Modules 3 & 4: In Which I Discover You Can Never Have Too Many Jars

We started out mordanting about a third of the fabric in the kit. Only two pieces required simmering in a pot, so it was easier than the scouring, which needs to be watched.

Then we made six dye pastes, some using extracts and some requiring an extraction to be made from a source material. I made a chart showing the colours before and after steaming.

The pastes were mixed together in various ratios, painted on cloth and steamed to see the result.

This had me scrambling for jars, and for a box to keep them in that could be stored in the fridge. I thought the above was a lot of jars, but it was just the beginning. We worked on two napkins, two bandanas and a length of natural cotton. The first napkin was a graduating spiral, for the next I used an old plastic lace table cloth as a stencil, the first bandana was printed with triangles to make pinwheels and the second I dug out some old foam stamps I made for printing wrapping paper. For the natural cotton I replicated a weaving pattern, with a graduating background.

The following week we made even more colours, this time in larger batches so they could be divided up and altered with iron and soda ash. The tutors had us do test circles on a big cloth, then a row of lines in a gradient. I did drips and then linked them.

The we painted two more napkins, a length of silk and a length of natural cotton. The first napkin was to be a colour wheel. I simplified this by using all but one pure (unmixed colour) because I had plans for the other napkin that would be far more time-consuming. It became a paint chart style grid of 144 squares, showing all the combinations of the colours in ratios of either 1:2 or 2:1.

I did blobby circles on the silk and made starts out of a diamond-shaped velour stamp for the natural cotton after making ‘pastel’ version of several colours.

These were by far the most colourful weeks, though I found I really missed blue, which I believe is done with different processes. I got more useful pieces out of it: the silk just needs hemming to become a scarf, the two natural cotton pieces will be sewn into something. The paint charts are practical as they are. I kept tweaking the bandanas each week and they’ll have a post of their own. I like the stencilled napkin and later tweaked the spiral one.