Friday, October 01, 2010

some thoughts on dyeing


a silk skein is seeping in the murasaki dye.  another one will be steeped in alum for the second time. the difference,not a banal one, between seeping and steeping is that of temperature.
which brings up questions. if the dye is not rendered  permanent is it well dyed?
there is a certain expected fading, we all fade.desirably fading should be achieved with grace and elegance.
but if the dyeing is not properly done  it would be a dis service to handmade and i would be playing in the h&m and zara league  with a huge disadvantage.

if i chose to make things by hand it was to honor a certain way of doing ,of respecting times and procedures. and personally i would feel uncomfortable asking money for something that will not hold up, that albeit being  handmade it would be use and toss.

i tend to side, for more than the obvious reason, with the japanese way of  natural dyeing. letting things rest for a period of time and slowly building on them.  for example, the woven scarf  in the image was woven last  april and the dyeing took place between may and june and then put to rest to let the color develop.
now i'm stitching a mokume pattern and then overdye the woven scarf  with either logwood or walnut and put it down to rest  again.

i could and do resort to synthetic dyes if i need/ want quick results . i have no problems with that. but i feel that in  natural dyeing other parameters rule.
 what are your thoughts on the subject of dyeing and permanence? and of natural vs. synthetic dyeing?

have a good weekend!

neki desu 
Creative Commons License


  1. i like impermanence. and the slow way myself. you can achieve much different results.

    i currently need quicker results but someday i would like to graduate to slow.

  2. What a beautiful image of the mokume stitching, and a lovely description of the process as well.

    I began working with natural dyes this summer and it felt very good to learn so much about nature and time. I also found it to be a lot of hard work. So far , I have not worried about the fastness of the natural dyes because I'll probably use them in stitched art pieces that will not get used so much they need to be laundered.

  3. What a really good post!
    I totally agree with you, and I think fastness is important issue. If we make something that loses it's color soon, people will think: natural dyes are no good and they won't buy naturally dyed product again, not even from a different dyer/artist. Bad experiences travel faster than good ones.
    I think customers are more critical when they buy naturally dyed product than when they buy something cheap from the market, they don't even expect it to be long-lasting.

  4. I have never tried natural dyeing but look forward to the day when I can. I do love my quick dyes and I have an impatient side to me, but think that it could be quite satisfying to make something over time such as you do. I greatly admire your work

  5. i totally agree with you. if i am bothering to make something by hand for sale or gift, it had BETTER be dyefast. and well made. and never represented as anything but exactly what it is, no secrets, no lies.

  6. Leena,
    thanks for bringing this up.
    shoddy practices will reflect on everything handmade. and you're absolutely right about customers' expectations re handmade and store bought.

  7. Judy,
    it Is a lot of work, but it is very rewarding.


interaction appreciated!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...