Botanical Dyeing with Kristin Morrison
I first met Kristin Morrison early last summer and we immediately hit it off. I began interning for her right away and she is not just an amazing, knowledgable, and kind woman, she is also an incredible artist as well. For her company, KAM Textiles, she only works with natural dyes and consciously sourced fibers. She is always involved in numerous projects, including leading the Tools for Change program at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Earlier this month, Susan and I had the pleasure of visiting Kristin and learning the basics of Hapa Zome; the Japanese technique of hammering natural pigments into cloth. It is pretty self-explanatory, but you can't beat the visuals! We picked flowers from the grounds of the Ecology Center and had a harvest made up of: fermented elderberry, calendula, sage, pink roses, eucalyptus, ice plants, nasturtium, Osage bark and bright pink hollyhock! It made for quite a spread. To find out more about Kristin and her beautiful goods, visit her site http://kristinambermorrison.com/ as well as http://theecologycenter.org for more information.
To begin, we prepared our fabrics. Here is Kristin stirring our linen, cotton, hemp and gauze. We mixed water with a little bit of Alum, a mordant used to prepare our fabrics for optimal dye absorption. A mordant is a chemical compound that is used to bind natural dye to fiber. Depending on the mordant, which can range from iron, to tannin to coffee or vinegar, each dye color varies when interacting with a mordant and when using a plant or protein based fabric. Dye, mordant and fiber are three variables that when combined in different ways, can yield exciting, diverse results.
Then, we gathered an amazing harvest of botanicals and plants.
Here, we are trying a few different techniques. We are hammering the plants into the fabric samples, rolling the plants into the fabric, and adding rubber bands as a resistance technique.
This little guy is a good example of experimenting with resist techniques. The botanicals will dye the fabric everywhere except where the fabric is tied off. There are multiple ways of processing the fabric once you have it hammered, rolled, or tied-off. We decided to steam several of the bundles and left the other half to ferment the rest of the week in the studio. We noticed bolder results from leaving the bundles alone for several days and keeping them damp.
We had a blast learning about botanical dyeing from Kristin and cannot wait to visit her soon!