I have been on a scarf kick for a long time, though it keeps changing on me. About nine months after I moved to my town, I took a class on dyeing silk scarves using plants: flowers, fruits, vegetables, tea. It was taught by Shelly Ryan, a local PBS garden show host, who learned it from a guy she profiled on the show. I loved her method because it had nothing to do with my particular skill, and I had a great time experimenting with all sorts of things, prompting forays to the Whole Foods produce aisle and other places to find materials. But unpredictable sometimes meant I produced results that were … well, boring. One notable example: I gathered some of the outrageously prodigious and colorful wildflowers that grow on my hill and was disappointed to get results that were far too subtle for all the time and energy invested in them.
I did get some pretty amazing stuff at times: I love working with non galvanized metals in the mixture, seeing how vinegar produces really amazing marbled rust effects.
Recently I read in one of my felt books that KoolAid dyes animal proteins like wool, silk, even human hair. So off I went on a search for new, brighter colors. I used the KoolAid on some of the disappointing scarves in my stash and wow, there was the unpredictability of the plant method combined with the more dependable color of kiddie drinks. I still like variable results in a piece, though, so I go for low immersion techniques, putting scarf into a mixture that just covers the bunched up piece. I love the effect!
I’m an absolute sucker for random acts of kindness, and so the scarves got mixed up with a project started by The Bloggess, the Traveling Red Dress. You should go read
http://thebloggess.com/2010/05/the-traveling-red-dress/ right now, because they’re awesome and so is she. Just come back when you’re done.
You all back? Good — hey. You. Yeah, you. You said you’d come back, so haul ass.
So anyway, Jenny mentioned the Traveling Red Dress on Twitter last month, and suddenly there was this flurry of people offering red dresses to other people who needed red dresses, and yet other people offering photo shoots to the red dress recipients. It was magic, and just the sort of thing that gets me all misty eyed in a happy way. (Jenny too: http://thebloggess.com/2012/01/paper-dolls/) But I didn’t have a dress to offer, and there were some people who said they just weren’t red dress sorts of people or that they didn’t feel deserving or good looking enough or whatever, and both these things made me sad. But then I remembered the silk stash and the KoolAid and I made an offer, which Jenny kindly retweeted. So there have been a couple of flurries of scarf making here, and I’m soon going to be sending out the last of the red scarves I made. (It was going to be one scarf, but things got out of hand, as things will, and it turned into eight.)
One of these scarves will be accompanying a recipient during her recovery from brain surgery, and she already plans to pass it along to another patient when she is doing better. Knowing that was the case, I sewed some milagros that I bought in San Miguel de Allende — they’re little metal charms that represent prayers for healing or of gratitude, and they often represent the afflicted body part. So I sewed on a couple of little female heads and a couple of rose milagros at the corners.
So I’m just dyeing the last of the scarves and have only to do the finishing bits and send them off to their waiting folks. Then it’s back to the business scarf-making, some for etsy and some for Wiscon.
I’m sure you would like some pictures: