A yard filled with silk

Mr. Baggins was very interested in overseeing the whole process.

Tomorrow I drive north towards Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. I am taking a five day class with Israeli fiber-artist Irit Dulman! It is pretty thrilling. (You can read just how thrilling in a post on my other blog Riding the Pooka.) The class is about creating botanical prints on naturally dyed cloth using leaves and flowers.

Her work is beyond beautiful. The list of required materials that students need to prepare ahead of time is extensive. Since I signed up very last minute into a cancellation spot I have had a very busy week.  I am bringing 34 scarves, and 30 yards of cloth per the list. Everything needed to be scoured and about half needed to be mordanted. It has been full bore in the studio for several days. Today the lines are filled with mordanted silk, cotton, hemp, rayon and linen.  The weather is perfect for drying them. They are so creamy and luminous and beautiful it is just a bit sad to be planning their transformation.


Though everything needed to be scoured, the organic color grown cotton needed to be scoured twice. Then everything that needed mordant got a three day soak in aluminum acetate. This morning all that was wrung out and had a short spa treatment in a bath of wheat bran and calcium before going out to the line.

Usually my process involves serial mordanting, reusing the same bath a few times. The sense of urgency required to be prepared for class bypassed that option. Most of the mordant baths are going into five gallon bucket to hang out until I get back. Hopefully to mordant more fibers then. I may put some play silks in to soak while I am gone. Which will be a first since I have never left something in the mordant bath for a week before. Regardless it seems like such a waste to pour it out when it could so easily do some more work.

I look forward to the experimentation and play that will go into next week’s class transforming everything into objects of botanical beauty. Now I just need to create little Tyvek labels for every single piece – much like labeling a child’s clothes to go to camp. It is very important not to get the mordanted and unmordanted items confused. Right now they all look exactly the same. Today I also need to gather up a selection of plants to take with me to use for the print process.

I will do future installments showing the results of my adventure. Until then May your days be filled with light.


I’ll be bringing some ferns to try, since they are a dye plant that makes nice browns…

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