The collection progresses and, for all intents and purposes, summer has arrived in the humid S.E.U.S. Indigo continues to be part of my work and was the focus of my last post. In addition to indigo-dyed cloth, Petal-Una’s seasonal collections will now also feature cloth painted and printed with naturally sourced colorants. The color range with natural dyes is extensive and I am delighted to finally be adding them into my studio practice! The following are selected images of pieces created so far. Colorants used in these pieces: (top to bottom/left to right): Purples: Cochineal/Logwood; Pinks: Madder/Cochineal/Osage; Sage: Pomegranate/Iron/Indigo; Pomegranate/Iron/Madder. Each piece is one-of-a-kind: each batch of cloth is small, yielding one to two garments at most; each piece created one at a time with a commitment to the pursuit of zero waste through various recovery techniques. I am thrilled to report that all of the pieces in the images below have sold (!) but I will continue to create more in the months to come, including a new group/new fabrics emerging with this Fall’s collection. All of these pieces are of hemp and cotton with external overlock detail.
I have been printing, painting and dyeing cloth and fiber for over 20 years. For half of those years I have been enriching cloth for wearable work, using a variety of substances available to the small studio. This year I am dedicating more attention to cloth enrichment with natural colorants. One of those colorants is indigo. My pieces are generally sewn first and then immersed. I work from white (or white cloth which I have printed with other natural dyes). There numerous resources on-line and in book form about Indigo but here is a synopsis of the process:
Indigo is a curious dye in that oxygen must be reduced from the liquor before the color can be rendered on the cloth. I work with an organic indigo vat, meaning that oxygen reduction is facilitated through plant material only (in this case henna). The indigo color will not “develop” on the cloth without re-oxygenation of the immersed cloth. Put another way, the dye liquor is yellowish in hue; when the cloth is removed, it immediately begins to turn blue. The vat is a living complex which changes character with the fluctuation of temperature, pH, sugars present, and the amount of indigo itself in reduction. The depth of blue will vary depending on indigo present in the vat and the nature of the cloth or fiber being immersed. It is a pretty magical substance, derived from the leaves of a number of different plant species which all have these particular characteristics! In addition to the gallery images elsewhere on this site, here are some more images to help flesh out the process: left to right/top to bottom – liquified indigo before being added to the vat, henna (“food” for the vat); stirring the vat; the “flower”; lovely Paris, a past intern reviving the vat; the yellow-ish dye liquor, various blues, including pieces made so far this year.
A few years back I studied briefly with hand-weaver and natural dye expert Catharine Ellis with whom I learned how to enrich cloth with plant- and insect-based colorants. This Spring I am finally introducing indigo-dyed cloth (as well as other natural colorants – post coming soon) into my wearable collections! Pieces include both straight immersion (solid indigo) and cloth pre-printed with natural dyes then overdyed with indigo. I’ll have more information in the future about all of the colorants I use in my work. Meanwhile, here are some pieces from that group. Fabrics: Linen, Hemp Knit, Cotton Net and Cotton Gauze (click on any image to open slideshow).
Here are the new linen gauze looks. The pieces are featured with other finished works thus far, including naturally dyed hemp knits and other linens. To see selections from the full lookbook (Spring 2018, Wave I), click here.