TUTORIAL Chinese Butterflies-part 2

7 May 2007

By the end of part one we had made our stitches on the folded cloth. Make as many butterflies as you want on your piece. I made two here.
The pieces must be soaked in water before dyeing. This is a general rule but especially important when making resists for the dyeing; dry cloth will wick the dye under the resists and you will have no memory of the stitching you did. Here in a piece soaking in just plain water. If you did not pre-wash your cloth you can add a drop of Synthrapol or other non-interferring detergent to the water.
After a half an hour or so of soaking, dye your cloth by whatever immersion method you use. Of course the dye must be appropriate to the fiber you use. I used indigo on the cotton T-shirt, and acid dyes on the silk. The original Chinese example appears to be indigo on cotton cloth.
When the cloth is in the dye bath it takes extra care and movement of the cloth to get an evenly colored background and good definition of the resists for the butterflies. There is only moderate compression under the threads so these butterflies take more care than many other techniques. Put on your gloves and get your hands in the dyebath. Open up all the folds and swish the the cloth around. Then open up the other folds and swish some more. The more opening of folds and swishing the more definition of the butterflies you will have. I want the background as even in coloration as I can get and the dye up to but not under the resists. You can peek under the threads as your are working the dyebath to see how it goes. Just becareful not to move the threads.
When the dyebath is complete, remove the cloth. The top layer will be almost completely dyed like so:
What happens next depends on what dyes you used. For acid dyes, that do not require a wash down procedure, you may now remove the threads to see the results. For indigo and fiber reactive dyes I would wash before removing the threads; these dyes have a tendency to back stain and may lightly color your white areas if you wait to wash after you remove the threads.
Here is one I made on a silk/nylon fleece with a navy acid dye. They are about 2.5 inches across. The definition is fairly good and the background is even enough to be able to make out the butterfly. The antennae are the top layer where there is almost no resist.
The first butterflies I made were the ones on the T-shirt with indigo. They came out great! For this tutorial the first try was on a very open weave silk noil and the dye penetrated more than I wanted, a due to the open weave of the cloth. Maybe it is a ghost of a butterfly. This is about 7 inches across.
Then I tried a very tightly woven silk broadcloth, a favorite of mine for stitched shibori. I was doing it in a very small bath and I turned on the heat and the telephone rang. By the time I got back to the dye bath it had boiled and exhausted. I had not worked the cloth in the bath. There is no definition and the background is mottled.
It maybe that the braodcloth will work if dye properly but I tried a silk noil jacquard and the silk/nylon fleece. I did work them in the dye bath and they both came out well. I also made different sizes on the same cloth. Here is the silk noil jacquard, notice that the smaller butterfly (lower) is better defined.
The stitching of the butterfly is not labor intensive but since it is only moderate compression it is a bit tricky to dye.
A thick, spongy cloth like the T-shirt jersey is the easiest to work with.
Not all dyes penetrate the same. Indigo penetrates the least and is the easiest to resist. Running an indigo dye bath takes some skill. Instant indigo may be the easy solution for indigo. Acid dye are next on ease of resisting. Fiber reactive dyes penetrate the farthest because of their small molecular size and are therefore the hardest dye to use for this resist.
Size of the motif matters, too. The Chinese sample is less than an inch across. I found that the defition was good up to about 2.5 inches then it dropped off.
Samples will show if a particular combination of cloth, size, dye and technique will work.
Ok folks, if you like these tutorials and want more I need some feed back. I’d like to see the butterflies you make. Make them and post a comment and a picture. The picture can be at Flickr:all things shibori. Tell us what kind of cloth, dye and the approximate size of the motif.


One Response to “TUTORIAL Chinese Butterflies-part 2”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Thank for the Chinese Butterfly Tutorial. I’m taking Intro to fibers at Centralia College. We are dyeing with indigo and using clamps,stitching, and folding.


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