I went to a dyeing workshop in late April, 2000. It was held at Damwon Restaurant near Seoul, as part of their Magnolia Festival. It was taught by Yu Bong-hee, the owner of Damwon. Everyone just called her Sensayng-nim, or teacher.

That's standard in Korea, by the way -- to use someone's title rather than his or her name. It's a sign of respect. At the institute and here at home, I'm just called "teacher" most of the time. It gets confusing at the institute because there are several teachers there, and when a student says "sensayng-nim," I'm not sure whether he or she means me.

The dyebaths were made up in advance, and there were 4 colors to choose from: bright yellow, sage green, brown, and sort of a mauve-purple. I liked the green color a lot, but so many people wanted that color that teacher looked a little worried, so I went for the purple. I wrote down the Korean names of the dyeplants, but wasn't able to find translations for them in the dictionary. The purple and yellow were wood, the brown was leaves, and I'm not sure about the green.

Dyebath.  Click for larger photo. The Korean method is to wet the fabric first (we used handmade Korean silk -- I'll have to find out where it's made and make a field trip). Then it's put into the dyebath at about 30-40 deg C, and moved around constantly while it cooks. We wore rubber gloves and used our hands.

Rinsing.  Click for larger photo. Then after a while it's rinsed, and then put back into the dyepot. One lady told us that teacher said this should be done at least 6 times, but they stopped me after three times. Then we rinsed it several times (it never did rinse clear -- just like when we're dyeing at home). Then the purple got soaked in fabric softener before being rinsed again, and I ironed it dry. I couldn't see any difference in the color between the first time in the dyebath and the later times. I should experiment some time with 3 fabrics -- do one once, one 3 times, and one 6 times to see if there is a difference after it's dry.

A workshop participant shows her work. Click for larger photo. My piece ended up with a few brown streaks in it, and teacher said "chen chen hi," which means slowly. So I assume she thought I didn't swish it around fast enough in the dyepot. But it turned out that it was from when I ironed it dry. Some previous projects had bled onto the cloth on the ironing board, and then that transferred onto my fabric. I don't mind; it adds a little interest.

Teacher has a student there, and I talked to her some, and showed her my drop spindle, cochineal-dyed wool, and current knitting project. She was very excited, and took me into the house to show me some of teacher's work, which is dyeing silk with natural dyes and making traditional knotted tassels out of what's called maedup. She also showed me a book on maedup which had pictures of some of teacher's work. Then she took me to talk to teacher. I showed teacher my projects, and a copy of the magazine, Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot I'd brought. I told her many Americans do these things, and we know some Japanese textile techniques, but nothing Korean; so I wanted to learn about Korean textiles. She said I could visit any time and learn.

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