soy sizing

Pinks and blues

Last week the Crab Apple blossoms burst open all around our neighborhood, including the front yard. They come in shades of white to pink to fuschia. It's the most beautiful time of spring. This year, everything seems to be blooming simultaneously -- tulips,  crab apples, lilacs. Even the peony buds are starting to emerge!

crabapple.jpg
shore blossoms

shore blossoms

Meanwhile, in the basement, I tried an experiment with some 12 oz. cotton duck (canvas) that I had on hand. I pre-washed it, sized it with soy, pasted it with my minnow pattern, and dyed it with indigo pigment using the JIZOMEBAKE, or ground-dyeing-brush, which I normally use just for the soybean milk sizing. Here you see the pigment mixed with soybean milk, the brush in water, and the mortar and pestle that holds my indigo pigment. When I need indigo, I add a bit of water to the dish, measure out a little of the liquid and mix it with the soybean milk in a different bowl for dyeing. That way none of the pigment is wasted. It just dries in the bowl.

indigo dye paint, indigo pigment, jizomebake

indigo dye paint, indigo pigment, jizomebake

I mixed a dark indigo - applying 3 coats to ensure even coverage. I plan to sew this into a cover for a rolling cart that I will bring to art fairs this summer. I'll be participating in Art at St. Kate's on July 11th, and Loring Park Art Festival on August 7 and 8.

still pasted; 3 coats of ingigo pigment

still pasted; 3 coats of ingigo pigment

Soy (Soil) Pearls

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.

Soybeans dry and soaking

Soybeans dry and soaking

Below, the soybeans have been blended with water and strained through a damp muslin scrap.

Soybeans blended and strained

Soybeans blended and strained

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.

Soybean milk, blended and strained soybeans

Soybean milk, blended and strained soybeans