Logwood Dyeing with Batik and Silk Painting for Dresses

PROJECT: Experimentation with beeswax batik resist as background texture for silk painting

I made two samples with silk pieces: 1st logwood dye bath produced strong purple after drying (but it got burnt when the steamer boiled dry, so I made another one), 2nd logwood dye bath using the residue of first dye bath, which resulted in light-dull grape colour. Useful to discover; means can use a small amount of logwood for paler tone.

Result: 1st Logwood dye bath

Gallery: Deep purple dyed silk shows where shibori technique worked (scrunching up with gathered threads) leaf vein and butterfly edging. Leaf areas did not work as resisted, so dye bleach was applied to design area. This is ironed out when dry, and worked only partially. It seems logwood is almost impervious to chemical bleach.

Design areas were outlined again with a dark dyed gutta for more emphasis of, before adding fresh dye colours to images. Silk sample burnt in steaming, will feature in another dress from strips salvaged. (Gallery)

2nd Logwood dye bath – Batik preparation

BATIK: Silk piece stretched to frame. Design drawn with blue water soluble marker pen design drawn. Applying bees wax to silk, with brush end and brushes.

Design drawn with water dissolvable blue marker pen.  Wax is applied as hot as possible. The centre motif worked best (and lightest outcome) where wax was hottest.  Keep heating up wax by placing dish over boiling water pan. Other surrounding wax markings with brush end dabs and hog bush worked less well.  The clearest resisted area is in the centre, where the wax was originally just off the boil. It also came away the easiest when ironed after dyeing. So I would not recommend using weak, faint brush marks when applying wax. It won’t form a strong enough ‘cover’ and the dye will seep behind which can be seen in image below, although a feint texture was achieved.

Shibori test techniques

1st logwood dye bath test created white resisted butterfly outlines (above) after stitching threads very tightly together. Rows of loose stitching, and threads pulled as much as possible, creating a ruched area which creates a resist area against dye penetration. 2nd soak in same dye bath (when most dyestuff had been taken up) revealed poor resist, using shibori stitch gathering (shown on waxed piece). Note: Shibori works well if fabric excluded enough from dye bath – so use thick embroidery silks or string type thread. Simple cotton thread was not thick enough.

Removing batik wax

When dyed fabric is dry – iron over thick brown paper (parcel paper type) placed over silk and wax; iron several times, with fresh paper and hot iron. When wax seems all removed, wash silk in hot water and soap. Any stubborn wax can be scrubbed very, very lightly with a soft brush, to loosen. (Note: wax batiking in this way for fashion, is not ideal on silk) Cotton is a firmer base for artwork where it wouldn’t matter if some residue of wax remains in fabric.

Result: 2nd Logwood dye bath with Batik Lilac-beige silk texture – subtle result after washing out logwood dye, and removing wax.

Fabric co-ordinates: Blend and contrast ideas with batik colour result prior to silk painting. (View Gallery)

Fabric co-ordinates: Final choices of fabric colours to create patchwork dress, to go with half finished silk painting.

Dulled pinks and dull brown with lilac seemed best combinations for the silk batik ground. The pink taffeta has a lilac sheen.

Choosing the pansy print as a co-ordinate allowed the addition of pansies in the silk painted design. This design didn’t really have a preconceived theme, only to use the nigella seed pod as a motif, and for the batik background experiment. Adding maroon silk seemed a good darker linking colour from the pansy print.

The green butterfly came from a photograph I took, and the red butterfly came from another printed fabric design.

Painted silk design result with co-ordinated fabrics chosen for dress.

Pansies added around seed pod design. Co-ordinating fabrics chosen.

Finished silk painting over batik with embroidery for added textural effect

Added embroidered lines on pansies give sparkly effect. Nigella seed pod is enhanced by dark seeds inside pod (arial view) and light embroidery on the pod ends. …The banana leaves would benefit from embroidery also.

Silk Painting ‘Nigella Butterflies’ made into dress centrepiece

Pink silk top – fabric co-ordinate taken from a blouse: colour is similar to the palest background in the logwood batik. Pink bodice top sewn to silk painting just under bust; simple overlap stitching. Original V-necked pink blouse was cut on the cross, so will stretch over varied bust fullness.

Fabric co-ordinate Brown cotton with lavender-pink design – added to bottom of silk painting, and usefully some dress parts could be utilised for armhole bands, as an additional design feature.

Front bodice Contrasting armhole band taken from neckline of co-ordinating fabric (dress). Pinned to pink silk bound edged armhole for stitching join by hand.

