Sunday, 22 May 2011

Ikat dying at home.

After such an inspirational day at Mary Restieaux and having been introduced to the wonderful world of Ikat dying, I decided that I would use the technique in my current project. I set up a dye workshop in my chaotic halls of residence kitchen and with 5 bowls of different colour dye bubbling on the hob, I began the dip dye process. I decided to dye ecru silk 2/60. I chose silk because I think it can create such a luxurious and rich looking fabric which would be ideal for the high end interiors market. However, on reflection I should have probably used a much thicker thread as this would have displayed the ikat pattern far clearer as opposed to being drowned out by the vibrant stripes of my colourful warp. Some of the yarns dyed were to be used for giant wrappings! It was fun to see the scale of my colour palette really exaggerated.

I initially wrapped the yarn around my A2 card to get the correct circumference so that the undyed ikat stripes would line up. I then tied clear polythene bags and string around selected sections of the yarn to act as the resist before dip-dying. When dry, I wound the hanks onto cheeses. I believe these look like beautiful creations in their own right!

These were then wrapped around mountboard in stripes alternating with block colour threads.

Below is an image of some of my work presented for assessment. My giant wrappings are on view in the background and attracted a lot of admiration from my uni friends who realize the extent of time and patience needed to complete them!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Oaxaca textiles

Beautifully colourful textiles from Oaxaca, Mexico to help inspire my weave....

Monday, 9 May 2011

Garden of Eden

It seems that the whole world has gone garden mad! It has even hit the fashion industry with Monique Lhuillier's S/S collection based on the theme 'Garden of Eden'. The theme of 'Garden' really does offer endless scope and ability to take your work in any direction. I however have chosen to explore the tropical offerings of botanical gardens such as the National Botanic Garden of Wales and Kew Gardens. Bright, exotic colours are perfect for interiors and a nice break from all the dull beiges and taupes that have adorned our houses for the past few years.

Making a warp

Today was very intense. We learnt the process of making our own warp. Initially figuring out all the technical ends per inch detail and then constructing the warp on a warping mill. We then had to start the long process of threading up a loom. It was very physical and far more complex than I had ever imagined. And I never realised how useful my GCSE maths would be for a textile degree! Despite this it was such an interesting and exciting day. Knowing and being able to complete the whole process from start to finish is extremely gratifying I can't wait to start weaving and designing for our interiors project.

Summer is finally here!

There's nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than stroll through the fragrant delights of Columbia Road Flower Market. This Sunday was particularly packed, owing to the glorious weather and impressive collection of flora. The special thing about Columbia Road are the market vendors- a proper taste of Hackney. Also every time I visit I always spot a new type of plant or flower I have never seen before. I bought a bunch this week of these really bizzare looking flowers below. I have no idea of their variety but was struck by their unusual curly structure, furry touch and vivid colours. And what a bargain at only £4!

Back to life drawing....

After a very long break, Life Drawing began again tonight. I was debating whether to go or not. There was a good exhibition ending today at the Saatchi gallery but figured that by the time I had finished at uni I would have barely any time to look around. I knew life drawing would be tough after such a long break and this coupled with a new tutor (who only allowed long 30 or 45 minute poses rather than the quick 5/10 minute ones) and all poses being lying ones, I certainly had my work cut out!

Ok so my proportions and angles may all be a bit obscure but I do like the strong, defined nature of my shapes. I feel that as I progress with life drawing I am developing a style of my own which I am comfortable and confident using.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Experimenting with Ikat

Thursday was a real treat. It had been arranged for us weavers to visit the home of Mary Restieaux, an established ikat weaver, dyer and colour specialist. Although the ikat technique was relatively unknown to me, during my research for my current Garden project I have become aware of its current popularity in interiors. Ikat is a form of resist dying and shares many similarities to tie dying.

Mary's style was particularly defined and eye catching. It gave me a whole new perception of the weave process as the pattern and colour of her weaves are created through the warp threads. The weft threads play significantly less importance as regards to patterning and are so fine they are barely visible. Her work is extraordinarily detailed and precise and her works are based on 200 ends per inch or more. Mary has had a wealth of experience not only in he world of interiors but equally in the fashion world which showed me that weave really does offer a wide variety of career paths. Colour was a particular specialism of Mary's and it is easy to understand how she was chosen to work with established fashion giants such as Herve Ledger and Missoni to create new colour palettes each season.

The day certainly inspired me to embrace spring colours in all their glory within my collection of weaves. Another interesting piece of advice was the use of black in work to offset colours and give them added vibrancy which is something I had not thought of doing before.

The morning was spent learn about her technique, extremely organised working process (one would have to be working from home) and her countless achievements. In the afternoon we were allowed to use her dye lab to experiment with the ikat technique on silk yarns which were then translated into beautiful wrappings. The results were incredible! A thoroughly enriching day was had with lots of inspiration and further exploration.

Here are the three wrappings I completed-

Friday, 6 May 2011

Natural dyeing at home.

Natural dying has been a topic at the forefront of my mind since starting my textile degree at Chelsea. I've heard so many conflicting arguments about it's efficiency regarding strength of colour and its debatable environmental credentials. So, this Easter I finally decided to venture into the world of natural dying myself (and with considerable help from my handy assistant- thanks mum!) so that I could see whether it is a technique I would like to further explore.

I managed to get hold of several natural dye powders form a small company at Wonderwool Wales, Pure Tinctoria. I chose to use a spectrum of different colours and dyed muslin, cotton, silk and alpaca wool yarn (also bought from Wonderwool Wales). I used a technique using the microwave which is certainly less time consuming that the traditional boiling method but I am unsure whether it achieves a colour as consistent. In order to mordant the cotton and muslin I boiled them for 45 minutes with washing powder and did the same with the silk and alpaca wool , only substituting the washing powder for alum and cream of tartar. By using the microwave the process took far less time than I had initially anticipated. It is evident that the silk and alpaca yarn took to the dye much better than the other fabrics, for example the vivid annatto orange seen below.


*Acacia Gum - Chestnut brown

*Natural Indigo - Slate blue

*Red Lac - Deep fushia red

*Purple Lac - Maroon

*Madder - Rust orange

*Annatto - Vivid orange

*Dhak - Mustard yellow

Perhaps slightly more unpredictable than acid dyes, I nevertheless enjoyed experimenting with these natural dyes and believe they will be useful in future work.