands. Sample S is Tesuji Shibori: regular accordion folds tied into the fabric with rubber bands, and Sample T is similar, but the folded fabric has been twisted and tied at intervals with string.
Images 9 to 28 show the results. For most of these samples, I dabbed dye on with a sponge brush to avoid flooding the fabric. Samples K, L, M, N, Q and R were dipped.
Image 9 – Sample A
Image 10 – Sample B
Image 11 – Sample C
Image 12 – Sample D
Image 13 – Sample E
Image 14 – Sample F
Image 15 – Sample G
Image 16 – Sample H
Image 17 – Sample I
Image 18 – Sample J
Image 19 – Sample K
Image 20 – Sample L
Image 21 – Sample M
Image 22 – Sample N
Image 23 – Sample O
Image 24 – Sample P
Image 25 – Sample Q
Image 26 – Sample R
Image 27 – Sample S
Image 28 – Sample T
These shibori samples are a bit bigger than A4 size. I decided to make some up to about 45 cm long so I could cut some long strips to decorate with machine stitch.
Because I didn’t leave the shibori samples in contact with the dye bath for any length of time, the samples have come out as a darkish grey instead of black. I also dyed a larger piece of white fabric plain black, and left the fabric in the dye bath for the rest of the day. The plain fabric has come out a dense black. I haven’t included an image because there is nothing much to see.
Monoprinting using fabric paints
As the course notes suggest, this is exactly the same as monoprinting on paper, and I used some of the same techniques as in Chapter 5. I used my Gelli Plate again, but this time used Jacquard Fabric Paint, undiluted. In accordance with the instructions, I allowed the prints to dry, then ironed them on the back to set the paint. Images 29 to 37 show the prints.
Image 29 – net onion bag pressed into paint on plate – looks quite scaly
Image 30 – bubble wrap pressed into paint on plate and dragged slightly (I think at this point I’ll give up hope of bubble wrap ever looking like anything other than bubble wrap)
Image 31 – small, round wad of muslin daubed onto plate and dragged to imitate feather pattern
Image 32 – colour shaper used to form cone snail ‘mountains’ in paint; muslin dabbed on to imitate textile patter on shell
Image 33 – serrated cardboard ‘brush’ used to form stripes; colour shaper used to form round ‘pearls’ from guinea fowl feathers
Image 34 – end of square piece of sponge dragged through paint to form scale pattern
Image 35 – colour shaper used to draw edges of dragon scales; serrated cardboard brush used for shading on scales
Image 36 – my favourite: serrated cardboard brush used with a piece of cardboard edge on to produce chook feather pattern
Image 37 – serrated cardboard brush and cotton bud used to make a cone shell pattern.
A couple of other things I wanted to try …
I hadn’t had enough of this chapter so decided to try a couple of other techniques. First, I was intrigued by the bleach drawings in Chapter 5, so decided to try bleach (both ordinary chlorine bleach and lavatory cleaner again) on fabric. The lavatory cleaner was more successful than the dissolved bleach tablets. I used commercially-dyed black cotton homespun fabric. The results are shown in images 38 and 39. I really like these; particularly the diffused shapes which remind me of city lights seen through half-closed eyes.
Image 38 – dots and lines of a cone shell pattern made with a cotton bud dipped in lavatory cleaner
Image 39 – feather markings using a serrated brush made from a butter container lid dipped in lavatory cleaner
Then, I wanted to try some heliographic dye I had bought from the Thread Studio. The dye is Kraftkolour Sun Dye, and I mixed it in a 1:1 ratio with water, as the instructions recommend, and applied it with a foam brush. I pinned the fabric to polystyrene foam broccoli boxes before painting on the dye, added resists (see below), then exposed the fabric in full sunlight for about two hours (see image 40 for set-up).
Image 40 – foam boxes set up to print
Image 41 – sun print of mesh onion bag
Image 42 – sun print of muslin
Image 43 – sun print of feathers (bits of the feathers stick to the paint and are difficult to remove, even after washing)
Image 44 – sun print of torn paper strips perforated with hole-punch, and hole-punch confetti. This one is intended to represent stylised water dragon markings.
The results are quite subtle – there’s not a great deal of contrast in the patterns, but they could be useful if I want darker tone with pattern.