labricoleuse: (dye vat)
I have to admit, i got a bit jealous with all the great results my students got out of their shibori project and it made me itchy to do some of my own experiments. Spring Break provided a great opportunity to step into the dyeshop while everyone was gone and explore.

Folded and clamped processes are perhaps my favorite to experiment with--i enjoy the mental origami of pattern-dyeing in this way. And, we had a HUGE donation of rayon slubbed-back satin donated, bolts of vintage fabric with a lovely weight and drape to it. My students had also saved leftover dye concentrate that they'd mixed up from an earlier fiber-reactive dye projects, so i decided to use up some of that before its shelf life expired, and test out how the vintage rayon would take to the shibori process.

At left, a "cube" of fabric which has been fan-folded first across the width and then down its length.
Each fold was pressed/steamed using the industrial iron at right.
One of the clamps is in the foreground, which i kept handy for size reference during the folding process.

Here's that block of fabric secured between the clamps with dye applied.
I used a yellow dye on the top half and a bronze dye on the bottom half.
These are fiber-reactive Pro MX dyes which process at room temperature.

Here's a couple more configurations with rectangular and triangular folding/clamping shapes.

And here's the results of that first trio: the first yellow/bronze piece is at left, the triangular one at center, and the rectangle at right. There's a 60" ruler at the top for size reference, and i've folded over the yardage so you can see how the dye took differently on the satin (lower) and the matte/slubbed (upper) sides of the fabric! These pieces are about 3 yards in length each.

I liked the results so much, i did two more, this time dyeing the base fabrics pink and blue before beginning the folding/clamping/overdyeing. This image also shows a dye migration that happened: the medallion shapes on the left were dyed using a green dye, and the yellow/blue components separated and migrated at different rates during the dye process, giving me these green-ringed gold shapes. Cool!

Here's all the pieces displayed on my work table in the studio.

Now, i just have to figure out what to do with them. Got any suggestions? :D

labricoleuse: (dye vat)
We have had some blizzards and ice storms in the past couple weeks which did wind up causing production delays for both our mainstage show and my grad students' projects. (It's hard to work on something when you can't leave the house to get to the facility to use the equipment to do the project...) So, the two remaining students completed their shibori projects and wow, what fantastic results!

Second year grad Erin Abbenante used a folding technique to create this beautiful china silk yardage.

Another view of the silk to better illustrate the pattern she achieved.

First year grad Emily Plonski did an engineered pattern for her shibori
to create this fantastic dress using a tied resist method.

Detail view of Emily's work to show the varigation/pattern better.
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
We've finished the first part of the graduate level dye class i teach, in which we cover the science portion of the subject (different classes of dyes and which fibers they work on, how the processes differ, how to discharge dyes/"color remove," etc.). We're now moving into the section that students usually find more fun, because it covers the application of that knowledge base in the creation of artistically conceived surface design effects. The first project of this section is shibori.

We had a bit of a setback in the form of an ice storm that shut down the university for a day and a half, which put a couple of my students behind on their project, but i do have three images to share of their work. I require them to produce at least two yards of fabric for this project, the logic being that, whenever i am asked to do a shibori effect on fabric by a costume designer, it's in the service of yardage creation--generating pattern on fabric which a draper will then make into a dress or a skirt or a kimono or something.

PRC's costume technician Sam Kate Toney created this snowflakey-looking cotton yardage using a folding and stitching technique and fiber-reactive dye.

First-year grad student Max Hilsabeck produced this organic pattern in three shades of green on four yards of china silk by employing a pole-wrapping (arashi) technique and acid dyes.

Second-year graduate student Katie Keener also used the pole-wrapping technique with acid dyes on the above two yards of china silk, but she accordion-pleated her fabric before wrapping it to achieve this more geometric mirrored pattern.

Here's a view of Sam Kate's yardage spread out on a work table,
for a better perspective on the scale of these pieces.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
My dye class has just presented their shibori projects, in which they choose a technique and a type of fabric, then must execute the technique on yardage with the proper type of dye for their fabric. The results have been just fantastic!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
I'm abroad in the UK for the next month for research, scholarship, and fun, and I'm taking the opportunity to check out lots of museums and galleries while I'm at it. Anything relevant I'll share here, and more general travel journaling is happening in my travel blog.

