Tuesday, May 31, 2011

back to the blue

i had basically put my zinc-lime vat on hold completely, since i was having too much trouble keeping it warm enough.  i never thought that it would be the end of may before we actually felt some sustained warmth here in toronto, but that has been the (grey, dreary, rainy) case.  

and now, finally and suddenly we have seemed to have skipped spring and headed right into the heat of summer.  i took this opportunity to revamp my vat, and also to move it to my third floor studio, which is suddenly hot as an oven.  after just one day there is already a flower forming on the top of the vat, so i'm pretty hopeful that the heat is going to be just what my fussy blue friend has been wanting all along.

inspired by this post by eva, i've also started a small fermentation indigo vat, which uses wheat bran, ground madder and soda ash as the reducing agents.  i had one of these types of vats going years ago when i was in art school, but it didn't survive my move back across the country.

for some reason my instinct is to create giant vats of indigo, perhaps a leftover from when i was dyeing large skeins of wool for weaving. but i liked how eva's vat was so small - it makes it somehow seem more manageable, so i've followed suit and done just a small jar which can sit happily on my desk.


i used cheryl kolander's recipe from aurora silk, and just scaled the ingredients down proportionally.  it's the same recipe i used last time i did a natural fermentation vat, and while i did have success, i found that it took my vat more like six weeks to be ready to dye, rather than the one that she lists.  but it only requires a little stir every day so it's pretty low maintenance. i was sure to use a vessel with a lid that seals, since i learned last time that this can be a bit of a stinky venture.

Friday, May 27, 2011

more bundles

kind of obsessed with the solar dyed bundles right now.  i was really pleased with the results from the one i did at the workroom, so i put a few more together last week, and just opened them up yesterday.  i'm making a bunch of shibori scarves for a couple of my retailers, so i'm also going to put on some more bundles for them as well.

my favorite is this one, where i used some cochineal bugs that i had already used to make a dye extract with, some blackberries, and a little bit of osage.  i love the peach and purple together, and how a design is formed where the fabric was folded over on itself.

i did another one with blackberries which got all mouldy.  not exactly sell-able anymore, but the designs produced by the mould were actually quite beautiful, even if there's not really anything i can do with this one.

and finally there's with onion skins.  i like the way it turned out, but feel like it needs a little something more.  that's one of the things that i love about dyeing, is how you can continually add layers of colour (and texture) by overdyeing. i've had times where i was completely dissatisfied with the way something turned out, but then overdyed it to become a favorite.   i think i'll bundle this one back up with some more, new dyestuffs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


thanks for the sweet comments about the scarves everyone.  i had a wonderful time experimenting with colours and shapes making them.

spent the weekend at the cottage, where the entire lawn was covered in a blanket of forget-me-nots.  i would never be able to choose a favorite flower, but forget-me-nots have captivated me since childhood.  i've always thought that the centre of them looks like it's embroidered, which i think has always spoken to the stitcher in me.

and.....the winner of my first little giveaway is.........nicole!  nicole, please write me at jusinden(at)gmail(dot)com, and let me know your snail mail details.  thanks so much!

Friday, May 20, 2011

shop open and giveaway

very excited to tell you that my shop full of naturally dyed wares is now open.  you can find it here. the shop is mostly full of the shibori scarves i've been experimenting with - they're all 100% organic cotton, lovely and lightweight and perfect for spring and summer.

to celebrate, i'm going to do my first ever giveaway, and offer up this solar dyed scarf that i talked about two posts ago.  it's the one currently on my blog header.

to qualify to win, please visit my shop, then leave a comment here telling me which is your favorite scarf.  since it's a long weekend here in canada, i'll keep this open until tuesday at noon.

you can also still always find me at www.juliesinden.com.

and now......i'm heading to the cottage.  happy long weekend everyone!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a little while ago, anabela sent me a link to this video thinking i would like it (and she was right).  it's essentially a commercial for a clothing line, but the basic message does resonate with me. 

i love the little silhouette of gandhi - it's not everyone that is so instantly recognizable by their silhouette.  did you know that the first indian flag had a spinning wheel on it?  it was the symbol of the independence movement, which was fought entirely non-violently and in great part through.......well, spinning. 

i feel pretty lucky to make my full time living as a creator of handmade textiles.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

solar dyed bundle

thursday was the final night of the advanced natural dye class i tought at the workroom.   one of the things we tried out was solar dyeing, and most of the gang combined it to be a bundling project as well.  usually i don't do any dyeing myself in the class, but on the second week i joined in on wrapping up a bundle of fabric with some dyestuffs.  we let them sit in the shop window in the sun for a week, and on thursday opened them up to unveil some beautiful colours.

bundling and solar dyeing are both as easy as they sound.  if you've never done any dyeing at all before, it's a great easy way to begin playing around.  simply lay out a piece of fabric, cover it with flowers, leaves, berries, whatever you think might give some colour (onion skins work wonderfully), then spray it all so that it's wet, roll or fold it up, then leave it in a sunny place a clear plastic bag or jar (full of water if you like).  wait at least a week, and unroll to reveal!  pre-mordanting the fabric will give you stronger, more washfast and lightfast colours, but this process is so easy and satisfying that the longevity of the colour needn't necessarily be the ulitmate goal.

my bundle contained some madder and osage (traditional dyestuffs), some onion skins, as well as a bunch of petals from various cut flowers that had just wilted at my house.  it's birthday season where i live, so there was a fair variety, including hyacinth, tulip, renonculus and peony.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

vat dyeing

when i was in vancouver last week i made a trip to maiwa, which is where i buy many of my dye supplies.  i normally buy from them online, but if in vancouver i definitely recommend a trip there - not only they have lots of stuff available that you can't buy through the website, but it's also a great excuse to make a trip to granville island, which is full of artist and artisan studios.

there were some vat dyes that caught my eye, and even though they're synthetic rather than natural, i bought a couple to experiment with.  the idea with vat dyes is that you use a cloth that is already dyed, and the 'vat' first discharges the original colour, then lays another colour on top of it.  i used some scarves that i had coloured a nice steel grey using just tannin and iron.

i was pretty pleased with the results, though i'm not really too keen on the crazy synthetic colours that resulted.  i know that i could lessen the intensity of the shades, but instead i'm going to try to recreate a similar effect using natural dyes.

to contrast, i have these lovely soft colours, which i'm going to add some layers of colour to today.  i know that i've been promising that i'd be opening my natural dye shop for weeks now, but i think that this week is really the one.  for now, better get dyeing.....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

west coasting

sorry for the silence over here, but i ended up going on a last minute adventure to bc to celebrate my birthday with my friend cam, who shares the same birthday.  every few years we get together to celebrate the day, last time it was in amsterdam (our birthday also happens to be a dutch national holiday, and huge party there), and this time it was on a boat in hot springs cove.

the innchanter is actually a bed and breakfast on a boat, owned by cam's lovely husband shaun.  it's in clayoquot sound, an incredibly beautiful part of the country and only accessible by boat or float plane.  a short kayak ride from the boat takes you to shore, where you can hike a 2km trail through the rainforest and end up at the hot springs.  natural hot springs.  overlooking the ocean.  beyond incredible.


so, um.....we had a nice time.  a really nice time.  this was the sunset on our birthday:

incidentally, if you're looking for a lifestyle change, the innchanter is actually for sale.  you can find out more here.