The Digital Mockup

The amazing Sarah did some digital mock-ups of what the finished structure would look like, complete with the correct dimensions, and a person for scale. Sarah really played around with various shapes and arrangements, but the finished design is somewhat of a mix between The first and second pictures. We will have the lightest and longest columns in the middle, with subsequently darker shades as it moves out in a chandelier shape.

mockupmockup 5 mockup2 mockup3 mockup4


A Few of Our Finished Dyes

We have officially completed dyeing all of our fabric for the Lotus Installation! It’s a real relief to be done, although we have a little more sewing to go. Here are some examples of students’ finished dyes. If anybody has questions on the precentage of dyes used, or the dimensions of the fabric don’t hesitate to ask or check the Tumblr link!

Madder, Weld, Quebracho Yellow
Madder, Weld, Quebracho Yellow
Raw Cochineal
Raw Cochineal
Dried Marigold, Weld, Myrobalan, Quebracho Yellow
Dried Marigold, Weld, Myrobalan, Quebracho Yellow
Madder, Pomegranate
Madder, Pomegranate
Madder, Logwood Purple
Madder, Logwood Purple
Loogwood Purple
Loogwood Purple

If you’re interested in seeing more of the dye process or different dyes, you can find out more through the Tumblr page!

Alternative Techniques

There are a few simple variations you can use when dyeing. First of all, we generally use alum acetate simply because it works as somewhat of a universal mordant. However, there are many different mordants you can use, and some work better for different dyes and fabrics. It is always a good idea to do some research and figure out which mordant is the best for you! Just be careful, some of the mordants and dyes from the eighties and back can be pretty toxic! 
If you want to be more mindful of the dye used, you can save and reuse dye pots! You can keep dye pots used previously and add a little more dye, then heat them up the same as before. Just be aware that unless you add more dye the colors will not be as vibrant as the first dye. Also keep in mind some of these dyes can begin to mold pretty quickly, so use the dye pots as soon as possible! 

Cutting the Arch

The last post showed the calculations and sketches of the arches that Vincent had worked out. Last week the class was able to visit the wood shop and see the arch being cut out! We used birch plywood, which is relatively thin but stronger and more even than regular plywood. Vincent used Rhino to put in the specifications of the arch. He then sent those to the CNC router, which is a machine that will cut the wood based on our design.

Here’s Carissa talking to Vincent about where to put the drill holes.  

This is the wood shop! It’s always exciting going to a new art concentration’s studio!

The router drilling holes. The overhead part moves back and forth, cutting through a few small layers at a time.   

The router working! If you look closely you can see some of the first drilled holes!

Lotus Update: The Structure

We are working with Vincent, the wood shop technician in order to design and cut the wood structure that will hold our fabric up. These are some photos that show the processes Vincent has used to plan and create the arch. The program used to design the arch is RHINO, which is software used for 3D design.


Lotus Update: New Ideas

After we came back with some new sketches, we realized what we wanted to do was going to be too complicated for the amount of production time available. We ended up taking our installation in a completely new direction that everyone was excited about! We decided to make columns by dyeing four pieces of fabric and sewing them together. In the end we will have an array of colors, shapes, and sizes!

  Trying to visualize exactly how much space we have to work with!   This is the new idea with both cube and pyramid shapes, hanging in different variations! We cut and folded paper in different sizes and shapes to better imagine how the finished project would look!

 The mock up, made of paper. We are still playing around with how we will hang the shapes! 

Designing for Lotus

This past week groups of three students were asked t bring in some designs and conceptualizations of the Lotus installation. Each group picked one design and move forward on creating and armature, a small scale model of what the design would look like. Students also worked with the samples of dye they had previously completed, so some of the colors will be different in the final product.

This is the first group (and the one I am in). The hanging pieces of fabric would be shades of red, representing the blood that connects everyone around the world. The flower is a lotus blossom, and would have three petals in the center and six more below that would reach various points in the tent.



The next group created a piece called “Heart Strings.” The various pieces of fabric interlocked and crossed to show how people’s connections and histories come together to form something beautiful.


The third group used an interesting perspective. They chose to include several layers of fabric, each one cut slightly differently so that altogether they create a lotus flower.

IMG_0506 IMG_0505

 The last group went with a caravan theme. They use several bright fabrics and cut shapes out of them.

IMG_0504 Our next step is combining some of these designs and creating a new blend. The next two weeks we will try to complete our project, and then install it in September!

Hilltop Garden

The textiles department has a good relationship with Hilltop Gardens, where we can grow dye plants and the textiles classes come periodically to care and harvest the various plants in order to create fresh dyes. We went out last week to do some weeding, put down some mulch, and even put up a fence! There is a family of groundhogs that love the dye plants, so hopefully this will stop them! We will be returning in a few weeks in order to keep the plants healthy, and hopefully will get to do some fresh dyeing before the end of the summer!

If you are interested in volunteering or just exploring hilltop, this is their website!


The Basic Dyeing Process (Natural Dyes)

Below are some guides for natural dyeing that make it simpler to dye at home. The first step is the mordant, which will help your fabric prepare to hold dye. It’s also important to buy untreated fabric if possible, otherwise you will have to scour the waxy coating that most fabric stores use before you can mordant. After you’re finished with your mordant, you can begin the dyeing! Some things to keep in mind: pay attention to the temperature, make sure you have enough water (you want to submerge your fabric but don’t be wasteful!), and keep stirring! Finally, you need to soak your fabric with synthrapol then rinse and dry. If you follow these steps you should get a nice, even dye.


  • Let your fabric breathe! If the same parts are folded together, they will not dye as well.
  • Create samples! This is the best way to experiment and find what works best for you!
  • Stainless Steel pots are ideal, as there won’t be any metals leaking into your dye.
  • It’s always a good idea to wear a mask when working with fine powders like the alum and dye.
  • Have fun! Try different over dyes and don’t be afraid to experiment!

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