Last week I visited some friends in Manchester, where I also got to see some of We Face Forward, a citywide exhibition of West African art, culture, and and artifacts spanning the collections and spaces of museums, galleries, libraries, and music venues across the city. I didn't have nearly the time to see it all, but did get to the textile art shown at the Whitworth Art Gallery.

I found the most compelling work to be in the first hall, in which were hung historical and contemporary fabrics and garments of West African origin. Though they were displayed in no discernable sequence, the pieces themselves were fascinating in their artisanship from a design perspective. 

Egregiously, though, the attached text barely addressed how the pieces had been made and by whom or placed them in any West African cultural context. Instead, the blurbs focused largely on who had donated them to the museum. Instead of telling viewers about the culture from which the piece came, how and why it was made and used and worn, we learned about a bunch of imperial/colonial white dudes and their families. The blurb would perhaps then say something about the work being indigo dyed with wax resist, with no explanation of what indigo dyeing entailed or what a wax resist process is--my friend who attended the exhibit with me and who is not familiar with textile artistry techniques found the descriptions useless, and we both found them culturally offensive.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
I haven't mentioned the class i'm teaching this semester yet, because it's all been technical projects so far dealing with the chemistry of different classes of dye, creation of Testfabric multifiber swatch books, color wheels and so forth. But, we've finally moved onto the more artistic section of the class, the units on surface design, so i have some photos to share!

The first of the surface design units is shibori, and the students have really turned out a series of beautiful fabrics in this round.

click to see )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
My dye class students have finished their shibori projects (the ones i posted some teaser photos of the other day), and boy, did they turn out some cool stuff!

Most of our grad students come to the program having had some exposure to shibori technique (such as the common "shibori scarf workshop" sort of class or seminar). For these projects, i have them do a 2-yard minimum, to have the experience of doing shibori on a large scale, such as a dyer would do for practical costume production.

Read more... )

Next up for the class, resist techniques! I'll be posting those some time in March. And, just a note that i haven't forgotten, i do have a couple posts coming on hat mockups and puzzle-block takedown, as per reader requests! I'll get those up hopefully by the weekend.
labricoleuse: (Default)
I've been pretty busy this past week, working on some hat mockups for Pride and Prejudice (which, i might post some photos of later...dunno if mockups are very exciting viewing though?) and spending evenings over at Duke working with Basil Twist on puppetry and other effects for their production of Ionesco's Exit the King.

My dye class students are about to turn in their first big surface design project, which is shibori yardage. Read more... )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
I think i've mentioned that i break my dye class down into three sections--dye chemistry/color theory/color-matching/dyeshop safety, surface design, and distressing/aging. They're about to move out of the first section (which doesn't yield much "fun" stuff for the blog) into surface design.

The first surface design project they do is occlusive pattern generation--techniques like shibori and bandhani where you fold and tie and stitch and clamp the fabric in different ways to achieve different results. The process can be quick and simple (bound/clamped) or ornate and time-consuming (tied/stitched), and can be a means of creating depth and pattern and value variations using few tools, suppplies, and equipment.

Our stock manager recently brought me a vintage dress with wine-staining, on which i did an example process of a simple bound and ombred technique.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
Okay, so this is really just a teaser post--we've got a ways til we open yet, so i don't have a whole lot that i can share, but i've got a couple photos of some things coming through my workspace....

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (safety)
If you are just joining the blog, you'll want to check back to the two previous posts to catch up on the first two days' worth of this symposium, which has been hosted by the Center for Dramatic Art at UNC-Chapel Hill and at which i've been assisting and participating in some of the courses.

Day one covered the first session of four different fabric modification technique seminars.
Day two consisted of tours of three area fabric industry facilities.

