Friday, 27 August 2010

fermented indigo vat

Madder/Bran Fermentation vat ]
I started this on Tuesday night. as  I want it for my Dyeing the Blues Workshop on Saturday.
The recipe calls for 9 litres of water but I filled up a small stainless steel pot- I think it might be 6litres
60g madder
30g bran
500ml of wood ash lye at pH 14. ( This is the last of my oak ash lye). I put this as even though  in proportion it might be too much but somehow I thought it would be okay. and as it turned out the final pH of the solution  was 9 verging on 10 which was fine and in fact the one important and critical measurement (along with the temperature)

25g of  finely ground indigo.stirred with hot water to a paste. The recipe called for 22g but I had a packet of 25 g so what the hell! It all went in. Would 3g really make a difference?

I boiled the madder  and bran , wood ash lye ,and water for twenty minutes,  allowed it to cool to 40 degrees C before adding the indigo paste, covered  and placed on the heating pad to keep warm. pH was 9. Incidentally a scientifically minded friend though the boiling was to get rid of the alizarin in madder. Certainly the froth  goes a fabulous purple or dark red colour.(I have had both colours). On this occasion it was more a dark red.
Wednesday am. The vat was 38 degrees, a  few bubbles on the surface. pH 9. Stirred . The vat is starting to smell that characteristic slightly sweet smell
Wednesday pm The vat was 42 degrees pH had dropped to 6.  I added 2 tablespoons of sodium carbonate ( washing soda). The pH drops because of the lactic acid produced by fermentation and at this stage you need to check the vat twice a day as pH can drop rapidly as you can see.  If the vat becomes acid the vat is described as going sour and the indigotin is lost.Vat smelling
Thursday am The vat was pH 7 I stirred added 2 tablespoons of washing soda, stirred and checked again. pH was now 9.
Thursday pm about 5.  The vat had dropped to about pH8 and was nicely warm at 42 degrees C.
I checked it again at 7 ish and it had dropped to Ph 6-7 so I stirred , and added 2 tablespoons of washing soda.  I used to make a solution and indeed used to use wood ash lye but this either means adding cold liquid  which cooled the vat down or heating it up and now I find adding washing soda works fine.  If in doubt as to howmuch to add  add a little like a teaspoon , stir and check the pH.
Friday am
Ph7-8  37 degrees C!-it seems to have been really cold overnight as the studio felt really cold this morning to the extent tha\t I discussed with DH lighting the wood burner to take off the chill.
I stirred, added 1 tablespoon of washing soda  to pH 9.
The vat had an indigo sheen this morning as well as a slight froth and the sweet fermented smell . I added some newly washed teeswater ( about 25g) down the side of the vat. At first  I  thought they went an olive green then perhaps a more yellowy colour.  Anyway I have left them in till this evening or possibly till tomorrow when the workshop starts.
Friday pm 
pH 7-8
 Stirred added 1 tablespoon of washing soda. Forgot to takethe temperature.

I have changed the title of my blog- this morning it seemed funny tonight feeling down it seemed offensive. .
I have lost a follower I  wonder why?

Madder bran vat day 3.5  sheen of indigo flower on surface 

Rather surprisingly the fibres have quite a green cast.  Was it the teeswater being a bit discoloured? I don't know.
very gradually the fibres turned a darker green but not really a blue.
Vat was 35 degrees C PH was 8, so Iadded a tablspoonof washing soda to bring it up to 9 and the little vat dyed all the day coping with 6 students putting two lots of stuff in each. A lot of the fibres still had this strange green cast and my other thought was that there was some yellow dye in the pan left after dyeing  otherwise I really cannot account for it.  In the evening I just  stirred it and left it.
 A tidy studio ready for 6 students!
The Blue Table

 The results on the airer. The students  had 100 g of merino, half a silk cap, some silk chiffon,  and could pick from teeswater, silk cocoons, carrier rods.and some  yellow merino dyed with Gensita Tinctoria as as well as  dyed teeswater.  I think everyone had to work quite hard but they all dyed everything in their packs and some managed repeated dips for a darker blue

 On the Dyeing the Blues Day. We dyed with fresh woad leaves, fresh Persicaria Tinctoria for blue and in acidulated  water for turquoise-hanging at the further end of the airer.  We made up a Chemical reduction vat and the students were able to use a fermented vat.  The woad was  better than  I thought but the persicara-grown in Enys's greenhouse - was superb.  We did not have time to use the persicaria vat made form my home grown leaves so I am going to use  that this morning.
Much to my surprise  this morning the fermented vat had bubbles on the surface and the pH was 9 Temperature was 36 C.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Two New Pictures and Helfa Gelf Open Studio

Yesterday I picked up my other two new pictures from the framers ready for Helfa Gelf  Open Art studio event in September.  .  When I picked these two up I felt excited and  I am so pleased with them both.  The Slate  Fence  is probably my favourite but the Snowy Fields  done one afternoon in the kitchen (because it was too cold to work in my studio) while looking at the  snow covered hills  is probably the nearest I get to painting at location.  It is has a slightly different frame from the other dark brown and woody looking with a slight texture and is a very quiet picture.  Chanel (one half of the picture framing team -the other is Tim) and I  both feeling very tired fantasised about a little quiet minimalist  room  with a  cup of coffee a book and my picture. Not got time to write more  I have got 6 people coming for a Dyeing the Blues day on Saturday and my studio has to have a major tidy to fit them all in

Monday, 16 August 2010

Natural Dye GArden on TV

My  dye garden  along with Enys and me is featured on a programme  called  " A little Piece of Paradise" about gardens open in Wales for the National Garden  Open Scheme tonight 16th of August at 8pm ITV Wales.  Here is an article about this programme and about my garden in the Daily Post.

You might like to know that I have raised about £230.00 pounds for charity showing  about 80 people around my garden this summer . 

I started this garden for my own interest and pleasure  and I am still bemused that so many people find it intersting.but in fact we have had a huge  positive response form many people form all sorts of interests-gardening , artists, embroidery,  local WI and Chapel groups .

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Stand for my naturally dyed merino

Dyeing with plants from the garden and making a gorgeous range of colours is one thing packaging and displaying  well to sell is another and  one of the challenges  about having  a stand at a craft fair is making good use of the vertical space.   If you hang things from the tops of the stand they don't sell but if they are on something that stands up they do. My merinos and hand spun yarn  are particularly hard to display and although I have tried all sorts of ways I finally asked   John Stoker the partner  of the Mulberry Dyer to make  me two stands  one for my hand spun yarns (on the left)  and then one large one for my merinos which at Woolfest and Wonderwool occupied one side of the stall.  Then having got got used to hanging my merinos up I was frustrated as I could not take this large stand to many of the smaller events I  do.  For  example next week I am off to teach at Malvern Hills Summer School where I will have twelve students in a small classroom  (Incidentally there are a few places left I believe on the Felted Collars-where we will be using 15micron merino.) .  After a table for samples this  leaves me one table for the "shop".  So. a few months ago .........from the back of my studio I stumbled on a  rotating stand made  many years ago and found it useful  for hanging merino only a little small.   I tried it out when I taught the North Wales Embroidery Guild and the Fiesty Felters in Shrewsbury and found I seemed to be selling more merino despite a price increase. So I decided to ask Michael Williams   who made the stand to make another one only a bit bigger.   Efficiently he still had the design for the first  one although it must have been a few years ago and made me a new one  and  here it is  it arrived yesterday .

Friday, 6 August 2010

New PIctures

Here are two of my new pictures -just back from the framers.
Night Sea and Rocky Stream.
Naturally dyed fibres and fabrics and machine stitch