The exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen has finally come to the end of its run and has exceeded all my expectations. Those who saw it have been amazed by the range of colours available from natural dyes despite the fact that before the earliest commercially viable synthetic dye, all our textiles were coloured this way. Look at any museum or art gallery and you will see that colour is everywhere from the earliest times. Go to somewhere like Lascaux and you will see that our very first ancestors were keen painters!
Over the next few weeks I will be opening the solar jars and we will be able to see the results of the long, energy efficient, solar dyeing. That is always exciting, usually a bit smelly (the vegetable matter brings its very own je ne sais quoi to the party!) but once washed, the pong disappears. I am particularly interested to see how a tied silk scarf has behaved in the pot.
Additionally, I put a small, randomly wrapped, indigo dyed ikat warp on a basic 4 shaft loom in order to demonstrate the technique of ikat. I would argue that this is at least as much, if not more, about the dyeing than the weaving as the effect comes from the skill of the dyer as much as from the weaving. This little sample was great fun as the white areas emerged forming a shape in the indigo warp and weft.
Cheered by the success of this minor experiment, I have now dyed a silk warp using the same technique and we shall see how successful that will be.
Indigo on 2/20 tussah silk.