Dyed In The Woods

I have decided to try and sell my scarves on Etsy.  The name of my shop is Dyed In The Woods.   Had lots of fun deciding on a name and it has continued to be fun with all of the word plays on the dyeing part.    Besides the scarves I have coaster sets that are made from fabric that is printed with my stencils. ditw_coaster-0107

I hope you will take a few minutes and check out the Etsy site: dyedinthewoods.etsy.com.

Ronda Lehman at Lucky Dog Design did a great job on my logo and I had business cards made at moo.com.   Here is a picture of the logo.DyedintheWoods_Logo1

 

 

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Renewed and Refreshed

After a long absence – almost year since my last post – I am back and ready to explore and try out some new things.

Last summer I moved to Seaside, OR to try coastal living.  While living there I developed some health issues which caught me off guard.  After figuring out what was going on I have embraced a new lifestyle including exercise and eating healthy.  I went to China in the Fall and spent a few months with my husband, then on return to Oregon I decided to move into town.  I love living in Salem and I’m finally settled in and starting to make plans.

I did quite a bit of dyeing last Spring and here are some of the results. I have decided to set up an Etsy shop and will be selling some of them there.  These are all handwoven, hand dyed scarves using natural Indigo, Cochineal, Madder and Cutch.  Most are cotton but I also did a few linen.  More about the Etsy shop tomorrow.

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Happy Lunar New Year!

My husband is home from China for two weeks.  The Lunar New Year began January 31, 2014.  Most people in China get the week off from work and travel home to spend time with family.  When we lived in Shanghai, we were  given gifts from various people, the owners of our apartment building, Arts Chinese employer and random people we had done business with.  Art always took gifts to people that we did business with as well — the lady who did his laundry and repaired his clothing, our ayi and others who were special to us.  One year, the owner of our apartment building gave us a beautiful set of New Year couplets to hang on our door.  It is tradition to hang the middle section upside down to confuse the evil spirits or bad luck.  I ended up having to write on the back so I could remember what order to hang them. They moved with us from Shanghai to Haiyang and hung at each of our apartments.  It was so nice to hang them up this year at our own house in Oregon.  We made dumplings and had a traditional New Years meal that included Soy Sauce Chicken, Roast Pork Belly, Walnut Shrimp, Pork stuff Tofu with black bean sauce,  dry fried green beans, garlic eggplant and vegetable lo mein.  Those cooking classes I took Shanghai combined with my mother-in-laws recipes paid off.

New Year Couplets

Lunar New Year of the Horse

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Wuzhen and Indigo

We also visited Wuzhen, a 1300-year-old water town on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.  Its a beautiful place and a short drive from Shanghai.  Here are some pictures of the demonstration area for the Chinese process of stencil printing.  For more information click on “Lanyinhua” in the area just below the banner.

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Bai Minority Village and Indigo

In 2009 we visited Yunnan Province and went to  Zhoucheng Village, where the Bai Ethnic people still practice the Chinese Tie dye technique.   I purchased several meters of this fabric and made a quilt for a family member.

Wedding gift, using indigo fabric from Bai Village in Yunnan Province, China

Wedding gift, using indigo fabric from Bai Village in Yunnan Province, China

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Here are pictures of the village and an article I found at http://arts.cultural-china.com/en/44Arts9108.html that explains the technique.  The article says they use woad leaves, but I am confident that we were told it is Indigo.

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Tie-dyeing 扎染 is an old Chinese textile dyeing technique. Nowadays this traditional technique is still popular in Zhoucheng Village, Dali City in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture and some places in Weishan Yi and Hui autonomous county. The Zhoucheng, Bai Nationality tie-dyeing technique is the most famous and the area was named ‘the Land for National Tie-dye’ by the Culture Administration.

The tie-dyed materials are usually are white cotton cloth or a blended fabric of cotton and flax, and the dye is mainly made from indigo plants. The main tools used are jars and sticks. There are many kinds of Bai tie-dyed items, using natural patterns with lucky meanings. The finished products are aesthetically valuable and pleasing to consumers both at home and abroad. Dali Bai tie-dye shows strong folk art styles and Bai customs and taste.

