While we were in London for Tomory's show, one day, we decided to meet Milena and Matt in Rye, taking the train and seeing a little of the countryside. We ate a hearty portion of fish and chips at a local pub, and took blustery hike afterwards out towards Camber Castle. It was one of the first full days after the spring equinox, wonderful to walk the green fields, see the new lambs and blossoms.
A few weekends ago, I was able to take a class, Exploring Mushrooms for Dyes with Alissa Allen at the Los Angeles Arboretum. I'm always looking to add to my skill set as someone who works in textiles, and lately I have been fascinated with the process of working with natural dyes.
I initially came across this workshop on Instagram, and in doing so I was surprised to learn that fungi and lichen could be used as natural dyestuff. I had to find out more, andafter taking Alissa's class, I was not disappointed! The spectrum of colors that can be extracted from lichen and fungi is truly amazing.
At the class, we each were able to create and take home a sampling of fungi & lichen dyes on wool, that had not been mordanted, and/or mordanted with alum or iron (first image). We also brought fabric of our own choosing (I brought 2 pieces of silk/wool gauze--as protein based fabrics tend to work better with natural dyes) and submerged them in vats of Dyer's Polypore (Phaeolus schweinitzii) - in one vat we mordanted our fabric in alum, and the other we used iron as a mordant. The alum- mordanted Dyer's Polypore turned out a golden yellow, and the iron-mordanted fabric emerged olive green. Once at home, I overdyed the yellow Polypore silk/wool with a quick dip in indigo using simple shibori techniques (last photo).
I'm uncertain as to how often I will actually be able to dye with mushrooms in Southern California, as our climate is not naturally conducive to the growth of mushrooms commonly used in dyeing, but I feel Alissa's class was very worthwhile- she possesses a wealth of knowledge, and is a patient instructor. I highly recommend taking a workshop with her if you ever have the chance.
When I start working on a textile or garment, or a new collection-- I often initially think of somehow combining"opposites" in the work. Dark/light, positive/negative, cool/warm, etc. Would this more structured blouse/jacket/ skirt look good with a loose, painterly print? Would this pristine piece of cotton look more interesting if I dyed it to look like it was dirty or stained? Is this a lighthearted collection in feel, or something more melancholy? Can I somehow make something fun and introspective? When I am stuck creatively, asking these questions helps get me started working.
I did not plan or expect to take these pictures today. As I was dyeing fabric, in my dye studio, which is my back yard, I was thinking about photography, and inspiration, (recent photographs by Kate, and Lauren, and Claire).
I love being able to work outside year 'round, and will take care of the garden while I wait for fabric to dry.
As I was waiting for a textile to dry today, I picked a lime blossom, a banana leaf, and a blood orange that had cracked and had fallen to the ground, and played around, documenting the results.