Sunday, July 11, 2010

Natural Dyeing

It was another busy and productive day at the Guild yesterday. Sue had prepared an exciting variety of natural dye experiences for us. Natural dyeing is always a bit of a gamble as this pot demonstrates--it's a bucket of of Shiraz grapes: They had been slowly ripened on the vine, frozen, crushed, boiled, strained, crushed and strained again to release their rich wine colour. The dyepot was promising; the results were disappointing. We got muted light pinks on most of our samples. The tumeric, peach leaves and Eucalyptus pots were much more satisfying. You can imagine how the hall looked and smelled with all these concoctions simmering away in different parts of the room.

Initially the set-up looked very professional, with a row of electric heating elements across one end of the teaching area, all lined up with their respective ingredients. It was all too much for the old hall's wiring, though. There was a frantic and doubtful half hour while the safety switch repeatedly tripped, the pots wouldn't warm up and the phone system and other equipment rang and beeped their alarm at the unusual demand. Eventually compromise won the day: the ambitious array was dismantled and pots were relegated to the gas stove, back hallway and corner bench. That left the teaching table free for arranging and labelling our skeins and samples. We spent the rest of the day dashing between table, pots, buckets and kitchen sink. The Eucalyptus pot was the slowest and most surprising. There we were at the end of the day, distributing and bagging up our samples before going home; stretching tired limbs and waiting for the rich orange-brown colours to come out of the big boiler which we had filled six hours before with fresh green leaves.

Today, you guessed it, I'm rinsing. The Eucalyptus is pretty much done. I don't think a bit of residual smell will worry me at all there. The peach leaf samples are in the sink now. I'll leave the tumeric samples until last. I have no idea how long it will take for the smell of rich curry to dissipate; but the matching colour is worth it.

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