Back bodice – Contrasting armhole banding cut from back and underarm of co-ordinating fabric (dress).

Dressmaking process to be continued… August 2019

Jacket ‘LILIES’

This patchwork jacket was commissioned by 99yr old Beth, a friend of my sister’s in Dorset. She likes something different. Having lived in China, the average high street shop doesn’t attract her.

Clothes I make are well received by women who want something unique and original, rather than from high street chain stores; also for women who appreciate the craft of creative patchwork, resulting in the creation of a new fabric.

Original fabrics
The original fabrics chosen for Lilies Jacket

I chose the fabrics myself for the jacket, having met Beth just once. The item was to be for a wedding, so I wanted it to be light and classic, but to still have some interesting elements. The first fabric I found was the beige skirt with eau de nil applique feature of lilies. I decided this was perfect for the jacket theme.

applique corner
Lilies applique patchwork front corner

Fabrics I used were linen and linen-mix skirts from charity shops. Quite a lot of fabric is needed for patchworks; its best to have at least 5 different ones.

When I cut the patches out and laid out together, I decided there needed to be a highlight colour to accent over and above the all-beige overall look.  I rushed to the shops, and was lucky to see the pale green and pale blue devore skirt with floral print in shiny synthetic satin in the first charity shop I looked in; it seemed a tad shockingly bling, but knew once it was in isolated patches, it would merely enhance the overall arrangement. As soon as I added in the new patches, I knew I would work.

Devore printed skirt with shiny blue flowers on pale green voile base
Devore printed skirt with shiny blue flowers on pale green voile base

For this jacket, I chose skirts with embroidery so I could use the embroidered areas for patches.

Cream linen skirt with brown embroidery.
Cream linen skirt with brown embroidery.

From two embroidered skirts there was enough embroidered area, to give some decoration on every patch in the jacket. I had seen Beth had some embroidered clothes and so guessed she would like it.

lining
Lining in taupe and eau de nil roses

The lining was a bonus find, another skirt, viscose type, having just the right colours of taupe background with eau de nil green in the woven roses, which ideally complimented the classic beige, cream and light green of all the patches.

Cost of fabrics was £42 plus £5 for a synthetic jacket which I just had to get, as it had the shell buttons in shiny light beige with a hint of green, perfectly matching the jacket colours. A touch of shine for a jacket to be worn at a wedding I thought.

Back view of Lilies Jacket
Back view of Lilies Jacket

Due to the centre pattern piece of paper pattern being placed on the bias of the cloth grain/weave, the square patches become diamonds.

buttonholes
Bound buttonholes with two different fabrics and the shell buttons.

SILK PAINTING DESIGNS ‘Hopi Bird Dance’. Three dresses with similar silk painted design in 3 colourways.

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When I coordinate found fabrics to recycle together into a new look garment, I enjoy imagining a new decorative design with them; to contrast with the many plain cottons and linens I use. Hand painting designs on silk is the obvious solution, taking inspiration from the existing colours and any print coordinated with the plains. I was busting to get back to silk painting which I’d developed as a technique in my first Devon workshop back in 1995!

When designing, one has to start from somewhere; taking a few elements and putting them together. I began again, exactly where I had left off, with the inspirations I’d had for the last paint on paper furnishing design I’d done. I’ve always been intrigued by Native American design and recently found images of abstract bird designs of the Hopi Indians applied to pottery. They reached a height of decorative abstraction, distorting their bird designs to fit over any curved pottery surface; a brilliant applied design.

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I have kept these ‘curved’ surface designs almost exactly as the originals, but applied them to a two dimensional surface of Habotai silk. It was an obvious decision to put feathers around the Hopi birds but I needed another element. I decided on a selection of Native American quotations intended to stand out in cream.  However, I wrote them with a water based gutta resist, and they were mostly blurred or lost during the steam fixing process; so I embroidered over them. By happy accident this gives another texture, although time consuming. A spirit based gutta may work better next time.

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For the FIRST HOPI BIRD DESIGN I kept to the natural colours from the pottery inspirations; beige, orange, terracotta and brown, adding a stronger pink. I teamed the final piece with brown cottons and viscose from recycled skirts to make an unusual but charming pinafore dress showing off the silk design in the bib top and apron.

Quotations:

After dark all cats are leopards” ~ Zumi

Continue reading “SILK PAINTING DESIGNS ‘Hopi Bird Dance’. Three dresses with similar silk painted design in 3 colourways.”