Doris Lovadina-Lee -Textile Artist
My name is Doris Lovadina-Lee and I am a textile artist. I love, love to create with colour. My passion is to hand dye scarves and other natural textiles using snow found in my backyard.
It wasn’t until I took a class with a friend that I realized the long thin sample strips drying on the line resembled scarves. Reading a few blog posts on dyeing with ice sparked the idea of doing the same with snow. After all, Canada receives a lot of it and it doesn’t require making tray after tray of ice cubes.
In my process I only use natural fibres with wonderfully colourful results. Each fibre absorbs the dye at a different rate and each shibori technique results in a unique design. So, every time I snow dye it’s an experiment. Unfolding, untwisting or unwinding every bundle after the snow has melted is part nervousness and part excitement. I really never know what the scarf will look like!
I begin by washing all the scarves to remove any starch or other finishes. The scarf is then soaked in a soda ash solution. This helps the dye to be absorbed more easily and fixes the dye to the fabric. Next, I decide how I want the scarf to look and I pick one of the many shibori techniques available. Dye colours are chosen and no more than three used are together.
My least favourite part, because I don’t like the cold, is going out to get pails full of snow from my backyard. Two to three scarves are placed in a perforated plastic tray inside a plastic container to catch the melted snow. Dye is sprinkled on top of the snow that is mounded on the scarves. Now the waiting begins. It may take a day or slightly longer for all the snow to melt. I can’t help but run down during the day to see what has happened. Often the snow has melted a little and colours have merged into a dark mass. A disaster! But the true colours won’t be visible until the next step…
Once the snow is melted comes the rinsing, rinsing and more rinsing to remove as much as much of the dye that hasn’t been absorbed. When the water seems clear to the eye, the scarf is washed with a special soap and a small piece of white cotton fabric. If the white fabric is still white after the wash then the scarves are done. Well sort of, next they are pressed and a label is stitched on, they are given a hangtag, and placed in a plastic sleeve. But, if the white fabric has any colour on it, the scarves go back to being rinsed and rinsed etc…
What is Shibori?
Shibori is a traditional Japanese dying technique that uses manual resist dyeing techniques (folding, twisting, dying). Dating as far back as the 8th century, original shibori was indigo only.
What’s the difference between shibori and tie dye?
Shibori is an ancient way of dyeing textiles using a resist. Resists come in many different forms: from using thread to gathering up fabric, to folding the cloth between 2 pieces of wood and clamping tightly.
Tie dye is a more recent way of dyeing cloth. It is most often associated with brightly coloured t-shirts made popular in the early 1970’s and revived recently. It is a way of creating much simpler designs more quickly.
Snow dyeing is a technique I use that falls somewhere in between. In many cases the resist is the fabric itself. In the finished textiles there are no sharp shapes or lines like those found in traditional shibori nor are there large distinct patterns. Rather, sprinkling dye on the snow that covers the fabric means that edges are blurred and a soft watercolour effect is created. Using 2 colours of dye will result in 3 or 4 or more different colours!