Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A time to dye!

I'm back in my basement with a project I saw in the summer, 2012 edition of Sew Somerset that was written by my dear blogging friend, Caterina Giglio ( whose blog is La Dolce Vita).  If you want to see Cat's article with detailed instructions on how to make her lovely pieces, I suggest you get a copy of the magazine and look for her lovely art beginning on page 40.  Those of you who know Cat, know she works with pale pastel fabric and paper (as an aside, those who follow her blog know I can't leave a comment because of the embedded comment form).  This is my interpretation of her dyed fabric.

I have already torn my fabric into useable strips.  I used an old white bed sheet I picked up last year at the thrift store.  I have placed the fabric pieces on top of my (studio) dedicated microwave oven.

The rest of the ingredients are on my work table.  From left:
Bucket of water
Empty microwave safe container to hold the ingredients
Yellow onion skins
Cinnamon sticks (these were from the grocery store, but you can also find them in craft stores and your local spice and/or natural food store)
Vinegar (I used white because it was all I have)

The first thing I did was add a bit of water and scrunched up cinnamon pieces in the bowl of water.  I placed the bowl in the microwave oven (my method of choice) and checked it every thirty seconds.  During that time, I realized I would need something to remove the cinnamon sticks and a container to put them in.  It was a mad dash to get the bowl and spoon in 30 second intervals, although I knew where both were.  After three minutes, 

I felt confident that the cinnamon sticks were ready to be removed from the water bath.  What a MESS.  It took forever to remove all those cinnamon pieces, after which I had to reheat the cinnamon bath.

After reheating the bath, I added a splash of vinegar, an optional step.  Cat provided specific measurements and instructions for these dyeing techniques in her article, but I'm more a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.

After I placed the fabric in the dye bath, I was marginally disappointed.  One thing Cat cautioned was to make sure not to let any of the fabric sit outside the dye bath.  Of course, I did just the opposite since I prefer that mottled look and strive for it.

I decided to leave the fabric in the cinnamon water overnight and found another microwave safe bowl.  It was barely large enough for the onion skins, let alone the water I needed to add.  Since I had a better idea of how long it would take to "cook" these skins, I set the timer for one minute intervals the second time.  All in all, I cooked these four minutes and had time to sweep my studio floor in between checks.

Perfect!!  Although they didn't smell as aromatic as the cinnamon had, these yellow onion skins were a much darker color.  I decided to heat a bit more water in another container, and siphon off some of this rich darkness. I don't show it, but I added vinegar to this batch before I diluted some of it.

Here are the two containers, the one on the right has the diluted onion skin bath.  You can see the mottling I'm going for.  I will check on these and hang them to dry tomorrow, after they have hopefully soaked up the rest of their dye baths.

It goes without saying, the spent cinnamon and onion skins have found a place in my compost container.  I also plan to make more of these dyed fabrics using herbs from my garden.

This is day 8 of AEDM.  Have you used kitchen products in your art lately?

15 thoughtful remarks:

Janet said...

How fun! I'm anxious to see where you're going with this!

Anonymous said...

Hello! I could have sworn I've visited this web site before but after looking at some of the posts I realized it's new
to me. Nonetheless, I'm definitely pleased I came across it and I'll be
book-marking it and checking back often!
My blog post -

Anonymous said...

You could certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write.
The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who are
not afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.
Also visit my homepage ;

Anoeska said...

Love to see your process. I'm very curious... What are you going to do with it...?

Caterina Giglio said...

oh my! imagine my surprise in popping over to your place to see what you were up to today, E... I am so honored and love seeing your take on the article and the dying process.. I think I forgot to mention that I used WHOLE cinnamon but I can see where breaking it up into pieces would reveal a bit more color, I know it was not a bright color, but you know me... and it smelled heavenly... xox

Caterina Giglio said...

p.s. I got rid of the comment thingy... you should not have a problem now... x

Corrine at said...

Oh nice and easy, Cat does amazing things in her studio, love her work so much. What will you make???? xox

Marilyn Rock said...

Fascinating process Elizabeth. I'm so intrigued to see what you'll be doing with the fabric.


Currie Silver said...

very cool. I love how you explain and show each step. really fun!!

Kat W said...

No I haven't used my kitchen stuff in my crafting/art recently. Oh no, wait, I recently used used tea bags as stain on paper. But I guess the times I do are more kitchen art is at Christmas with oranges, cloves, cinnamon etc. But your interesting post is inspiring & I'm wondering what I have in my kitchen that wd work....tumeric and cumin are looking at me....

I do love the idea of using natural materials to dye and colour as well as decorate.

Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog recently. And thanks for this inspiration :-)

Happy AEDM2012 day 8! I've been making jewellery from my new mandalas.

Kat Xx

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I will be interested to see how "dark" these fabrics turn out. When I tea dye or coffee dye (usually) paper, they always turn out much lighter than I want them to despite make a very strong batch of whatever.

Mar said...

old fashioned dying techniques...kool!

voodoo vixen said...

What fun! Not sure about the smell of the onion skins but I bet the cinnamon mixture was fabulous!! Will be back to check out the results!!

sandee said...

I would love to live close by to you so I could pop in and ask.."what's cooking", I know I'd be surprised every time! lol waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

Hilary Johnson said...

I saw a blog post on using tumeric to dye fabric ... a really beautiful gold color resulted!