Sunday, 17 November 2013

Dark and Stormy Ikat Weaving

One of my weaving peers wove a hand-dyed warp at the beginning of the year. it inspired me to try it. I had no intension of exploring Ikat but as I researched online I became fascinated and discovered that there is not a great deal of instruction about the technique. I found an old book in a second-hand bookstore and followed the instructions.

At school, I studied textile design at the art school I attended. I had great fun dyeing fabric but have done very little since. It was definitely worth the effort and all the days of work that were required for this piece.

I used perle cotton I found on the guild sales table. I wound samples to test the Landscape Dye colours, chosen for its ease of use and bright colour palette.

They were wrapped in cling film and steamed.

Soon I had a wonderful colour selection drying under the gazebo.

Over the next weeks I wound a warp in the small increments that my design required. I cut plastic bags into half inch strips for the tying of the warp design.

To tie up the warp design, I stretched the warp out between G-clamps over two tables. These are the centre three pieces of the dark stripes that have a lighter 1"ish design that travels diagonally across the warp.

Only the dark pieces were tied off. I prepared the entire warp for dyeing by soaking it in water with a little vinegar. It is in the orange basin on the table.

I spread a long plastic sheet over a wallpaper pasting table and wet the plastic sheet slightly,  placing cling film onto it underneath where the warp would be secured on either side with on g-clamps.  I did this with the inner dark columns and then later with the blue colour wash columns when I was ready to dye these.

Once the dye was applied to the warp it was wrapped in the cling film and rolled up to fit into the streamer.

The plan for the two outside dark columns was for one side of the warp to be light and the other to be dark so the light side was completely tied up and I dipped the other side into the dye to keep the two colours separate. The steaming process, however, allowed the dye to penetrate the light side even though it was tightly tied. Next time, I will place each side separately in its own piece of cling film.

Each part of the warp was steamed for 20 - 30 minutes as it was completed.

It was hung out to dry under the gazebo and left out until the following evening.

I removed the plastic ties and assembled it in the order it was to be woven and again left it over night to make sure it was completely dry before I worked with it. At this stage I was disappointed by the way the dye had seeped through under the plastic and that I did not have fully defined light and dark pieces.

I decided to dressed my loom anyway and tied up the warp.

On the loom the disappointment turned to joy as I experienced the fun of the colour changes and the design developed as I wove. I realised that if the undyed areas had not had dye seepage, the piece would probably have been too stark with the  strong back and white contrast.

Once it was complete and hanging on that the wall, to me, it looked like a dark and stormy sky behind the colour columns and I love it!

I learnt a great deal during this project and I will repeat it again in the future. Dyeing one's warp gives such wonderfully individual results.

I do apologise for the poor quality of the photograph of the finished piece but I have found it exceedingly difficult to photograph it sharply and get the colour changes. It at least gives one an idea of what it looks like.