natural dyeing, brazilwood

deep rose color from just a dip in dyebath

deep red color on silk twisted in a rosette

It’s the end of august already? How time flies–it seems to me as I am getting of age, each passing day goes by ever so quickly. When I was a teenager growing up in Malaysia, I always wondered why it took so long for me to grow up to be an adult. Instead now, it’s the other way around. Nevertheless, life is good but sometimes I wish the pace is a bit slower.

Today, like any other weekend-was a day for me to play and experiment outside in my little “studio’. And the post today is an interesting dye from a certain wood call brazilwood, named after a country. Can you guess what it is?

Brazilwood (caesalpinia echinata), or sappanwood is a tropical hardwood, discovered by the Portuguese explorers who found these trees growing on the coast of South America. They also found that the heartwood of the tree yields a brilliant red pigment (brazilin), which was ideal for dyeing, thus making the trees a lucrative commodity for trading. Following are results from the various experiments I made using this dye.

R-L: powdered dye; crimson red color dye bath from brazilwood.

deep rose color from just a dip in dyebath. This is the background that will be applied to a shibori technique

deep rose color arranged in a rosette. This is the background, applied to a “fold and clamp” or shibori technique.

itajime shibori, technique with triangle-shaped resist. Then the bundle was over-dyed in indigo dye bath for a purple color

here, I applied the same method as above, using a hexagon resist, and then over-dyed in indigo.

yet, another shibori technique that I love–arashi shibori, or pole wrapping. 

brazilwood_red_overdyeIndigo

red has magically turned into violet purple, and white was a result from the tied markings which acts as resist in this technique.

inside view of the many creases and folds.

a tunnel of purples and whites

so much fun pulling and stretching the folds.

And finally, a musical piece fitting for today….”the end of August, by Yanni”

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“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

2-in-one kaftan

breezy and loose-fitting kaftan, rust dyed with rusty objects.

Working through my pile of fabrics that was tucked away in a box were my “not too good” or NTG projects from my eco print experiments. I found these two silk scarves that were previously dyed with rusty objects with the rest of the fabrics. It took me awhile to figure it out how to make the most of it with the least amount of time. The solution is a kaftan!

Kaftan is a traditional Moroccan inspired long and loose-fitting robe that can be worn on both casual and formal occasions, depending on the type of material and elaborate embroidery used on the garment. This was how it’s done: stitched the two scarves together along the edge; folded into middle, cut an opening for the neck, stitched both sides, leaving two opening for the armhole. This is my 2-in-one kaftan pieced together–Viola!

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“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happier, sew happiest.”

combos colors in purple and yellow

yellow and purple are opposite to each other on the color wheel, which makes them complementary and pleasant to the eye

Turmeric (circuma longa), is a rhizome and it belongs to the ginger family. The root is use as a culinary spice to flavor curries, preserve foods, and as a medicinal herb. It is believed that the roots, has an anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties. In India, and parts of Asia-it is used to treat some health conditions.

When used as a dyestuff it gives a rich golden orange color. I made these scarves by dyeing them in a rich yellow turmeric dye bath for the background. Then each pieces was folded and clamped into a bundle and dipped into the purple logwood dye.

rich and vibrant golden yellow from turmeric bye

rich and vibrant golden yellow from turmeric dye bath

happy colors and interesting patterns

happy colors and interesting patterns

arashi shibori method of dyeing

arashi shibori method of dyeing–resembles dragon scales

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“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest.”

purple in logwood

L-R: shibori dyed; the other two pieces are printed with eucalyptus and then dipped in simmering logwood dyed.

Logwood tree, (Haematoxylon campechianum), is the heartwood of a tree that was used for a long time as a natural source for dyeing and staining hunting traps. The tree grows in Central America, Mexico, Brazil, and India. The dye color varies by the type of mordant and pH of the water. It yields a vibrant purple color in alum mordant, and black in iron mordant.

