Monday, September 30, 2019

A Summer Divirsion

A Summer Diversion

A friend and I are putting together a small show for our local Surface Design Association group. 
Our show concept is that we will augment each other’s work, she uses my dyed fabrics and I use her eco print fabrics. She makes beautiful eco print pieces.  So I decided that I would make leaf prints that would echo hers. However, I don’t want to get involved with steaming and mordants, etc. so I remembered a sun dye, SolarFast made by the Jacquard Company, that I played with years ago. Even though I bought it 2 or 3 years ago. it still worked and we were in the only really warm and sunny part of our year, so I experimented.  I live on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest where our summers are cool and damp.

This first effort was on a 70 degree day with bright sun, the leaves were laid on a gray hand dyed cotton that had been painted with yellow and red dyes, covered with plexiglas and put into the sun for an hour or two. 

This turned out pretty well, so I tried it again on a hot day, 85 degrees, with blue dye on white cotton.  My thought was that I would over dye it later, turning the white parts into color

The leaves became so hot under the plexiglass and the sun that they cooked and released those lovely brown colors. That was a surprise. The begonia leaf on the left burned in parts, so the colors are mottled. The grass leaves on top were thick enough not to burn.
Then I decided to try using brightly dyed cotton for the background.

This is a piece of cotton dyed with procion dyes using the bucket method. I painted on black dye, placed the leaves, plexiglas, put it in the sun, forgot about it and remembered three hours later.
This was the result.

I’m including this leaf to show the detail possible with this dyeing method.  That thin white line on the brown canna leaf is a piece of thread from the cotton trapped, unintentionally, between the plexiglas and the leaf. 

This is definitely worth exploring.

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Fabric of Invasion and Conquest

Recent discoveries made possible by advanced technology, like DNA studies and isotope analysis of textile fragments from Viking ship burials have brought to light the importance of cloth in the extensive conquests by the Vikings. In August, 2019 I visited two Viking ship museums in Norway and Denmark. I learned about the seafaring Vikings and was able to photograph some fascinating displays.

Centuries before Scandinavian farmers left their homeland to conquer and plunder throughout Europe, Central Asia and North America there was famine in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. It was theorized that this was caused by a series of volcanic eruptions that produced a great deal of ash in the atmosphere. This resulted in extreme cold (the little ice age) and famine. Desperate to survive, Vikings left Scandinavia by long wooden ships powered by a revolutionary discovery—the sail. It was the development of the cloth sail that made their voyages across oceans possible. Between about 700 to1100AD Viking warriors invaded and conquered lands far afield from their native land. 

Viking women wove the square woolen sails for the ships.
The fiber came from Northern European short tailed tough little sheep. They had double coats, an outer coat of long strong hairs and a soft inner coat. Weavers used the course long fibers for the warp and the softer inner coat for the weft.  It took the wool from about 700 to 1000 sheep to make a single war ship sail. 
The sails were a variation of the basic woolen cloth that was used for clothing and other domestic purposes.
Textile fragments gave evidence that natural dyes were used to color the fabric 
The woven cloth was “fulled” or felted and then coated with a resin, which helped make the sail sturdy, wind and waterproof. Thus, the sleek ship was powerful, feared and beautiful.