Here's a quick refresher of the order in which i observed the classes:

1.) Screenprinting with EZ Screen, taught by Jeff Lieder.
2.) Devore and discharge printing, taught by Colleen Muscha.
3.) Rubberama (silicone caulk techniques on spandex), taught by Janet Bloor.
4.) Arashi Shibori, taught by Lori Hartenhoff.

I should note too for those who are new to La Bricoleuse--my photo policy is pretty free and laid-back. All images, unless otherwise credited, are copyright Rachel E. Pollock and property of me, but you are welcome to take and use ANY of them for educational presentations or publications. My only requirement is that you credit me as the source, and if it is appropriate to do so, mention that they came from

So, if you see any pictures you want, have at them! You don't HAVE to do so, but i'd like it if you'd drop a comment or an email and let me know how you are using them (i.e., tutorial PowerPoint, work-related scrapbook, what-have-you).

more pix and technique overviews! )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
Today was the first full day of the USITT Costume Commission's Fabric Modification Symposium, a three-day extravaganza of classes, presentations, hands-on activities, and more hosted by UNC-Chapel Hill at our Center for Dramatic Art. I thought that i was going to be an assistant to one of the presenters, but it turns out that instead, i got to be a "floater," checking out all of the first day's worth of classes! I took a ton of behind the scenes photographs and even participated in some of the seminars.

Thirty-five costume professionals from the US and Canada are attending, and we divided up into four groups, which rotated through the series of four different classes. The classes are taught over two days, with a "break" day in the middle (tomorrow) to allow some of the projects to cure/set/etc. So, today was the first day, and we'll do a second day worth of work on these things on Saturday.

The classes are as follows (i'll list them in the order that my group went through them):

1.) Screenprinting with EZ Screen, taught by Jeff Lieder. Jeff is a costume designer, a professor at U-Wisc Milwaukee, and has served as the Costume Director of the Utah Shakespearean Festival for the past 18 years.

2.) Devore and Discharge printing, taught by Colleen Muscha. Colleen is a costume designer and head of the Costume Design MFA program at Florida State University.

3.) Rubberama (silicone caulk techniques on spandex), taught by Janet Bloor. Janet is head of the NYC-based costume studio EuroCo Costume Company and co-author of the book, Rubber: Fun, Fashion, Fetish.

4.) Arashi Shibori, taught by Lori Hartenhoff. Lori is a fiber artist and Costume Director at Northern Illinois U.

pix and technique overviews! )
labricoleuse: (history)
I'll be arriving in NYC tonight, and I will most likely be beginning work on Monday at an as-yet-undisclosed location. (I need to find out whether i have their permission to cover anything about the job in the blog or not.)

On the drive up, i stopped in DC to visit some friends and catch a couple of exhibits at local museums. (I'm posting this from there--DC that is--before heading out for the rest of my drive.) The first one i'll talk about is BLUE, currently running through September 18th at the Textile Museum.

BLUE is a followup to the museum's 2007 exhibit, RED, and is similar in theme--it collects together the work of five artists currently working with blue dye as a medium, along with a historical section featuring a range of garments and textiles from various historical periods, cultures, and traditions, all in the thematic hue.

I think my favorite of the modern artists featured was Shihoko Fukumoto, who had several pieces shown. My favorite was Morning Mist 1999, a tea ceremony room made of indigo dyed linen on a delicate frame. It just looked like the most peaceful space to sit inside of.

Some of the highlights from the historical section were the 19th-century Japanese fireman's coat, essentially a large indigo-dyed quilted garment kind of like a kimono, and a tiny preserved piece of cloth dyed in indigo with a horse woven into it from the 5th century. (Many of the historical pieces are depicted on the website's image section, actually.)

At the end of the exhibit was a film room showing sections of a documentary on indigo, which was fascinating.

Upstairs from BLUE was another exhibit of accessories and clothing from Bolivia, including some really cool embroidered and beaded hats, and a hands-on informational section for "textile novices" explaining common vocabulary terms used when referring to textiles, including samples of different kinds of fiber before and after processing, and different styles of weaving.

