At the end of week 6

June 28, 2009

From the studio, week 6

There’s still colour on the trees!

This week has seen a lot of play and loom fixing. But first it started with another trip to Goulburn, firstly for coffee. I had been told about a cafe which had been there forever and was in the style of the old time cafe with plenty of atmosphere. So I went to the Parthenon, and yes it was like stepping back into another era. I sat in one of the booths and had coffee and cake. After which I collected my sewing machines. On the way I had collected another batch of leaves, this time from a different “silver dollar” for dyeing at a later date. I am still trying to get the red brown that I associate with that tree. I’ll put the leaves to one side till I have the appropriate item/s to dye.

The Parthenon Cafe in Goulburn

The three scarves from the previous week are finally finished… totally. They have much potential for another series, but next time I’ll be introducing a whole new colour way. I’ll get around to it eventually. There’s just too much other stuff I want to play with just now. I’ve put all the details of the scarves in the “weaving at Sturt” page.

Detail of the 3 scarves

After the Tuesday class I spent another afternoon fixing looms. It is now weaving beautifully. In fact I now have requests of: “Can you fix mine too?”  Often it will be just a simple job of swapping very old string heddles over. I do not wish to spend too much of the residency being a contortionist under looms. I’ve also had a reorganisation in the studio. I’ve been shoving looms around so that I, let alone the students can move. Now at least there is space…. but the back room is jammed full. That’s also complicated by the fact that I’ve had to empty shelves back there because of a roof leak. I am just using the front room though, where it is now uncluttered, and warm!

I’ve also spent some time investigating alternative dye recipes. I have my favourites that I use all the time and am very happy with the results, but I thought that it would be of interest to evaluate some variations that I’ve come across. So far I’ve had a look at 3 variations of a procion soda soak recipe on a commercial cotton fabric. I have plenty more that I want to investigate. The residency is an ideal time to take time to do so.

Dye samples using Procion on cotton fabric

Top left: fabric was soaked in soda ash for 15 mins and dyed with urea/dye solution. Batched 24 hours in plastic. washed. Top right: fabric soaked as before, dyed with urea/salt/dye solution. Batched 24 hours in plastic. Washed. Bottom left: fabric soaked in soda ash, dyed with dye dissolved in water. Allowed to dry without wrapping in plastic. Washed. Bottom right: as for bottom rioght before washing. I was surprised at how little dye was washed out. There wasn’t much difference between the sample that had the salt added and the one without. The intensity of the dye between thew first two and the unbatched one was noticable but that is because the strength was different initially. I was quiter surprised with the results of allowing it to dry without wrapping in plastic. I think that I will have another experiment with this one.

What is being referred to as a “piece of ginger” is currently sitting on a cupboard in the studio. One of the classes has labelled it as such. It’s a 3m length of fine cotton that I’ve been experimenting with natural dyes on and it’d now bound up ready to dye again. The dyeing process so far has taken a couple of dye baths: the wood shavings and the first batch of silver dollar gum leaves. Both have given poor results with not very interesting results. It does now look remarkably like a piece of root ginger.

Cotton fabric, naturally dyed and ready for the next process.

I’ve also decided that I want to have another go at dyeing with wood shavings. It seems such an appropriate thing to do when the wood school is such an integral part of Sturt and there is such a huge pile to collect from. This time I’m trying to extract the colour using alcohol.

The wood pile: a potentially huge resource


The wood shavings soaking in alcohol.

Our Friday night “wind down” is becoming very popular.

Friday night in Ainsworth.

From left to right: Dale ( Sturt Admin.), Carolyn (Sturt Gallery),  Mel (a resident weaver), Megan ( Sturt Admin.), Dennis and Sina (Jewellery residency)

There are delightful pockets of bulbs opening. I pass this patch on the way to the studio.

Jonquils beside the path to the studio

A piece of double weave is slowly being woven. It results in such a strong image but it does take some time to weave. I’m nearly half way on the first piece…. i.e. I have woven approximately 50 cm after an interrupted 3 days. I am continuing to explore the notion of layering of societies and that both have the common denominator of the land. I hope to get this one piece woven next week but it will be an interrupted one with other exciting adventures about to begin.

Doubleweave circles partly woven.