Friday, April 18, 2014

Eye Candy

That's what tramm silk dyed with wood-derived colors is - a delight to the eyes.

The caramel on the left is from cocobolo. The peachy pink is redheart (it's very similar to the hue I get from bloodwood). The warm grey on the right is the bubinga, which only made a blah warm beige, and then got an iron afterbath to bend it toward grey; I like it better now.

A fourth color is still drying on the rack. I'll begin to transfer that one from the dye skein to a more useable form tomorrow. The original 100-gm skein it came in is too much yarn in too small a circumference skein to dye well/evenly, but I hate to overhandle the thread by reskeining it, then mordanting, dyeing, after-dyeing, rinsing, etc. Next one out of the stash will get that full treatment, though, because the original size skeins are next to impossible to rewind after they're dry. I don't know what equipment the factory uses to make the skeins in the first place - it feels like it was an umbrella swift, which is a bad choice because the swift contracts a little with each round of thread, so the skein ends up being very unevenly tensioned.

Oh, well, I love the colors!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dusk: A Special Project

DH and I have been working on a collaborative project. The International Tech-Style Art Biennial is coming up in the summer at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, so we thought we'd try to create an interactive textile. It's a wall hanging that reacts to the audience: if it detects that someone is standing or passing in front of the piece, the action begins. If that person gets too close, the action stops and waits for the person to back away to an acceptable distance before resuming.

Imagine a late summer meadow at dusk, with fireflies and frogs and crickets. The insects and frogs do their thing if someone is there to appreciate them. But they object if you get too close - the frogs and crickets stop singing, and the fireflies go into panic mode.

If the piece had been accepted into the show, I wouldn't be able to show it to you - the museum wants to be the first place work is exhibited. However, I was just notified that the piece was not accepted, so here's a link to a video showing how it works.

We had a lot of fun working out the overall design, and DH spent many happy hours researching the frequency, duration, and interval between flashes in various species of firefly. That, and getting familiar with the Arduino environment for hardware and software development. Sometimes the guy needs tech projects to keep in the swing of things.

There are audio speakers and an amplifier imbedded in the frame, along with a little CPU and lots of wiring to LEDs mounted on the face of the weaving. The jar you see in the video is a vehicle for mounting the motion detector (which decides if there's anybody in the room) and the proximity sensor (which decides when you've gotten too close). Those sensors can't be hidden inside the frame, because they can't "see" through cloth. DH put some extra LEDs in the jar, so it seems as if you've just been out in the meadow with your butterfly net catching fireflies.

By the way, although we have fireflies on the West Coast, they aren't bioluminescent, so you would only be familiar with their magic if you live in the Midwest, East, or South. I'm not sure about other continents...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

More Dyepots

Three skeins of tramm silk went into wood-derived dyepots yesterday afternoon. The first is a wood called Redheart, which is giving a beautiful peach/apricot/pink color:

Next is Bubinga, a red-colored African hardwood. It's a bust. Pale beige, in spite of the rich color in the jar and in the dyebath. Oh well, one can always find a use for subtle neutrals... And once again, I'm reminded that many reds are simply fugitive - the colorant can't bond with either fiber or mordant, and just goes down the drain afterward. Live and learn. It'll be a disappointment to the gentleman from DH's woodturning club who gave me a huge lawn-and-garden-size garbage bag full of Bubinga chips. Its main function now will be as garden mulch, via the greenwaste facility.

Last is Cocobolo, a favorite for russet browns, from a tree that grows (very slowly) around the Gulf of California.

While these were soaking, I finished the jacquard image of the boat at the cabin:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Got Fish?

The current piece on the jacquard loom is based on a photo taken at the cabin in Montana, looking down the path to the shore of the lake.

This piece might need some off-the-loom modifications, either spot overdyeing or embroidery - I'll have to wait until after wet finishing to be sure. I'm not happy about the boat. Well, I'm always happy about the boat, because it represents hours of peace and quiet out on the water of a small lake. But I think post-processing of some sort will improve the image - and my satisfaction with it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

On the Weaving Front

The striped warp is in progress:

With this warm, dry weather, I'm having trouble with static charge on the warp and weft yarns. In our climate, static happens frequently with silk, but this is the first time I've had 100% wool behave this way. A slight dampening of the weft yarn (while on the pirn) seems to tame the static for a while, but needs to be refreshed periodically. I'm looking into other cures...

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Today's Dyepots

As we all know, we can rely on MX fiber reactive dyes to give us brilliant, saturated color when we want it. Both skeins below are Bambu 12 from Silk City, my current favorite for weft yarns for the jacquard loom. Because of the way the yarn is spun and plied, it spreads out and covers the warp very well when/where I want it to do so. The skein on the left was dyed with equal parts of MX scarlet and fuchsia ("pure" colors) and brilliant orange (a mixed color from Rupert, Gibbon, & Spider). The skein on the right is about equal parts of fuchsia ("pure") and grape (a mixed color from ProChem). I like to mix dye colors, because I think that makes for more saturated and rich color than the single-molecule, "pure" colors like scarlet and fuchsia.

The weather has decided to aim for "early summer" here, and today's temps were in the 90s, with a very low humidity. I put the skeins out on the balcony on a rack at 10:00am, and by the time I came down for dinner at 5:30pm, they were completely dry.

At the other end of the saturation spectrum is this silk scarf, which was dyed with what you might call "attar of roses." A few months ago, I tried to do an India Flint-like process of wrapping premordanted silk cloth with rose petals and letting it sit for a few days. In her book, she got faint pink splashes of color on the cloth. I got ugly brownish splodges. Yuck. (Thank heavens for overdyeing.)

But I had a lot of rose petals in the studio freezer that I had harvested late last summer. I hate to throw out something that might give color, so I put the petals (from *dark red* roses) into a pot of hot water and made a slurry of them using a hand-blender. The liquid was dark red. I strained out the solids and put two pieces of premordanted silk in the pot. Instant green. I kid you not. Subdued sage green, but definitely green.

I suspect that what's happening is that the red colorant in the water is fugitive - not capable of bonding with the mordant on the fiber. But there must be enough chlorophyll in the petals to make green. I've used chlorophyll extract from Earthues, and it was this shade of green. There's still one length of silk in the rose-petal dyepot. It might get darker if I leave it another day or two. Might not.

In the dregs of the Jatoba dyepot that gave me a lovely "peaches and cream" color on silk yarn (shown at the bottom of this page), there are two more lengths of silk cloth trying to grab the last few molecules of color in that pot.

When they're "done," I'll toss the rest of the liquid; it has done its job well but is clearly getting tired.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Warp That Took Forever... easy and fast when it comes to threading. The wide stripes are all either straight draw from 1 to 12 or the reverse. The narrow (magenta) stripes are on 4 shafts each, all reverse straight draw from 16 to 13 or from 20 to 17. For this, I don't need to use the "treadle your threading" method, which would be much slower. I've got a wide-stripe-and-a-half to go, and should finish tomorrow.

The first scarf (at 18 inches wide, should it be called a shawl, or a wide scarf?) will have a simple design. I'm planning to use a navy-blue weft in a finer worsted yarn, something that's been lurking in the stash for much too long and deserves a chance to see daylight.

I figured that a navy weft would help mitigate the difference in saturation between the purple stripes and the blue stripes, while letting the magenta stripes provide a small "pop" of color. We'll see if I'm right in a few days.