In the Bolivia exhibit, aside from the beaded hats my favorite thing was a finely-woven shawl depicting both with traditional figures like horses and chickens and more modern images like airplanes and guitars. They also had some really amazing embroidered coca-leaf bags and some extremely finely-knit caps, pouches, and tiny dolls. Honestly, these things must've been knit with like, toothpicks.

The Textile Museum also has an extensive library on its top floor, but by the time we got through the exhibit, it was after hours. I'd love to go check it out next time i'm in DC, though! I did get to make a run through the gift shop, where i bought a couple of Maiwa Productions' documentaries, one on indigo production and one on natural dyestuffs. There was of course a huge amount of amazing fiber art and books and other publications, but i figured i'd invest in the videos, in case i decide to use them in the dyeing class i teach in spring. Students often ask about natural dyeing and indigo, and it'd be cool to have some footage to look at on those topics instead of just book-stuff. So far i've watched part of the indigo documentary and it's really fascinating, showing harvesting processes and the vat setups at indigo farms that have been around for centuries over in India and such.

Also, if you hit the Textile Museum while in DC, i recommend taking the metro and walking--the walk up S Street takes you past a lot of foreign consulates, some of which have really amazing architecture, landscaping, and sculpture outside!
labricoleuse: (opening night gala)
Wow, are we super-busy gearing up for the season opener, Romeo and Juliet. I haven't had time to post anything much, and what i AM working on can't be posted until the show's up because it would be "spoilers" for some of the play. (I don't mean that one can spoil a Shakespeare play to which everyone knows the ending, i mean that many of the crafts projects are really striking visuals which i don't want to spoil for viewers.) Once the play's up and running, I promise i'll post about all the fun hats and jewelry and crazy fabric treatments i've been working on!

Which brings me to an exciting announcement: La Bricoleuse is now linked from the PlayMakers Repertory Company official page, in a new section called "Behind the Scenes"--welcome, PRC patrons, to my readership!

If you are a new reader surfing here from that link, i should explain that you'll find only La Bricoleuse posts with the "playmakers" tag. If you want to read more posts on non-PRC topics (reviews of costuming texts and products, posts from my summer at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, images of projects by the students in my graduate seminars on costume crafts artisanship, etc.), you can click on other subject tags down the sidebar or click on the masthead and read all the recent posts in reverse-chronological order. Again, welcome, and see you on Opening Night!

So, while Romeo and Juliet craftwork posts will have to wait one more week, here are a few topical links:

[ profile] pinkveneer pointed me toward the excellent shibori blog, Shibori Girl, featuring beautiful photographs of the artist's work.

Jill's World of Research, Reaction, and Millinery is another great blog written by a Texas milliner and librarian. Her writing is fun and chatty, and her millinery images and links are great!

Mystery-Braid leather instructions show how to do those "magically" braided bracelets and belts and other straps with the triple-sliced single strap.

And, if you don't know about Craft Magazine, you should check it out. Some of the projects are dorky, but there are often a handful of great ones as well--this month features a piece on how to make a Carmen Miranda-style fruit-topped showgirl headdress!
labricoleuse: (hats!)
[ profile] naeelah asks:

I'm hoping to start teaching myself more about shibori (and other resist dying techniques) as well as silk painting. It's easy enough to find resources on the dye techniques, but I'm feeling a bit clueless about the actual dyes, so I just wondered if you can recommend any particular dye brands or if you have any tips for setting up a home dye shop. (I think I'll mostly be working with smaller pieces of fabric and narrow pieces that are a few meters long.)

I'll be using mostly silk and cotton. One of the only big dye stores I'm aware of is Dharma Trading (.com), so I'm looking at their catalog, but if you know of any others, I'd be happy to hear them. Their catalog is nicely split up by dye techniques, and they have a lot of information on their dyes, but that can only tell me so much.

I hesitate to go into specific dye brands because i'm holding out for a sponsorship contract like basketball stars get with shoes, or rockstars get with guitar manufacturers.

Ok, i'm BS-ing, but i do feel like i can't necessarily recommend one brand over another, as i've not tried every brand out there. What i can do is tell you what i typically use, though, and maybe that'll be a good starting point for dipping into home-dyeing.

