I have been using tea, coffee and onion skins to dye some sample fabrics. I am planning to keep to mostly neutral shades for the final piece and to use fabric manipulation, embroidery and some resist dyeing techniques to give form and texture. Base fabrics were a cream polyester voile, ivory dress net, recycled cream curtain lining and ivory dupion silk. I wanted to knock back the bright colour of the original fabrics and introduce some texture with the stain. I left some samples overnight in the dye bath. I got some good results using the heat of our Aga stove, rather than a chemical mordant, to set the colour by putting the damp fabric scrunched up in a steel roasting pan (covered with a Pyrex plate to stop it touching the radiant sides of the oven) and leaving it in the roasting oven (approximately 180 – 200 degrees) for an hour. I left some samples sitting on lid of the hot plates overnight, a gentler heat. Samples were then washed by machine (approximately 30 degrees) with a little detergent and ironed dry. I will be interested to see how long lived the dye is, especially as my final piece will be designed to stay in the light of a window or door but I like the idea of how the piece will age naturally.
instant coffee – this worked well, the tone is slightly greyer than the tea
mostly brown onion skins but with a few bits of red – the result on the silk was a lot brighter than I had expected
tea – Co-Op 99 bags made up good and strong
I have also used some tie-dye techniques to give the fabric more texture.
lines of running stitch, random size and distance apart, pulled up tight before placing in the dye bath
an interesting bark like effect of where the dye has concentraced in the folds.
my version of a shibori resist using glass seed beeds dyed using onion skins.
little circles of white with yellow centres, something to do with the bead touching the surface
I have hand stitched some further samples using the dyed fabrics to get an idea of layers and different stitches. I definitely prefer hand embroidery for this project.
layers of dyed silk on voile, stitched with cotton and silk threads
Here I have left the thread ends on the surface which make a feathery effect. Base fabric is the tea stained voile, the left leaf shape is tea dyed silk and the bush on the right is onion skin dyed silk. I have used mainly standard machine sewing thread with some heavier orange machine thread.
In many of the monochrome versions I like the way the stitching is highlighted, exactly the right effect for this project.
I made some preliminary sketches of how I wanted the layers to look; more of a plan than a design, then it was time to make a 3d model of the project. As this piece is designed to hang in a window I have come up with a box frame (cardboard shoe box) to act as the window embrasure and to support the hanging rods (kebab sticks). I have used plastic film (plastic wallet) for the first front layer and transparent paper to represent the other two layers behind. I used cut out, monochromes copies of one of the computer manipulated images give an impression of the final design and the scale is approximately 1:5.
The paper is a bit more opaque than I believe the fabric will be so I think you may be able to perceive the figures in the background a little better in the final piece.