Saturday, May 30, 2020

Musings on Natural Dye Mordants

There are a lot of misconceptions being published on the internet when it comes to dyeing fabric, more specifically when using natural dyes or botanical dye printing.

Often when dyeing with natural dyes fabric needs to be mordanted for the dyes to adhere to the fabric better and create a richer, longer lasting color.  

A mordant is a fixative that allows dye molecules to bind to fiber. From the Latin word mordere, meaning to bite, a mordant is a chemical compound that can brighten a dye color, darken it, or make it colorfast. 

Mordants include tannic acid, alum, chrome alum, and certain salts of aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, iodine, potassium, sodium, tungsten and tin.  The most commonly and safest mordant used is alum, either aluminum sulfate or aluminum acetate.  

When botanical dye printing (aka ecodye) iron and copper are mostly used by rolling your bundle on an iron or copper pipe or using iron water.  Tannin plays a big part in this method when using leaves to dye print with.

A true mordant bonds with the fabric and the dye molecules.  

There are factors other than mordants that can help affect dye properties. These are called binders, assists, or modifiers.  These modifiers change the PH of the dye bath to accommodate the type of fiber used or they create a surface bond for the dye to affix to such as soy milk.  These are not true mordants.

I am seeing so many websites on the internet where people are giving recipes and information for mordanting and dyeing fibers/fabric.  However, it seems the definition of a mordant has changed from what I was taught by leading dye experts.  I see articles titled “How to Mordant with Soy Milk”, “Soda Ash as a Mordant”.  Technically those additives are not true mordants but assists or modifiers.  It seems that the terminology of a mordant has morphed into meaning “anything that helps set or changes the color of fiber/fabric dye”.  

I have brought this to the attention of some of the people who published those articles and the response is “We don’t really care about the science of it, just the results”.  I wonder if this will be the way of teaching in the future?   What does the term mordant mean to you?

I have taken extensive natural dye classes in the past with Michelle Wipplinger and Karen Cassleman.  This is written from my knowledge of what I remember learning from them.

Lorri Scott

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"wayward threads" the book

Photographer:  Cynthia Shaffer

Just got off the phone with my editor, Tonia Jenny, of my book "wayward threads".  YYEEEEH!!

The final edit has been done and she will spend the day making sure the file size is correct, etc. and then upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing where the book will be published and sold on site.

This book was a labor of love and dedication and a long time coming.  I feel excited, nervous, anxious, relieved, all these emotions bundled up together.

So just a little bit more waiting, for the book upload to be approved and then I can order proof copies and if everything looks good then it's a wrap and in print!

For my local friends I want to let you know I will be giving a program for the Santa Cruz Textile Arts Guild on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.  Would love to see you there!

My journey into the fashion world began at an early age from Barbie doll clothes, to sewing my own clothes in high school and college.  I attended fashion college for a couple of years and went on to teach myself how to weave and created cloth and designed garments for handwoven clothing for over 25 years.  I dye painted my threads, fabrics for lining and trim and also dyed scarves in a variety of techniques. After selling my loom almost ten years ago I became interested in restructuring used garments into news ones, upcycling, and that is my current passion, along with dyeing, dye printing, and stitching.

I will be bringing many of my handwoven designs I created over the years to show and tell as well as my current upcycled garments I call ‘wayward threads”.  I want to share my ideas and techniques for designing and redesigning garments!

I have also just finished writing a book on my upcycled designs which should be in print in a few weeks.  I will bring copies of the book to the meeting.  

Book title is 
“wayward threads”:  techniques and ideas for upcycling unloved or discarded garments.”

I will have a new website soon and will announce that when I get it up and running!


Friday, January 10, 2020

A New Year, New Garments and a Book

The most exciting news I have is that my book is in the final stages, really!  Most all the photos are taken by Cynthia Shaffer, the bulk of work is in the hands of my editor, Tonia Jenny, and I am on pins a needles with excitement.  It's been over a year and a half in the works and I know now I will see it in print.  There were moments of doubt, all on my part, but I had a lot of friends championing me along the way and I am truly grateful to them.

The tasks I need to tackle next are to get a website up and promote the book and I need to write an "About Me".  This is a walk in muddy waters that I am putting off.  I know it will get done but now I'm am just inspired and want to work in my studio.

