Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Post Cards from the Selv-edge

I have had my first "post card" for almost a month now and tomorrow is the day that I am suppose to pass it along. When I first picked it up, I was astonished by how much responsibility I felt being the first one to alter this cloth. It is a white jacquard fabric that Ellen stitched to a piece of muslin using the natural floral pattern as a guide.

I had many ideas of "I could..." but none of them seemed quite right. This went on for almost three weeks. I would take it out in a quiet moment and contemplate. I would think up a couple of more possibilities, revisit a couple of my old ideas, and then I would put it away.

And then one night, I had a break through. We had a curry dinner. I don't know if you have ever made a curry dinner before, but there are a lot of dishes to clean up afterwards. A lot. And my nice new very white dishcloth came out of the experience a lovely soft yellow.

I suddenly knew my problem with this piece of fabric. If any of you (and I am sure that most of you have) have ever sat in front of a blank white paper looking for that first word of that first sentence, or in front of that white canvas wondering where to put that first stroke, (and what colour should it be?) then you know my dilemma. It was just too bloody WHITE!

So I dyed it. With the ingredient that had made my dishcloth coloured.

Tumeric. I did a little research and after boiling the tumeric in a lot of water for 15 minutes, I put in the fabric and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I am amazed at the colour concentration. I put about 3 tablespoons of tumeric in my pot. There was so much colour left in the pot that I decided to dye some fleece. The colour came out very bright, but it was hard to rinse out all of the excess tumeric from the fleece without felting it so I won't be doing that again.

You can see the pattern much better now because the fabric was made up of two different materials and different types of fibres take dyes differently. There are a couple of hot spots that I am not to pleased about, but I tried dyeing it again in a new dye bath and it didn't help much.

And while I had dye stuff left in the pot I decided to do a little more experimentation. These are two skeins of cotton that I had kicking around. Normally dyeing cottons requires Fiber Reactive dyes and there is so much rinsing involved and so much dyes wash down the drain that I don't like using them. No problem with tumeric. The skein on the right was in the dye bath for about 30 minutes. And the one on the left was in for about 2 minutes.

Cool eh? It it smelled great too. If you like the smell of tumeric, that is.


B said...


There is nothing here I don't love!


Anonymous said...

Love those warm colors. I have used onion peels to dye my wool for rug hooking. I got different hues depending on how concentrated my solution was. I would be interested in trying tumeric to get those beautiful colors for my next project, whenever that is going to be.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see that someone has made something positive out of a tumeric stain. They are impossible to get out! I have a cupboard full of plastic containers that are permanently tumeric coloured from when I froze a batch of curry into single serving sized batches. I love what the tumeric did to your 'post card'. As much as I love what you do with blue and purple dyes, it is nice to see that you are playing around with some of the warmer shades.

Curious Llama

Kansas A said...

Well that is the neatest thing! I would never have thought tumeric could look so beautiful :)

Dani said...

Such beautiful warm colours on a cold winter day!

Teyani said...

tumeric as a dye - how awesome! what did you use as the mordrant? vinegar?
love it!!

TadMack said...

I immediately thought, "Such beautiful saffron shades!" Fortunately, turmeric is MUCH cheaper!


jackie said...

No mordant necessary. Apparently tumeric is wash fast all on its own!

Leigh said...

What fun. And what lovely colors. I'm gonna have to try this. Being edible, even I should be able to do that in my small, not for chemical dyeing kitchen!

Christine said...

The experiment went well. So yeah, what did you use as a mordant? Dying minds want to know. (har-de-har-har!)

DaviMack said...

I'm just wondering if it smelled of turmeric when all was said and done! It looks wonderful!

Sayward said...

That's awesome! Ironically enough, I made fresh curry paste a few weeks back and discovered that fresh tumeric dyes stainless steel (along with everything else!) I know tumeric is used in India as a dye, but I'd never played with it before. I love your results.

Anonymous said...

oooooh pretty