Sunday, 24 November 2013

Instagram Between the Cracks Project

As my first final year project reaches its end (tomorrow to be exact), I thought I'd shape some of my instagram snaps from along the way.

This project has been stressful, to say the least, getting back into education after a year of working has been hard for all.
I challenged myself further by attempting something I have never done before, experimenting with natural dyes. It has been fun, although limiting at times and is something I would like to take further, combining it with contemporary techniques.
Printing with the dyes has certainly been challenging as the colours always came out paler than hoped but luckily worked well with the rest of my samples!
Juggling three projects at once has been interesting and in someways I think I made it harder for myself by choosing the same starting point for all three as at one point it was hard to tell the difference between the three. At that point I split my sketchbook into three and made a concious effort to take different directions. The results are pleasing, my favourite being my menswear collection - accessories and floral suiting.
My least successful is hard to say, I have less work for one but it works together well and I could see it fitting the market. My womenswear, possibly has the most samples but I found not everything fit together, so I had to go back and pull it together with some samples that took elements and blended them.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Happy Accidents.

Working with naturals dyes has thrown up a lot of happy accidents, whether it be an unexpected colour or pattern appearing on the fabric.

I found when I mordanted things in a jar or rusty water with scrap metal that anywhere the metal or dye stuffs touched the fabric, the dye would take on a different shade in this area… I don't know if anyone see finds this with natural dyes?

other happy accidents (although some would argue not) that come out of the dye room are contaminations, where other dyes or inks get on your sample in some way when drying or washing the fabric in the sinks. For this project these could work quite well, one sample in particular picked up brown coloration when drying the dyed, pleated fabric. It gave a lovely grungey look to a fabric that may otherwise have looked to feminine for men's shirting.

With the end of the project in sight, I realise this unpredictability has played a huge part in my designs, it is the unexpected elements that sometimes add extra depth and interest to my pieces and what keep dyeing with natural dyes feeling fresh.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Direct Print with Natural Dye

The natural next step for this project was to try printing with the dyes, after all, I am a printer.
My first attempt was simple, with elderberry dye exhaust and cornflower mixed to a thick paste consistency and pulled through a screen. This was quite successful, it survived being steamed and washed although the colour greyed slightly in this process. The sample can be seen below (turmeric dyed linen with elderberry starch print). I later printed a leaf design over one of my acorn shibori silks which really well and had a nice handle to it.
 After more research and speaking to an ex-student who direct printed with indigo, I decided to give gum tragacanth a go. This was soaked for a week before blending with concentrated madder dye solution and alum. The print from this was fairly successful, if not a little paler than I had hoped. Definitely a technique that may come in handy in the future, I used the same process to create indigo prints, however I used a cup of dye straight from the vat (un-concentrated) so when printed over tea dyed fabric gave a very pale result. I would like to work on getting really strong colour like the example from the ex-student but for now I need to move forward onto the next technique.
A lot of my research mentioned manutex as a carrier when printing with natural dye, so this was my next step. The process was much the same as with the gum trag. and I again used madder.
It was harder to get a thicker consistency with this one as manutex is very runny but I think it gave an interesting effect, as you can see above on this photo print of paving. The downside to using manutex was that I found the results really effecting the handle of the fabric, even after steaming. The silk became crispy.

Of these methods, surprisingly my favourite was the corn flour method... although this was one the one I thought would give the poorest results.
The gum tragacanth worked well but I think I need to refine my methods and research more into getting bolder, bright colours.