My yoga teacher quoted Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland recently, and it has stuck with me for several weeks. "Begin in the beginning," she said, applying it to moving into a yoga pose without rushing. My new blog home is a kind of beginning, and so I'll begin in the beginning of the katazome stencil dyeing cycle -- that is, once a stencil is carved, lacquered and ready to paste. In the katazome process, soy milk is used both as a sizing for fabric and as a binder for the natural pigments. As a sizing it gives the fabric body and makes it easier to handle while pasting -- a more paper-like surface. The pigments require a binder just like any other pigment (or paint), to adhere to the surface of the fabric (unlike dyes, which penetrate the fiber itself). (see Salvation Through Soy, by John Marshall for many more details.)
The first step then, before pasting and painting, is to make soy milk. It is easier than you might think. Here are some before and after pictures. The beans swell quite a bit during their overnight soak in water, but peering through the water magnifies them even more.
Below, the soybeans have been blended with water and strained through a damp muslin scrap.
A second whirl in the blender with more water, a second straining, and voila, the completed soybean milk. I throw the mashed soybeans into the compost bin.