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Archive for the ‘Picture of Dorian Gray Project’ Category

The ‘beginning’ is my Dorian Gray book. Finally happy with the piece I wrote from my research on saffron, I used a mixture of handwritten and printed sections to go with the first lot of samples I’d dyed.

I used four pieces of the saffron dyed muslin, layered up, as a background for the chain stitch title on the first page. I created the yellow blotches on the pages by dropping the wet saffron onto it after I’d dyed the fabric.

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I’d written a lot about references I’d found to saffron and saffron-dyed clothing in Greek literature so that was printed in a little booklet on the next page, where I tried to write saffron in both Arabic and Greek. Apologies to native writers…

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The samples form the bulk of the next pages, interspersed with information on the etymology of the word and the technicalities of how it dyes.

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The ‘middle’ is more of the bluework, thanks to a couple of meetings.

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Seeding to knock back the blanket stitched flowers, as they were a bit too brash.

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Next I used a pretty composite stitch along the foot of the bowl. It starts with bundles of long detached lazy daisy stitches which are then wrapped around the middles to pull them in, a little like sheaf stitch. Clusters of french knots in a variegated thread are finally added to look like flower heads.

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The ‘end’ was the sample piece I stitched during my stitch play workshop in December. It was nearly finished, just needing the blanket and trellis stitch on the dark green petals, and made the perfect Mothers’ Day card.

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In other news, I think I have finally stopped sulking about my Victorian box project and am hoping to be able to show you some progress next week!

 

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The first item on Dorian Gray’s list is: “the great crocus-coloured robe, on which the gods fought against the giants, that had been worked by brown girls for the pleasure of Athena.” So my first job was to do some research and produce some crocus-coloured fabric. It seems that wool and linen were the most common fabrics, with silk and cotton available later in the ancient period, so I sourced some matka silk, wool and linen as my primary fabrics.

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Although crocuses are more often purple, I suspect crocus-coloured in this instance means saffron-coloured and certainly in Ancient Greece saffron robes are associated with women and ritual clothing, so my first choice of a dye stuff was saffron. Turmeric is also an ancient dye and gives a similar colour, so that was my second choice and my third was ‘false’ saffron, or dyer’s safflower.

This would give me nine different fabric and dye combinations to choose from, so I cut swatches of my fabrics and started dyeing. One of the really nice things about this is that all three dyes are food stuffs and none need mordants, so I was able to dye in the kitchen using my own pans.

First, the saffron. The extra piece on the left is the cotton muslin I put the strands into. Then, from left to right, wool, silk and linen. Lovely soft, sunshiny, golden shades.

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Next, the turmeric. From left to right, wool, silk and linen. Fantastic deep rich golds.

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And lastly, the dyer’s safflower. Disappointed with these shades, especially on the linen, but it was probably my dyeing technique that wasn’t right. From left to right, wool, silk and linen.

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I love the way the wool took up the dyes but it feels a little heavy and ordinary for a ceremonial robe. From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.

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The silk is lovely but the matka which I’ve chosen has a very nubbly texture, which would make embroidery a little more challenging. From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.

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So I’m leaning more towards the linen, which was very widely used in classical times.  From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.

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As undyed linen isn’t white, it didn’t appear to take up the dyer’s safflower much and made the saffron look a bit muddy, but the turmeric has worked well and looks very similar to the colour of the saffron on silk, so at the moment, that is my choice for the fabric. Another bonus is that I have plenty of cheap and easily obtained from the supermarket turmeric left!

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The dyeing is the easy bit – researching the background information on my three dyes to add to the book and putting it into a short piece in my own words takes a lot longer, but I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading, researching, referencing and cross-referencing.

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The theme for our January EG meeting was ’21st Birthday’ – ours, to be exact, and we plan to mark it with an exhibition later in the year. The activity was for us all to stitch a letter to be made up into bunting for the exhibition in the following style:

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Liz had done a pile of lovely little counted work kits for us with the waste canvas all ready tacked onto the felt background and the promise that each letter should take no more than an hour to stitch.

It was a gorgeous little project, although anything counted tends to kill the atmosphere as you can’t count and chat at the same time! I ended up with a ‘T’ and had stitched it by the end of the session.

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Then I trimmed the waste canvas closely,

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damped it, and pulled the strands out.

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I’ve got an ‘R’ to stitch next.

A friend has been giving me various odds and ends for upcycling as she clears her dad’s house, and some while ago, among the oddments was a vintage two-strand bead necklace with a damaged catch which was very much in her favourite colours but too short. I took it home and restrung it, interspersing the bigger glass beads with big copper coloured seed beads, which immediately made it longer while keeping the overall look.

 

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I found a bright red plastic cabochon which fitted the top of the catch perfectly and used closed fly stitch, closely packed, to embroider a scattering of tiny leaves in autumnal browns on a piece of hand dyed brown silk.

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Then I gathered up the silk over the cab, pulled it tight behind and stitched it securely before…

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… sticking it into place on the catch. I was very happy with the way it turned out and Debbie seemed pleased with it too.

 

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At the moment I’m researching and collecting natural dye stuffs and undyed linen, silk and wool to begin my first Dorian Gray project. Exciting!

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