Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Chapter 3 : Fabric and Threads

Be careful what you wish for.  Having had such a wonderfully exuberant time creating layers of spirals on paper, now I thought was the time for something more restful.  I wanted to try and capture something of the shadowy moodiness of my spiral staircases.  You'll have to see what you think.

The fabrics I used for most of my experiments were Habotai Silk and Silk Organza, though I have included cotton sometimes as I happened to have some prepared from a previous project and wanted to see how the colours would behave.  In all cases I used Dylon dyes, in Antique Grey, Woodland Brown, Dark Brown and Jeans Blue.

3:1 below shows the result of half strength dye (2oz water to 1tsp. dye powder) on organza and left for just two hours.  The dye is drawn on to the fabric with a pipette, the dryness helping to retain some of the curved shapes, though in the top of the picture the shapes have blurred as the fabric has become flooded with dye.

I did not use Woodland Brown for this first dyeing session and was surprised how purpley the colours became.  The fabrics used below are organza, Habotai silk and cotton.

I started my second dyeing session having reread Leslie Morgan and Clare Benn's advice on tray dyeing.  Below you can see wet pieces of silk and organza finger twirled closely together in the tray, squirts of dye applied in several colours and the hanks of thread laid on the top.  This time I mixed the dye at double strength (2oz water and 2tsp. of dye powder) and let the fabrics remain for over four hours.

Below are some of the results of this session.


The next three images show the very subtle effects achieved when gold acrylic paint mixed with fabric binder are mono-printed on to silk and organza.  The fabric was placed on black paper so that the designs could be seen.  The designs I tried were groups of individual corkscrews, long looping spirals continued the length of the fabric and a rosette-style allover pattern.


Below are probably rejects, the colours are disappointing and not really connected to my colour palette.


Below, in image 3:14, the results of a lovely shopping expedition at The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. Beautiful icy blues, metallic threads and beads and sequins.

 Below in 3:15 and 3:16 are two sets of hand-dyed threads -- complete with beautiful sunshine coming through the conservatory window, Spring's on its way.

As I've worked through this chapter I've begun to see in my mind's eye the fine running threads in brown and gilt and icy blue enriching the surface and hopefully these moody fabrics will fit the bill. Having needed a black undersheet to photograph the organza pieces it occurs to me that maybe I will need to consider layering from the very start? Possibly even consider dyeing some velvet and including that in my designs?


  1. Glorious colours can I put an order in for items 3,5,8,9 and 12 please!! A lovely palette of threads too can't wait to see next posting...

  2. Hi Judith, Lovely to hear from you. I seem to be on a good run at the moment -- as are you -- but off to America to meet my new granddaughter tomorrow so sadly there'll be a bit of a lull. However, I'm taking a little bit of stitching and have a list of to dos for when I get back.

  3. Lovely pieces of fabric, and colour combinations,. Who can resist a basket full of those threads? My kind of bouquet.

  4. I love your colour palette and the moody fabrics. The monoprints work really well. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with them once you come back from America. Hope you have a wonderful trip and do please post a photo of your new granddaughter.