A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Friday, September 30, 2016

the clothesline

A pdf of instructions for indigo and woad can be found here: Indigo and Woad.

Read more about new discoveries of the oldest indigo textiles here.

An excerpt:

"The discovery of indigo dye more than 6,000 years ago couldn't have been mere happenstance. Indigo dye is quite complicated to make, Splistoser said. Many dyes are made from flowers and require simply boiling the blossoms in water to extract the color, he said."

"'Indigo does not work that way,' he said. 'If you put the leaves — and it's leaves, not flowers — in water, nothing will happen.'"

"Instead, the leaves have to be fermented. Then, the fermented mixture must be aerated so that a solid compound falls out of the mixture to the bottom of the tub. This mixture can be taken, dried and stored. To reconstitute it requires an alkaline substance, often urine, which makes white indigo, a water-soluble compound. Yarn dipped in white indigo will turn yellow, green and finally blue, 'like magic,' Splitstoser said."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

clay resist and indigo

Diane here with more projects from the Indigo and Weaving Workshop at Arrowmont last October. 

Besides the ikat dyeing and weaving, we also had some fabric and clay to play with.  A slurry of these three ingredients was mixed up. 

I used the wooden stamp above to create this simple design.  It didn't carry much clay to the fabric. 

So the result was pretty light after one dip in the indigo.  Of course, the vat could have been weakened by use as well, it was a busy workshop. 

Since I wanted more definition, I coated the entire squares of design with more clay and did a second indigo dip.
After a thorough wash out of both layers of the clay resist, it was more interesting.  Of course, the following photo was taken very quickly after the dip in indigo.  No way to keep that look other than in a photo!

Still more down time waiting for my turn weaving on the group warp in the back of the weaving studio.  I thought we would get a sample of it, but I must've have missed out on that. 

So back to the clay.  This time with a brush, applying the clay very heavily.  So much clay that the fabric curled up as it dried. 

Contrast was much better.  The indigo did not creep into the design from the other side of the cloth since the clay penetrated better with the brushing technique.

Other students had some good results, too. 

I've enjoyed sharing my experiences with indigo and hope to hear about what you would do if you had a vat of indigo living at your house.

Monday, September 26, 2016

more stitched and clamped resist

A workshop in the Guild House at the end of August.  I cannot tell a lie, I never pass up an indigo vat - it's always more fun to dip with friends. 
Connie was in charge of the two vats, one was made the old fashioned way and one with pre-reduced indigo crystals.  Both require that the vat is the right pH and the easiest time to do this is before adding in the blue indigo or you won't see the color accuratly on the indicator of pH stick.  Some pointers are so simple; why haven't I heard this before? 

In the kit of materials for the workshop, there was a crisp square of linen and I ironed an accordion fold and then made very long stitches through the center of the fold and pulled it up tight.  If you spritz the fabric with water, you can often pull up even tighter but this linen was resisting my efforts.  Crossing my fingers this will have some definition.  I used buttonhole twist doubled for the stitching.

Here is the bundle after the first dip in the indigo - still turning from that neon green to indigo blue.  Gotta capture it in photos because the green doesn't last. 

Here is the linen, finished and ironed.  A nice repeat that would be a cool background for embroidery.

An even quicker method is to use zip-ties for a resist.  They are plastic single-use fasteners you can find at the big box home improvement stores.  They come in wonderful colors, too. 
Once the fabric has been dipped in indigo and allowed to oxidize, you have to snip the plastic fastener to release it.  I hear there are reusable ones, but I haven't found them in stores yet.
Here's the way the zip-tied fabric turned out - fast and easy.

In every workshop there is at least one nugget of information that is memorable and worth the fare.  First it was test pH before adding indigo and then this one!  Double bonus in this workshop. Connie uses pony beads to begin her stitching lines.  Below you see them before she has pulled up the stitching and they are obviously reusable as you can see by their color. 

Below is one of her shibori dragonfly napkins...
... and she is demonstrating how easy it is to do by folding down the mid point of the body.  She draws her circles with water soluble pencil.  The wings are drawn and then stitched either by folding and using a running stitch or simply a running stitch along each side - she did both styles of stitching.

My husband has been cleaning out the garage lately and I scored these two instrument panel fronts that his company produced for an engineering firm.  They did a lot of panels and some were rejects for one reason or another.  They were cut using a CAD system.  I folded some canvas cloth and clamped it between two of the instrument panels matching the holes exactly. 

Here is it with some of the green glow still on it.  I had to refold and dip a second time to get all four squares with holes. 

I see reflections in a skyscraper window.  A little wavy; a little shadowy.  Again, I think some embroidery is in its future.

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.