Dyeing for Effect. March 2018

Dyeing for effect was a 6-week workshop exploring resist dyeing and mud printing. The first 3 weeks were led by Ulrike Bogdan (from Germany, Bavaria), who introduced us to the Japanese art of Katazome printing.

Ulrike wetted our appetite with some of her stunning examples and photographs she took of Katazome printing when visiting Japan.

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After designing a pattern the process involves creating a nori paste to paint or stencil on your fabric so that it resists your chosen dye resulting in a white pattern on a dyed background.

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Examples photographed by Ulrike in Japan

It took some members several attempts to create a nori paste of the right consistency but perseverance paid off.

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Annie Perkins (Cotswolds) was able to stencil with her paste on the second attempt and after leaving it to dry for several days used indigo as a dye to create her finished prints.

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Chiara Battistella from Belfast created a number of designs both stencilled and free hand and then painted her designs using procion MX dyes rather than immersion dyeing

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The second three weeks were led by Elizabeth Chin (from Trinidad and Tobago), who introduced us to the pleasure of printing with mud and showed us examples of what could be done.

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Elizabeth’s examples

The process involved soaking the base material in a tannin solution before collecting and preparing a solution of local mud mixed with some ferrous sulphate or iron water. Once the mud was of a suitable consistency it could be stencilled or painted onto the material and left to dry. The reaction between the iron and the tannin creates the image.

First the mud has to be soaked and then sieved through a number of progressively finer sieves to create a smooth paste.

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Ulrike posted a series of photographs showing her sieving the mud 5 times before leaving the mud to thicken with evaporation.

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Isabella Whitworth from Devon used her local red clay hoping that it would include natural iron content. Her painting with the resulting mud was too faint for her liking so she added more oak gall and more iron water to achieve a satisfactory result.

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She was not alone, several members found their first attempts were rather pale.
Jane Stevens from East Anglia resolved this by using a stronger tannin solution.

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Annie Perkins improved her prints by adding more iron to her mud.

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Jane Stevens went on to create a number of delicate prints using a stencil with dark sandy mud and thicker sandy mud.

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We learnt that more predictable results could be obtained using tannic acid rather than natural tannins such as oak galls, and ferrous sulphate rather than iron water but equally attractive results could be obtained using both methods.

This was an immensely rewarding workshop introducing us to completely new ways of creating images and those of us who participated are grateful that we have such skilled members who are willing to share this with us.