For shibori techniques in your home, i would suggest using fiber reactive cold-process dyes. They're fairly straightforward in processing, and you can do them in crappy buckets in a basement or backyard and don't have to deal with them in a kitchen situation, which is essential for home dyeing. (It freaks me right out when people dye in the same space they cook food in.)

I always use Pro Chemical's Fiber-Reactive MX dyes, and usually buy them straight from the manufacturer: ProChem's website is really excellent to surf through--they have great instructional write-ups on how to use all their dyes that are structured like a recipe, and all the Material Safety Data Sheets for their products are accessible online. The MX dyes in particle form are harmful to breathe, so if you go this route make sure you mix them in a ventilated space with particulate respiratory protection. Read through the instructions fully before you order stuff, because depending on what fiber you are dyeing you will need to order and add different chemical additives (soda ash, urea, etc).

Dharma carries the ProChem MX dyes, and can be a good place to order from if you want to also order other brands/supplies/chemicals, blank garments, equipment, etc. I like Dharma--i've been ordering from them since 1993, and they are always really helpful about recommending products, good service, and great about rectifying any problems (lost packages, wrong product, etc).

For silk painting--something i'm doing literally right now (it's hanging to dry) and will write up in a future post once our next show opens--i use Presist water-soluble resist and Dye-Na-Flow silk paints. I use these products because they are easy to use, fast, and clean up quick, all of which is of primary concern in theatre. There are other methods and products out there that are similar (Jacquard silk paints, water-based gutta) that i've used too and work well, and others that are more time-consuming and difficult to deal with. The more you get into it and the more time and effort and artistic detail you might want to put in, maybe you'd want to branch out. For a beginner, the flowable silk paints and water-based resists are probably easiest to try.

The only other company i order from is Aljo, who have a crappy website and i use them only for super-toxic scary synthetic dyes (not something you'd be doing in the home anyhow).

Regarding dyeing in the home, again, i think the cold-process dyes are a good choice because you can do them outdoors or somewhere that's NOT your kitchen. I think if you want to do hot-process dyes at home where you need to boil a bath or something, you are better off taking a dedicated dye-pot and a tabletop stove-eye and plugging it in out in the garage than you are dyeing on the same stove you cook dinner on. You will probably want to invest in some tarps for the floor, some gloves and a rubber/pvc apron, maybe some splashproof goggles. You will want a clothesline or folding clothes dryer to hang things on, some dedicated measuring spoons and cups, some tongs and a big spoon--none of which should come from the kitchen. You'll also want some bleach, so you can run an empty "bleach load" through your washer after you use it to rinse your dyed fabrics; this'll keep your subsequent actual laundry from getting speckled or weirdly dingey or whatever from residual dye. Most of this can be found at the Dollar General or similar so it's not a big $$ outlay to do it up safely.

You didn't ask about resources for technique, but i do want to plug the book Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada. It's an AWESOME resource full of great instructive photos (albeit black and white ones) for all kinds of techniques. It's IMO the best book out there on the subject.

On LJ, you might want to check out the communities [ profile] dyeingfiber and [ profile] fiber_dyeing, the former of which focuses on dyeing raw fiber for spinning and the latter on dyeing in general. They can be good communities for posing questions to folks of all degrees of expertise, but always research safety questions yourself through the MSDS for products--i find that the degree of laxity when it comes to safety, particularly with home crafting, is alarming online. Folks think that because something is marked "non-toxic" they can eat it, or because it makes them feel "funny" when they inhale vapors that is somehow cool and not inviting brain tumors and lung cancer or similar.

Hopefully this answers your questions!
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here's another sample i did for class, creating a striped effect with discharge dyeing. "Discharge dyeing" essentially means, removing color from fabric so that the bound/obscured/obfuscated areas retain the original dark hue and the rest of the fabric exposed to the bath loses intensity and saturation. You can do this with various chemicals, including household bleach. I used a 3:1 water/Clorox solution in hot water.

instructional photos past the cut! )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is a sample i did for my dyeing class. I took some process photos so you can see how the effect was created.

Read more... )

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