Small-Scale Steamer

Last week, I bought a brand-new electric rice cooker for 3 bucks at my local thrift shop. In her talk at SDA in June, I think I remember India Flint saying she used a rice cooker to steam her small eco-colour bundles. This week, I got my first chance to sample using this new appliance.

These are silk and cherry-pit bundles like the ones solar-dyeing on the clothesline.

I just plopped them onto the rack in the steamer pan, added a cup of water, put on the lid, and pressed the button. When I smelled cherry juice starting to scorch, I added water and gave the whole process a bit more thought. Next time, I’ll wrap the bundles in paper before steaming to keep dyestuff from leaching into the water.

Here’s how the bundles looked when I unwrapped them…

… and after drying, heat-setting with the iron, a sour rinse with vinegar, and a wash to remove the last bits of cherry pulp.

I’m marking this appliance “For Dyeing Only” and keeping it in the house instead of the studio. Natural dye materials are abundant right now, but studio time is not. Until I finish a couple of projects in the office, I can have this little steamer doing its thing on the kitchen counter while I work in the next room.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin

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