One of the things I noticed at Tin Can Bay was that some people identify that something is less lovely or less suitable than it could be, and go about transforming it into something lovely or suitable. I have been known to do this… but it made me conscious that often I just live with the ugly version or wish that thing was different every time I wear or use it. I also realised I don’t have a lot of confidence I can improve on things. What if my intervention makes them worse?
So it occurred to me that I could change the little calico drawstring bags I have acquired full of soap nuts and the odd other item. They are useful but ugly right now. Why not dye them? This idea happened along in a week when there was cow milk in the house (unusual these days), so I decided to try using it as a mordant. If it doesn’t work–it won’t be too late to use soy another day, I decided. Duly treated, I applied E Nicholii leaves. The leaves my friend gave me are full of buds, splendiferous materials for leaf printing goodness.
There were three bundles in all in this dye pot, and I chose this one to unwrap. Nothing special had occurred.
I’m not sure whether this was due to the mordant (poor application, for instance!) or whether I just paid too little attention and the bundle didn’t have a long enough, hot enough time in contact with the dye. I had left it dyeing and gone out to play guitar and sing and generally be a flibbertygibbet–occasionally something suffers through this kind of neglect (but I had a good time)! I was undeterred, because if at first you don’t succeed, try again later with tried and true processes you understand on a day when you are paying enough attention.
I rewrapped, and decided to reheat the other two bundles as well rather than disturb them, when their companion had not done well with careless treatment.
The other bundles were another calico bag and an infinity scarf destined for a friend who loved the one I made at India Flint’s Melbourne workshop. I am seeing my friend soon and I have another gift for her too.
This time, E Cinerea and E Nicholii…
The other milk soaked calico bag–had rather nice beads on its drawstrings. Here are the bundles prior to heating.
Here they are after the first heating–the silky merino looks good–but I had hoped for deeper colour. The filthy artisanal plastic bucket in vibrant green is an extra special touch, I feel.
After some further cooking, the calico bags all looked darker but still pretty awful and the whole bucketful was strangely blurred (joke, Joyce!). Back to soy mordanting for now. However, that big bundle in the middle is the infinity scarf–looking good.
The calico bags still require improvement. They look better here than in real life!
I really like the way the scarf turned out. The colours are rich. There are some nice ochre and deep grey sections for contrast.
I really like some of the details–as I had hoped, the E Nicholii buds have left their mark as part of an overall pattern.
Now to see if my friend likes it–but I have some quiet confidence that she will…