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Saturday, 11 January 2014

New Projects

Here are the results of an experimental project I tackled yesterday. I have thought for months now about the idea of dyeing existing garments, bringing new life (and colour!) to what might otherwise be discarded. Rather than begin with something simple, I started with an ivory silk bodice and skirt (probably designed as a wedding or debutante gown), which I bought  a few years ago ridiculously cheap from the clearance rack of a well known Melbourne couture designer. I plan to display it at the showcase at the end of the month (see details below) so I launched in head first!

I first dyed each piece separately in a bath of loquat leaves for a soft apricot background colour. By the end, that colour was more a dusky pink which isn't really apparent in these images but still works well.
Then it was time to add some special effects. I was particular about the placement of the printed leaf patterns so it took my assistant (teenage daughter) and I a bit of thinking to figure out how to place the plant material and bundle it to achieve the desired results. We used prunus leaves which gave us gorgeous purple prints, onion skins and geranium leaves. The skirt took two attempts before we were happy but the bodice was perfect first time! I have deducted that interesting results always happen when I wrap the bundles around either a rusty funnel or a rusty cow bell! The metal reacts with the plant material and fabric producing great effects. The only challenge was wrapping the garments securely around such odd shaped objects.

I'm pretty happy with it as a first attempt....

Leaf print detail.

Hem detail.
Rear bodice detail.

Cleo insisted on making an appearance!

Rear view.
My next project is a special order for an eco-dyed six metre length of silk for a friend wanting to adorn his window frame as one might do with a sari. It may prove challenging to fit the whole piece into the dye bath so I will experiment with sections at a time and see how that works. Images to follow!

In the meantime, Melbourne friends, remember to book your tickets to my upcoming show case to view these experiments (as well as scarves and homewares) in the flesh....

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