This post is a summer dress made with viscose jersey, a stretchy fabric that takes logwood dye quite well. The logwood chips were soaked in hot water and left to steep overnight. The following day the dye bath was simmered with a little alum and water for an hour.

after being soaked in hot water overnight–what a vibrant purple!

a simple dress to beat the summer heat

tie backs made from shibori dyed in logwood dyebath

tie backs made from shibori dyed in logwood dyebath

I’ve learned one thing, logwood has a light washfastness, as I also noticed the colors washed off slightly after I washed with a gentle soap. Nevertheless, I am happy with the results.

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happier, sew happiest.”

buzzing summer

This summer, I have been putting my sewing machine into good use. It is an older Singer sewing machine with tabletop and detachable discs for various types of stitch patterns. I had it for almost 10 years now–I remembered walking into a thrift store one day, in hope to find a sewing machine. A lady at the counter came up to me and asked if I wanted to buy a sewing machine. I was taken quite by surprise-how could she know that? Anyway, the price was within my budget and a very nice shopper, who happens to live on my street offered to load the sewing machine unto his truck and drove me home. How sweet of him!

So back to this post. This dress was made with viscose jersey fabric that had been pre-dyed with onions skin; bundled around an old rusty can; and boiled in eucalyptus and barks dye-bath. Initially, I wanted to make this dress from a Butterick pattern, but later decided to modified it to my own design. For a layered look, I’ve added a triangular piece of fabric along the side of the dress.

side view of the dress

more side view and my version of the layered look

shibori or tied dyed 3 starbursts in white, greyish and sage green in random twist and swirl pattern

not sure the name of these birds

enjoying the nice weather at Carmel on the pacific coast

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“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happier, sew happiest.”

lagenlook, easy peasy

raw silk fabric printed with rose, eucalyptus, and rusty objects.

The word, Lagen-look, literally means layered look in German. It is a European style of dressing by wearing different layers and lengths of clothing according to the seasons; such as lightweight fabrics in the summer, and thicker and heavier fabrics in the winter. This method of dressing creates volume, texture, and emanates a sense of casual, carefree and stylish clothing with asymmetrical lines.

I have a few pieces of natural dyed fabrics accumulated from my eco printing and dyeing experiments. There were some nice ones and some not so good pieces. An idea came to mind, I could use them to create and sew myself a Lagen-look dress. It’s also a great way to hide some of my slip-ups and imperfections. Bingo!

back view of dress that was cut on a folded piece of fabric–easy peasy lemon squeezy!

side view of dress

close up on neckline

close up on pocket area

For pattern, click here…..enjoy and please do share a picture of your version of this dress.

Idiom for the day: easy peasy lemon squeezy, literally means something very simple and easy. It comes from a 1970’s British commercial for a lemon squeezy detergent. It depicts a little girl pointing to some dirty dishes and then the adult showed her a bottle of detergent and they both cleaned the dishes. Towards the end of the commercial, the little girl says, “easy peasy lemon squeezy.”

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happier, sew happiest.”

leaf markings, exbucklandia populnea

simple leaf blade, venation is palmate with pink, orange, browns-an Autumn palette

Being a member of the UC Botanical Gardens has it perks–I get to see and learn about the rare and unusual plants from different parts of the world; walk through different sections of the garden’s landscape; take endless pictures and jotting down notes of plant and its origin. Sometimes, if I am lucky the volunteers allow me to pick plants and leaves that they have removed from the garden beds.

An interesting specimen, I’d like to share is the leaf prints made from the leaves of this large and evergreen tree. Exbucklandia populnea, a plant member of the Hamamelidaceae (witch hazel) family, and is native to Bhutan, and Southeastern China, and Laos. The tree is famous for its valuable lumber and its heart-shaped, thick leathery, and glossy foliage. Without further ado, below are results from this wonderful leaf.

leaf the size of my hand

wet leaves on a piece of silk

after steaming for an hour in rain water collected from last year’s rain

it is always a pleasure unwrapping eco bundles!

silk fabric stained in colors of burnt umber to mahogany

the leathery leaf is still good for another experiment

*Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melinda Tai and Obovate Designs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you for visiting, I welcome all your comments.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happily.”