Showing posts with label Workshop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Workshop. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Dyeing Fabrics with Botanical Dyes - A Workshop

Having taken a two week break from social media and from sewing, I think it is time to get back into the flow of things. So let me share with you what I had been doing Sunday about five weeks ago. =)


Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants



My friend Conny, who knits and sews garments asked me if I wanted to attend a workshop on dying fabrics with botanicals with her. Yeah! Dyeing fabrics, which quilter would not want to? The workshop was given by a Berlin local creative co-op called ‘Driftwood Fashion’ that makes very pretty things and sells them too. So how did it go?


Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

A classic case of frustrated expectations


On the day, I was so dissatisfied with the experience that I was grumpy for the remainder of the afternoon, although objectively this was hardly justified. The workshop was very lovingly prepared (check the pictures) as in: hot and cold drinks were offered along with biscuits and fresh strawberries, the material was lovingly arranged and the workshop owners were happy for the participants to go all mad around the dye baths to the point were we overrun time wise.


Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants



What annoyed me was that I expected a different sort of workshop with basic knowledge being conferred first to allow a structured approach to the experience later. If you are more of a forget-the-rules-just-go-for-it person this would have been your dream workshop. I just felt cheated for if I had just wanted to splash about with colours I would not have needed a workshop to do so. My frustration stemmed from the feeling of not having learned a single thing. (which is never true of course =)


From the beginning:

The table had been laid with fabric samples of cotton, linen-cotton, silk, cotton jersey, wool and others that had not been pre-treated with a mordant in contrast to further samples that had been submerged in a mordant for more than an hour. The idea was to give us the chance to see how differently the treated fabric absorbed the colour from the fabrics that not been treated before.


Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants


We all got a notebook and slips of paper to mark down the details and colour coded clothes pegs so we would not confuse our dyed samples. On the paper slips you could note down details like type of botanical dye, type of fabric used or whether the fabric had been treated with a mordant or not etc.



Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants




There were plenty of pots and pans and hotplates to warm up the dye baths, rubber gloves the botanicals used to make dyes and mordants and modifiers. Having said that, the dye baths had of course all been pre-prepared.

Dye stuff: Blackwood, Birch, Camomille, Dyer's Woad...

Modifier: Lemon, Vinegar, Iron (?)

Mordant: Alum


Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants


And there then it went kind of pear shaped for me. I would have expected a basic rundown on how to go about dying fabrics.

I would have imagined touching on the following themes:
  •  a short list of common plants used as source of botanical dyes? 
  •  how to collect, store and treat the botanicals you wish to use as dye?
  • which mordants exist?
  • which modifiers exists?
  • in what order to use the dye, mordant, modifiers and why?
  • health and safety precautions (fumes, chemicals, what not to mix and why)
  • how and why fabric absorbs the colours and what are the differences among the different fabrics?
  • what ratios of mordant, fabric, dye plants, water to use to create an effective dye bath?
  • what different dying techniques are commonly used?
  • techniques to make the dyed fabrics colourfast and lightfast?
  • how to care for your fabric in order not to stress it too much during the dying process?

And all this basic information was not in any way conveyed. Instead it was more like. 'Yes, we prepared here a few dyes and here are bowls of modifiers so grab some gloves and just get going.' I guess, had I had all the basic knowledge down already, I might have been able to make informed decisions about what effects I wanted to go for, but as it was, it felt utterly random to me.


Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants


So I have now got a pile of prettily coloured fabric scraps, which I do not currently dare use in any project I care about, as I am not convinced that the pieces are colourfast. And I also feel I have not gleaned much knowledge of dying process per se.


Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants


Still, as far as it went, it was nice to have access to the workshop space and physically haven gotten through the process of dying fabrics. It is a basis I can always build upon. Also I should have checked what I was getting into beforehand. My bad.

Now five weeks later I feel it might not have been such a bad workshop after all.  =)