Triple Layer Gauze

27 July 2006

I’ve had a bolt of a georgous triple layer silk gauze and last week while waiting for things to dry, I decided to make sensuous shawls from it. The first challenge was how to finished the cut edges of this ephemeral, delicate cloth. After several tries I cut the center layer back 1/2″ and then tucked the other two raw edges into the center and sewed them together, by hand, with an invisible stitch. Finished the edges and keep the delicate nature of the cloth intact.
My first attemps at shibori on it, stitched (ori-nui) and arashi did not work well because of the open structure and porousness of the cloth. I need something different. I thought I would try binding it to a flexible core, i.e., a rope– a variation of tarzuna shibori. I will finger pleat , much like the tie-dyers do, the body of the cloth. I will alternate bound and unbound areas. The unbound areas will dye and the pleated areas will have parallel lines. I will dye it black for a black and white composition.
After a plan was made the cloth was marked with lines to define the bands. The cloth was then finger pleated across grain and held in place with some ties. Here you can see the marks and ties.
It is important to have the pleats of near equal heights so that each will have the top of the pleat exposed to the dye creating the repetitive element. Here is the whole shawl pleated and tied–just tight enough to hold them in place but still keep the pleats at the same height.
The next step is to tie the cloth on to a flexible core. The core serves the same purpose as the pole in arashi (pole= rigid core), it gives you something to compress the cloth against. The rope has the advantage of curling up and fitting into the dyepot. Here is the nylon marine rope (previously used in acid dye bath that also dyes nylon). I’ve decided to fold the cloth in half and tie both sides on to the rope at the same time. This sounds outrageous, over 100″ of cloth around a less than 1″ diameter rope, but my previous experiments have lead me to believe that this open, porous cloth need that amount of compression to create effective resists.
with rope.jpg
Since I am going to alternate bound and unbound areas on the rope and the design is symetrical I alinged the two sides. One end of the rope is clamped to the table and I sit on the other to stretch out the rope, chairs with wheels are great for this. This make the rope taunt and leaves both hands free to bind the cloth to the rope like so:
tied on rope.jpg
That is the seat of the chair in the foreground and the table legs in the background. Here is a detail of the bound and unbound areas.
detail-tied on rope.jpg
The cloth bound on the rope is soaked in water and then dyed in a Lanaset black dye bath. When dyeing shibori like this it is important to work the cloth in the dye bath. That means for those parts you want to dye you move them a lot in the dye, trying to force the dye into every accessible corner , even rearrange gathers in the cloth so that it all gets dyed. I like the dyed areas to be a solid, level color– not mottled. I think that mottling, in this case, confuses the design. So I work the cloth in the pot before it gets too hot. When it has dyed and cooled down and is out of the pot it looks like this:
Up to now I have been working hard to get it to dye black (the string is cotton and did not dye), now one wonders if the resists worked and if we still hace some white left. Last time I worked with this cloth there was very little resisting, it nearly all dyed. Carefully cutting the first bindings…
Great! the part next to the rope is white and the outside is black. Opening more
opening fan.jpg
one sees not only white but that the inside of the unbound areas are black. This cloth is so delicate that much care is needed to undo the bindings. Here is a shot of most of the shawl hanging on the clothes line outside, you can see the alternatinging black and striped areas.
You can also see how thin the cloth is, it is 3 layers woven together but you can see the house and fence thru the large black panel. The center layer was woven at a higher tension (matelassé) making the outer layers pucker, this is part of the delight of this cloth.
One of the charateristics of silk is its strength, which means that the threads can be very fine and still have enough integrity to weave them, in very skilled hands, for sure. The Chinese, who’s economy has been tied to silk production for more than 1000 years, call some silk cloths- woven whispers.
The photos do not convey these ethereal qualities of this cloth.
In some ways this looks very similar to a handwoven cotton shawl I dyed, with alternating stripes and solid bands but there are some differences to note. The cotton, which was dyed with fiber reactive dyes, was not black and white. The difficulty of getting black and white with fiber reactives dyes was discussed further. And since the hand-woven cotton is so dense no core was needed to create the resists so it was just bound up, no rope.


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