Sunday, 14 July 2013

Fabric dyeing at the Whisky Bond

Coinciding with the opening of the new exhibition, Liquid Assets, by Danish artist Nina Beier, Glasgow Sculpture Studios had programmed a range of artist-led workshops. I was delighted to get a place on the Fabric Dyeing workshop, lead by textile practitioner Kathy Beckett.

I had no idea what to expect, and thought it would be a great opportunity to learn about something I had never done before.

Kathy is an avid colourist, and the interaction / psychology of colour has always been intrinsic to her work as a textile practitioner. Recently she has been learning about the impact that the production of colour can have on our environment. One of her particular concerns is the need for ecodesign. She hopes to encourage other designers, artists and creative practitioners to be aware that their choices have consequences and that they can be and are part of the universal need for a more ecological economy. Her blog, gives more information on this work, and her website covers all aspects of her textile practice.

We learned about natural methods of dyeing fabric. A variety of yarns were provided, and we made hanks from these. We then mordanted the hanks so that the dyes take to the fabric.

Kathy had foraged a variety of plants from the local area from which we could dye the yarns. We used meadowsweet, ragwort, ivy, comfrey and cow parsley. The plants were added to boiling water, simmered, and the yarns were added into the pans, and left.

We also did some cold dyeing, using beetroot and cabbage.

We wrapped silk round wooden blocks, and then  wrapped yarn around the silk.

These were dipped into the beetroot/cabbage liquid and left for a while before removing and washing under cold water. The yarn was removed and silk opened out to reveal the unique patterns made on the fabric.

Even though we did not have much time to leave the fabric in the dyes, I was surprised at how vibrant the colours of the fabric were.

It was a really enjoyable couple of hours, and something I would like to do more of.

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