Celebrating the Magic of Color with Hand-dyed Silk Scarves

 

As fiber artist I enjoy not only the visual aspect of textiles but also the tactile elements of fabric. So, for the last month I relocated my studio – the place where magic happens – into the garage. There I transformed white silk and powdered pigments into lush scarves with vibrant colors. 

During my career, I learned dyeing different materials including cotton, velvet, and silk.A variety of parameters influence the dyeing result such as the type of pigments (synthetic or natural), the type of fibers (animal or plant based) and the chemical composition of the dye bath. For instance, silk is typically dyed under acidic conditions while cotton is dyed under alkaline conditions.

Image comparing hand-dyed silk with hand-dyed cotton

 

The image on the left shows cotton fabric on the left side, silk fabric on the right side and cotton embroidery floss laying on top of the silk. All fibers were dyed in the same alkaline dye bath using the same dyeing technique using a synthetic pigment labeled as “yellow”. Comparing cotton and silk, I find the difference in “yellow” stunning, puzzling, and fascinating at the same time.

 

Over the years I experimented a lot.I dyed yardage of cotton fabric to be used for my hand-made journal covers,

  The image shows pencils and a journal cover made from hand-dyed fabrics

three torah covers with colorful modern design

 

 

velvet as base-fabric for torah covers,

 

and cotton voile and silk chiffon to create ombre curtains for the Holy Ark in a local synagogue.

  The image shows a parochet hand-dyed in with a gradation from white to turquoise to dark blue installed in a ark

I enjoy playing with the conditions for dyeing. I take detailed notes about the process and my love for accuracy and my training as biochemist working in a research laboratory come in handy. At the same time, my playfully inquisitive side of being artist emerges, constantly asking “what if?”.

As a result, I developed an understanding as how the outcome of the dyeing process is influenced by different conditions such as the amount and chemical uniformity of the pigments in the dye bath, the chemical composition of the dye bath, the temperature, incubation time, and other factors.Consequently, I can create fabrics with a solid color, a slightly mottled, highly mottled, or marbled appearance as well as patterned fabrics just by using controlled conditions for one dye bath and one specific pigment or pigment mix as supplied from the pigment manufacturer.

hand-dyed silk scarf in gray and light merlot colors

  hand-dyed silk scarf with a pattern in blue and purple

All this expertise is helpful, but when I’m in the process of dyeing, my artistic side takes over. There are so many possibilities, and hence I tend to dye only one or two scarves per color and technique and then try something new, like mixing colors or overdyeing a piece. You cannot even imagine how much fun I had folding, twisting, and manipulating the silk scarves, carefully tending to them for the next 12 hours and then unfolding the scarves!

The unfolding process is the most exciting part, when the intensity of the colors, the distribution of colors, the patterns are exposed. This is the moment when the magic of color is revealed! This is also the moment when the result exhilarates me and inspires me to try one more thing. And then one more thing, and another one…

Pattern of a hand-dyed silk scarf in blue and purple

In the last month I spent many hours in the “magical” garage and created more than forty unique hand-dyed silk scarves in varied colors and appearances. Some are subtle, others are bold. Some are classic colors while others are part of the Spring/Summer 2022 color scheme shown at the fashion shows in London and New York.

I enjoy wearing silk scarves and have a collection for myself. I hope you will enjoy these scarves as much as I do. Wrap yourself in a hand-dyed silk scarf and celebrate the magic of color!

Christine

   

PS:  An assortment of these lush scarves is available online in my Etsy Shop. In addition, you can find a wide selection in the Gallery and Giftshop of the Hillsborough Arts Council in Hillsborough, NC.

The scarves are all made from lightweight 8 mm Habotai silk and come in two sizes (8×54 in and 11×60 in).

I will ship the scarves within two business days and if you act quickly, they might arrive in time for the Holidays for you or a beloved friend to enjoy.

  Hand-dyed silk scraves in blue, limegreen and purple