The concept behind tie-dyeing is to restrict the dye from reaching certain areas of the cloth, this is achieved through the use of knots, threads, rocks, sticks and rubber bands. The color of the parts the dye reaches changes but the restricted parts stay untouched, giving a pleasant color contrast.

This method appeared in the 3rd to 4th century in China and is still used today. Bright colors, an unlimited variety of patterns and color combinations, and the simplicity of the techniques contribute to its enduring appeal.

Tie-dyeing is a time-honored handicraft of the Bai ethnic group, who mainly inhabit southwest China’s Yunnan Province. To make the dye, woad leaves are collected and fermented in a pit until they are indigo in color. White cloth is tied and sewn into various patterns by hand and then dyed. After the cloth is dried and rinsed, designs of bees, butterflies, plum blossoms, fish, or insects appear with an artistic effect that cannot be achieved by painting.

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Double Happiness

I combined two paper cuts to make this stencil and picture for my son Nick and his new wife Annie as a wedding gift. I quilted in a pattern of water and fireworks in the sky.  The second picture was for Nick’s friend Travis and his new wife Gloria.  It is cross hatch quilted and machine embroidered.   Both were dyed with organic Indigo.  The story about Double Happiness follows below the pictures.

Nick and Annie Close up

Nick and Annie Close up

Nick and Annies Double Happiness

Nick and Annies Double Happiness

Stencil for Travis and Gloria

Stencil for Travis and Gloria

Travis and Gloria Double Happiness

Travis and Gloria Double Happiness

Following is the story of Double Happiness:

A large Chinese character, Double Happiness, on a red piece of paper or in paper cut is always put where it must strike the eyes on a young couple’s wedding.  It has a story behind it.

In the ancient Tang Dynasty, there was a student who was on the way to the capital to attend the national final examination, in which the top learners would be selected as the ministers in the court. Unfortunately, he fell ill halfway when he passed through a mountain village. Thanks to a herbalist doctor and his daughter, he was taken to their house and treated well. He recovered quickly due to the father and the daughter’s good care. Well, when he had to leave, he found it hard to say good-bye to the pretty girl, and so did she. They fell in love. So the girl wrote down the right hand part of an antithetical couplet for the student to match:

“Green trees against the sky in the spring rain while the sky set off the spring trees in the obscuration.”

“Well, I can make it though it is not easy. But you’ll have to wait till I have finished the examination.” replied the student. The young girl nodded in significance.
In the examination the young man won the first place, who was appreciated by the emperor. Also the winners were interviewed and tested by the emperor. As luck would have it, he was asked by the emperor to finish a couplet, which would need a right part as the answer. The emperor wrote:

“Red flowers dot the land in the breeze’s chase while the land colored up in red after the kiss.”
The young man realized immediately the right part of the couplet by the girl was the perfect fit to the emperor’s couplet, so he took the girl’s part as the answer without hesitation. The emperor was delighted to see the matching half of his couplet was so talent and harmonious that he authorized the young man’s identity as Minister in the court and allowed him to pay a visit to his hometown first before holding the post. The young man met the girl happily at home and told her the emperor’s couplet. They soon got married. For the wedding, the couple DOUBLED the Chinese character, HAPPY, together, on a red piece of paper and put it on the wall to express the happiness for the two events. And from then on, it has been taken on and became a social custom.

Sara and Tomas Wedding

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Fall Dye Project – the scarves

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Its been quite awhile since I posted the pictures of my stencils and the items that I pasted.  The holidays are over and now I am adding pictures of the scarves that I pasted and dyed.  Some were dyed in an organic indigo vat that used pears from our yard as the fructose.  I am pleased with how dark they dyed.  The scarves were either white or cream merino, bamboo or viscose.   I have none left – all were taken by family over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I learned a lot from this project and am ready to get serious about where I want to concentrate my efforts.  More about that when I have thought everything through.

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