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Resist dyeing techniques

Monday, March 25th, 2019

One of the sessions on the one-year course at Ditchling Museum was devoted to resist dyeing techniques, specifically to cassava paste resist, used traditionally in Nigeria, and Dhabu or mud resist, used in India. For the cassava paste resist the students either applied the paste to the fabric with a brush or used zinc or tin stencils from Nigeria, which I have as part of my textile collection. The mud resist paste was applied to the fabric either with a brush or using carved wooden blocks.

The mud resist paste was bought from Saith Ffynnon Wildlife Plants (link on home page) and came supplied as a dry mixture for combining with water.

The following notes are from the information sheets I prepared for the students.

Resist Pastes

 Resist Paste Clay from India (Dhabu) – use according to instructions supplied with paste. Pastes from rice flour & cassava flour can also be used. (Cassava flour paste is used in Nigerian indigo dyeing.)

Cassava flour resist paste   

 This is traditionally used as a resist in Nigerian Adire  indigo dyeing. The Adire is either produced by free-hand painting of cassava paste, Lafun, onto the cloth or by stencilling the starch on fabric. The stencils are made from corrugated zinc or a perforated tin sheet.

Reference: Cassava flour resist paste

The extract below is from the reference above. My interpretation follows.

“For every 1kg of flour of any type used in the study, 4 litres of water or more was used for the preparation. Some of the flour was prepared under hot condition and stirred on fire for a quarter of an hour as prescribed by Wolff (1985); that long stirring of paste prevents lumps. For the innovation, not all the paste was able to stand long stirring on fire as prescribed. For example, the cassava flour and starch prepared on fire for less than 10 minutes became too elastic and tough to manage. It could not be forced through the mesh for the screen printing application and for the stencil; it was too heavy thereby breaking the linoleum carpet, plastic and even the indigenous metal stencil. For cassava flour and starch, the paste was prepared with hot boiling water but not on fire. The cassava starch powder was melted in ½ a litre of cold water before 3½ litres of boiling water was poured and stirred to form the paste. After stirring, the paste was shared into ¼ kg in different bowls and mordant (caustic soda) which was considered most appropriate in this study was administered. Normally among the young producers today, 2 tablespoons full of caustic soda is the practice for 1 regular plastic measure of flour (Ike ijoba), but in this study for proper documentation and standardized measurement of the chemical for studio practise and general production, the study shared the paste into manageable quantity. In every ¼ kg, the two identified activators were administered. Alum was turned into crystal to carry same texture with caustic soda, one levelled table spoon full of each were administered in different bowl of the prepared paste, while in another, one and half and the final one, two levelled table spoons.”

My interpretation of this:

Use 4 litres of water to 1kg cassava flour. For 125gms flour use 500mls water. Carefully blend the flour first in 100mls cool water. Bring the remaining 400mls of the water to boiling point and then gradually stir it into the flour mixture, stirring constantly to create a smooth paste. If desired, add about a teaspoon of alum sulphate, first dissolved in some of the boiling water. (I’m not sure why this is traditionally added. In some cases copper sulphate (called “blue alum”) is also added, probably as a preservative. I usually omit both alum and copper sulphate.) If necessary, strain the mixture through a sieve to make sure it is free of lumps. Note: I have no idea why the caustic soda would be added; it is certainly not a mordant. When I attended a course with a Nigerian dyer she added alum and “blue alum” (copper sulphate) to the cassava paste solution but was unable to tell me why she did this.

USEFUL WEBSITES

Printing with marigold flowers and gum arabic

Printing with marigold flowers and guar gum

Printing with symplocos paste

Mud resist dyeing

Resist printing in Rajasthan

Cassava resist dyeing

Cassava resist dyeing

Ross Belton applying Dhabu mud resist

Students applying cassava paste resist through metal stencils from Nigeria

Close up of one of the metal stencils

Dhabu resist

Cassava paste resist

All photos by Helen Gibbs

Apologies

Monday, November 13th, 2017

I have been very seriously ill for the last two months and this has meant I’ve been unable to post on my blog. I am now at home starting the long road to what I hope will be a full recovery, so I should be able to start to write posts again soon. The following post on soya milk solution was prepared before my illness.

My garden in Summer

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Each year my garden seems to be different, with some old favourites returning and some new arrivals bringing fresh joys.

Below is a rose (Wedding Day, I think), which comes over from our neighbour’s garden. It rambles through the branches of the eucalyptus in the front garden and fills the air with delicious perfume that penetrates through the open windows to fill the bedrooms with fragrance. The bees love it.

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I don’t know the name of the lovely pink climbing rose shown below. It was in the garden when we moved in six years ago and has beautiful delicate flowers, which sadly have little perfume. It looks so attractive rambling through the ivy and this is the corner of the garden where we often photograph the dyed skeins of South Downs Yarn.

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Each year I look forward to the annual pelargoniums, with their brilliant reds. (I always seem to choose the reds, rarely the pink or white ones.) Another bonus is that they are rarely attacked by slugs and snails.

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How I love the combination of the brilliant orange from the calendula and the blue of this hardy geranium.

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Every year I look forward to the return of the hot reds and oranges of the helenium flowers.

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Below are the yellow spires of lysimachia punctata with feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) in the foreground.

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My small dye garden continues to flourish, as the photos below show.

Here dyer’s broom (Genista tinctoria) is just coming into flower on the left, with hedge bedstraw (Galium mollugo) on the right and in the foreground climbing through the obelisk

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This year my wild madder (Rubia peregrina) is producing tiny flowers, which I hope will later produce some seeds.

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Just visible below on the lower left are the yellow flowers of lady’s bedstraw (Galium verum) with saw-wort (Serratula tinctoria) in bud on the right.

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Snow!

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

 

Snow is a  relatively rare occurrence here in West Sussex and we have about 3 inches at the moment but I know this will not impress those of you who live in countries where there is “proper” snowfall. In a news item on the radio about the cancellation of flights at Heathrow airport yesterday, I heard a Canadian say: “I don’t know what the problem is. This is just like a lovely spring day where I live in Canada.”

 

Today we have enjoyed watching some intrepid goldfinches feeding on the seeds left on our teasel heads. Although our garden is small, I like to grow teasels to give some structure to the garden, especially in the winter. As added bonuses, the flowers attract bees and butterflies and the seed heads provide interest in the autumn and winter and food for goldfinches.

 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

Monday, January 7th, 2013

 

Warm good wishes for a very Happy New Year!

 

My thanks for all your support, which I really appreciate and value.  I am continuing to work on my new book but I will try to write posts more regularly in 2013.

 

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The beach near Worthing in West Sussex in winter

 

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Looking towards Findon village on a winter’s morning

 

Back by Popular Demand!

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

So many people have asked me to put my website back, that I have given in to popular demand and asked my website designer (right) if he could rebuild it just as it was – and here it is!

Thank you, Colin.