So I’m trying again to make a dress using the Yoruba/Japanese paste-resist dyeing method. I’m twenty minutes into making the paste, and it’s going much better so far; I’m putting a photo in with this post so you can see it in progress. Bear in mind, when you see the gloop in the saucepan, that last time it took me about two hours to get it to this point –->
I know, impressive, huh? The important thing seems to be the ratio between pot size and quantity of paste – I’m using the same saucepan, on the same hob, as before, but this time I’m only making half the amount, and that seems to be doing the trick.
It’s really starting to go clear now – a noticeable difference since I started writing this post – and is already tastes sweet, from the carbohydrates in the flour breaking down into sugars (apparently). I should mention that I ^haven’t^ added the caustic soda yet, so tasting it is perfectly safe, if a little weird 😉
I think if it works this time, I might make a video of the whole process and put it on YouTube, because this is really the kind of thing where you need someone to show you what to do, and there don’t seem to be any other videos out there.
Anyway, I’m going to keep boiling, stirring, and hoping, and I’ll post the results here sometime soon. Wish me luck!
So tonight I thought I’d try paste-resist dyeing, which is a technique used in traditional Japanese fabric design; it’s a bit like batik, in that you block out areas of cloth in a negative design and then dye the fabric. Instead of wax, though, you use a paste – in Japan I think they use rice flour, but I found this recipe by Irena Boobyer on the Exeter University website, which uses plain flour and caustic soda. Unfortunately, what they didn’t mention at the ‘simmer until the liquid becomes transparent’ stage is that this part takes ^hours^. At the moment it’s 11.20 at night and I’m still waiting for it to go clear. Hopefully, though, tomorrow I’ll be able to paint on the design and make some lovely fabric for a summer dress (just in case the sun ever comes back).
I’m thinking of a design inspired by E A Séguy’s beautiful turn of the century floral designs, which I’ve loved since I was a child. Unfortunately my dyeing skills don’t extend to the vivid colour schemes he used, so I’m going to adapt them to work with the natural fabric colour and a deep navy blue. Watch this space for the results…