OK, here’s the second day of the workshop at Maiwa East. Have I mentioned what a cool place this is? Check this out! Wouldn’t you just love to curl up on that bed in the middle with your knitting and a hot cup of chai? This is the Indian furniture sales and storage shop. Upstairs is their dye studio and sewing workshop where employees create some of the wonderful clothing that is sold in the main shop on Granville Island. Of course I only own one single 15-year-old linen shirt but that doesn’t mean I don’t love their stuff. Lately it’s mostly naturally dyed too.
Maiwa Symposium - Woad Workshop Notes: Day 2
Back again for more blue, we had to wait while Henri scraped the woad flower off the top of our vat into a foam coffee cup for each of us. Don’t know why we couldn’t do it ourselves but <insert Gallic shrug here>. He didn’t really explain how to use it after it dries but I know you can make watercolour paint (some instructions start here and here) and fabric paint with soy milk (as in John Marshall’s instructions here). I could also try making pastel crayons (instructions here). Pretty much anything that works with indigo flower (aibana) pigment should work with woad. Or try any pigment recipe.
While we were waiting we started a number of pieces of fabric soaking in buckets. This time we had a quarter-yard each of silk habotai, bleached cotton and natural “linen” (I suspect it’s actually linen/rayon) plus a tiny square of real bleached linen. I fished out my large skein of wool yarn that had sat overnight and oxidized it and dumped out the vat, rinsed it and refilled with hot water, soda ash and thiox for the next stage.
When the Master was done with our mother vat, we poured half into our buckets and waited about 10 minutes. The little square of linen was used as a test piece for this darker vat, though being linen and not easy to dye it didn’t really come out any darker than the previous day’s cottons. With that successful, everyone dove in to dye their fabrics. We only broke for lunch after adding more mother vat to the big vat and to go downstairs to Maiwa East to buy Indian handwoven cotton scarves for more dye fodder. They were kind enough to give us a 20% discount on the price. Some of my classmates were into the bling and got the ones with silver, gold or multicoloured metallic stripes. I was more subdued and happy with a crinkle scarf and a slightly larger shawl with lace squares.
After dyeing all those pieces, I tried a skein of sock yarn in superwash wool and nylon. Denise insisted that the nylon wouldn’t take the dye but it came out after 4 dips very deeply coloured and very even. Meanwhile Henri had been cloistered in the dye room with Michele Wipplinger and they came out to tell us that the “dépôt” could be revived with hot water, 1/2 tsp soda ash and 1 tsp thiox. Let rest 2 hours before using. That message got me excited and I sacrificed my plastic disposable lunch box to fill it with not only my sludge but my neighbour Ellana’s too. So now I could take it home and see what else I could get it to do.
So does everyone look like they’re having fun or what???
That evening at home I “revived” my mother vat sludge in a 2 quart canning jar with hot tap water and soda ash and thiox. I used a wee bit less of the chemicals (maybe 2/3) because my jar wasn’t as large as the one in the class and I was planning to use a smaller bucket for my vat. Then I left it overnight to rest.
Next time, Part 3 – or what I did in my own dye studio the day after the workshop ended.