Printing with natural dyes

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If you were to ask me how I made the pictured yardage I'd tell you I stenciled natural dyes onto silk. Sounds simple right?The process of printing with natural dyes is actually pretty complex, and I might add not the most efficient. So much so that any natural prints I make invariably become a part of art installations as opposed to sold as yardage or what have you. But, it's such a satisfying process! And that's what I try to make my art practice all about. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

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For this yardage I first mordanted silk with alum and then sized it by painting it with soy milk that I made from scratch the day before. Then I extracted the dyes from the heartwood of brasilwood and logwood and thickened them with guar gum. I stenciled the dyes onto the silk using a plastic doily and waited for it to dry completely before steaming the entire yardage in a makeshift bullet steamer.  It takes at least three weeks for the soy sizing to fully cure before I rinse it.  As intense as that is I love every single second and can't wait to start the process over again.  Of course a great way to make the process more efficient is to mordant a lot of fabric at once for future use. But for me printing with natural dyes is purely for the love of it, never production.

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Janna ValleeComment