Thursday, 23 September 2010

Basic experiments with colour

One of the things I am doing is play with colour and mixing primary colours to create secondary colours. It is daunting and challenging but so rewarding....

Here are some photos of my attempts at mixing secondary colours together to allow the neutral colours to form..BTW - the aim of all of these exercises is to learn to dye my own fabric. I am so looking forward to it. I don't want to try without doing all the exercises though.

This is a photo of the red and green complimentary colours:

Blue and Orange is next:

and lastly..... Purple and Yellow

As you can see, my attempts are still rather amateurish. Its a case of the old adage, "Practise makes perfect"

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Wow - September already and an essay

I had to prepare a short essay entitled "The influence of the African Landscape on the colours of African hand dyed fabrics." I find this topic fascinating and thought that I would share a snippet of my research.....
There are two major environmental influences on the use of colours that African hand dyers use to dye their fabrics with – the strong African sun and the colours that can be found in nature.
Sally Scott, a top South African quilt artist has the following to say: “My love of the landscape developed as a child, brought up in rural Zimbabwe. Since moving to the Eastern Cape, I have set out to capture the atmosphere of this province…. [I am] fascinated by the variety of vegetation and the fresh quality of light.

The strong, often harsh, African sun has a major impact on the colours that fabrics are dyed. Glenda from Amafu Fabrics ( explains the influence of the African sun on colour: “I tend to work (her own hand dyed fabrics) in very strong colours but not necessarily bright colours and I think this is where the influence of Africa comes in. Part of this is to do with the very strong sunlight we have here and anything that is pastel tends to die.” The image below shows some of Glenda’s hand dyed fabrics:

This photo also shows the other environmental influence on hand dyed fabric – that of the natural dyes available from the earth – browns, ochre, red and black. Interestingly enough, although nature is full of green, it does not supply any natural green dyes.  For example: the colour of the Kalahari Desert sand is red-brown which stains the fabric when you get it on your clothing. The earliest fabric dyers would have used this sand to dye their fabric this particular colour.

Indigo dyed fabric is very popular in Africa. The world’s only source of natural blue
dye comes from the Indigo plant which is mainly found in West Africa, China and Japan. Indigo plants supply hues ranging from the palest sky blue to the deepest midnight blue. Combined with other dyes, indigo dye also makes greens, most purples and non-corrosive blacks.

 A popular South African fabric, called SheShwe is dyed using Indigo Dye. The photo below shows an example of Indigo dyed SheShwe fabric.

Odette Tolksdorf, another top South African quilt artist talks about the fact that her “art quilts have often been influenced by the multi-layered African environment.” Her work uses “rich and expressive colour”.

5.    Google Images
6.    Ndebele by Margaret Courtney-Clarke