Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall Color and Fashion

The view from my patio was spectacular last week despite the drizzle of rain.  October was declared the wettest October ever, and the fourth wettest month in weather recording history.  I had a bit of water in the basement despite new window wells -- one of them leaked water slowly into my studio, but it was not a major disaster and thankfully the leak was plugged and everything was dry by evening.

The rain unfortunately sped up the leaf dropping process so that by November 1st the maple trees were nearly naked, matching my walnut trees that began dropping their leaves weeks ago.

I barely had time to notice the beauty outdoors because I was sewing madly for a fashion show to be held November 7 at Jacoby Arts Center.  I completed and delivered two outfits on Tuesday along with some of the tights I've been rust dyeing.  

Heads & Threads for Love is a fund raiser for Love 146 --dedicated to abolishing child sex slavery and exploitation--sponsored by Lillian Bate's By Design boutique at 136 Front Street, Alton and Fringe salon next door.  Lillian has been selling wearables for me since she opened a year ago.   I was excited to be invited to participate in the fashion show. 

In summer 2006 I was beginning to explore rust dyeing, but I did quite a lot of solar dyeing because the temperature was in the high 90s and 100s.  I also laid a few pieces out on the ground for what some natural dyers refer to as compost dyeing.  I usually refer to all my processes as organic printmaking.  The silk pictured above was arranged with black walnuts, elderberries, orange slices, radishes, watermelon rinds, rhubard stalks, turmeric spice and slices of red cabbage in the center which were pounded to break the cells in the leaves.  The silk was covered and sealed with black plastic for three weeks.  I've done composting in the past that took months to produce color, but the heat worked to my advantage.

This is the result of that experiment immediately after picking up the fabric and disposing of the veggie detritus.  The color looks rich here, but keep in mind the fabric was damp and as with many naturally derived dyes, the color changed and faded despite leaving it to cure for two or more months before washing.  
This summer, I've noticed a dramatic color change when I've used elderberries.  Scarves that were magenta in color when I removed them from the rust objects, quickly turned blue on the clothes line. 

I put the fabric away for three years and rediscovered it two weeks ago.  The fashion show concoction that I'd had my heart set on making for weeks went out the window in favor of using this fabric to create a dress.  I confess the dress didn't work out either.  I turned the bodice (which is made from another piece of composted silk) into a finished blouse trimmed with vintage cotton lace and the full gathered skirt into a long narrow wrap skirt.

The silk gauze sleeves are from a third piece of fabric that was rust dyed also in summer 2006.  The blue comes from elderberries that were packed around the rust objects.  The color in the skirt fabric is now blue/violet gray with deep blue elderberry spots along with swirls of deep walnut brown, cream, pink, bronze and yellow.  Really a beautiful piece of silk if I do say so.  

To make sure the wrap measurements would work, I did a practice run on some commercial fabric I had in my stash...a wonderfully soft, drapey, probably rayon blend paisley in rich fall colors.  It paired beautifully with some rusted organza I made just a week ago which I transformed into a poncho/shawl with bead fringe.


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