On Wednesday I joined two friends from our SCAT art group (MJ and Janice) and traveled to Loomis, CA. to take a workshop at the Tin Thimble, called Nuno Felting and Botanical Dyeing . The Tin Thimble is inside the old High Hand Fruit Shed.
The first day we laid out the silk scarf on sheets of plastic and added a thin layer of wool roving and pieces of silk, yarn and other fabrics to it. White on white... for the moment.
So, here we are, pounding out all of aggressions and feeling great about it. Some of us got into it and did a few extra "WACKS." and we all totally understood.
We did a finally rinse with some vinegar and towel dried the scarf. Then we put the scarf in water with some Alum, which would be the mordant that would allow the fabric to accept the dye and leaf prints. Potassium aluminum sulfate is the best alum to use for craft dyers and artisans. It was all pretty scientific and magical at the same time.
Before lunch we picked out the leaves we wanted to use from a wonderful assortment of Eucalyptus that Sharon supplied. I had no idea that there were so many different Eucalyptus trees. Most smelled wonderful. We also made a Tea from old pipes and rusty nails that we would dip our leaves into when we laid them on the scarf.
Oh, lunch was good. We each ordered something from the High Hand Restaurant and shared it with each other. Good, good, good. Shrimp salad with goat cheese and pears, crab cakes, pizza and a chicken burger with some kind of delicious cheese on it. We ate all this while we waited for the mordant to ready the scarf for our leaves.
After lunch we each carefully laid out the leaves in the pattern that we wanted. They were all pretty amazing.
Then we dipped each leaf in the iron water and replaced them on the scarf.
All the fresh leaves accepted the iron water except this one. I was so sure that the leaf wouldn't "take" on the fabric, but our instructor Sharon told me not to worry and to use them anyway. She said Eucalyptus leaves have lots of natural dyes in them and would leave a good imprint. So I put them down in the middle of my scarf.
We had a choice of wrapping with an iron pipe or a copper pipe. she showed us the difference with examples of completed scarves.
The iron pipe would leave a darker space at one end and have more black on it. The Copper pipe would be lighter and have a browner tone. We wrapped our scarves and leaves, carefully, around the pipes and tied them as tight as we could possibly tie them with rubber bands and heavy twine.
You can see a leaf sticking out of mine, below.
They all went into a steam bath for one hour and into the tea of leaves overnight... I think. I'm a little lacking on this information, but Janice wrote it all down and is making us a copy. So I will know in a week or so if I goofed.
We left our bags, towels and "stuff" in the classroom and headed home.
This drive back to Jackson was almost two hours long. I was glad I didn't have to drive. "J" drove the winding country road home and I watched from the back seat to be sure she wasn't nodding off. She never did.
The second day I would be driving. I would go to bed early. Class would end at 2:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 on the second day. I knew that I could make the drive over and back because we would have beautiful, finished scarves and we would be all excited about the process... and I would drink lots of coffee before I drove home. We finished the first day in anticipation of seeing the rest of the dyeing process in the morning. Still... I kind of wished we had gotten a motel room there, near the workshop.
The dogs were glad to see me and get fed. The chickens were glad too... I think... hard to know with chickens. After dinner I crashed. I was in bed by 9:00 p.m. Unheard of.
Next time, I will write about the second day and all the excitement of unrolling the scarves.