SSL Certificate

Michel Garcia

June 2012

Slow Fiber Processes for Dyeing with Plants

Course Description
Travelling all over the world, the modern investigator of natural dyeing processes is sometimes surprised to discover a quite “universal process” for using mordent dyes, and various approaches of the art of preparing the indigo vat. However, some uncommon aspects of natural dyes will be taken in account in this course, in order to present to the participant an overview of what exactly might be a natural dye on various types of yarns and fabrics.
In Europe until the 17th century, and all over the world until the 19th century, some old methods have been gradually abandoned; however, the presentation of the natural history of supplies and dyes, together with atypical uses of them, will be approached in this class, mainly because some very eco-friendly and environmentally low impact processes are suited now.

Our first experiment will be dedicated to the exploration of some possibilities of dyeing wool and silk by taking care of the exact conditions to fix the color from a simple plant preparation. In spite of the fact that these fibers are supposed to require a two bathes process, a very simple one bath process will be presented here, without any pre-required mordant process, giving both attractive shades, and totally biodegradable wastes.
Our second experiment will be dedicated to a naturalist approach to the mordent process. Inspired by the biology of some plants, one may discover that some of them accumulate a small amount of aluminum in their tissues, issued from the acid soil they grow in. With a simple decoction of such plants, wool can be efficiently treated, for getting attractive shades in a subsequent dye plants bath. The very low environmental impact of this practice is not the unique positive point: we shall discover than some milligrams of that kind of very efficient aluminum mordent are sufficient for a real mordent process
Our third experiment will be dedicated to the classical method for dyeing wool and silk by using mineral alum: the right conditions will be reviewed, in order to get attractive colors, while the old mordant bath, together with the dye-pot waste will be recycled for making useful extracts for a “one bath” dye process.
Our fourth experiment will be dedicated to cotton and cellulosic fibers: a few experiments will show some good possibilities to use direct dyes on cotton, without metallic mordents. The use of soy milk as well as traditional soap will be approached as organic “fat mordents” for attractive shades.
Our fifth experiment will allow us to associate the right preparation of the cellulosic textiles with the use of soapy extracts to paint in fabric with the soapy extracts.
Our sixth experiment will consist in a simple approach to the right conditions to be successful with the classical processes for dyeing on cotton with a pre-mordent process.
Our seventh experiment will consist in a presentation of the quick organic non-polluting indigo vats: by using natural indigo, some henna leaves and/or fruit sugars, in addition with shellfish home-made lime, the vat will be ready in 10minutes, without any synthetic supplies.

Supply List
*Rubber gloves
Dyes, auxiliary supplies, samples of fabrics for each experiment will be provided in the studio.
More of these fabrics will be available for purchase in the Shakerag Store
Bring some of your preferred cloth and yarns for experimenting (wool, silk, cotton)
As far as materials are concerned, other than pans [Dutch oven/large pots] and hot plates, I will need the following:
De l'indigo indigo
de la chaux ( Ca(OH)2 lime (Ca(OH)2)
de l'alun ou du sulfate d'alumine alum or aluninum sulfate(?)
du vinaigre blanc white vinegar
du sulfate de fer ( FeSO4) iron sulfate
du carbonate de soude ( NaCO3 sodium carbonate(?)
De l'acide citrique citric acid
De la gomme arabique acacia gum (?)
de la gomme de guar guar gum(?)
de l'argile verte green clay (?)
quelques plantes tinctoriales ( à choisir dans la liste suivante: some plante dyes, to choose from the following list:
Rouges: reds:
Préférence: Garance ( Madder) preference: madder
bois rouge ( caesalpinia sappan, caesalpinia echinata., haematoxylon brasiletto.) red wood: [I'm assuming these are the Latin names for the dyes and will be the same "in English"
Cochenille cochineal/carmine
Jaunes: Yellows:
Fustic ( maclura tinctoria), osage ( maclura pomifera)fustic and osage
Réséda Reseda
others les autres!
if possible
Logwood ( haematoxylon campechianum
( gallnut, sumach, oak, tara..)
( Bien sûr, je peux vous poster les matières que vous n'avez pas)
Les étudiants peuvent apporter des gants, un tablier, des tissus pour expérimenter. The students can bring gloves, an apron, cloths for experimenting
Bon, je vais réfléchir aux matériaux encore un peu, mais je crois que cela suffit I'll think more about materials, but I believe this will be enough.

*Items marked with an asterisk are available in the Shakerag store.

Artist's Statement

For many years, I have been fascinated by the resources provided by plants and by the diversity of colors that can be obtained from a single bath dyeing of cotton fabric, varying the proportions of mordants. In the past, this diversity of tones obtained was also sought, and was the origin of traditional styles in different parts of the world. In Europe, the polychrome effects from this practice are designated under the name harmonie naturelle Thus, through a patient review of old methods. I try to adapt a variety of techniques to a modern and colorful practice. I do not strive simply to mix "primary colors,” but instead use the greatest variety of shades from the same plant to uncover this natural harmony.
Several steps are needed to properly prepare the fabric, and this course, requiring attention and care, is also very interesting to explore in terms of designing a printed fabric, because the result does not appear until the end of operations. The artist does not see the immediate result of his actions, but works "in confidence," gradually, until the final appearance of the results.

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