The last couple of weeks I have created a few garments and a few more are ready to be designed and worked on.  I don't know if I will list these in Etsy or just save them for the "live" vendor shows I participate in.  It seems hard to sell clothing online even though I add free shipping and buyers can return items if in condition they were received within a time frame.  I do not pay for return shipping but how much money do you spend to drive around and shop?  Just a thought.

My next event will be teaching at Art & Soul Portland and also vending.  My class titled "Homage to Leaves and Rust" is full but my Dyers' Sample Record Book class still has a few openings.  Both these classes have lots of dye techniques in them, rust dyeing, natural dyes, and botanicals along with some different resist and layering techniques.  Of course there is stitching involved too!  If any of this appeals to you I hope you join me!

I'm off to town now, to the gym, grocery shopping and other errands.  Hope you all are well.  xo

Friday, October 18, 2019

Progress of Writing a Book "wayward threads"

I finally feel comfortable to publicize that I have been writing a book on my upcycled clothing designs for over a year.  The title is “wayward threads: techniques and ideas for upcylcling unloved or discarded garments”.

I started out with a timeline that was unrealistic.  I had no idea about how long it would really take.  The concept was in my head for several years.  Around August of 2018 I said “I’m going to do, it I’m going to write this book”!  I had a lot of encouragement from friends and peers and so I began thinking that within a year it would be done.  Well that year marker has come and gone but I am on the downhill slope of it all.  

I am so happy that Tonia Jenny was interested in editing the book for me.  I hired her soon after I determined I was actually going to write the book and she has been so patient with me watching the deadlines I set march by.

I will be self publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing which is Amazon.

During this year plus time I did not quit traveling or teaching or doing shows so that took time away from working on the book. I would work on the book projects and then shift gears to make garments and dye fabrics and scarves, all the usual items I create for shows.  Then I would work on class projects and all that entails to apply at art retreats and making kits.  Then back to the book like the swing of a pendulum.

I also did some traveling for fun.  I went to Alaska for ten days to see the Glacier Bay area.  I took a trip to the San Juan Islands of Washington State.  I took two trips to Sedona to take art workshops, one with Kate Thompson and one with Cas Holmes.

Now I am away again visiting friends in Texas and will be traveling to Missouri to visit my folks and friends there.

When I return home I will be preparing for the Goat Hill Fair at the Watsonville, CA fairgrounds November 9 & 10.  This is a very cool vintage fair I am so happy to be part of.

After vending at Goat Hill I only have a couple of garments to finish details on for the book before the photo shoot to take “beauty” shots.  Whew!  Really I think this will be the finale for the book to be ready to send to the editor.  

I will be launching a website when I get closer to publishing so I will be announcing the url when it is up and running with all the info about my book and how and where to purchase it!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Upcoming Shows May 2019

I will be doing two big shows in May, 2019

The first will be the Creator Show at Tinker, Tailor, Artist, Maker show in Redwood City, CA

Pullman San Francisco Bay
223 Twin Dolphin Drive
Redwood City, California
Saturday May 4 – Sunday May 5
Open to General Public: 
Daily – 10:00am to 5:00pm*
Parking available onsite.
Entry to Create Show is FREE
Children under the care of their parents are welcome.
For more info click on the link above

Then I will be at Goat Hill Fair again!

  Sat. -May 18th - 10 to 4
  Sun.-May 19th - 10 to 3

  Santa Cruz Co. Fairgrounds
  2601 E. Lake Ave.
Watsonville, CA  95076

  Goat Hill is a unique antiques
  and artisan fair with over 100

For more info click on the link above.

Thursday, February 28, 2019


Blogs become more and more abandoned as Facebook, Instagram and other sites become easier to post notices.  However, I know there are people who do not use those sites and still frequent blogs and this is a good place for me to post my events since I do not have a website anymore.

That said I have updated my events page (It's already March) for 2019 through August.  I will be doing a couple of events in October but the dates are not set yet.

Here are some pictures of botanical and rust dye prints I have been creating.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Goat Hill Fair 2018

Top made from vintage feedsacks

I am busy taking vintage quilt tops, feed/flour/sugar sacks, and all varieties of crochets lace and trims to create tunic tops and scarves.  I am very excited about these, I think they are so cute and I hope others will think so too.  I am planning to sell these at Goat Hill Fair on Nov. 10th and 11th.  I have more in the making and will get some pictures up once they are finished, probably the end of the week.

Top made from old flannel shirts

vintage quilt top trimmed with vintage crochet lace, inset pockets